Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Being Appointed HRD Minister Should Make Young India’s Blood Boil
Will we let go of the reins to our future to someone who does not seem to have our best interests in mind?
We haven’t exactly lucked out in the department of Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministers in the past few years and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not failed to “impress” us with his choice for Modi Sarkar 2.0.
We thought we had seen and heard it all when erstwhile HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar exclaimed last year, “Although it is former students of an institute who give back to their educational institutes, there are some schools that keep approaching the government with a bowl seeking help.” Or when the Ministry was criticised for Jio Institute getting the Institute of Eminence (IoE) tag even before it was constituted (to which the Ministry issued a “clarification.”) Critics say that Javadekar got busy campaigning for the party and didn’t do much towards the end of his term.
Before him, Smriti Irani was under the scanner due to her claim of having a “degree” from Yale, which proved to be a lie when she filed her nomination papers for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. She also trivialised Rohith Vemula’s suicide and lied in the Parliament multiple times about the circumstances surrounding his death, even claiming that Rohith was “not a Dalit”. His mother, Radhika Vemula called Irani out on the lies, reminding the then minister, “..this is not a serial, this is real life. Bring out the facts, don’t fabricate them”. Irani’s policies like making Sanskrit compulsory as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas and her undemocratic ways of decision-making left many exasperated.
In 2019, Modi’s choice for the coveted post is Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, a former chief minister of Uttarakhand who has his fair share of incredible statements. The latest one being — All streams of science are dwarfed in stature when compared with the science of astrology. “Astrology is the number one science for the entire world.”
Other equally baffling claims include — Sage Kanad conducted nuclear tests lakhs of years ago; and that the idea for head transplant existed in India. Most troubling is the fact that questions have been raised about his educational qualifications. His two honorary doctorates from a Sri Lanka-based international university are under the scanner since the university is not recognised by the University Grants Commission in Sri Lanka.
The state of public universities in India hasn’t exactly been ideal, the problems being lack of funding, lack of autonomy, institutional decay among others. India boasts of the largest population of young people in the world but even the BJP manifesto failed to impress when it came to promises about education. With Modi’s choice for HRD Minister, things look more bleak than ever.
Pokhriyal has now kicked-off another controversy with the draft National Education Policy. The policy, with its ‘three language formula’, ostensibly suggests the imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states. Tamil Nadu is at the forefront of the debate against the policy. Most people don’t realise/haven’t been taught that the Indian Constitution does not confer the status of ‘National Language’ to any language (not even Hindi) due to the fiery debates against the idea during the framing of the constitution. India has 22 scheduled languages — a fact that my classmates and I had to reiterate when Hindi teachers in our swanky private school chanted “Rashtra Bhasha Hindi”.
In the midst of the Pokhriyal’s selection, Young India must realise its aspirations for itself and decide how our place in the world will be defined. Will we remain passive and let go of the reins to our future to someone who does not seem to have our best interests in mind? Or will we make ourselves heard?