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Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, July 15, 2013
Reacting sharply to Narendra Modi's "burqa of secularism" jibe at Congress, Union minister Shashi Tharoor on Monday lashed out the one time RSS pracharak saying it was preferable to khaki shorts of fascists.

"Secularism burqa in my view is preferable to the khaki shorts of the Italian fascists of the 1920s. Shorts which signify intolerance and hatred, which he is not trying to hide. He was a RSS pracharak," he said.

Tharoor who is a known baiter of the Sangh Parivaar said the burqa represents the belief of a certain faith but the Khaki shorts represented intolerance to other communities.

"One may represent a particular attitude to a certain faith, the other represents hatred and intolerance of other communities and belief systems. That is what is wrong," he said at a function here organised by FICCI in New Delhi.

Modi had on Sunday charged Congress with wearing the "burqa (veil) of secularism" to hide from its failures.

He had also underlined the deficiencies in the country's education system and research output.

Tharoor, who is the minister of state of HRD, however, supported Modi's contention that none of the Indian universities found a place among the top 200 in the world but at the same time blamed the Opposition for stalling key legislations in Parliament related to reforms in higher education.

The minister dismissed Modi's other argument that the research base in the country was of little use saying global giants have larger research activities in India than their own countries.

Tharoor said since independence the focus has been more towards expansion of education and inclusion, with enhanced focus on teaching than research.

"When Modi said there are not a single university in the top 200, he is right. We have given more focus on teaching than research. But we are changing that. We are encouraging creation of research cluster universities," he said.

"There are some criteria in university rankings and research is given enhanced weightage in this. The problem with our university system is that they teach more than focus on research aspect," he said.

However, he said the government is trying to change the system by giving more emphasis on research aspect.

"We want that there is more research in teaching universities and more infusion of funds from the government, private sector should also chip in. We want more academia- industry interface," he said.

In this context, he referred to the University of research and Innovation bill currently pending in Parliament.

This bill along with 14 other key legislations are pending in Parliament, he said.