Recently, Mohanlal Gupta, a BJP MLA from Jaipur’s Kishanpole constituency, proposed that the historical Battle of Haldighati(1576)be “amended” in Rajasthan University’s history textbooks. Contrary to the popular notion held by historians that the war was won by Akbar, Gupta proposes that it was Maharana Pratap who won it instead, and that the textbooks should reflect the “facts”. Sadly, this is not a Bazinga. This could very well become reality for the students.
Politics has long been intertwined with history. Power decides which party should pick up the pen and dabble it in ink, in order to record the destiny of an era bygone. History has always belonged to the kings and queens, written and read from their perspective. This incident is no different. On one hand, it reflects the paranoid reaction of the establishment — an effort to sanitise and clear the textbooks of any ‘uncomfortable’ details or events from the past. There is a systematic effort to shun the students from asking too many questions or thinking too much. It is as scandalous a move as the decision to remove cartoons from CBSE’s class 10th NCERT books of Political Science, a few years ago, just because they proved to be offensive to a particular politician. Come to think of it, even CBCS’ system, with its truncated syllabus and semesters, does not allow the student enough time to grasp a thorough understanding of his or her course.
On the other hand, it also showcases how easily loyalties get transferred.If Tipu Sultan was till now, to historians at least, a just ruler who occasionally plundered and attacked a population only to expand his territory, the current regime portrays him as a straightforward political villain.The question historians pose is: “Didn’t the thirst for territorial expansion affect every ruler of the era, making Tipu no exception the case?” TipuJayanti celebrations in Karnataka have been politicised and mobilised around this issue, even creating a violent ruckus last year, with the BJP and RSS vehemently opposing the celebrations in the state.
When it comes to history, whom should we rely on? Whose perspective should we accept at face value and whose should we outwardly rejected? These are not apolitical questions in themselves. That said, however, the decision to make a choice should be left with the citizens. As the optimistic youth of the nation, students must not be cheated out of their freedom to make a choice based on reasoning. There should, in a democratic setup, be scope enough to face the negatives in history alongside the positives. The last decision must be arrived at by the youth itself.
After carrying out relentless searches, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s bachelor’s degree seems to have consigned to oblivion by the University of Delhi. Failing to furnish documentary evidence of Irani’s educational qualifications, the Assistant Registrar of School of Open Learning (SOL), DU, Mr. O.P. Tanwar was quoted as saying, “1996 documents related to her BA are yet to be found,” as he addressed the court.
The varsity’s move came in response to the court’s earlier order for summoning the minister’s documents from its School of Open Learning department on the allegation of a discrepancy in the affidavits she filed in 2004 and 2011. While her 2004 affidavit claims that she completed her BA in 1996, another affidavit by her for the 2011 Rajya Sabha poll from Gujarat mentions her highest qualification as B.Com (Part I) from DU.
The case, which came into limelight following a complaint by Ahmer Khan, a freelance writer, Smriti Irani’s educational status has been in question ever since. The complainant had alleged that the HRD minister had deliberately produced false affidavits and thus is liable for punishment under relevant sections of IPC (Indian Penal Code) 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 Assistant Registrar also informed the court that Irani’s Class 12 documents, submitted along with the admission form of B.Com (H) course, were yet to be found. He was however quick to add that “verification must have been done before the admission”, as he was quoted by a national daily.
However, it seems like faking one’s educational degree is the new fad that’s become increasingly popular with our politicians and PM Narendra Modi has become the recent victim of this trend.
Talking about the issue, Teacher Representative of Executive Council, University of Delhi, Ms. Abha Dev Habib told us, “Whether it is the degree of the HRD Minister or the PM, it will be unfortunate if they make claims of having a degree they don’t hold in the first place. And it is strange that the university doesn’t have records. There is definitely pressure but this is nothing less than a blatant excuse. To me, degree doesn’t matter, but the ministers are the role models for the general public and information must be furnished by the varsity on the same.”
Commenting on the current state of the Ministry of Education’s working, she added, “I am not disappointed that she doesn’t have a degree, what I am disappointed with is the continuos interference of the ministry in the education system. The hasty implementation of CBCS system in less than 7 months is the biggest case in point. It is all about rational thinking and a scientific temperament to be able to take decisions, degree doesn’t matter here.” Also talking about the recent controversy surrounding the degree of PM Modi, she further connoted, ” The PM wants to talk to the nation on Mann Ki Baat but what perturbs me is his silence on issues of importance. Whatever the degree may be, it should be truthfully embraced.”
The court also asked SDM of north Delhi to bring documents filed by Irani with the affidavit for contesting 2004 polls from Chandni Chowk constituency here and fixed the matter for further hearing on June 6. The pivotal question here however remains whether power gives an easy escape route to politicians to distort their educational qualifications.
