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Ramdev likely to skip JNU visit amidst students protest, university stands by invitation

The three-day convention– organised by the university’s Special Center for Sanskrit Studies in collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA and the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth — began here on December 27. Ramdev has been invited to deliver the key-note address on December 30.

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JNU tops UGC’s sexual harassment list: Smriti Irani tells Lok Sabha

Twenty five cases of sexual harassment were reported from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2013-2014, the highest among 104 higher education institutions from where such matters were reported according to University Grants Commission (UGC) data. During the period from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, there were 15 cases of sexual harassment reported in Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi and 10 cases in Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Sciences, Allahabad.

File Photo

Twenty five cases of sexual harassment were reported from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2013-2014, the highest among 104 higher education institutions from where such matters were reported according to University Grants Commission (UGC) data. During the period from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, there were 15 cases of sexual harassment reported in Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi and 10 cases in Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Sciences, Allahabad.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nine cases were reported from King George’s Medical University, Lucknow. There were 8 such cases reported in University of Mumbai and Viswa Bharati, Santi Niketan, Birbhum during this period. These details were shared in the Lok Sabha by Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani, who in a written reply to a member’s question said that as per UGC, there were 295 cases of sexual harassment that have been reported during 2014-15 in various institutes of higher learning. “As per University Grants Commission (UGC), 295 cases of sexual harassment have been reported during 2014-15 in various institutes of higher learning against women,” Irani said. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has also reported two cases of sexual harassment against women, she said.

Over 8 lakh engineering seats stayed vacant in 2014-15: Govt

In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said that “overall, there is surplus capacity in the engineering sector with 8,44,328 seats remaining vacant in 2015”.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani at parliament during the winter session in New Delhi on Monday.

PTI
Over 8 lakh engineering seats remained vacant in 2014-15, the government on Monday said as it noted the surplus capacity in the sector while pointing to “competition among students due to limited seats” in government and reputed private institutions.In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said that “overall, there is surplus capacity in the engineering sector with 8,44,328 seats remaining vacant in 2015”. She noted, however, that “there is competition among students due to limited seats in government and reputed private institutions as compared to the number of applications”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, in a written response to another question, Irani said that her ministry is considering a proposal for the setting up of a National Academic Depository, which envisages online storage, verification and authentication of academic awards.In her reply to another question, Irani said that all institutions of higher education have been requested to install solar rooftop systems.

World’s largest practical science lesson attempted at IIT Delhi

The participating students, with excitement writ large on their faces, got a pep talk from Union Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani ahead of the lesson.

Vying for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, 2000 students from schools across the national capital on assembled at the sprawling lawns of Indian Institute of Technology here to conduct ‘world’s largest practical science lesson’. Dressed in white lab-coats, the students streamed into a giant tent pitched by the administrative block in IIT-Delhi to take a shot at the world record for the highest number of students to conduct an experiment simultaneously at the same venue. Northern Ireland is the current record-holder with 1,339 students.The participating students, with excitement writ large on their faces, got a pep talk from Union Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani ahead of the lesson.Irani said that there are plans to have an even bigger ‘practical lesson’ in Delhi in the coming months, in which school students from across the country will participate. “We can have it in conjunction with the same team that did this programme today and have over 20,000 students participating. I am hoping that today’s programme has a catalytic effect on how we engage with the sciences and school and higher education,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the inauguration, the students collected numbered wristbands, displayed them for the camera when entering and took their seats at tables kitted out with graduated cylinders, tissue paper, gloves, droppers and other equipment. During the experiment they managed to together turn methylene blue “reddish-brown” and rapidly decompose hydrogen peroxide to produce foamy ropes as a part of the Elephant’s toothpaste reaction.The video recording and a report on the experiment will now be sent to the Guinness Book which will further evaluate the same and come up with results. The event was organized by Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), an NGO, as part of the five-day India International Science Festival (IISF) at IIT being jointly organized by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

Eight Indian institutions among top 500 world universities, IISC leads the pack

This was disclosed by Union Minister for Human Resource development Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Eight higher educational institutions from India have been listed in the top 500 universities in the world by the QS rankings in 2015.This was disclosed by Union Minister for Human Resource development Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha on Monday.Two of these institutions’ the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi are ranked 147 and 179 respectively in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16. The other six were IITs in Bombay (ranked 202);T Kanpur (271); Kharagpur (286); Madras (254); Roorkee (391) and Guwahati (460)<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani said Indian higher education institutions would need to work on improving their perception index if they have to better their global rankings.Also Read: IISc breaks into list of top 100 universities for engineering and technology

PM Modi to hold next ‘Mann ki Baat’ on November 29

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani invited the nation to share their ideas and thoughts for the show which would be addressed by the Prime Minister during the broadcast.

PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share his thoughts with the nation through the 14th edition of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on November 29. He will address the nation and the programme will be broadcast at 11 am on Sunday. Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani invited the nation to share their ideas and thoughts for the show which would be addressed by the Prime Minister during the broadcast. Prime Minister Modi had also urged people to share their ideas for the programme on the MyGov Open Forum. He also invited people to share their voice messages for the programme on the toll-free number 1800-3000-7800.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his last programme, he had laid emphasis on organ donation and had asserted that it was an important issue. The 13th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ faced hurdles after the Congress called for a ban on the Prime Minister’s programme.Related Read: Mann ki Baat: India characterised by diversity, this is our pride; Shanti, Sadbhavana & Ekta key to progress, says PM Modi​

Smriti Irani’s degree row: Court asks Election Commission, Delhi University to bring records

The court on June 24 had taken cognizance of the complaint which accused Irani of furnishing false information about her academic qualifications in the affidavits filed before the EC in 2004, 2011 and 2014.

Smriti Irani

The Election Commission and Delhi University (DU) were on Friday directed by a city court to bring the records of educational qualification of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani against whom a complaint was filed for allegedly giving false information in affidavits to the poll panel.Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain allowed the plea of the complainant seeking a direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring records of Irani’s educational qualification after he said he was unable to place them before the court. “Keeping in view the grounds mentioned in the application, the plea to direct officials of the Election Commission and Delhi University to bring records is allowed,” the court said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It, however, declined the contention of complainant Ahmer Khan, a freelance writer, seeking direction to the CBSE to bring Irani’s class 10th and 12th records. “The plea to direct CBSE to bring records of class X and XII is declined as it is not under challenge. Put up the matter for pre-summoning evidence on March 16, 2016,” it said. The complainant had earlier claimed in court that Irani had deliberately given discrepant information about her educational qualification in affidavits filed before the poll panel and not given any clarification despite concerns being raised on the issue.Khan had alleged that Irani had knowingly furnished misleading information about her educational qualification in affidavits filed before EC and, a candidate deliberately giving incorrect details, can be punished under the provisions of IPC and under section 125A of Representation of the People Act (RPA). Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of upto six months or fine or both. The court on June 24 had taken cognizance of the complaint which accused Irani of furnishing false information about her academic qualifications in the affidavits filed before the EC in 2004, 2011 and 2014.The complainant had earlier claimed in court that in her affidavit for April 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Irani had said she completed her BA in 1996 from DU(School of Correspondence), whereas in another affidavit of July 11, 2011 to contest Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, she had said her highest educational qualification was B.Com Part I from the School of Correspondence, DU.The complaint also alleged that in the affidavit filed for nomination of April 16, 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Irani said she had completed Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from School of Open Learning,

Cabinet gives nod for German as additional language in KVs

An official statement released here said that an “ex-post approval” has been given to the ‘Joint Declaration of Intent’ on promotion of German as an additional foreign language in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) in conformity with the National Education Policy of India and promotion of teaching of modern Indian languages in Germany

Smriti Irani

German will now be taught in Kendriya Vidyalayas as an additional language, as the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to a Joint Declaration of Intent between the HRD ministry and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany in this regard.An official statement released here said that an “ex-post approval” has been given to the ‘Joint Declaration of Intent’ on promotion of German as an additional foreign language in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) in conformity with the National Education Policy of India and promotion of teaching of modern Indian languages in Germany. “The Joint Declaration of Intent will help to intensify existing bilateral cooperation between India and Germany and to further advance relations between the two countries in the field of education in accordance with the laws, policies and regulations in force in the two countries,” it added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>German was earlier being taught in KVs but last year the Board of Governors (BoG) of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), headed by HRD minister Smriti Irani, had in its meeting on October 27 decided to discontinue the teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit. The decision had led to much furore and controversy.Earlier, this year on October 5, a Joint Declaration of Intent had been signed regarding the promotion of German as a foreign language in India and promotion of modern Indian languages in Germany. As part of the declaration on promotion of each other’s languages, students in KVs will be able to opt for the German language as an additional foreign language, in conformity with the National Education Policy of India.

HRD minister Smriti Irani conveys Indian solidarity with France

Irani also placed a wreath at the Bataclan Theatre in honour of those who lost their lives in Friday’s deadly attacks which killed 129 people in Paris

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani paying tributes to the victims of terror attacks in Paris

PTI
India on Tuesday expressed solidarity with the people and government of France as Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani attended a major UNESCO forum here, days after the recent terror attacks in Paris.Irani also placed a wreath at the Bataclan Theatre in honour of those who lost their lives in Friday’s deadly attacks which killed 129 people in Paris. She is the first senior India leader to have visited France after the Paris terror attacks.Irani conveyed India’s solidarity with the French people and government in the wake of the attacks in Paris, in her address to the Leaders’ Forum at the UNESCO headquarters here. An official statement by the ministry said that Irani also reaffirmed India’s commitment to the ideals of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and recalled the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who in 1947 had expressed deep Indian interest in the organisation’s efforts to secure peace through educational and cultural activities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani is on an official visit to the UNESCO headquarters. Her visit is coinciding with the ongoing 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference as well as the 70th anniversary celebrations of UNESCO. She also highlighted recent pioneering initiatives on education undertaken by the Indian government. She said India’s efforts are aimed at opening the windows of opportunity of education to all its citizens.To this end, India offered to partner with UNESCO towards collaborative knowledge sharing, which would assist all countries in their efforts towards achieving Agenda 2030 in a timely manner, the statement said. The minister also held a meeting with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and discussed the full range of India’s cooperation with the organisation.She also paid homage at the statue of Shri Aurobindo located in the Japanese garden at UNESCO headquarters. Several heads of state and government are attending the forum which will also see an intervention by President Francois Hollande of host country France, the statement said.

At least 55 armed police teams set up to rein in chain-snatching menace

These motorbike-borne teams would be deployed in 10 days at different hot spots of Cyberabad Police Commissionerate where most chain snatching cases are reported.

Representational Image

The Cyberabad Police is all set to deploy 55 armed anti-snatching teams who will not only “spot and intercept” chain snatchers, but also fire at the offenders if they attack the policemen. “We have formed 55 armed anti-snatching teams comprising of two police personnel each who can fire in self-defence if they come under attack by chain snatchers,” Cyberabad Police Commissioner CV Anand said. “The team members will also soon get a special mobile phone application that will provide database (photos) of chain snatching offenders from across the country,” he said. “This is a self-defence measure and will give them confidence to do their job. The offenders sometimes may be armed. If the offenders attack the cops, they can retaliate by opening fire in self-defence,” Anand explained.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> These motorbike-borne teams would be deployed in 10 days at different hot spots of Cyberabad Police Commissionerate where most chain snatching cases are reported, he said. About a year ago, notorious chain snatcher Lamba, of Irani gang, was caught after a chase by a police team, but he immediately took out a knife and stabbed a head constable and managed to escape. It has become necessary to provide arms to the teams with such experience of the past, he said. “We have selected young recruits from the Armed Reserve and Civil Police. We have given them hire charges for their bikes. They will be using their own bikes and they will be camouflaged. They will move around like any ordinary citizens in plain clothes and one cannot make out if they are constables. Their job is to spot and intercept. I am sure their presence will act as deterrence,” the Commissioner said.

Relief to PhD aspirants: Smriti Irani says non-NET fellowship won’t be discontinued

Irani’s tweet came in response to a concern raised by CPI (M) MP in Rajya Sabha Ritabrata Banerjee who had also written to the minister expressing her concern over the decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap the non-NET fellowship.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Putting an end to the anxiety among PHD aspirants, HRD minister Smriti Irani on Sunday made it clear that the non-NET fellowship is not being discontinued. Her assertion came on a day when she met an eight-member delegation including representatives from students union of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University her at her residence.”Not being discontinued. Need to include state university students and direct benefit transfer (DBT) so that students accrue benefit directly,” she tweeted following her meeting with the students.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani’s tweet came in response to a concern raised by CPI (M) MP in Rajya Sabha Ritabrata Banerjee who had also written to the minister expressing her concern over the decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap the non-NET fellowship.UGC, had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7, contending that the fellowship programme was discriminatory in nature and lacked uniformity among universities in the selection process.The commission had also cited shortage of funds as the reason behind inability to provide fellowships. Under the scheme, financial assistance was provided to students undertaking MPhil and PhD, they were provided Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively.PhD students got assistance for four years and MPhil students for 18 months. They also got a contingency amount per year to help them carry out their research. Hundreds of students from JNU, DU, Jamia Millia, Ambedkar University and other institutions have been protesting since last week at the UGC demanding the authorities to restore the fellowships.While 100 of them were detained on last Friday and released later in the evening, the UGC officials had assured a student delegation that the decision will be reviewed. However, students chose to continue the protest until their demands are met.Meanwhile, the left-backed All India Students Association(AISA) which has been protesting since last week claimed that the delegation included only representatives from BJP s student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).”We will continue our protest and organise a strike at JNU tomorrow. The protest will go on until a circular is issued by UGC revoking the decision,” the party said in a statement.

dna Must Reads for morning: From latest in Sahitya Akademi row to India vs South Africa match

Iqbal Mirchi

1. Dead Dawood aide Iqbal Mirchi’s sons now Indian agencies’ big headacheIndian agencies suspect that sons of Iqbal Mirchi (who died on August 14, 2013), Dawood Ibrahim’s former aide, Junaid Iqbal Memon and Asif Iqbal Memon, have taken over the huge financial empire of their father, which is waiting to find its way into terror financing. Read more here.2. After Sahitya Akademi row, student refuses to accept MBA degree from HRD Minister Smriti Irani<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A young MBA pass out has decided not to accept his degree at the first convocation of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Kashmir from UnionHRD Minister Smriti Irani as a protest against “diminishing freedoms” in the country. Read more here. 3. Air India offers schemes, gives flat 25% discount to women flyersRolling out freebies to its domestic fliers and the business class passengers, national carrier Air India today offered four schemes, including 25% flat discount to women travellers, due to high air travel demand during the festive season. Read more here.4. In Rajkot, India vs South Africa on the field, Hardik Patel vs police off itA cricket match is never just a game, but this time there is indeed much more at stake. As India prepares to clash with South Africa in Rajkot’s Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday, the state administration has pitched its best efforts to guard the match from Hardik Patel’s protests. Read more here.5. RSS mouthpiece defends Dadri lynching, calls it a ‘natural reaction’ to ‘sin’ of cow slaughterRSS mouthpiece Panchjanya’s has defended the killing of Mohmmad Akhlaq, who was lynched to death in Dadri, reported a leading daily. Read more here.

