New Delhi, Jan 2 From new education policy to the Rohith Vemula suicide incident to key changes in No Detention Policy and a much-talked about change of guard at the helm, Human Resources Development ministry remained in news in 2016.
The controversies in HRD ministry led to a mid-year reshuffle that saw Smriti Irani handing over charge of the ministry to Prakash Javadekar to become Minister of Textiles.
Rohith Vemula controvery:
Barely had the year begun, when the biggest of the several huge controversies that hit the HRD ministry - over the suicide of scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University occurred. And as the year ended, the ministry readied a series of 12 steps for universities to follow, to ensure such incidents don't happen again. After Vemula's suicide, Opposition parties gunned for the removal of Irani. Vemula's family said he was a Dalit and the incident gave the Opposition ammunition to attack the Centre in Parliament. The ministry on its part appointed a judicial commission under retired judge A K Roopanwal, who in his report gave a clean chit to the various functionaries including Irani, while recommending a series of preventive steps. The report also had its share of controversy as it said that Vemula's Dalit status could not be established.
Protests at JNU and NIT Srinagar:
Another premier institution, Jawaharlal Nehru University, also saw much turmoil after a controversial protest by a group of students. NIT Srinagar too had remain shut for several days after a clash between local and outstation students over a cricket match.
Combative Smriti Irani on social media:
Many of the controversies were a result of campus-related issues, but Irani's combativeness on the social media too turned into headlines. In one instance, she took offence to Bihar Education Minister Ashok Chaudhary addressing her as "dear" while in another she fought with Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, who had put a post about her security.
In another much-talked about social media post, which she signed off as "Aunty National" - an apparent reference to a newspaper's headline about her, Irani talked about her career and challenges, stressed on the need to speak out one's mind and hit out at "intellectuals" who called her "illiterate".
Smriti Irani rebuffed former cabinet secretary:
Irani also rebuffed former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian, when he sought that a report on New Education Policy (NEP) prepared by a panel which he headed be made public. Irani refused to put the report in public domain immediately saying it will not become the "legacy of one individual who seeks a headline".