We previously did a report on the suspension of 5 officials of School of Open Learning for leaking documents related to the HRD Minister. You may take a look at the report here.
Narendra Modi has been perceived as a strong and focused leader amongst the youth. After a corruption grimed UPA 2 tenure, the hopes and dreams of all the demographic strata were bent on Narendra Modi’s NDA Government. The Youth similarly had various demands too -education, health, employment, family planning and world connectivity. Being the World’s youngest democracy, India is also set to play an important role in the Global service sector. With the Make in India policy, a similar behaviour is expected in the manufacturing sector too. Let’s analyze and assess some of the newly introduced policies of the Modi government and how they have a substantial impact on the Youth and its role in the future.
1) Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
India has predominantly been a patriarchal society. Although acts of rape, domestic abuse, and female foeticide have been prevalent in our society since the 1950’s, the recent upsurge in pro-active media has brought things into the limelight. The sex ratio (918:1000) in India is extremely poor and is as bad as many African countries whose GDP is 10 times smaller than India’s. To address these issues and to improve on the statistical data provided, the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana were introduced. You might eye these policies as three distinct policies or a consolidated legislation, but however you perceive it, the policy’s on-paper direction aims at-
a) Increasing the sex ratio by incentives that can benefit the whole family through Beti Bachao Abhiyan.
b) Increasing the involvement of young women in economic decisions in the future, through a boost in female participation in schools, colleges and graduate schools through Beti Padhao Abhiyan.
c) Increasing family savings in the name of the girl child in the family through the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.
Issue: The issue with this policy is the concern of its execution. With the allocations for the Women and Child Development Ministry in the government budget being reduced to one third of that of the UPA government’s budget, there are serious doubts about the large scale successful implementation of the Government.
More than 65% of the Indian population has inadequate insurance coverage. As passive as it might seem to take an insurance policy at a young age, in the long run it proves to be extremely essential. Insurance which provides relief to families of youth who have died due to accident or natural death can successfully provide for an ailing family who has lost its only son or daughter. Health insurance also becomes important for the youth who suffer from hereditary diseases. The two policies mentioned above can assist the youth or his/her family monetarily and effectively. The policies aim at –
a) Providing a coverage of 2 lakh on death or full disability on a premium of rupees 12 per annum. It also provides for coverage of 1 lakh for partial disability under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.
b) Providing coverage of 2 lakh on death due to reason (not controversial), on a premium of rupees 330 per annum under the Pradhan Mantri jeevan jyoti Bima Yojana.
Issue: The acceptance of insurance in the rural strata and the youth is generally less. The governments throughout the ages have been unsuccessful in changing this candid and conservative mindset.
3) National Skills Mission and Skill India Initiative
Indian youth are often plagued by the fact that they are incapable of getting jobs in spite of being a graduate or a post graduate. In a survey conducted by the Para Foundation in Pune, the stark contrast in the curriculum of courses taught in undergraduate colleges in India and the United states state that nearly 70% of the Indian curriculum paves a way for textual rather than a more practical (more preferred) approach to education which in the United states is 70% in favour of practical education. This gap reduces the quality of skilled labour available in the country. In the recent 2015 budget, allocations for a consolidation of skill initiatives across ministries, now directly under the Skill Development ministry shall pave the way for a faster and more unidirectional approach to increasing productivity, employment opportunities and knowledge amongst the youth. The upsurge aims at –
a) Consolidating 20 different skill development bodies working under different ministries (Labour and Entrepreneurship, Education, Women and Child Development, Social Injustice and many more) and synergizing them under one ministry’s direction.
b) Relaxing the scope for foreign investments and expertise in the skill development sector.
c) Bringing India one step closer to a skilled powerhouse of human resource
Issue: Consolidating the functioning of skill based organizations across ministries is a tough and complex task.
India’s strength lies in its huge human resource repository. However it is essential that the opportunities are available to all strata of the society. A healthy skilled labour force can be attained by bridging the gender gap, by practically facilitating long term healthcare and transfer payment mechanism and adequate skill development opportunities. The current governments’ policies are aiming to do exactly that. The result however can be ascertained or judged after the 5 year period of the Government.
<![CDATA[The recently released manifestos of BJP and AAP promises a rollback on the Four Year Undergraduate Program if these parties come to power after elections. Both parties seem to be on the on the same side for criticising the FYUP as the AAP included it in its manifesto for Delhi Elections last year and BJP has supported the teachers’ movement against FYUP since the very beginning.
Delhi BJP Chief Harsh Vardhan called it ‘wastage of a year’ and reiterated the need to focus on skill development and curb privatisation in our country. Nishtha Sood, a CYSS member and AAP worker said, “We are totally against FYUP which we mentioned in our manifesto in Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections also and we support the movement.”