After Sahitya Akademi row, student refuses to accept MBA degree from HRD Minister Smriti Irani

A young MBA pass out has decided not to accept his degree at the first convocation of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Kashmir from Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani as a protest against “diminishing freedoms” in the country.

A young MBA pass out has decided not to accept his degree at the first convocation of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Kashmir from Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani as a protest against “diminishing freedoms” in the country.”Though, for a student, receiving a master’s degree is no less than any prestigious award. But on October 19, (the Convocation Day) I Sameer Gojwari won’t accept it,” Gojwari, who completed his MBA from the IUST in 2008, wrote on his Facebook page.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gojwari’s post came in response to unconfirmed reports that Irani will be giving out degrees to the pass outs of the IUST at the varsity’s first ever convocation on Monday.”When India’s writers are returning literary awards to protest diminishing freedoms and 41 writers across the country have given back most prestigious awards; unofficial reports say that Islamic University of Science & Technology on its 1st Convocation have chaired a Minister from Central Ministry #BJP, most likely Mrs Smriti Irani,” he said.The Union HRD minister is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of Central University Kashmir complex at Ganderbal on Tuesday.When India’s writers are returning literary awards to protest diminishing freedoms and 41 writers across the country…
Posted by Sameer Gojwari on Friday, October 16, 2015

Smriti Irani’s ‘Read India’ campaign evokes debate

The HRD minister is now formulating guidelines to make it a pan-India reading campaign. The critics are however skeptical about the move and feel that it is an attempt to collude young minds towards a particular ideology.

Read Gujarat is now Read India campaign. Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani is expanding Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s pet Vanche Gujarat to Read India.Vanche Gujarat was a universal literacy campaign adopted by the Gujarat government when Modi was serving as the chief minister of the state. The campaign aimed at creating reading habits amongst people and specially targeting the student community.The HRD minister is now formulating guidelines to make it a pan-India reading campaign. The critics are however skeptical about the move and feel that it is an attempt to collude young minds towards a particular ideology.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliates who had planned and conducted the campaign for Gujarat government when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat have been roped in by the HRD ministry to draw up plans for the national campaign. The Read India campaign is expected to take off in the next academic session.”In the year-long campaign of the Gujarat government that took off in April 2010, 2.5 lakh students read one crore books over one year,” said, Harshad Bhai Shah, former Vice Chancellor of Children’s University, Gujarat. Shah has also been a former office bearer of the RSS and had steered the Gujarat campaign.Targeting students group from class 5 to 12, students were given books to read and then were asked to give a talk on the books. These talks were organised not only in the schools, but also in residential areas and public spaces. While the school level students were given the choice of choosing their own books, the college students were asked to read about people who brought about social change. A list of 300 such books was then issued by the organisers.Under the Vanche Gujarat program the students were first judged at school level, followed by district and at the state level. Funded by the state government, 15,000 sangh volunteers from Gujarat had then participated in the state wise campaign.”During the campaign rallies were held across the state to encourage reading habits. Schools were asked to exhibit their books. Books that were gathering dust on the shelves were brought out. Members of the civil society were called to give talks to these students,” added Shah.Shah also said that in his meeting with HRD minister Smriti Irani in November last year she had spoken to him about Vanche Gujarat. “She had expressed her desire to take the Gujarat model to the rest of the country,” he added.Experts from Gujarat are now heading the Read India campaign. While in Gujarat it had been a one-year campaign, it is likely to be a longer nationwide campaign. “The challenges are different. Read India campaign has to be coordinated with states and to make it a success their participation is important,” said one of the planners. The exercise is also a cadre-mobiliing exercise for the BJP and RSS. To take the campaign to the gram panchayat level, the sangh will be mobilising its resources. In Gujarat alone RSS-BJP had succeeded in activating its 15,000 volunteers. “To run a nationwide campaign we will need not just the state machinery, but also people who have been working at the grass roots. Many people will be asked to join the movement,” said a senior functionary. The critics however view just developing reading habits cannot be a well conceived plan and is a plank to just collude the masses. “Reading has to come with writing and thinking. It is not just about reading the kind of literature the ministry wants the students to read. It has to come along with mathematical understanding, reasoning and logic. It is just a plot to compel students to read what this government thinks is readable,” said MM Ansari, former member of the UGC.

dna Must Read at 11pm: Top 5 stories that are making news right now

Here are 5 top stories on dnaindia.com at 11pm.

The following quick read will take you through stories that are making news right now. ​1) Student from Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) refuses to accept his MBA degree from Union Minister Smriti Irani. Sameer Gojwari, who completed his MBA from the IUST in 2008, wrote on his Facebook page, “a protest against ‘diminishing freedoms’ in the country.” Read the full report here: After Sahitya Akademi row, student refuses to accept MBA degree from Smriti Irani<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>​2) Former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn quits as head of holding company​Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is stepping down as head of a holding company that technically controls a majority in the German automaker, weeks after his resignation in the wake of the emissions-rigging scandal.​ Read more here. 3) PV Sindhu defeats Carolina Marin, reaches her maiden Super Series finalAce Indian shuttler P V Sindhu today made it to her maiden Super Series final with a stunning upset victory over reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the Denmark Open in Odense. Read our full report here. ​4) German mayoral candidate Henriette Reker stabbed in ‘racist, political’ attackHenriette Reker, an independent close to the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel, suffered serious wounds to the neck in the attack in the western city of Cologne, which is to elect its mayor on Sunday.​ To read the full report, click here. 5) Popular Tinkle characters Suppandi and Shambu are now online!Tinkle has launched a cartoon channel on YouTube with stories from Suppandi and Shambu.​ Read more here.

Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar asks Narendra Modi to make Smriti Irani the Home Minister

“Has any election in Bihar ever been postponed due to law and order issues?”, Nitish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar on Friday hit back on Smriti Irani by asking PM Narendra Modi to make her the Home Minister. Kumar’s jibe was against the Human Resource Development’s comment yesterday on Bihar’s law and order situation. Kumar, speaking at rally in Raghopur said, “If she knows so much of law and order, why doesn’t Modi make her the Home Minister?” , reports The Economic Times.Irani had termed a JDU-RJD rule Bihar a ‘jungle raj’. Addressing women members of the audience in a rally had said, “I am sure you (women) don’t want a spectre of jungle raj to grip Bihar again,” Irani said and promised that the BJP-led NDA government will ensure development and progress which has eluded the state for a long time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read- Bihar Elections 2015: 55% voter turnout registered in second phase of pollingKumar countered Irani demanding to know why the Centre had slashed the funds for the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. He said that the BJP was creating fear about Bihar while showing Gujarat as a model state. “Has any election in Bihar ever been postponed due to law and order issues? Elections were held in time even in Jammu and Kashmir but not Gujarat,” he comparing the states law and order.He also warned about communal tensions flaring up on the eve of Dussehra and Moharam. “Be very careful. Someone may throw a bone somewhere, a cow may be slaughtered somewhere, there will be an attempt to spoil the atmosphere,” he said.Also read: Arvind Kejriwal predicts a ‘Delhi’ for Narendra Modi in Bihar, says BJP to lose badlyHe also said that BJP raised the reservation issue but also spoke about the PM coming from an OBC caste. Saying that the BJP has no influence over the RSS, he said that the party failed to criticise Mohan Bhagwat’s statement on quota.

Double foundation for Bihar varsity – first Meira Kumar, then Smriti Irani

“I had reminded her (Irani) at the IIM Bodh Gaya function that the foundation stone you are going to lay has already been laid by Meira Kumar,” said Bihar Education Minister PK Shahi. But she went ahead anyway, the Janata Dal leader said.

Some projects never get off the ground and some get twice lucky. Like the Central University of South Bihar (CUSB) in poll-bound Bihar’s Gaya town that has seen two foundation ceremonies in 17 months – first by then Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar in February 2014 and again by Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani who insisted on a second round during a recent visit.Irani was at Bodh Gaya on August 31 to inaugurate the academic session of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Gaya after which she laid the foundation stone of the university. Apparently intended to send a political message ahead of the state elections, this was just days before the model code of conduct came into force – and despite being told that Meira Kumar had already done so the previous year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I had reminded her (Irani) at the IIM Bodh Gaya function that the foundation stone you are going to lay has already been laid by Meira Kumar,” said Bihar Education Minister PK Shahi. But she went ahead anyway, the Janata Dal leader said.”She told me that the foundation stone had been laid by the previous government but no work has been done so far. I hope that now things will move at a faster pace,” Shahi told dna. Interestingly, both Meira Kumar, who was and continues to be the chancellor of the university, and Shahi were not invited for the function.”I attended the function when Meira Kumar laid the foundation stone. Probably that is why I was not invited to attend the ‘re-laying’ ceremony,” Shahi said.”I got to know about it only on the day it was happening,” the former speaker told dna. According to Vice Chancellor Harish Chand Rathore, Irani and Meira Kumar laid the foundation stones of two different parts of the building. “Meira Kumar had laid the foundation for the main campus. But a university campus has several buildings. Irani laid the foundation stone for seven buildings as part of phase two,” he said.But this explanation failed to impress many. Shahi said Irani’s move was a desperate attempt of the BJP to gain some poll mileage. “All this is just pre- poll gimmick. The BJP has nothing to offer to the people of Bihar,” he said. Whatever the explanation now, the university will now have two plaques – one by Meira Kumar and another by Smriti Irani – he said, taking a jibe at the HRD minister.

Government holds talks with IIM directors over contentious bill

The meeting was chaired by Higher Education Secretary V S Oberoi.

Picture for representational purpose only

Seeking to allay concerns about the contentious IIM bill, government on Friday engaged in lengthy deliberations with the institute directors who have raised fears about the legislation undermining their autonomy.The meeting could follow another round of consultation with the IIM directors as the HRD Ministry has earlier hinted at “reviewing” and “correcting any inconsistencies” in the controversial draft Bill. “We are working hard to arrive at a consensus,” said one of the IIM directors emerging out of the meeting while a second director of a new IIM was hopeful of the revised draft being approved soon before it is taken up in the Winter Session of Parliament. Ministry officials on the other hand maintained that the meeting was called to understand the views of the directors on the contentious clauses and suggestions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting was chaired by Higher Education Secretary V S Oberoi. HRD Minister Smriti Irani had in August held an hour-long discussion with the chairperson of IIM-Bangalore’s board of governors, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and described as a “fallacy” the criticism surrounding the Bill. The government has been accused of having intentions of gaining some kind of control through the Bill in almost every decision that the institutes take.The IIMs have also pointed to provisions that allegedly infringe on the autonomy of the business schools. “Government is trying to ensure that we have an accountable structure without affecting autonomy,” Shaw had said. She had also hinted that “some kind of rephrasing” could address their concerns.The Bill seeks to give the IIMs degree-granting powers and convert them into institutes of national importance. In a written reply in Parliament earlier, Irani had said the Bill “intends to ensure greater synergy and financial autonomy along with commensurate accountability in academic and financial matters of the IIMs”.

Rustomjee gets a huge lead in Abhyudaya Nagar project

19 societies out of 48 back it; Developer needs 25 societies to win the mammoth project

One of the Abhudaya Nagar society buildings
Abhinav P Kocharekarl
dna
The Abhyudaya Nagar redevelopment project, worth Rs 5,000 crore, in Kalachowkie, is turning out to be a battle ground for top city developers, who are using all tricks in the book to grab the project.Abhyudaya Nagar, which sits on 33 acres of prime land in central Mumbai, consists of 48 buildings and 3,238 residential tenements. When the project comes up for redevelopment, it will be one of the biggest cluster redevelopment project in the city’s history.In the bidding, four developers – Dynamix (DB) Realty, Keystone (Rustomjee), Ornate Housing Private Ltd-Tata Housing consortium and Omkar Developers – were short-listed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 48 buildings started the process of the choosing the developer individually in their respective society meetings, and 21 have zeroed in on their choice. While 19 societies have chosen Keystone (Rustomjee), only two have selected Ornate.To get the entire project, a developer needs the support of at least 25 societies.Ornate had opposed Keystone, saying that its candidature was rejected in the pre-bidding stage as its conditional bidding violated the bidding/tender document norms.Keystone had promised 530 sq ft of carpet area and additional 50 sq ft, if Mhada approves its plan. The tender document says that developers should not submit pre-condition bids.The project management consultant appointed by the Abhyudaya Nagar Grihanirman Sansthan had also rejected Keystone and wanted only the other three to be considered.But the Abhyudaya Nagar management committee decided to back Keystone, arguing that residents will be deprived of all options before them if Keystone were to be left out. Boman Irani, Rustomjee chairman, said that they have not done anything wrong, and, above all, people preferred them. “We are very much in the race and we are confident of winning the project,” Irani said.As far as Ornate is considered, industry insiders say that there was an instance of cheque-bouncing in one of their earlier projects. While redeveloping a small society – Allhad Housing Society — in Prabhadevi, rent cheques worth Rs 40,000 given to society members by Ornate are said to have bounced. “If this is the case, how will Ornate be able to undertake and complete this mammoth project of 33 acres? To undertake such a project, the developer should be financially sound,” said an industry insider.Vijay Machindar, director, Ornate Housing Pvt Ltd, said as long as Tata is on board with them, no one should worry about liquidity. “We want every process to be done in a legal and transparent manner,” he said.

