We are fully aware that it is the responsibility of ministers to defend the government they represent. But HRD minister Smriti Irani seems to be overdoing it a bit. After setting the cat among the pigeons with its September 5 plans for the telecast of the PM’s speech on Teachers’ Day, the minister is now accusing other political parties of politicising the government’s efforts unnecessarily! In response to this charge, may we ask the minister one question: Who fired the first shot? According to news reports, reacting to the prime minister’s plans of addressing students across the country on September 5, the chief ministers of Haryana and West Bengal have decided to address the students themselves. Understandably, this has not gone down well with the HRD minister but she should understand that the nature of federal and democratic politics is such that Opposition parties are bound to obstruct such moves. It is also downright silly to rename Teachers’ Day as ‘Guru Utsav’ in multilingual India and then when under fire defend it by saying that it is an essay competition.
In response to the news report that the PM will address students, many have asked a pertinent question: What is wrong with the PM addressing students? There is nothing wrong per se. But just think about the logistics, human resource and funds required just to telecast one speech: The students have to be kept back in school and new infrastructure has to be procured. It would have been much better if this infrastructure and funds were used for the benefit of the students and those schools that are under equipped at present. Why is it that we never hear of Edusat — a satellite exclusively devoted to meet the demands of the educational sector and which will be used by the PM to interact with students — being used more regularly to deliver better education facilities to government school students in far-flung areas? After all, the government’s role in the education sector must be more of a facilitator than anything else.
At the end of the day, no amount of “pep talk” will make our young future-ready; only good quality, sound education will do that job, and not the noble sentiments of the HRD minister.