HRD Minister Smriti Irani was perhaps a bit too carried away while recalling the moment when Narendra Modi acknowledged her as his younger sister at a public rally in Amethi before the Lok Sabha election earlier this year.
Irani did not care for her words when she said in the same event that she has a degree from the prestigious Yale University in the US, when a journalist with whom she had quite an argument a few months ago, asked her about her contradictory education affidavits filed before the 2004 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
It was indeed shocking that a minister, who heads a very important department of education, is unaware about the difference between a crash course and a degree course. By boasting about her certificate in leadership programme as a degree, Irani not only exposed her foolishness, she also sent across the message that the future of India's education sector is not in safe hands.
If the story of a tea-seller becoming the prime minister of the world's largest democracy constitutes a pride, then the tale of the education minister of the knowledge superpower not knowing the difference between a degree and a certificate is equally a shame. The Narendra Modi government, which took office after a massive victory in the April-May general election, should be very careful about what its ministers say in public.
Irani has been ridiculed from all quarters and her fierce critic Madhu Kishwar, a scholar-activist, too did not spare her. "What d'you do with HRD Minister who doesn't know difference between univ degree & certificate issued to student for titsy-bitsy 6 day course. If u are seen as serious leader u r invited to US universities to lecture. But if u are seen as novice, they invite u to leadership training!", Kishwar tweeted.
Irani couldn't resist the temptation to brag about her foreign 'degree'
Irani should have clarified the anomaly between her different education affidavits the moment it caught all eyes after the election results came out. But she continued to either ignore or challenge those who raised the question, may be because she belongs to the camp which stormed into power. But Irani must remember that she has real work to do on the ground and can not continue to hide herself by means of ignoring the facts and staging theatrics like by saying her qualification is that she is a mother of two children.
Irani sob story abt poverty won't wash; Poor family girls dont study in convent schools, don't become fashion models, Miss India contestants— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) August 10, 2014
If Irani takes great pride in the fact that she could become the country's HRD minister despite having a humble background, she did not require to boast about the Yale 'degree' publicly to neutralise the questioning journalism. It shows no matter how much we preach about the nobility of 'being poor and humble', we can not really ignore the temptations of producing the 'Bilaiti' (foreign) connections, in whatever form we have.
Irani's case wouldn't go off limelight soon, more because she is associated with the education department. The controversy might even go all the way to break the records of one of her acting projects in terms of durability.