Smriti Irani calls for simplifying Sanskrit, making it a language of the masses

HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday made a strong pitch for promotion of Sanskrit and making it a language of the masses by simplifying it in schools and holding more research in the discipline.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani

HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday made a strong pitch for promotion of Sanskrit and making it a language of the masses by simplifying it in schools and holding more research in the discipline.The Union minister also said that as the Sanskrit is language of yoga, students from the discipline should exploit the growing interest for yoga world-wide.”All the Sanskrit universities should also generate yoga teachers,” she said. “If we want to make Sanskrit a language of the masses, it should be promoted in simple standard Sanskrit,” Irani said at the fifth convocation of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The teaching of Sanskrit should be evolved with the contemporary requirements and modern technology be used in its promotion, she underlined, adding the course curriculum should also be “refined”.Utilising the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform and with the adoption of modern technology, the language can be promoted in the country and Sanskrit prose and dramas can be made available to students at minimal rates, she said.Talking about her vision for Sanskrit for the next ten years, Irani said each state should create at least two to three scholars in the discipline. “Teachers, who can impart the language in a simple way from the secondary to the higher education level, should be trained,” she said. The language should be re-established in Sanskrit schools, Sanskrit universities and Sanskrit departments, she said.Irani called on the Sanskrit scholars and students enrolled in Sanskrit institutes to think beyond teaching and explore career opportunities in other sectors as well. The minister also appealed to the Sanskrit scholars to engage and develop literature that reflects today’s society.More and more research should be conducted in the discipline so that it benefits the common man and is useful for the future of the country, she said. Laying stress on greater promotion of Sanskrit, the HRD Minister said if Sanskrit has to become a popular language there is a need to develop standard Sanskrit, otherwise it will remain only a language of a few scholars.Observing that the standard of Sanskrit teaching should also be improved, she said it should be taken to non-Sanskrit area of studies and standard of textbooks should be enhanced. Noting that BR Ambedkar had desired to make Sanskrit the national language, Irani said though the proposal did not go through in the Constituent Assembly, it was accepted in the Chapter 4 of the Constitution that for the usage of Hindi as the national language, the vocabulary should be drawn mainly from Sanskrit.She also laid stress on using the Internet to spread Sanskrit to every village and the furthest corners of the country. “Being the language of Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedanta, Sanskrit now spans across the world. Sanskrit belongs to all. This is a language that unites the country,” she said.Also Read: Sanskrit is the most useful language for science, technology, claims Rajnath SinghFor Sanskrit Diwas, DD News launches Facebook, Twitter accounts in Sanskrit

New draft education policy will be out by December: Smriti Irani

Efforts are underway to prepare the draft of a new education policy by December with involvement of people at the district level, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani said on Saturday.

Smriti Irani

dna Research & Archives
Efforts are underway to prepare the draft of a new education policy by December with involvement of people at the district level, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani said on Saturday.”Till now, education policies were prepared by some persons at the national level, but people at ground level were never asked,” she said. Irani said that on how new education policy should take shape, she was holding meetings with education minister of every state and district magistrates. The HRD Minister was speaking at a conclave organised by Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Till now plans were framed at national or state level. From education point of view if we prepare district-wise plan then the systemic change we want can be achieved,” she said.She said that there was a need to understand what people at the district level need.”I am going to request our institutions to revamp their curriculum and include technology learned in foreign countries in Indian institutions,” the Minister said. She said if students do not have much choice then it was natural they would think to study abroad.Irani said how education increases employability was a subject of discussion, but it should also be seen that what it means in the life of a man.”How our education increases employability has been a subject of discussion,” she said when asked about 23 lakh applicants, including PhD holders, applying for 368 posts of peon in Uttar Pradesh. She said what was the real meaning of education in life was also a matter which should be thought about.”So, for me while employability is a corner stone, it has been equally important for me as to what type of citizens we prepare,” she said.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to be next vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University?

It is learnt that HRD Minister Smriti Irani spoke to Swamy about the offer. However, there was no official communication from the Ministry.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy

HRD Ministry is believed to have offered the post of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice chancellor to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, but he has put some conditions before accepting the coveted post.It is learnt that HRD Minister Smriti Irani spoke to Swamy about the offer. However, there was no official communication from the Ministry.It also remained unclear what riders the BJP leader has placed before the Ministry for accepting the offer.Interestingly, the development comes even before the Union Ministry is to finalise the search-cum-selection committee for selecting the new VC. The current VC S K Sopory is set to retire in January next year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the rules, a panel of names selected by the committee is sent to the President ( who is Visitor of the central varsities) by the HRD Ministry before the announcement of the new VC. The advertisements for inviting applications from the interested candidates for appointment of the new VC was given in August this year.

dna 5 Must Reads at 6 pm: BJP hits back at Rahul, Smriti Irani belligerent, Indian squad for SA series picked and more

Here are 5 of the must read stories on dna at 6 pm.

dna Must Reads at 6 pm

dna Research & Archives
Here are 5 of the must read stories on dna at 6 pm.1) BJP hits back at Rahul Gandhi, calls him childish: Hitting out at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for his “suit boot” remarks against Narendra Modi, Union Minister M Venkaiah Nadu on Sunday termed it as “childish and immature” and accused him of taking the name of Prime Minister to remain in the news.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Smriti Irani dismisses Congress notice against her: Union Human Resource and Development Minister (HRD) Smriti Irani on Sunday hit back at the Congress Party over the legal notice issued to her, saying she is not afraid and is ready to face 100 such notices for raising the voice of the people.3) India pick squad for SA series, Gurkeerat in: Young Punjab all-rounder Gurkeerat Singh today earned his maiden call-up into the Indian ODI team while Karnataka left-arm seamer Srinath Aravind was a surprise inclusion in the T20 squad picked by the selectors for the limited overs leg against South Africa.4) Iraqi soldiers flee to Europe for better life: Some Iraqi soldiers are abandoning their posts and joining a wave of civilian refugees headed to Europe, raising new doubts about the cohesion of the country’s Western-backed security forces in the fight against Islamic State militants.5) Internet ban lifted in Gandhinagar, Vadodara: The mobile internet ban was lifted on Sunday in Gandhinagar and Vadodara as the situation remained peaceful in Gujarat, a day after sporadic incidents of violence took place in some parts of the state following Patel quota leader Hardik Patel’s arrest.

UP Congress sends legal notice to Smriti Irani for ‘false’ allegations against Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust

In the notice, Irani has been accused of making “false and malicious” allegations against RGCT as also the Congress party in her two public utterances.

Smriti Irani

Congress in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday issued a legal notice to Union Minister Smriti Irani over her “false and malicious” allegation that Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust has grabbed land of farmers in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi.In the notice, Irani has been accused of making “false and malicious” allegations against RGCT as also the Congress party in her two public utterances. The lawyer of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee told Irani that the Congress party has been accused by her of maintaining silence when an organisation closely linked to the party is alleged to have been a land grabber which has usurped agricultural lands belonging to farmers in Amethi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also Read: Rajiv Gandhi Trust land sale: Smriti Irani levels land grabbing charges on Gandhi familyDetailing the facts of the case, the lawyer has told the Union Minister that “by attacking this entire process of transfer of land to our clients, the effect is to undermine and declared as mala fide a transaction sanctified by the court.”Asking the Union Minister to cease and desist from making any such imputations against the party, the lawyer Prashanta Chandra Sen told her that his client will have “no option” but to pursue appropriate legal remedies, both civil and criminal, if she failed to do so.HRD Minister Smriti Irani has now responded to the notice. She has challenged Rahul Gandhi to put her behind bars and vowed to fight for rights of people of Amethi from there. Irani had unsuccessfully contested against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in the last Lok Sabha polls.

BJP will win despite JD(U), RJD, Congress alliance: Smriti Irani

Top leaders of the alliance, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav had on Sunday shared dais at a ‘Swabhiman Rally’ to put up a joint show of strength against the BJP.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani was speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of Central University of South Bihar at Gaya Panchanpur on Monday.

PTI photo
Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Monday said the JD(U)-RJD-Congress and SP Secular Grand Alliance will not work in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections and “BJP will win despite all their efforts”.”These forces had also come together during the Lok Sabha polls, but BJP led-by Narendra Modi won. They have united again for the Assembly polls, but BJP will win despite all their efforts,” Irani said.Top leaders of the alliance, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav had on Sunday shared dais at a ‘Swabhiman Rally’ to put up a joint show of strength against the BJP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani was speaking on the sidelines of a function, at which she launched one year certificate course in community health for the state in collaboration with National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).”Our aim is to train 80,000 community health workers in Bihar every year. Class-X pass community health workers with zero to three years of experience will be eligible for it without leaving their jobs,” she said.The Minister said the course would contribute towards realising the Prime Minister’s dream of clean, healthy and strong India. Bihar has around four lakh health workers. She said, “533 Primary Health Centres (PHC) functioning in blocks across the state will function as study centres of this programme and health workers working in them can undergo training.”Talking about special students with hearing and speech disabilities, Irani said she has asked the Union Skill Development Ministry to develop special skills for such students.”Such students are already self-dependent, but we want them to be able to support their families and etch their name in the society,” Irani added.

Smriti Irani to visit IIM Gaya

I am going to Gaya to meet with students of IIM. Some buildings of the central university have been constructed from the point of view of academia and hostel, Irani told media.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Monday said she will be going to Gaya to meet with students of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM).I am going to Gaya to meet with students of IIM. Some buildings of the central university have been constructed from the point of view of academia and hostel, Irani told media.I have come to attend the first phase of training of near about 80,000 health workers of Bihar through Patna’s National Open School, she added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Amethi court settles land dispute, row simmers

On Sunday, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani had alleged that the Gandhi family had “grabbed” the land leased to Samrat Bicycles Limited, an allegation which the Congress has termed “wild and baseless”.

The Amethi district administration on Wednesday put an end to the controversy over 65 acres of land sold by Samrat Bicycles Limited to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) in an auction. As per the latest orders, the land would once again vest with the UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) which had acquired it for industrial use in the early 80s. However, it seems, the attendant political controversy would continue to simmer for long.Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi broke his silence on the issue on Wednesday, saying: “RGCT has been doing tremendous work in running women’s SHGs (self help groups). It has transformed the lives of millions of women in UP. They (BJP leaders) should first see the kind of work RGCT has done before making such baseless allegations.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Sunday, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani had alleged that the Gandhi family had “grabbed” the land leased to Samrat Bicycles Limited, an allegation which the Congress has termed “wild and baseless”.Amethi sub divisional magistrate (SDM) Vandita Srivastava made it clear in her Wednesday order that the ownership of the land would once again vest with UPSIDC, Kanpur, which had leased the land to the bicycle company.”The land ownership was transferred in the name of Samrat Bicycles due to a mistake some time in 1987-88. In November 2014, the UPSIDC filed a case in the SDM court to get back the land ownership,” Amethi DM Jagatraj Tripathi told reporters on Wednesday.Samrat Bicycles had sold the land that it had got on lease in an auction to the Trust in February this year for Rs 20.01 crore. Speaking here on Tuesday, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said the land was bought “under due legal process”.UP BJP president Laxmikant Bajpayee told reporters that the Congress’s first family had been disgraced by the land controversy. “Instead of any development work, they have concentrated on grabbing land acquired from poor farmers,” he said. Samrat approached HC Samrat Bicycles had taken loans running into crores of rupees but couldn’t repay them. It approached the Delhi High Court for liquidation in 1993, which appointed a liquidator for the auction of the company’s assets. RGCT outbid competitors at the auction and bought the land for Rs 20.01 crore.

Amethi: SDM orders Rajiv Gandhi Trust land be returned to UPSIDC

Union Minister Smriti Irani questioned the sale of the land to the Trust and had accused the Gandhi family of “land-grabbing”

Union Minister Smriti Irani questioned the sale of the land to the Trust and had accused the Gandhi family of “land-grabbing”

File Photo
A revenue court on Wednesday ordered return of the land sold to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust by an industrial house to Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC). The order passed by sub-divisional magistrate, Gauriganj, Vandita Srivastava comes days after Union Minister Smriti Irani questioned the sale of the land to the Trust and had accused the Gandhi family of “land-grabbing”. The land of Kauhar village already belonged to UPSIDC which was illegally transferred in the name of the Trust, Srivastava said.Asked about the order, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said the Trust “has explained itself very very clearly”. “It runs a self-help group system that is the largest in Uttar Pradesh. They have created SHGs for over 1.4 million women. They have transformed lives of millions and millions of women there. So Mrs Irani should go into the details of what work they have done and exactly what they are doing before she says anything,” he told reporters in Jammu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Counsel Uma Shanker Pandey, who has been representing the farmers, said the regional manager of UPSIDC had written a letter to Amethi district magistrate which stated that as the land was given on lease to the company, the auction process should be cancelled and it should be returned to UPSIDC. Pandey said that on the basis of that letter, the DM lodged a complaint of “correction of paper”.He said in the order issued in the case ‘UPSIDC versus Samrat Bicycle’ given today, it has been directed that the allotment of land in the name of the company should be cancelled and it should be returned to UPSIDC.Pandey said that in the year 1983, 65 acres of land belonging to farmers was acquired in Kauhar village and given to Samrat bicycle on lease to set up a manufacturing plant. But the company closed down and to repay the loan taken by it from different financial institutions, it auctioned the land, which was taken on 90 years lease. He alleged that through a fake ‘khatauni’ (land record), the company claimed to be the owner of the land and had said that the amount raised from the auction should be adjusted against the repayment of debts. Pandey said the Trust bought the land through auction and the farmers came to know about it when “auction change” was filed on February 27.

Gandhi family has done a lot for nation, says Hanumantha Rao

“Indira Gandhi sacrificed her life for country, even Rajiv ji,” he added.

Three generations of Gandhi family couldn’t fulfil aspirations of Amethi.

Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao on Sunday lashed out at Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani for her remarks on ‘Gandhi family’, saying that the family has done a lot for nation. “Every time she goes to Amethi, she wants to criticise Rahul Gandhi and Indira Gandhi family. I cannot understand why she is criticising….If it is Amit Shah or Narendra Modi, then we can reply… Earlier Sushma Swaraj used to criticise Gandhi family, now Amit Shah has given this work to Smriti Irani, it is not a new thing, we are ready to counter,” Rao said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This family has done a lot for this country, Indira Gandhi sacrificed her life for country, even Rajiv ji,” he added. Irani had earlier in the day lashed out at the Gandhi family for not fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Amethi. “The people were expecting railway line to Amethi, three generations of Gandhi family couldn’t fulfil it,” said Irani while addressing a rally in Amethi.

Smriti Irani pulls up Gandhi family in Amethi

What happened to 65 acres of farmers lands, which was allotted to Samrat Cycles in 80s she further asked.

