iconimg Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Neha Pushkarna, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 05, 2014
The appointment of Smriti Irani as HRD minister may have raised some eyebrows, but she has also managed to raise many hopes too.
People have been writing open letters to her since she took charge of the ministry. Suggestions, complaints, best wishes and backgrounds on challenges for the education sector — they are packing it all in these letters written to Irani, mostly online.

The most hopeful are over 33,000 aspirants who took the Common Law Admission Test this year. Their result declared on May 31 was withdrawn by the Organising Committee soon after due to ‘technical discrepancies’. Several open letters have been written, seeking Irani’s help and venting their anger. The competition in CLAT is fierce as the number of undergraduate seats is only 1,660.

“At a bare minimum, it depicts a high level of inefficiency which has to be understood from the perspective of thousands of professionally committed and hardworking law aspirants who are currently undergoing nothing but a test of patience and emotional harassment,” reads an open letter by Debjyoti Das, a law graduate who now prepares aspirants for law school.

Read: Does the education minister’s education matter?

Hundreds of students and parents also took to Twitter to urge Irani to intervene. Das further wrote, “It is in deep hope that your esteemed office will urgently intervene and absolve us all from this information blackout that I am writing to you.”

While he post-scripted the background of CLAT and a list of required reforms for the new minister, Ravi Lochan Singh, CEO of a consultancy, gave Irani a wishlist by means of another open letter on his blog.

"Quality audit of IITs/ IIMs be done. Syllabus of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the vehicle of RTE, should be recast. MidDay Meal (scheme) needs a serious revamp. We do have a shortage of teachers but a hasty mass-drive to hire teachers will not be advisable. Simplify and fix the issue of recognition of globally-valid degrees and don’t reverse some good decisions taken by the previous government," he advised Irani.

Another blogger, George Paul, expressed initial surprise at her being given such an important ministry but ended up showing confidence in her in his 800-word-long open letter. 

"HRD ministry does not need doctorates to head it. We need honest persons who can empathise with the plight of disadvantaged meritorious students who have been systematically sidelined in the last decade and a half. Ms Irani, you may be in a position to do what your ‘highly educated’ predecessors failed to do!" he wrote.