Smriti Irani, a name that has been mostly harnessed by the television media in order to conduct debates around controversial topics ranging around her. Whether it be her educational qualification issue or Rohith Vemula case or the recent & most hotly debated JNU debate, she has been at the epicentre of media trial. Even this month ,her proposal to teach Sanskrit in IIT(s) have also generated a lot of discussions, mostly opining against the proposal. Admist all these debates & controversies, her work in the improvement of education system has gone unnoticed.
The Know Your College (KYC) portal started by the MHRD has helped the students in massive amount to get access to the government recognised colleges & the courses available within it on just a click of mouse. Even the student revolting against Smriti Irani would have used that platform and got admission to a good college because of the portal. The e-pathshala anchored by NCERT gives an easy and free access to the relevant study materials for all School going students. When talking about the e-resources availability, how can one forget the massive e-learning material available at National Digital Library. These two have revolutionised the whole scenario of education system. Saransh portal is one another positive move, hosted by the CBSE, that analyses the performance of CBSE schools vis-a-vis other schools & also analyses the performance of each student in the given basket of subjects that further helps the parents to understand about the highs and lows of their children and therefore allows them to put their children on the right career path.
Two programmes initiated by the MHRD are worth mentioning given the current discourse on Nationalism is taking place in the country. Seema Darshan is one such programme in which school-going students visit the border areas of the country. It serves dual purpose, firstly, it ingrains a sense of patriotism in the school going children and secondly, as the students perform and showcase traditional culture of the country, the jawans get a moral boost for the cause they are fighting for. One more similar kind of patriotism injecting programme is Veer-Gatha where the children are taught about the bravery of the Param Veer Chakra awardees. The recent decision of MHRD making it mandatory on part of all the universities to hoist the tricolour in their bastion will further embolden the cause of patriotism.
The Udaan Yojana of MHRD, that tries to prepare the girls studying in class 11 and class 12 for IIT entrance exams will help the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” Abhiyaan. Alongwith, a Pragati scholarship is also provided to the girls pursuing an undergraduate degree in a technical institute. So, if you are a girl and you have passed class 10, you don’t need to sit at home and prepare food in Kitchen. You should use the privilege conferred by state onto you and should try to get well educated. Not to mention, MHRD has recently decided to grant complete fee waiver to SC/ST/PH/EWS (Annual income less than 1 lakhs).
As India plans to become a knowledge hub, it is unequivocal opined that the academia-industry-society interaction is a pre-requisite to make India a knowledge hub. Atal Innovation Mission encourages innovation in technology to deal with daily problems of Indian people. The IMPRINT-India scheme provides the academia-industry interaction to deal with engineering problems that impact life of a majority of Indians. The Unnat Bharat abhiyaan seeks to connect the academia-society by putting the onus on technical institutes to transform the rural society through appropriate technologies.
Indian universities and colleges have always been ranked at a global level. Given the sorry state of quality in Indian universities vis-a-vis the global universities,only a handful of universities were ranked amidst the global universities. But, Smriti Irani created an indigenous ranking framework christened as National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) that ranked different universities on the basis of five parameters. It will now allow the students seeking admission into colleges to assess the performance and quality level of different colleges. GIAN is yet another programme that seeks to rein in the teachers of global institutions to teach in India for a short period of time.
There are many more programmes that have been initiated by the MHRD in these two years that have helped transform education and India.Whether the criticism on the issues mentioned by me in the first para hold some weight are of no value, is for the facts, truth and judiciary to decide. I can’t convict her, neither can I acquit her on any matter. But, whatever be the controversy attached to Smriti Irani, I dare to say that she has done a lot in these two years that has helped increase the quality, inclusivity and outcome of education.