Union Human Resources and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Sunday lashed out at the Gandhi family for not fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Amethi.”The people were expecting railway line to Amethi, three generations of Gandhi family couldn t fulfil it,” said Irani while addressing a rally in Amethi.On February 24, 2015, Rajiv Gandhi charitable trust bought 65 acres of farmer’s land. Who got the jobs she asked.What happened to 65 acres of farmers lands, which was allotted to Samrat Cycles in 80s she further asked.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP leader also used the occasion to highlight the initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.Irani, who is presently on a visit to Amethi, will distribute insurance coverage money to 25,000 women.Irani had unsuccessfully contested against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi from the Amethi parliamentary constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Smriti Irani seeks explanation from CBSE over spelling mistakes in congratulatory letter

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Friday sought an explanation from CBSE over the spelling mistakes in a congratulatory letter send on her behalf to a school teacher for the good results in the board exams.

Smriti Irani

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Friday sought an explanation from CBSE over the spelling mistakes in a congratulatory letter send on her behalf to a school teacher for the good results in the board exams.The letter sent by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) went viral soon after the teacher — Richa Kumar of DPS Bhilai — posted it in social media, prompting instant reactions from cross sections of the society. The Minister’s name is spelt incorrectly in Hindi as well as the words “minister” and “sansadhan (in Hindi)”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have sought an explanation from CBSE as there was spelling mistakes in some of the letters,” she told reporters. CBSE has apologised for the mistake.Stung by the errors, she also tweeted “would not mis spell my own name in Hindi. Have asked concerned organisation to give an explanation”.Congratulatory letters are sent by the HRD Minister every year to the top performers of CBSE board examinations as well as to teachers.”Thank you for congratulating me on the excellence I exemplify. However, having been a teacher for the last twenty years, your official letter head is an affront to my sensibilities as a Language teacher. The attached photographs are self explanatory. Please ensure that at least the people who work for you, in your ministry, are well educated,” Kumar said in her Facebook posting.

CABE recommends revocation of no-detention policy

Irani has asked states to reply on the issue within a month
BB Yadav
dna
Class 10 board examinations may be back from next academic session. Members of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on Wednesday reached consensus on revoking the ‘no detention’ policy at school level and re-introducing compulsory board examination in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) affiliated schools. Ever since coming to power at the Centre, the BJP government has been mulling the idea of reintroducing class 10 board examination. In the 63rd CABE meeting and the first one called by the BJP government, the states unanimously agreed to re-introduce the board system.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“In the report tabled, it has been submitted that the ‘no detention’ policy should be revoked. Nineteen state education ministers present in the meeting were of the same view,” said Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani.The HRD ministry has, however, asked all the states to give in their written submission on the issue within a month, so that the ministry can take a firm view on the matter. Under RTE Act, as part of the ‘no detention’ policy, no student can be held back in a class for having failed to secure a passing grade. The policy was applicable up to class 8.The HRD ministry is of the view that ‘no detention’ policy and re-introducing boards cannot be dealt with in isolation. Consequently, appearing for class 10, board examination was also made optional.However, with dissent voices from stake holders including parents and teachers, the idea of re-introducing boards has been in discussion.Since no detention policy is a part of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, revoking the clause would mean amending the RTE. If issues meet the deadlines and the RTE Act is amended by Parliament, the HRD ministry will be able to re-introduce the board examination from next academic session.In the day-long meeting, the issue of skill development and technical training was also discussed at length. A CABE sub-committee headed by minister of state in the HRD ministry Ram Shankar Katheria has been constituted to study the ways to improve and enhance skills and technical education at school and higher levels. The sub-committee is to submit its report in one year.The committee has also reached consensus on bringing National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme to form a core of a series of activities. “The proposal was discussed. The issue remains underconsideration. Appropriate structures will be created so that these voluntary schemes could be an integral part of learning,” said a CABE member.Two other sub-committees to improve infrastructure and learning outcomes and to bring back the out of school children into the mainstream education system have also been constituted.

Merit vs caste: Reservation in schools doesn’t automatically ensure children emancipation

This is a sequel to my co-columnist G Pramod Kumar’s article titled 90% IIT Roorkee dropouts are backward caste dated 6 August 2015. If death is the greatest leveler at the end of life, education is the greatest leveler especially for the one not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Our own country is a standing testimony to this. The Infosys promoters, though not from backward caste, showed that education can truly empower everyone democratically provided he has fire in his belly. The recent crop of successful start-ups in the tech based economy proves that Infosys wasn’t a one off phenomenon, a huge flash in the pan.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

But then reservation at institutions of higher education is a sure recipe for disaster. To be sure, primary education must be free and provided to everyone without discrimination. In our scheme of things right to free education is guaranteed for children aged between six and 14 but thereafter students have to make it to institutions of higher education on their own steam without any leg up or hand holding. There can be affirmative action in the American sense — if two students in IIT entrance with same grades or marks for example are competing for the same seat, the one from the backward caste should be given the state. This is not the same as blanket reservation. A blanket reservation that pays no heed to merit can backfire at higher education as Pramod Kumar’s article vividly brings out.

Kapil Sibal erred gravely when as human resources development minister he ordained 25 percent reservation (free seats) in private schools. Teachers of such schools are finding it impossible to bring such children on par with other bright children despite their best efforts. Best education can be imparted but children must have appetite for learning. There is a limit to play way pedagogy in schools and in IITs play way pedagogy has to give way to innovative learning. Be that as it may, Sibal compounded his initial error with another — he abolished annual examinations as criterion for being promoted to the next class till class 10. He thought apart from other children cross subsidizing children from the bottom of the social pyramid, there would be a rub off effect as well but that is sadly not happening especially with smooth sailing up to class 10 being assured that makes everyone complacent. The earlier examination system warts and all at least had the merit of compelling children to study at least in the run up to the annual examinations. Children who complete their school education huffing and puffing obviously cannot be expected to do well in IITs and other demanding places of education. This applies to all students but its side effects are felt more by those children who are lulled to believe from K-12 and beyond that handholding would see them through.

This is not to suggest that children from the poorer strata of the society or from backward castes should be condemned to mediocrity or illiteracy. The answer lies in upgrading the government schools so that they impart education at par with their private counterparts in terms of quality. This would call for more painstaking efforts in appointment of teachers among others. Alternatively, the US model can be adopted. In the USA, 87 percent of children at the K-12 level go to public schools. These schools are private to be sure but get all sorts of assistance from the government both federal and state as well as from the local municipality including free land in return for charging moderate fees regulated by the education board drawn from the locals and assure admission to every child living in the locality. These public schools impart the same quality education that their private counterparts impart.

Sadly in our country, the idea of public schools has somehow acquired elitist connotations. In fact there is nothing public about our private schools except that they get land and electricity cheap from the government.

Youth Congress workers show black flags to Smriti Irani, arrested

Police said six Youth Congress workers were arrested and cases registered against them for waving black flags and attempting to block the Minister’s way when she arrived here for attending a function.

Smriti Irani

File Photo
A day after Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani hit out at Congress using the dynastic stick over Sushma Swaraj issue, a group of Youth Congress workers on Saturday waved black flag at her at the airport here. Police said six Youth Congress workers were arrested and cases registered against them for waving black flags and attempting to block the Minister’s way when she arrived here for attending a function. The workers, who raised slogans “go back”, were protesting her remarks against Congress President Sonia Gandhi, police said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Joining issue with Sonia Gandhi for her “theatrics” jibe against Swaraj, Irani had yesterday shot back asking if the Congress president wanted to say that Parliament had become a “theatre”.

Smriti Irani concedes academic stress leading to drop-outs in IITs, NITs; rejects notion it’s causing suicides

Interestingly, while responding to a supplementary query on whether academic pressure is causing suicide by IIT students, Irani asserted this was “incorrect”

File Picture

Over 4,400 students dropped out of IITs and NITs in the last three years due to various reasons including “academic stress”, the government said on Wednesday and assured that corrective actions have been initiated.As many as 2,060 students dropped out from various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) from 2012-13 to 2014-15, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani informed the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.During this three-year period, 2,352 students dropped out from the National Institutes of Technology (NITs).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The reasons for dropouts may be attributed to shifting to other colleges/institutions, personal reasons, medical reasons, getting jobs during PG courses, inability to cope with academic stress etc,” Irani said in a written reply. In 2014-15, IITs witnessed 757 dropouts which was higher than 697 dropouts (2013-14) and 606 (2012-13). During this period, IIT Roorkee saw the highest number of dropouts at 228, followed by IIT Kharagpur (209) and IIT Delhi (169).Interestingly, there were no dropouts at IITs in Mandi, Jodhpur, Kanpur, Madras and Ropar during 2014-15 period. There are 16 IITs and 30 NITs in the country. Of the NITs, there were 717 dropouts in 2014-15, lower than 785 seen in the year-ago period. In 2012-13, the dropout numbers stood at 850.Irani said there is a mechanism for helping students who are under stress. The government is committed to address issues related to academic stress, she added. Listing out various initiatives that are in place to minimise dropouts at IITs, Irani said there is a guidance and counselling unit, headed by a faculty member. It works closely along with a number of faculty counsellors and advisors to “identify students facing emotional difficulties and guide them to professional counsellors for help”. Interestingly, while responding to a supplementary query on whether academic pressure is causing suicide by IIT students, Irani asserted this was “incorrect”. Referring to the member, the Minister said his indication that “children in the IIT ecosystem and IIT family are committing suicides because they are unable to keep up with the pressure that the academic environment in the IIT has, is incorrect”. Irani also assured that any challenge that IIT students present to the faculty within the IIT ecosystem would be met in a supportive fashion.To another query, she said, “I had said that I contest the fact that there is no mechanism available within the IITs to address issues with regard to either academic stress” or that more problems are faced by children from weaker segments of society. “I would like to firmly state here with all humility that to say that students do not take stress is not a statement that I made. I said that we have provided a mechanism that a student under stress within this eco system can approach and seek help and guidance from,” Irani noted.She was responding to AIADMK member M Thambidurai, also the Deputy Speaker, who asked the Minister about the anomaly in the written and oral responses. To a query about IIT Roorkee expelling 73 students last month for less academic scores, Irani said the IIT’s action was challenged in court. The court had upheld IITs’ right to ensure that academic performance, that the students themselves gave an undertaking to uphold, was met.”IIT, Roorkee undertook an initiative to take these students back only if they yet again fulfill those academic standards that they gave an undertaking when they entered into the system,” she noted.AIADMK member P Sundaram asked her about the issue at IIT, Chennai where students were apparently prevented from enriching their knowledge through forums like Periyar-Ambedkar Study Circle. In response, Irani said in the case of IIT Chennai, it is the institution, the Academic Executive Council and the Students Council which has elected representatives of student bodies within the institution, that set benchmarks for activities undertaken by any individual within that campus.

Kerala’s first IIT starts functioning at Palakkad

Irani urged students to ensure that society benefits from their activities in the campus.

IIT
File Photo

Scripting a new chapter in the higher education sector in Kerala, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) started functioning from a temporary campus on Monday. The IIT-P campus was opened at a function here with Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani addressing the students through video conferencing. The official opening ceremony of the campus would be held later this month, official sources said. In her address, Irani urged students to ensure that society benefits from their activities in the campus. IIT-Palakkad offers four B-Tech streams – Computer Science and Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering – in the initial phase.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As many as 117 students, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, have been admitted to the new campus. Classes began in a temporary campus near Valayar here and it would be shifted to a 500-acre permanent campus in Puthussery in the district in three years, after completion of land acquisition process and construction of buildings, the sources said. Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan was among the dignitaries who attended the opening function.

Congress leader Gurudas Kamat gets NCW notice for offensive remarks against Smriti Irani

Speaking in Rajasthan on Thursday, Kamat had referred to Irani as a “poncha lagane waali (cleaning woman)” while questioning the minister’s credentials to hold the charge of the education portfolio.

Congress leader Gurudas Kamat was on Saturday asked by the National Commission for Women to explain within a week his alleged offensive remarks against HRD minister Smriti Irani that have invited criticism.Speaking in Rajasthan on Thursday, Kamat had referred to Irani as a “poncha lagane waali (cleaning woman)” while questioning the minister’s credentials to hold the charge of the education portfolio.”We have sent a showcause notice to Gurudas Kamat over his remarks about Smriti Irani. We have asked him to reply in a week’s time,” said Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chairperson of the National Commission for Women.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While campaigning for local body elections in the BJP-ruled state, Kamat had said, “I am from Mumbai and I have seen her doing cleaning job in a hotel there”.”Her family’s financial condition was not good.Therefore, she worked in a hotel in Versova. Since, Smriti was only 10th pass, she cleaned tables in the hotel.” “There is a buzz everywhere that an uneducated sister has been elevated to the position of the education minister of this country,” Kamat had said.BJP leaders in Rajasthan had slammed Kamat’s remarks, saying such “shallow statements” reflect the desperation of the Congress.

Delhi HC exempts Smriti Irani from appearance in court in defamation case

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday exempted Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani from appearing before a trial court in a defamation case filed by Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTIUnion HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Justice Suresh Kaith granted exemption to Irani, who was to appear on 1 August.

The high court posted for 13 August the plea of Irani against summons issued to her to appear in court. The court of a metropolitan magistrate had issued orders on 6 June.

Appearing for Irani, senior advocate Maninder Singh and Anil Soni sought to quash the trial and the summoning order on the grounds that the case is “false”.

Nirupam, a former MP, alleged that on 20 December, 2012, when Gujarat’s assembly poll results were announced, Irani had made “defamatory and scurrilous comments” against him during a TV debate.

Irani too had also filed a similar complaint against the Congress leader for allegedly defaming her during the same debate aired on a private news channel.

IANS

Irani meets St Stephen’s molestation victim, directs DU to give stipend, access to lab

New Delhi: HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday met the St Stephen’s College molestation victim and later asked Delhi University to ensure that the girl gets her stipend and unrestricted access to the lab, and that her research supervisor is immediately changed.

The research scholar of St Stephen’s College, who has accused a college professor of molesting her, met the minister, along with CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, during which the minister assured her of justice.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Following the meeting, the minister issued directives to Delhi University, to aid and support the girl.

“The minister has already intervened in the issue and has conveyed to the university that till the time the ICC completes its probe, it should ensure that the girl gets her stipend and has unrestricted access to the laboratory and that her research supervisor is immediately changed,” Karat told PTI.

“We took up the case with her and she said that she will categorically uphold the law against sexual harassment and will definitely take action to bring relief to the girl,” she said.

The victim had approached police last month, alleging that she was molested by Satish Kumar, an assistant professor in the college’s Chemistry Department.

She had also accused college principal Valson Thampu of “shielding” the teacher when the matter was reported to him. She had also made public a set of recordings which she claimed to have made during her meetings with the principal over the issue.

