As was expected PM Narendra Modi shifted HRD minister Smriti Zubin Irani to less consequential position, the textile ministry, in the recent reshuffle of the council of minister. To have a particular minister in a particular position is the well established convention and the prerogative of PM in a parliamentary democratic system, on this ground the shifting is natural but at the larger canvass when this is analyzed, then several political realities come to the fore.
Its roots lie in the mishandling of Hyderabad University incident. The suicide of Rohith Vemula was trigger for her departure. In fact the HRD ministry had failed to deal with circumstances leading to suicide of Rohith, who was not properly dealt with. Mrs. Irani had no idea about the force of the youths; she just looked the issue from a particular lens. This was not her fault; in fact she did not have the proper understanding of the academics and the power of the young ones. At this point BJP as a party also faulted, she should not have been selected as the minister of HRD, about which this author had alarmed in the article “HRD Ministry And Issue Of Right Selection,28 May, 2014,Countercurrents.org”.
PM Modi was riding the waves of success during that phase but he and his political associates did not realize how much this ministry was important. As it was directly related to two major forces in the country; the youth and the intellectuals. the last two years have shown that the major challenges to the PM Modi have come from these two section of the society; none else has been so much potent and influential to push the government to retreat on several issues as this section of the people have done.
The mishandling of young ones has been overlooked by the government although PM Modi is a seasoned politician and have a grip on the governance but he also overlooked the impact of this force, perhaps he was impressed by the last NDA government’s performance in HRD ministry but he failed to appreciate the stature and knowledge broad width of Murli Manohar Joshi who headed the ministry during the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, he was a man with understanding of campus life as himself being a part of the academic world , moreover himself an intellectual, his efforts to make changes in the educational philosophy of the country were met with resistance but he never misdealt the youths and the intellectuals at wider scale, a point where Mrs. Smriti Irani faltered.
The political immaturity of BJP in handling this ministry can be understood in another parameter as well; the party is weak at the ideological level , the reason is simple to identify; there is huge deficiency of high quality intellectuals in the party in contrast to the communists who lead in this field. There is no dearth of the high quality intellectual writers with socialistic-communist mindset.
The harm although has been done to the party and the shifting of Mrs. Irani will not serve the purpose because she has caused damage to the party by invoking the sleeping emotions of the students and the intellectuals. In fact the ministry should have dealt these in more accommodative way. Function of the UGC is also cause of concern where the grants for the researches even for the teachers is under stress. There is no need to challenge the students on the political turf. There is need to solace the young ones who are under much stress due to non creation of the jobs about which Bajaj Auto Chairman Rahul Bajaj has alarmed that ‘India can increase growth to 8% but everything suggests that employment will not rise at anywhere close to that rate of growth.’ This shows that even experienced corporate leaders are disappointed at the front of employment. The HRD ministry has direct linkage to the job creation; the quality of education decides the possibility for youths to have the employment where the ministry is failed in larger context.
Government will have to deal soon the civil services recruitment process about which the Hindi medium students, mainly from the villages are protesting that influence of the urban and English medium students should not be so much overpowering that they take away all the advantages. Government can think to raise the maximum age to 35years (General Category). English and mathematics which give undue benefits to elite students should be restricted, the present system should be continued; if the government takes such sane decisions then only it can save its major challenge emanating from the youths and the intellectuals.
There is no need to criticize the Bipan Chandra like historians which will do no good to the government. Today Mrs. Irani has exited the scene, tomorrow the present NDA government may lose power though PM Modi is focused well on governance but failure to understand the power of the youth and intellectuals is visible.
The time for them is to be alert and change the confrontationist track. The shifting is the first minuscule step in that direction but much is yet to be done.
Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava, Vice Chairman CSSP, Kanpur; e mail vpy firstname.lastname@example.org