New Delhi: Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani today dismissed charges that education is being saffronised as she turned down demands that Sanskrit be made compulsory in the curriculum.
“Those who accuse me of being a RSS mascot or RSS representative possibly want to deflect the attention from the good work that we have done… this agenda will be flagged and I will be whipped for as long as there is a need to keep attention diverted away from the good work. I am ready for it. I have no problem,” she told PTI journalists in New Delhi.
Answering questions on the controversial decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in some 500 central government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas, Ms Irani said that teaching German under a Memorandum of Understanding or MoU signed in 2011 had been in violation of the Constitution. An investigation has already been launched to find out how the MoU was signed.
Responding to demands that Sanskrit be made compulsory, the minister said that three language formula was very clear that any of the 23 Indian languages listed in Schedule VIII of the Constitution could be opted for.
But she reiterated that German will continue to be taught as a foreign language.
“…we are teaching French, we are teaching Mandarin, we teach German in the same way. For the life in me, I can’t understand why people don’t understand what I am saying,” she said.
Ms Irani had earlier strongly defended the decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language, saying the existing arrangement was in violation of the Constitution.
In this context, she defended the decision to roll back the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) of Delhi University, saying the degrees offered had no “legal sanction”.
“My endeavour is whatever I do should be done so that it is within law and favours the students,” she asserted while rejecting the notion that education is being politicised in the country.
Talking about the moves to have a new national education policy, the minister said the exercise would be exhaustive in nature and involve all stakeholders, besides academicians and experts, who are directly impacted by it.
“For the first time, in the history of our nation, an initiative will be undertaken where the citizen will also be engaged on this policy because the education policy, when we arrive upon it, will have an impact for generations.
“So to ensure that those who will be impacted most also considered in terms of their views… something which I am currently structuring within the ministry”, she said.
Ms Irani said that during her interaction with students and parents the views that came forth were that they wanted more updated information about the syllabus and variety in choice of courses.
“They want to pick up some option, which are applicable and viable now, but also some options, which will prepare them for the future,” she said.
Asked about the demands for re-introduction of Class X board examinations, Ms Irani merely said that the decision has to be taken by Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE).
“The big policy decision will be taken on the platform like CABE and taken in conjunction with the states.” When her attention was drawn to students being cheated by institutes whose degrees were not recognised, the minister said that she will soon hold a special meeting to see what can be done.
“If there is belligerent violation, then I will explore what are the possibilities that a regulator can undertake,” she said and quoted the Prime Minister: “There is no shortage of law, but there was lack of implementation.”
When asked why no Indian university finds a place among the top 100 institutions in the world, she pointed that ranking agencies have their own parametres for evaluation.
Ms Irani further asserted that India will have its own ranking system in place soon.
“In India we are actually evolving a ranking system for our institutions. Vice Chancellors, IIT Directors and everybody are sitting together to tell us how to rank ourselves,” she said.