Taking cognizance of the entire matter, the HRD Ministry had sought an action taken report from Delhi University and St. Stephen’s College and asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to ensure that the investigation by the institution’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is expedited.

The girl has, however, withdrawn her complaint from the ICC saying she has lost faith in its proceedings and therefore is seeking redress elsewhere.

The Delhi High Court had ordered a stay on the accused’s arrest till 17 August.

St Stephen’s College principal Thampu drew flak over the incident with repeated demands for his resignation from several quarters.

PTI

Yoga won’t be compulsory in Kendriya Vidyalayas, says Smriti Irani

New Delhi: Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday said that yoga will not be treated as a mandatory subject for students in Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, though it has been made a part of physical activity programme in schools.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTIUnion HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Stating this in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the minister said, “Yoga is not a compulsory subject in Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, though it is part of sports and physical activity in schools.” She was responding to a question in the Lower House whether the government has decided to make yoga mandatory in all central  government-run schools, including KVs and JNVs.

The ministry of AYUSH had yesterday said that “there are 15,962 schools affiliated to the CBSE who have already been advised to provide compulsory 40-45 minutes of physical activities or games to the students of Classes I-X every day.”

The minister had also said that students of Classes XI-XII should participate in physical activity/ games/mass physical training/yoga for at least two periods per week (90-120 minutes/ week),” it said based on the information provided by the HRD ministry.

Irani, in her reply, today said, “The syllabus on yoga from upper primary to secondary stage has been developed by NCERT and two books for yoga for upper primary and secondary stages were released during the celebration of International Yoga Day.”

Irani also said that National Council of Teacher Education has developed modules on yoga education for Diploma in Elementary Education,  Bachelor of Education and Master of Education programme.

PTI

IIM bill: Government to take decision after considering all opinions and suggestions

Lok Sabha Members such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Kamal Nath, M K Raghavan, Jyotiraditya Scindia, V Panneerselvam, P K Sreemathi Teacher and M K Raghavan had sought to know if the government proposes to bring forward the bill and whether the key provisions have been objected by the IIM directors and the suggestions received among others.
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dna Research & Archives
Facing open criticism over the draft IIM bill, Government on Wednesday said it has received opinions and suggestions from the stakeholders about the bill and will take a “decision” after taking them into consideration.”After consideration of all the opinions and suggestions, a decision will be taken by the Central Government,” HRD Minister Smriti Irani told Lok Sabha on Wednesday in a written reply without elaborating further.Lok Sabha Members such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Kamal Nath, M K Raghavan, Jyotiraditya Scindia, V Panneerselvam, P K Sreemathi Teacher and M K Raghavan had sought to know if the government proposes to bring forward the bill and whether the key provisions have been objected by the IIM directors and the suggestions received among others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its reply, the Minister said the bill “intends to ensure greater synergy and financial autonomy along with commensurate accountability in academic and financial matters of the IIMs”.Heads of these institutes have contended that the bill will compromise with the “autonomy” of the IIMs.”We are deeply concerned that some provisions of the bill would seriously compromise the autonomy of the institute. We believe that this is an important bill for the future of management education and therefore requires critical review to ensure an optimal balance between autonomy and accountability of the institution,” IIM-Ahmadabad chairperson A M Naik had said in a letter to Irani last month.”If the bill turns out to be that a lot of decisions by the boards are subject to government approval, and the government has uniform norms, then that may or may not be best thing for certain IIMs,” said IIM Bangalore Director Sushil Vachani.An IIM faculty member who was involved in drafting the bill, which was said to have undergone changes later, had expressed surprise seeing the final draft, saying some of the provisions were incorporated later without consultations.According to IIM-A Director Ashish Nanda, the government, through the bill, has proposed some kind of control in almost every decision that the institutes take.”The draft bill proposes control of government in almost every matter such as selection of Chairman of board of Governors, fee structure, expenses, etc. They have covered almost everything from strategic to operational decisions,” said Nanda.

Monsoon Session: BJP decides to be defensive over Raje, Sushma and Chouhan issues

BJP does not want to be seen on the defensive on the controversial issues plaguing the party for the last few months, the sources said.

BJP chief Amit Shah held strategy meetings with various party colleagues, including union ministers Arun Jaitley, Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal as well as party spokespersons during which Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, was also present.
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dna Research & Archives
Setting the tone for the upcoming Monsoon session, BJP on Sunday decided against being defensive over the controversies related to Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan and would brazen it out in Parliament which is set to be stormy over these issues.BJP chief Amit Shah held strategy meetings with various party colleagues, including union ministers Arun Jaitley, Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal as well as party spokespersons during which Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, was also present.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making it evident that there will be no resignations, the meeting discussed how to counter the opposition attack in Parliament during the session beginning on Tuesday and harmonising of the response of the government and the party on these issues, sources said.Congress has threatened to disrupt Parliament if its demands for ouster of Raje, External Affairs Minister Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Chouhan are not acceded to. Raje is under attack for her links with former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi who is facing ED probe. Swaraj is also accused of helping Lalit Modi. Chouhan is under the opposition fire in Vyapam scam.BJP does not want to be seen on the defensive on the controversial issues plaguing the party for the last few months, the sources said.Among the party’s media faces who met Shah were M J Akbar, Shrikant Sharma and Sambit Patra.Besides pressing for removal of Swaraj, opposition has indicated that it will also target HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who is facing charges related to an educational certificate. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh may also be targeted in connection with a rice scam.The ruling BJP, on its part, is likely to train its guns on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of Congress, who is embroiled in a disproportionate assets case.In an indication of the challenges his government is likely to face in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened the maiden meeting of all NDA constituents tomorrow to deliberate the strategy to counter the opposition.Before meeting the allies at his residence, Modi may also attend two separate all-party meetings called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to discuss ways to ensure a smooth session.Sensing the opposition heat awaiting his government in Parliament, Modi had on Friday acknowledged that there will be a ‘muqabla’ (contest).While the BJP-led NDA commands an absolute majority in Lok Sabha, it lacks numbers in the Upper House where Congress is the largest party and holds key to the passage of the crucial legislations, including GST and land bill.Senior NDA ministers had on Thursday held a meeting to chalk out the strategy for pushing the government’s legislative business in view of the Opposition parties closing ranks on various issues.The government has finalised 35 items of business for the monsoon session, which included nine bills pending in Rajya Sabha and four pending in Lok Sabha, besides introduction of 11 new bill.

Monsoon session set to be stormy as Opposition closes ranks

The monsoon session of Parliament beginning Tuesday is set to be stormy as Congress and several other Opposition parties appeared to be closing ranks to corner the government on a range of issues including Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi controversy.

The monsoon session of Parliament beginning Tuesday is set to be stormy as Congress and several other Opposition parties appeared to be closing ranks to corner the government on a range of issues including Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi controversy.Besides pressing for removal of Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani, Opposition parties have indicated that they would raise the issue of scams and controversies allegedly involving BJP chief ministers — Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh — and demand their resignations. External Affairs Minister Swaraj is at the centre of a major row for helping former IPL boss Lalit Modi secure travel documents in the UK, while HRD Minister Irani is facing the Opposition’s flak in the wake of a controversy over her educational qualifications.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling BJP, on its part, is likely to train its guns on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of Congress, who is embroiled in a disproportionate assets case. In an indication of the challenges his government is likely to face in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened the maiden meeting of all NDA constituents on Monday to deliberate the strategy to counter the opposition.Before meeting the allies at his residence, the Prime Minister may also attend two separate all-party meetings called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to discuss ways to ensure a smooth session. Sensing the opposition heat awaiting his government in Parliament, Modi had on Friday acknowledged that there will be a ‘muqabla’ (contest).The government’s floor managers conceded Monsoon Session could be stormy. In the last Lok Sabha, an entire session was washed out over the Opposition’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee in the 2G scam.While the BJP-led NDA commands an absolute majority in Lok Sabha, it lacks numbers in the Upper House where Congress is the largest party and holds key to the passage of the crucial legislations, including GST and land bill.Senior NDA ministers had on Thursday held a meeting to chalk out the strategy for pushing the government’s legislative business in view of the Opposition parties closing ranks on various issues. The government has finalised 35 items of business for the monsoon session, which included nine bills pending in Rajya Sabha and four pending in Lok Sabha, besides introduction of 11 new bills.

Good politics, bad PR: PM Modi keeps maan ki baat on Lalit Modi scandal to himself

New Delhi: In the aftermath of the Sushma Swarna-inspired, Vasundhara Raje-supported Lalit Modi controversy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be seething with anger. But so far, he has done a pretty good job of hiding his emotions. In fact, some might argue that he has done it a bit too well — seeming detached — and that isn’t always a good thing.

With Modi’s Mann ki Baat being scheduled for 1100 am on Sunday morning, there was a hope that he would perhaps finally break the self-imposed silence on the issue but instead, towards the end of the talk show, he only took a jibe at all those who were expecting him to make a political statement by saying, ‘Don’t expect me to use the show to make big political statements… I do that everyday. Here I want to talk about things that are close to my heart.’

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

One would have thought corruption, rather the urge to rid the country of it, was pretty close to the PM’s heart as well. Nevertheless, it gave the Congress more ammo to go after the PM — who has now been rechristened ‘Maun Modi.’ Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad “was disappointed” and held a press conference soon after the Prime Minister’s Mann ki Baat radio address calling him a “Merchant of Dreams” and nothing else.

“The biggest promise PM Shri Modi made was to bring back Black Money to India, we request the PM to keep his promise,” he said, “While the PM identifies himself as a world leader, talks about the world, did he write a letter to bring back Lalit Modi to India?”

Nabi further added: “Khud kiye tumne apnee deewaron ke suraag, ab koi jhaank ke dekhen to kyun shikayat kee?

So far, Modi has shown himself to be a master of PR. He wants to be in touch with things at the ground level, he tracks things on the net, he congratulates India’s achievers, he tweets out his thoughts, regularly airs his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and even launched a Narendra Modi app recently to speak to his countrymen directly. But what good is all of that when he hasn’t shown enough concern and anger about the biggest scandal his government has been hit by to date.

When Nestle and Maggi didn’t respond after the recent reports that lead and MSG were found in their noodles, experts termed their response as robotic and complacent, and it hit them hard. Can Modi’s response to the Sushma-Raje-Modi controversy be termed similarly poor?

Good PR would have meant Modi coming out and address all Indians, assuring them that there would be no cover-up; assuring them that he would root corruption out no matter how ‘big’ the guilty party is; assuring that impropriety isn’t proper by his standards. Even if he needed time to find out to figure out whether the documents are authentic, he should have been able to do that by now, it has been two weeks since the scandal first broke in India and even longer since the Sunday Times in UK first wrote about it.

Instead, his silence allowed the opposition parties and Indians in general to speculate.

Does he have something to lose? Why is he backtracking? What happened to all his promises? Is this transparency? All in all, it paints him in a not-too-pleasant light. Just a word from him and the opposition would have had no plank to stand on and it would have convinced everyone that we have a PM who isn’t all talk — at least when it comes to corruption.

As Firstpost editor R Jagannathan wrote, “The time to break the silence is at hand, and Modi should now speak up – and act.”

He also pointed out that though the PM can speak and act when it involves his own cabinet colleagues – Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani – he cannot do so in the case of Rajasthan CM. “In a federal polity, it is not the job of the PM to act against Chief ministers, who are independently elected and accountable to the electorate and the law separately. The fact that Raje belongs to his own party does not over-rule federalism. Just as the PM cannot act against Akhilesh Yadav for the unspeakable things happening in UP, or against Mamata Banerjee for the violence and scams in her state, he cannot do so against Vasundhara Raje either.”

Indeed, what might be bad PR may also be good politics. If Modi says anything at the moment, he is committing himself in the public eye and refusal to follow through will hit him hard. By not saying anything; by sending Sushma Swaraj out of the country, he is hoping that the storm will eventually blow over. There are big political advantages to this — if he acts against Sushma or Raje or Smriti Irani — he will show himself to be a man who takes no prisoners. That isn’t something that the allies of the NDA or even the other leaders in his party will take to very calmly.

Our political system isn’t going to clean itself overnight. It will leave many other ‘corrupt,’ ‘helpful’ leaders feeling nervous and that wouldn’t help the BJP or Modi greatly given that the Bihar elections are just around the corner.

On Saturday, Firstpost‘s Akshaya Mishra wrote, “while the party suffers loss of credibility, the only person who is likely to come out unscathed and stronger from the latest development is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By letting the party to take a call on Vasundhara, he has separated himself from the matter. His Manmohan Singh-like silence may have invited ridicule from the media, but it actually does his image more good than bad.”

And while parts of that may be true, there is no doubt that if he had indeed promised to act then to many in India, he would have shown himself to be the true antithesis of the Congress and proved that their decision to vote him and the BJP to power was indeed a correct one. But for now, everyone lies in wait, hoping that at some point the anger will boil over.

IIM Bill: Smriti Irani should get off backs of IIMs, not hem them in

The HRD Ministry’s draft bill on the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) has raised a storm of protest from the boards of most of the premier institutes.

The ostensible purpose of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2015, is to declare them as “institutions of national importance”, and “empower them” to “attain standards of global excellence in management, management research” (etc, etc). The problem is the government has quietly tried to give itself a say in crucial decisions. From the appointment of the board and its chairman to deciding the fee structure to the creation of new academic departments, a government nod is required.

In other words, the bill will enable some form of government intervention in the functioning of the IIMs rather than giving them greater autonomy. If there is one thing HRD Minister Smriti Irani wants to be remembered for beyond her wayward declaration of her own academic qualifications in election affidavits, she should set our IIMs free.

IIM Ahmedabad. Agencies

IIM Ahmedabad. Agencies

If she doesn’t, she is going to find more criticism headed her way – and not from her usual political detractors. A Mint report quotes JJ Irani, Chairman of IIM, Lucknow, as warning of a “revolt in the IIM system” if the current version of Irani’s bill is passed.

The top IIMs are clearly be in a mood to fight for their independence. Among others, the chairmen of the big four – IIM, Ahmedabad, IIM, Calcutta, IIM, Bangalore, and IIM, Lucknow – are likely to fight to retain their autonomy, with The Economic Times quoting IIMA Chairman AM Naik (boss of Larsen & Toubro) as saying “the new bill gives sweeping powers to the government, which makes the institution only an operational centre while all the major directions and approvals are allowed only from the Centre.”

