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Academicians' divided opinion on Smriti Irani's appointment as HRD minister
Smriti Irani, the youngest minister in Narendra Modi's Cabinet has been alloted heavyweight portfolio of Human Resource Development (HRD). Yesterday she took charge of the office, and soon after that a controversy erupted when the Congress leader Ajay Maken raised fingers on the educational background of Smriti Irani. Maken in a sarcastic tweet had said that how could be a 12th pass person become HRD minister?

It was not only that Congress man Ajay Maken, questioned Irani's educational qualifications, but he got a very unexpected support from journalist Madhu Kishwar, a staunch Modi supporter.

Kishwar on twitter has said that her sentiments with respect to Irani was echoed with great fervor within BJP circles. She has claimed that BJP insiders were saying much harsher things than her. She added that BJP insiders including party leaders in Gujarat are of the view that Irani had not made any significant contribution to BJP.

Though in our country there is no prescribed educational eligibility for a person to become Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly, and there is no legal hurdle that can stop the same from becoming a minister. However, appointment of Smriti Irani as HRD ministers has stirred a debate in the country, with acdemicians from around the country joining in. There is a divided opinion among the academicians on the matter of Irani becoming education minister of the country.

While speaking to, Devashish Sarkar, General Secretary of West Bengal Government Teachers Association has to say that an education minister should be an educated leader. “Theoretically it is true that, you can elect any person as a minister, but technically if you pursue into it, an education minister has to deal with the IIT's, IIM's and Universities where the faculty holds a post graduate degree, so where will she stand amidst them.”

He also added, “The HRD minister is one who needs to pull the Human Resources and should have the ability to develop it. If incidentally you are not a benchmark, then how are you going to pull the ministry forward.”

Echoing some similar sentiments Ambikesh Mahapatra, a Chemistry professor at Kolkata's Jadavpur University said that Smriti Irani is not a right choice as an Education Minister.

“Regarding Education System, she is not the right choice. Primary education, secondary education, universities, IIT's and IIM's everything comes under the similar umbrella that is HRD ministry. And a person who is not even a graduate, is not really fit for this post.”

A retired Deputy Commissioner of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, an autonomus body under HRD ministry, who don't want himself to be named, feels that if an education minister is not well educated then how can he/she guide the directors of IIT's and IIM's and Vice Chancellors of University and the IAS and IPS who are associated with the ministry.”

He also feels that, “She might even feel inferior, while sitting amidst the educated lot.”

It's not that everyone is opposing the elevation of the actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani's to the post of HRD minister. There are academicians and experts on education system who have thrown their weight behind Smriti Irani.

Irani's supporters are saying that she does not need to have any specific educational qualifications, as she has the ability and capability to manage the ministry well.

Dr Acharya, an ex Kendriya Vidyalaya principal, who was very impressed with her performance as a Miss India finalist, and a bahu in a reputed soap opera series, says that, “Keeping in view her performance, she is a very intelligent and creative lady, for taking up charge as a education minister, it is not necessary to have paper degree.”

Delhi based noted advocate Ashok Agrawal, an activist who keeps filing and fighting cases related to violation of Right to Education norms, has supported HRD portfolio to Smriti Irani while saying that a minister’s job is to give direction and ideas and there are designated officials who implement the ideas.

“I don't agree with the comments of Madhu Kishwar and Ajay Maken. People can learn with time. A good judge may not be a good lawyer, a good lawyer may not be a good judge. Smriti Irani can manage her portfolio efficiently,” said Agrawal.

Dr. Lalit Kishore, an ex Kendriya Vidyalaya principal, came up with a totally different argument in support of Irani. He says that, a person who is not well educated can be a good critic, so Smriti Irani is the best person for this portfolio.

“Smriti Irani, may not be a graduate, but I feel that such people are more unconditioned and creative and have a different and a better view,” said Lalit Kishore.

Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister Omar Abdulllah has also supported Smriti Irani's appointment as HRD minister.

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