Naik indirectly hinted that the fight might well be elevated to the level of Narendra Modi if Smriti Irani does not relent. ET quotes him thus: “Currently, the matter is too small to raise with the PM. We will discuss at a certain level and we expect that finally sense would prevail.”

To be sure, the IIMs are not the last word in management education or pedagogy. None of them is at the cutting-edge of management knowledge creation in the global context, but they have two major achievements to their credit.

First, they have created a brand that is now acknowledged globally as the prime hunting ground for talent.

Second, the entry filter – the common admission test – is so robust that it is difficult for anybody barring the best to get in. It is easier to get into a Harvard or Wharton than one of the Big Four IIMs.

The IIM bill wants to enhance the acceptability of the institutes’ passouts by awarding degrees instead of diplomas, but no one seems to have found this a handicap in the flagship course so far. This fact is acknowledged in the government’s Mygov portal itself: “The Post-graduate Diploma in Management Programme was relatively unaffected by (the) absence of a formal degree, both in terms of recruitment of students as well as suitable placements in (the) job market, but the Fellow Programme in Management did not get the same status as that of a PhD in the job market, especially in faculty appointments. As a result, the Fellow Programme in Management (equivalent to PhD), without the formal degree stamp, has not, been able to attract talented students, required to develop a strong research base in the country in the field of management education, and also address the faculty shortages affecting management institutions in the country. The proposed Bill will address this gap.”

One wonders how circumscribing the autonomy of the IIMs is going to attract more high-quality students for the fellowship programmes and cutting-edge faculty.

Rapid expansion over the last decade has ensured that the IIM franchise is slowly being diluted, creating fissures in the system that politicians can exploit. There are now 13 IIMs, and six more are in the works, but beyond the top five or six IIMs, brand equity has probably taken a dent.

Governments feel emboldened to intervene because the newer IIMs need both public money and governmental support to grow, while the top IIMs don’t need any nannying by politicians. In fact, they resent it, as AM Naik’s and JJ Irani’s comments above show.

The top four IIMs – Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bangalore and Lucknow – can probably find enough private sector funding to retain their autonomy and grow into real world class institutions, but that is precisely what the ministry does not want. The power of the HRD ministry stems from controlling the top IIMs, and not the latter-day entrants like Kashipur or Rohtak.

The ministry thus tends to use the weaker IIMs to claim that it has the support of many boards while interfering with the IIMs’ autonomy.

The draft bill that has got the IIM boards’ goat makes some right moves, like the corporatisation of the IIMs, but the troublesome provisos are many, including the right to determine board appointments, set policies, and create a coordination forum of IIMs, where the weight of the top four IIMs will be diluted.

Para 21(1) in the draft bill says that the IIMs “will be bound by such directions on questions of policy as the central government may give in writing from time to time” – which, given that it was the taxpayer who funded the IIMs in the first place – is not unreasonable. However, the ambit of policy is ill-defined, and para 21(2) makes it clear that “whether a question is one of policy or not” will be decided by the government, and its decision “will be final.”

If areas of policy are not clearly defined, the ministry can clearly intervene in many areas by calling them policy. The creation of new departments or payment of higher fees to foreign faculty could be called policy issues.

Nowhere is autonomy more compromised than in the selection of directors (effectively CEOs of each IIM). The board chairperson, already a government-appointed functionary, is supposed to head a search-cum-selection committee which will have other government nominees, but if the government does not like the selection made, it can overturn it. A crucial para says that where the visitor (the president) “is not satisfied with the recommendations of the search-cum-selection committee, he may ask the…committee to make fresh recommendations.”

Another clause that could create scope for intervention is the creation of a Coordination Forum of IIMs headed by the HRD Minister. Para 30(1) says the centre can, by notification, create a coordination forum. In theory, an inter-IIM forum is not a bad idea, but when so many states and central netas and babus are involved in the forum, and when the weaker IIMs are larger in number, what is the chance that the big four IIMs will have their way in key issues?

As noted earlier in Firstpost, not all IIMs are equal. The first three (Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore), and possibly the next two (Lucknow and Kozhikode) have developed significant brand equity of their own, which the remaining eight IIMs may not have.

The logical thing to do – assuming you want the IIMs to create more value – is to set the top-notchers free, with the government concentrating its investments on the newer ones.

The way forward should run something like this.

One, each IIM should be free to set its own curriculum and teaching standards, faculty salaries, and student fees, subject only to the normal reservations for SC/ST, etc. Autonomy should not only be retained, but extended.

Two, expansion in the aggregate student intake should be determined by each institute itself – not the government. If the government wants say, and IIMA, to share its equity with a new one at Rajkot, the parameters for performance should be set by IIMA and not the government. Else, the IIMA brand will be whittled down steadily. Put another way, IIM Rajkot should be a subsidiary of IIMA. It should thus be IIMA-Rajkot campus, rather than IIM Rajkot.

Three, each IIM should be free to generate its own funding, from alumni or corporates, and should ultimately be free to break out of government control altogether. The government’s role should be to incubate new B-schools, not reduce them to eternal dependence.

Four, the brand of each IIM – despite the common name – is unique and the top three or four surely can fend for themselves. They have a vested interest in excellence, and any government interference can only take them towards greater mediocrity. The top three or four should be encouraged to become truly autonomous private institutions.

Five, there is no issue with the common entrance test, where the best and brightest go to the top IIMs, and the lower scorers to the remaining institutes. But an IIMA or IIMC (or any IIM, for that matter) should be free to add layers to the selection process that will allow them to chase diversity beyond CAT scores.

If the ultimate objective is excellence and not mediocrity, the government has to set the IIMs and IITs free, not try and put a noose around their necks by creating pointless councils and coordinating committees.

Smriti Irani will earn kudos by setting the IIMs free, and not by trying to restricting their autonomy. This is her chance to redeem herself.

Degrees may be fake, but Smriti Irani is not: Lalu Prasad Yadav

Prasad said, “What is there to do with degrees? Irani is real. She is a woman. She has acted in the television serial ‘Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. She respects me a lot.”

RJD president Lalu Prasad said on Thursday that Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s “degrees may be fake, but she is not” after a Delhi court admitted a case accusing her of misrepresenting educational qualifications.Prasad said, “What is there to do with degrees? Irani is real. She is a woman. She has acted in the television serial ‘Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. She respects me a lot.” The former Bihar chief minister was talking to reporters after meeting party workers and leaders from Purnia division as part of RJD preparation for the state Assembly polls scheduled in September-October. Prasad further said that “the entire government at the Centre is fake. They are talking about making a smart city.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Just keep watching what all they will make. They talked about bullet trains, but that will cost Rs 60,000 crore. From where this much money will be brought?” Prasad advised Modi to build better villagers instead of “decorating cities like brides”. He alleged that the “Adarsh Gram Yojana” started by the Prime Minister has come to a standstill as there was no money available. The same has happened to the ‘clean Ganga’ campaign, he said. The veteran leader said that the BJP was eyeing Bihar with “vulture eyes” with an intention to grab power in the coming Assembly elections, but RJD will foil its plans. Raising ally JD(U) slogan ‘Abki baar Nitish Kumar’ (This time Nitish Kumar), the RJD chief asked his party workers to adopt it and go all out to campaign for the polls. He added another slogan ‘Jabse BJP aayi hai, kamar tod mehangai layi hai’ (BJP has brought back-breaking inflation since it has come) to it.He also advised his party workers not to hanker for tickets, but pay attention to spread awareness about the promises on black money which the BJP made but did not keep “I have asked my workers to tell the people about the harms of the proposed land acquisition law. They will also tell them how seniormost BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani has talked about fear of Emergency in the country and how he has pointed towards ‘one man show’,” he said.Taking pun at Union Minister and LJP President Ram Vilas Paswan, Prasad said he is the same person whom I call “weather scientist”. “While introducing himself to the then Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf, Paswan had said he was the same guy who quit the company of BJP over the Godhra riots. But see, he has now joined the saffron party,” Prasa said.Much to the amusement of everybody, the RJD chief also pointed out that Paswan wears coat in summer.

Our ministers do not have to resign, it’s not Congress government, says Union Minister Rajnath Singh

While the Home Minister was dismissive of the demand of resignations, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reasoned that the NDA ministers “do not do all that” was being done by ministers in the UPA government.
File Photo
PTI
The government rejected Congress demand for resignation of Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani over ‘Lalitgate’ and ‘fake degree’ controversies on Wednesday, saying “our ministers do not do all that their (UPA’s) ministers used to do”.”Our ministers do not have to resign. This is not their (Congress’) government. This is NDA government,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters at the Cabinet briefing. He was asked how will the Monsoon session run smoothly as the Congress has been demanding resignation of at least three BJP ministers over the controversies.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress kept up its attack against the NDA dispensation, seeking the sacking of External Affairs Minister Swaraj from the Union Council of Ministers and resignation of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on the ‘Lalitgate’ issue.Besides, the party’s student wing NSUI on Wednesday held a protest outside Shastri Bhavan seeking “immediate resignation” of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, accusing her of holding “fake” degrees.While the Home Minister was dismissive of the demand of resignations, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reasoned that the NDA ministers “do not do all that” was being done by ministers in the UPA government.”Let me add, our ministers do not do all that their (UPA’s) ministers used to do,” Prasad said, in an obvious reference to scandals during UPA era involving then Union Ministers.The remarks by the two senior ministers came a day after BJP MP R K Singh had struck a discordant note over Swaraj and Raje allegedly extending help to former IPL boss Lalit Modi, saying “any help to a fugitive is legally and morally wrong”.Singh’s strong comments were the first public criticism by a ruling party MP against the help extended to Modi by Swaraj and Raje, an issue which has snowballed into a major political controversy for the Narendra Modi government even though BJP has defended both the leaders.Swaraj and Raje have been facing flak from the Opposition for helping Modi in procuring travel documents in the UK.

Trouble for HRD Minister Smriti Irani: Delhi court to hear complaint over her degrees on 28 August

In fresh trouble for HRD Minister Smriti Irani, a Delhi court on Wednesday took cognizance of a complaint filed against her for allegedly giving false information about her educational qualification.

Court took cognizance of the complaint against HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Court took cognizance of the complaint against HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain took cognizance of the complaint and fixed the matter for recording of pre-summoning evidence on 28 August.

“It is held that the present complaint case is filed under limitation (of time). Cognizance is taken. The matter be now fixed for pre-summoning evidence on August 28,” the magistrate said.

“The court has taken cognizance. It has directed the complainant to prove his allegations,” Smriti Irani’s lawyer told reporters.

“Her educational qualifications are not false. There is no ambiguity. The court should not even have taken any cognizance of the complaint,” said the lawyer.

Irani’s lawyer also clarified that the HRD Minister had not been summoned in the case so far and no FIR had been registered against her

The complainant in the case, Ahmer Khan, said, “The court took our allegations very seriously. On 28 August, I will present evidence in the court. Then, summons to Smriti Irani will be issued.”

“This is not a personal victory. This is a victory for the people. Smriti Irani is accountable to the people. She will have to provide answers… In her affidavits, Smriti Irani gave wrong educational qualifications,” he said.

“It is not wrong to be illiterate. But giving wrong qualifications, especially after being the HRD Minister, isn’t right,” the complainant added.

The complaint filed by freelance writer Ahmer Khan alleged that Irani, in her three affidavits before the EC while filing nominations for her candidature for Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha polls, had purportedly given different details about her educational qualification.

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain had on 1 June reserved the order on the plea after hearing arguments on the aspect of limitation and whether cognisance can be taken or not.

Senior advocate KK Manan, appearing for Khan, had told the court that in her affidavit for April 2004 Lok Sabha polls Irani had said that she completed her BA in 1996 from Delhi University (school of correspondence) whereas in another affidavit of July 11, 2011 for contesting Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat she said her highest educational qualification was B.Com part I from the School of Correspondence, DU.

The complaint had alleged that in the affidavit filed for nomination of 16 April, 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Irani said she had completed Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from School of Open Learning, DU.

“It is evident from the contents of the affidavits filed by Smriti Z Irani that at best only one of the depositions by her on oath in respect of her educational qualifications is correct,” the complaint had alleged.

“The aforesaid affidavits of Smriti Irani, apart from the ostensibly false and discrepant statements in respect of her educational qualifications, also appear to contain false discrepant statements in respect of immovable properties owned by her and other details set out by her,” it had claimed.

“The aforesaid facts and circumstances reveal commission of offences by accused under section 125A of Representation of People Act, 1951, besides any other offences that may attract other penal provisions as an outcome of an additional investigation,” the plea had alleged.

With PTI inputs

Yoga to be a compulsory subject in govt schools: Here’s what the plan is

New Delhi: Yoga is now to be taught as a compulsory subject not only from class VI to X in central government run schools but also as a training module in teacher education programmes.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani released the syllabus and course material for the students on Monday. The minister was in New Delhi to attend the two-day National Yoga teacher conference. 500 yoga teachers from across the country, including 200 from Delhi government schools, are participating in the event which started on Monday.

Later talking to reporters, she said, the states are free to decide on adopting it in their syllabus and to link with their the course curriculum.

Officials said CBSE is yet to “devise” a strategy with regards to its implementation in the affiliated schools. The programme would, however, be made mandatory in Kendriya Vidyalayas and the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

Talking about the training module on yoga for teacher education programme, she said, the aim is to produce a pool of trained teachers in yoga who meet the upcoming demands.

Here is what the Centre plans to include as part of the yoga curriculum:

80 marks reserved for practicals

The Minister said the subject would not put any additional burden on students as 80 marks would be reserved for practicals.

“However, I want an assurance from students that they will perform the practicals with full devotion,” Irani said at a function in New Delhi on Monday, a day after the International Yoga Day celebration which saw participation of hundreds of school students and teachers.

Yoga syllabus for teachers too

“We have prepared syllabus for teachers as well. One is diploma in yoga education, bachelors in yoga education and masters in yoga education,” Irani said.

National Council of Teacher Education, in its revised notification has made yoga a compulsory training module along with ICT, gender studies and inclusive education.

National Yoga Competition

A national-level competition on yoga will be organised in New Delhi next year where the best performing student will be given a cash prize of Rs five lakh, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today said.

A ‘Kala Utsav’ would also be organised in December at Connaught Place (Central Park) in New Delhi where ethnic culture, song and dance would be showcased by students from across the country.

But the Delhi state government, not wanting to be left behind, has also announced that it will be reducing the main syllabus in schools of the state:

More emphasis on ‘subjects of living life’ in Delhi schools

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the Delhi state Government is currently working on a project in which it will reduce main syllabus by 25 percent and replace it with “most essential subjects of living life” like yoga, music, sports, theatre, etc.

He said that there is “confusion” amongst all as far education is concerned. Most essential subjects relating to living life are put in extra-curriculum/optional category, while those which one could do without, are part of main syllabus, he stressed.

“If you give me liberty, I will reduce main curriculum by 50 percent. But to begin with, we have set up a team to work on this to reduce main curriculum by 25 percent. If not all schools, we will do it in some schools as a pilot project.

“You reduce 25 percent main curriculum and replace the portion with course of living life…replace it with yoga, sports, music,” Sisodia, who is also the state’s Education Minister, said.

He urged Irani to see marks are allotted for such course to ensure students find the subjects important.

“So, it is my request to the Centre, HRD Ministers, we will need your guidance. Let there be marks for the same. Let students see it as this too can be a career opportunity. Let them find it equally important to learning physics, mathematics.

“As far as Centre’s yoga syllabus is concerned, we will implement it completely or partially in Delhi schools from this session itself,” he said.

Sisodia said that there should be no politics involved when it comes to Yoga and assured Centre that the Delhi Government will extend support required in imbibing the art form in the lives of common people.

“In a country like India, all of us from different segments need to understand yoga. We will have to wipe out these fractions of creeds, politics, and governments. When these will be wiped out only then yoga is possible. This is the first condition of yoga,” he said.

The Deputy CM further said that images/postures of Gods revered by followers of different religions are forms of asanas in yoga.

with PTI inputs

Yoga to be a compulsory subject in central govt schools: Here’s what the plan is

New Delhi: Yoga is now to be taught as a compulsory subject not only from class VI to X in central government run schools but also as a training module in teacher education programmes.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

HRD Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani released the syllabus and course material for the students on Monday. The minister was in New Delhi to attend the two-day National Yoga teacher conference. 500 yoga teachers from across the country, including 200 from Delhi government schools, are participating in the event which started on Monday.

Later talking to reporters, she said, the states are free to decide on adopting it in their syllabus and to link with their the course curriculum.

Officials said CBSE is yet to “devise” a strategy with regards to its implementation in the affiliated schools. The programme would, however, be made mandatory in Kendriya Vidyalayas and the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

Talking about the training module on yoga for teacher education programme, she said, the aim is to produce a pool of trained teachers in yoga who meet the upcoming demands.

Here is what the Centre plans to include as part of the yoga curriculum:

80 marks reserved for practicals

The Minister said the subject would not put any additional burden on students as 80 marks would be reserved for practicals.

“However, I want an assurance from students that they will perform the practicals with full devotion,” Irani said at a function in New Delhi on Monday, a day after the International Yoga Day celebration which saw participation of hundreds of school students and teachers.

Yoga syllabus for teachers too

“We have prepared syllabus for teachers as well. One is diploma in yoga education, bachelors in yoga education and masters in yoga education,” Irani said.

National Council of Teacher Education, in its revised notification has made yoga a compulsory training module along with ICT, gender studies and inclusive education.

National Yoga Competition

A national-level competition on yoga will be organised in New Delhi next year where the best performing student will be given a cash prize of Rs five lakh, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today said.

A ‘Kala Utsav’ would also be organised in December at Connaught Place (Central Park) in New Delhi where ethnic culture, song and dance would be showcased by students from across the country.

But the Delhi state government, not wanting to be left behind, has also announced that it will be reducing the main syllabus in schools of the state:

More emphasis on ‘subjects of living life’ in Delhi schools

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the Delhi state Government is currently working on a project in which it will reduce main syllabus by 25 percent and replace it with “most essential subjects of living life” like yoga, music, sports, theatre, etc.

He said that there is “confusion” amongst all as far education is concerned. Most essential subjects relating to living life are put in extra-curriculum/optional category, while those which one could do without, are part of main syllabus, he stressed.

“If you give me liberty, I will reduce main curriculum by 50 percent. But to begin with, we have set up a team to work on this to reduce main curriculum by 25 percent. If not all schools, we will do it in some schools as a pilot project.

“You reduce 25 percent main curriculum and replace the portion with course of living life…replace it with yoga, sports, music,” Sisodia, who is also the state’s Education Minister, said.

He urged Irani to see marks are allotted for such course to ensure students find the subjects important.

“So, it is my request to the Centre, HRD Ministers, we will need your guidance. Let there be marks for the same. Let students see it as this too can be a career opportunity. Let them find it equally important to learning physics, mathematics.

“As far as Centre’s yoga syllabus is concerned, we will implement it completely or partially in Delhi schools from this session itself,” he said.

Sisodia said that there should be no politics involved when it comes to Yoga and assured Centre that the Delhi Government will extend support required in imbibing the art form in the lives of common people.

“In a country like India, all of us from different segments need to understand yoga. We will have to wipe out these fractions of creeds, politics, and governments. When these will be wiped out only then yoga is possible. This is the first condition of yoga,” he said.

The Deputy CM further said that images/postures of Gods revered by followers of different religions are forms of asanas in yoga.

with PTI inputs

BJP leaders participate in the International Yoga Day with full fervour

About two billion people across the globe are expected to participate in the inaugural day of the event.

PM Modi performing Yoga at Rajpath on Sunday.

Image Courtesy: ANI Twitter
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the celebrations in Delhi, dubbed the International Yoga Day as the beginning of a new era of peace and goodwill, thanking all those who have contributed to the development of the great discipline.An estimated 40,000 people participated in the celebrations in the national capital, with around two billion people taking part across the world.The yoga celebrations are being organised after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The proposal was mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the UN General Assembly last year. BJP Leaders participated in this event across the country. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday participated in the celebrations of the first International Yoga Day in Lucknow.Picture Courtesy: ANI TwitterUnion Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Sunday extended warm greetings on the occasion of International Day of Yoga.“I think it is a proud day for every Indian that the effort of Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has been made an International Day…I extend my warm greetings to all the people worldwide on the occasion…,” Irani said.Picture Courtesy: ANI TwitterRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje participated in the celebrations of the first International Yoga Day in Jaipur.Picture Courtesy: ANI TwitterHaryana Chief Minister ML Khattar also participated in the event at Karnal.“Today is a big day in the history of Haryana. More than 25, 000 people performed yoga at a place, this has never happened in Haryana before. More than 30, 000 people participated in the event at Rajpath. I would like to congratulate all of them. I appeal to the people of Haryana to implement yoga in their lives. Yoga is good for their body and mind,” Khattar told mediapersons after participating in the International Yoga day event at Karnal“Such events are not just government programs, we are making plans so that yoga benefits everyone….We will also give importance to cleanliness and well being of people,” he added.Picture Courtesy: ANI TwitterGujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in the celebrations of International Yoga Day.Picture Courtesy: ANI TwitterMinister of State (Independent Charge) Piyush Goyal on Sunday expressed his delight at participating in the International Yoga Day celebrations, informing that he was taking part in the festivities at Marine Drive in the city.Goyal shared his thoughts on the day via a series of tweets.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s degrees should be verified: Modi’s brother Prahlad

“Just as degrees of AAP MLA and former Delhi Minister Jitender Singh Tomar are being verified, a probe should be carried out into Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s degrees,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s younger brother Prahlad on Thursday said educational qualifications of HRD Minister Smriti Irani should be verified as being done in the case of former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar.Prahlad, vice-president of All India Fair Price Shop Dealers’ Federation (AIFPSDF), said this while interacting with reporters here.”Just as degrees of AAP MLA and former Delhi Minister Jitender Singh Tomar are being verified, a probe should be carried out into Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s degrees,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP and Congress have been demanding the Centre to probe the charges of false educational qualification against Irani.When asked about the row over help to tainted former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi by Union Minister Sushma Swaraj for travel documents, Prahlad said it was done on “humanitarian” grounds and the issue should not be unnecessarily hyped.On the issue of blackmoney stashed abroad, he said, “The central government is making all efforts. Blackmoney stashed in India is far more than that in foreign countries.” Suggesting that LPG cylinders should be supplied through ration shops, the AIFPSDF vice-president said, “Just as grocery is distributed from ration shops, LPG cylinders should also be supplied through them so that the income of such dealers increases and corruption gets checked.”

#DespiteBeingAWoman: Why invoke Indira Gandhi to counter PM Modi’s ‘praise’ for PM Hasina?

The truth is, far away from the comfortable fighting pit of Twitter, women are systematically made to suffer the consequences of being born with a uterus. And mostly we don’t fret over it. In fact, many of us go and dutifully ‘like’ pictures taken by friends on vacations – of Rajasthani women balancing multiple matkas on their heads as they trundle across the desert, or of women blowing into a chulha to stoke the fire or tea garden workers carrying babies in sacks tied to their backs as they pluck tea leaves. Before we quickly type in our ‘wows’ in the comments section, we mostly don’t think about what the picture really implies behind its National Geographic aesthetic. Women who have to travel miles to get drinking water, women who have to jeopardize their lungs to put a basic meal together, women who have no maternity leave or childcare in their lives. The world in which these women live, and everything they do, is indeed achieved ‘despite being a woman’. No hashtags are necessary.

When Narendra Modi, with his usual theatrical flourish, announced how amazing it was that Sheikh Hasina, ‘despite being a woman’ was resolved about fighting terrorism, he epitomized why being a woman continues to be such a challenge. It is because neither education, nor success, nor exposure to modern professional spaces can bust the many stereotypes that we nurse about women. And the lower we go down on the economy ladder, the gender roles become more defined and more unquestioned.

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina. AFP.Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina. AFP.

Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina. AFP.

Modi was not being deliberately sexist. He was actually manifesting a more dangerous form of it – the kind when you think you’re actually praising a woman by saying, ‘OMG, a woman did this?’ Here the awe actually stems from the belief that women can’t do several things associated with men.

It is the same kind of subconscious sexism that spurred the editor of Aaj Tak to question how Smriti Irani could have been made the HRD minister. Curiously enough, on stage, the man was accompanied by a woman anchor who was asking as many questions as Ashok Singhal himself. For someone who presumably is used to seeing women working in similar professional spaces as men, Singhal showed that the country still nurses rampant stereotypes about gender.

A case in point is the hashtag that was started to chide Modi for the comment. Called #DespiteBeingAWoman, it was perhaps started to underline the misogyny underlining Modi’s comments. While some tweeters were able to see the irony of Modi’s comment about a woman who like him runs a country and has done so for longer and put out sarcastic tweets about daily chores with the hashtag, others took to expounding about many ‘successful’ women to make their point.

So there were tweets about Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Smriti Irani, pictures of women holding guns, quotes of African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks, references to mathematician Shakuntala Devi.The underlying message seemed to be, look, a woman can be as good as a man. Ironically, at least in the clique of people who use Twitter, that should be a fact, not an argument. Saying, “Look, so and so won a Nobel Prize for Physics. And she is a woman.” is only a mild variation of, “OMG, she won a Nobel Prize for Physics? A woman?”

As we point at exceptionally successful women almost in defence of our worth, we actually suggest that being an ordinary Indian woman is of no consequence at all. It’s equivalent to saying that you have to be exceptionally good to match a man.

The question is, in this day and age, should we even point at exceptionally successful women to bolster the argument that men and women, most rationally, are intellectual equals? In fact, should we even grace ‘despite being a woman’ with a argument? Denounce it, yes. But explaining why, trying to arise to the defence of women by tabulating lists of women achievers credits those arguments and stereotypes with more intelligence than they deserve.

The fact that sexism thrives among the most educated and the so-called ‘elite’ too isn’t quite a secret. If you are a woman and a sports geek, you’re sure to have run into men, and women, who stare at you with wide admiration if you have an opinion on a football match. If you’re out smoking on the street, you have caught the disapproving uncle and the scandalised aunty staring at you for doing what men do. That uncle might be scandalised that a woman smokes on the street and Narendra Modi might be impressed that a woman fights terrorism but they both stem from the same stereotypes about what women can do in a men’s world. These reactions are not driven by logic, they come from the lack of it. Women do all kinds of things that men think is their province and some men need to just get used to it #DespiteBeingAMan.

Controversies occurred because I challenged status quo in education sector: Smriti Irani

HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who has been dogged by controversies, on Saturday said this was happening as she was a “straight-talker” who challenged the status-quo in education sector which was being used as a source of “profit” by some people.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who has been dogged by controversies, on Saturday said this was happening as she was a “straight-talker” who challenged the status-quo in education sector which was being used as a source of “profit” by some people.Participating in a ‘talkathon’ with two other union ministers, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman, Irani also rejected the charge of saffronisation of education and listed a number of initiatives by her to “empower” students and parents in decision-making, wondering if that was “saffronisation”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I think if you challenge the status quo, then some people who are held accountable make some noises as they feel they are being challenged. They realise that jobs cannot be gotten merely on the basis of recommendation and cannot use a government institution to further their interest but will have to work in the interest of the nation.”When people, who had made the institutions a den and a medium of profit, see that a straight-talker has come and will insist on work…,” she said. She was asked about a host of controversies dogging her ministry in the first year of the Modi government.Rejecting the charge of saffronisation, she said she had already made a detailed statement in Parliament with full facts and wondered if steps like making books free online and involving students and parents as stake-holders in education amounted to saffronising it.Goyal also congratulated Irani for “changing the discourse” on education by challenging “entrenched interest” in the sector.Irani noted that education was not confined to educational institutions but was linked with the country’s future, tradition and culture as she spoke about measures being taken by her in which a few people sitting in Delhi were not deciding the education policy of the country.Talking about ‘Swayam’ portal initiative, India’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Irani said her ministry was working to ensure that educational resources reach every citizen and said some significant changes were expected in next six months.”Government is determined to ensure that resources reach every citizen and now we hope that citizens step up and take charge,” she said.”We are very soon going to fix learning outcomes of all classes. We have told schools to provide these to parents,” she said, adding that the ministry will also put it on its website so that parents can understand what is the learning outcome that is required.She said ever since the NDA government has come to power, there has not only been cooperative federalism in education but also a direct communication with people to decide the national education policy.Irani counted as one of her achievements involving people, village councils, districts and states in framing the national education policy which, she said, was earlier prepared by a select few in Delhi. “Now there is a transparent methodology.” The HRD Minister also claimed that unlike the previous UPA government, there is now inter-ministerial coordination. “This has also the hallmark of the new government, coordination among various ministries is also an achievement along with the communication.”She also said that one of the first mega projects, which was envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for her ministry would be setting up of national e-library in which central universities, IITs, IIMs and NCERT will pool in their resources.It would work in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture and also include data provided by the National Archives of India, she said. The ‘talkathon’ was part of government’s initiative to highlight its achievements during one year in office.This was the first time that three ministers took up people’s queries simultaneously during a talkathon session.’Only IIT Madras can revoke ban on APSC’Irani on Saturday also said the decision to revoke the ban imposed by Indian institute of Technology (IIT) Madras on Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC) lies with the students’ council of the institution, and added that such a move cannot be taken on the basis of a ‘whim’ of a political organisation.Reacting to the NSUI’s demand to withdraw the ban on the APSC for allegedly criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Irani said, “The students’ council of IIT Madras decides what action has to be taken or what decision has to be taken. You cannot trample the rights of a democratically-elected student body in an institution just at the whim of a political organization.”On Friday, IIT Madras had justified its decision to ban the group, clarifying that the body was merely temporarily de-recognised for violating the guidelines of the institute.The institute had earlier de-recognised the APSC over an anonymous complaint to the Central government that it was trying to spread hatred towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies by distributing provocative pamphlets and posters in the campus, igniting a massive controversy.

Food park issue: Smriti Irani addresses ‘Kisan Panchayat’ at Rahul Gandhi’s stronghold Amethi

Lucknow: Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani is on a day-long visit to Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, on Tuesday, party leaders said.

Irani unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Amethi, a Congress stronghold, but gave the Gandhi scion a run for his money.

Having promised to “stay in touch”, Irani has been meeting people from Amethi in New Delhi on a regular basis, a senior BJP leader told IANS while saying that during her Tuesday visit, the minister would be addressing ‘Kisan Panchayat’ at all blocks in the district.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani to talk to farmers in Congress stronghold Amethi.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani to talk to farmers in Congress stronghold Amethi.

She will be accompanied by union Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Baliyan.

Local leaders said that while the visit is largely to “dispel doubts” created by the Congress in the mind of farmers about the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s policies, sources said Irani is “leaving no stone unturned to cultivate goodwill for herself and the party” in the Gandhi bastion.

Rahul Gandhi is slated to visit Amethi on May 18.

On a two-day tour to the family pocketborough, Rahul will meet local party leaders, workers and also interact with the farmers and apprise them of the anti-farmer policies of the Modi-led central government.

He is likely to take up issues like the land acquisition bill and compensation to farmers after the unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm destroyed crops in most parts of the state.

IANS

Kashmir govt seeks HRD minister Smriti Irani’s help in funds for rebuilding flood-ravaged schools

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Education Minister Naeem Akhtar on Monday met HRD Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi and sought her intervention in expediting the release of special fund to rebuild the flood-hit infrastructure in education sector in the state.

HRD minister Smriti Irani. PTI

HRD minister Smriti Irani. PTI

The Vice-Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), who visited the state recently for personal assessment of the damages, had submitted his recommendations to the HRD Ministry for special funding to rebuild the damaged infrastructure.

Akhtar said while educational institutions across the state were badly hit by devastating floods in September last year, the educational hub in the heart of Srinagar in particular had been the worst affected, said a release issued by the state government.

He said prestigious institutions in Sringaar like SP College, Amar Singh College, Women’s College MA Road, Degree College Bemina, College of Education, SP Higher Secondary School, Girls Higher Secondary School Kothibagh, Girls Higher Secondary School Amirakadal and others suffered massive damage to libraries, laboratories, furniture and other items.

Irani said she would be personally visiting the state to take an overall review of the education sector so that deficiencies in infrastructure and human resource are addressed comprehensively, the release said.

Akhtar also sought the intervention of the Union HRD Minister for speeding up the process for setting up the proposed IIT at Jammu so that the classes can be started from the current academic session.

He said the state government has already identified the site for the purpose.

He was accompanied by Minister of State for Education and Information Priya Sethi. He also urged the HRD Minister to expedite the release of funds under SSA so that not only the salaries of the aggrieved teachers are released, but infrastructure development is also speeded up in the crucial school education sector.

During their interaction, Irani assured the Minister of sanctioning more Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) and Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) for J&K to cover the uncovered districts.

Regarding making IIT Jammu functional, the Union Minister said that a team of officers from the Centre would be visiting Jammu soon to expedite the process for setting up of IIT, the state government release said.

PTI

Rahul Gandhi to visit his constituency Amethi on May 18-19, meet farmers

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be visiting his parliamentary constituency Amethi on May 18 and 19 to meet farmers affected by untimely rains.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be visiting his parliamentary constituency Amethi on May 18 and 19 to meet farmers affected by untimely rains.”After Kisan Padyatra in Telangana on May 14/15, Rahul Gandhi will be visiting Amethi on May 18 & 19, to interact with farmers & INC workers”, the Congress said on its Twitter handle.Gandhi will have a busy schedule on May 18 and 19, who will meet people from all walks of life including farmers who have recently lost their crops by untimely hailstorms and hailstones, Chandra Kant Dubey, the representative of Gandhi in Amethi, said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This will be Gandhi’s first visit to his Parliamentary constituency after the row over the scrapping of the mega food park in Amethi broke out.Earlier this week, the Congress Vice President had raised the food park issue in the Lok Sabha accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of practising “politics of revenge” by scrapping the project.Meanwhile, Union Minister Smriti Irani on Saturdayalso announced her visit Gandhi’s constituency Amethi on May 12, but an irked Congress has said it will oppose it over the cancellation of food park project.Just days after Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested against Gandhi in Lok Sabha elections, attacked the Congress vice-president accusing him of ignoring his constituency for the last 10 years, BJP today announced that she will address ‘Kisan Panchayats’ in all blocks in the pocket-borough of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

I am a hard nut to crack, says HRD Minister Smriti Irani

“I am a hard nut to crack,” says HRD Minister Smriti Irani who also asserts that she is “too fat” to be cut to size.

“I am a hard nut to crack,” says HRD Minister Smriti Irani who also asserts that she is “too fat” to be cut to size.The 39-year-old minister, who is in the eye of many a controversy including being accused of saffronising education, dismisses sugestions that she was getting “isolated” and that her Ministry reports to RSS. “If you notice all the ariticles, a few cut and copy paste job. If you look at the articles, issues are more personal which makes me believe that politically when it comes to education…I am a hard nut to crack,” she told a private news channel. She was asked about views that she was not a political heavyweight and a women activist saying she would not trust her with jam and pickle ministry.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani said it was quite telling that from being a political non-entity, she was now someone that everybody was talking about. “That says a lot. May be because the status quo is being challenged. I am of the opinion that the education sector has become a matter of political friction. In the last 10 months there is a political consensus emerging. That rattles a lot of people,” she said. Asked if she was feeling victimised, the minister said, “I have never cried martyr. I have never played the victim card and I wont do it today as well.”When told if she was being isolated from the party, she said “I don’t think so”. Asked about her exclusion from the BJP national executive, Irani said, “I am not a decision maker. I am a party worker. My responsibility to the position I hold is to ensure that within the constitutional framework I fulfill my obligations”. “Are you being cut to size,” she was asked. “I don’t think so. I am too fat for that,” she replied.To a question whether there was a move to undercut her, Irani said she did not think so. “I do not think so. My Prime Minister won the elections on good governance. He gives me a responsibility as the HRD Minister. I am fulfilling the responsibilities to the best of my abilities. My performance in Parliament is for the entire nation to see and judge. Its my boss who judges me, for my party to judge. I am still doing OK.”Queried about allegations of saffronisation of education, she said the education sector will be within the constitutional framework of the country. “How wrong is that”. She was asked about a belief that her ministry reports to RSS. She said “no, it does not.”

Smriti’s record may be in doubt, but Outlook’s hit-job is sexist, hypocritical

“How an actress who has faced the biggest of television cameras of all sizes and shapes could get so rattled by a pinhole CCTV eye, we will never know.”

Those are the opening lines of an article on how bureaucrats are quitting the human resource development ministry in droves, fed up with their minister, Smriti Z Irani’s high-handed ways. This is one of five articles that form part of a cover story package in Outlook on the fading fortunes of Irani.

For those who’ve just crawled out from under a rock, the reference to the CCTV is the furore over Irani spotting a camera in a Fabindia outlet in Goa that was placed in a manner that could, she alleged, see into trial rooms.

Let us keep Irani aside for a minute.

Union HRD minister Smriti Irani. ReutersUnion HRD minister Smriti Irani. Reuters

Union HRD minister Smriti Irani. Reuters

There is still some difference of opinion about whether the camera was actually positioned to look into the trial rooms. Another story which is part of the cover package makes this point and hints that the controversy may have been an attention-grabbing gimmick by Irani. That’s a point to consider – though debatable. But the author of this wonderful opening line is not taking this line. The sentence is about why Irani should kick up a kerfuffle over the camera regardless of its positioning, since she should be used to facing cameras. So a woman who is or has been an actress does not have the right to privacy, not even when she is trying on clothes?

The sentence is a telling comment about what the writer – and the magazine, since the sentence was allowed to pass – think of both women and the acting profession. Note that this is not the author quoting some fuddy-duddy conservative. It is his line. Why then outrage over Sanjay Nirupam asking Irani, “aap to TV par thumke lagati thi, aaj chunaavi vishleshak ban gayi hain (you were dancing on TV and now you are an election analyst)?” Or over Sushilkumar Shinde talking down to Jaya Bachchan, when she intervened to speak on violence in Assam: “This is serious stuff and not a filmy subject”?

But wait. When Deepika Padukone took down a leading daily for publishing a picture of her cleavage taken by an awkwardly positioned camera, Outlook carried articles which were largely supportive of her stand and bemoaned the sexism and misogyny actresses faced. One of them is linked here.

So it’s okay – even laudable – if Padukone protests about the way a picture about her body is used, but it is not okay for Irani to kick up a fuss about a dodgily-placed CCTV camera?

Let us bring Irani back into the picture now.

If what was all right for Padukone to do is not all right for Irani to do, then clearly there is something more at play here. The cover package is a hatchet-job on Irani. Now it is perfectly within Outlook’s right to do hatchet jobs or puff jobs on anyone. All newspapers and magazines are doing that all the time. Irani has not exactly excelled in her stint as HRD minister and perhaps warranted a negative story. But was there no anecdote relating to her rather bad stint in the ministry to show “how quickly Smriti Irani has squandered away the goodwill in her 10 months as helmswoman of a most crucial ministry”? Was such a sexist and personal comment warranted in an article about her professional record, which otherwise acknowledges the constraints she is functioning under? Is this the extent to which we as a profession will go when we do negative stories?

This anything-is-game approach is actually very selective. I was widely applauded by other journalists for a blog post I wrote in 2011 on media speculation about the state of Omar Abdullah’s marriage. Yet, many of these very journalists found nothing wrong in Narendra Modi’s marriage being made an issue before the 2014 elections and even after. His suitability for the post of prime minister should have depended purely on his chief ministerial record and yet there were numerous stories and endless speculation about the circumstances of his marriage and the consequent `abandonment’ of his wife.

This started well before he filed his election affidavit in which he mentioned his wife for the first time (since it became mandatory to do so). This was the only public aspect of the whole matter – that he had not mentioned her in earlier affidavits. The media, however, was silent on other politicians with two wives who mention only one of them in their election affidavits. The raking up of Modi’s personal life has not stopped – an editorial on Barrack Obama’s visit to put in a despairing line contrasting the two leaders on their marital life. Was there nothing else to criticise about the visit or about Modi’s record as prime minister?

This obsession with Modi’s marriage – a very personal matter – contrasts sharply the deafening silence the media maintained on Sonia Gandhi’s health when, as UPA chairperson, she suddenly went abroad for surgery. The Hindu (and Firstpost) were among a few publications which questioned the secrecy surrounding her illness. It was not a purely personal matter given the position she then held. There are other politicians with deeply problematic personal lives, which influence their professional conduct in some cases. All this is well known to journalists, but this is never hinted at, let alone written about.

Why is it okay for the media to dredge up personal matters of one politician’s life and keep quiet about another? What is the litmus test to decide that one person’s private life is public business and another’s public life is private business? These are questions the media will have to answer if it is to retain the last dregs of its already strained credibility.

Apparently, the opening line of the Outlook article has been doing the rounds on Twitter since Saturday. And still, till the time of writing this, friends who are on Twitter (I am not) say there has been no condemnation/criticism of this by any of the big names in journalism who are on Twitter. Outrage when journalists are called presstitutes and bazaru is immediate and sustained. But there is not a squeak of protest or admonishment when journalists indulge in personal attacks while writing on a minister’s performance, when they apply double standards in writing on people’s personal lives. Is that fair?

Smriti Irani case: Fabindia CEO, MD don’t turn up to meet Goa cops, seek more time

Panaji: Fabindia’s CEO and Managing Director, who were summoned by Goa Police in connection with the voyeurism case, today failed to appear before the investigating officer, even as police summoned 11 employees of the outlet for questioning.

The voyeurism case was filed against the outlet’s staff after Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who visited the Fabindia store at Candolim last week, alleged that it had a CCTV camera focusing at the trial room.

The Goa crime branch had summoned the company’s Chief Executive Officer Subrata Dutta and Managing Director William Bissel to appear before it at 10 AM today.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“The company officials have failed to appear. Their lawyer has sought more time for them to appear. We will have to see what time is given to them. They had sent their representative yesterday who was quizzed by the investigating officer,” Inspector General of Police Sunil Garg said.

“They didn’t come. We are waiting to study the order given by district court while granting anticipatory bail to Fabindia’s store manager,” said lawyer Raju Paulekar who is representing Fabindia.

The district court had yesterday granted anticipatory bail to store manager Chaitrali Sawant.
Meanwhile, police have summoned 11 employees of the outlet for quizzing today.

“Eleven employees of Fabindia store have been summoned for quizzing today afternoon,” Superintendent of Police (crime branch) Kartik Kashyap said. Irani, who visited a Fabindia store at Candolim last
week, had alleged that it had a CCTV camera focusing at the trial room.

Subsequently, four employees of the store — Paresh Bhagat, Raju Payanche, Prashant Naik and Karim Lakhani — were arrested and booked under IPC sections 354C (voyeurism), 509 (intrusion into privacy) and IT Act’s section 66E (capturing, publishing image of private area of any person without his/her

consent).

However, they were later granted bail.

Fabindia also denied that it had placed hidden cameras in any of its stores. According to a statement issued by the company earlier, the camera in question at Candolim store was part of the surveillance system and was installed in the shopping area.

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had also come to the defence of Fabindia, saying the company cannot be blamed for the mischief played by some of its employees at its store.

PTI

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