BJP’s youth wing, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad(ABVP) also promised the same that helped them in winning the DUSU elections 2013. They later worked with DUTA several times for various protests against FYUP. Another left-inclined student’s group All India Students Association (AISA) also managed a fine performance in DUSU 2013 elections due to their anti-FYUP campaign.
“The myth propagated by the VC that there is only a small section at Delhi University that is against FYUP is busted with AAP and BJP coming forward to make amends. We only want to fight against privatisation of education and reforming the present system regardless of whomsoever comes to power”, said Nandita Narain, President of Delhi University’s Teacher’s Association (DUTA).
However, the parties have promised to scrap FYUP for the next academic session due in July, there is a lot of scepticism prevailing around the current FYUP batch that would be completing one year this July. “I think if the plan gets implemented the new admissions will be studying the three year programme while there may be scrapping of foundation courses for the present batch from the next academic session. There could be an addition of compulsory internship as a part of a curriculum of Delhi University so that a year of students does not go waste”, said Narain.
“I think it’s only a strategy by these political parties to get votes. Once they get the votes they would probably forget to stand by their tall promises. But it’s good that they are at least realising our demands for scrapping FYUP”, said Ben, a student of FYUP in Delhi University.]]>
Dr. Subramanian Swamy entered the Convention Centre of Delhi University to the chants of ‘Modi, Modi…’ on 29th January during a lecture being organised by Delhi University’s Faculty of Law. The BJP leader arrived almost 4 hours after the scheduled time because of the Supreme Court proceedings over one of his petitions. He was accompanied by Ashwani Kumar Bansal, Dean, Faculty of Law and his wife, Roxna Swamy.
Dr. Swamy was scheduled to speak on the topic- ‘Indian Taxation Laws and Economic Reforms’. He started his address without adhering much to the topic and speaking on general issues like economic growth and the need for a more liberalised economic reforms. Pressing over the point of free market, he said that democracy and market economy are twins. He advocated for globalisation in agriculture and appreciated the Hindu religion and its relevance around the world.
Initially, he took care as to not relate his address to politics. But, he could not help bantering his political opponents like Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Kapil Sibal. Gradually, he delved into the politics of market economy in India since his early days in politics, citing an example as to how Indira Gandhi dismissed him once, when he proposed a liberal economic policy in the parliament. He cited various examples of Indians excelling around the world and the Indian products at par with the best in the world. He added it was to encourage the young audience listening to him. He recalled as to how he was not allowed to become a professor at the Delhi School of Economics and was removed from the post at IIT-Delhi because of political conspiracy by his opponents. Later, coming back to the designated topic, he told amid thumping claps that income tax should be abolished. He added that 2G scam and the black money stashed outside the country could more than cover up for the income tax. At some instances, he used the terms- ‘Tommy Gandhi’ and ‘Buddhu’, clarifying that he was not referring to any particular person.
Ashwani Kumar in his addresses recalled his college days when they used to hear about his stories during the emergency, described by him as the ‘legends’ of Dr. Swamy. In the end as well, there were conspicuous shouts of ‘Modi’. Dr. Swamy left the hall saying, “Modi hi aayenge”.
When arriving for the second time in the campus of law faculty on 28th January, Mr. Rajnath Singh, National President of the Bhartiya Janta Party, had much more to offer than what he did in his previous visit. He had arrieved with much more responsibility and had to assure student support in the coming elections. His entrance was accorded with huge chants of brand Modi, and the Namo ‘raga’ was clearly heard in the halls of the faculty. The topic on which he had to speak was, ‘Revisiting the idea of good governance’.
Full of rhetorics and eloquence, as is the case with most BJP spokespersons, his speech revolved around the phrase, ‘crisis of credibility’. Referring again and again to the trust deficit the ruling governments have created in the past 60 years, he said that promises have always been made but never fulfilled. Shifting a gear, he turned to speak on what exactly is good governance and how politics has a crucial role to play in it. Speaking on the same he said, what people need is a sense of security, that there issues of health, education and employment need to be addressed as soon as possible which will eventually lead to the society being stable. And that is the promise of good governance.
Breaking away from the topic after 20 minutes into his speech, he started speaking on the issue of price rise and like any other sangh leader, he set Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former prime minister of India as an example for keeping up the momentum of economy during his rule from 1998 to 2004. Promising to strictly stay away from a political speech, he finally dwelved into the topic, condemning UPA-2 for not addressing the issue of price rise. While directly taking a jibe at incumbent prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, he said, an economist heads the country, and the economy falls.
Coming back to the issue at hand, and while speaking on diplomatic failure, he cited the example of how China keeps barging into the Indian borders and how Pakistan keeps on teasing us with its petty attacks along the LOC, and no response is shown from the indian side. Expressing his displeasure on the same, he said the idea of good governance should be met with the idea of good diplomacy.
As the Modi slogans grew louder and louder in the backdrop, he finally came to the notion of spiritualism, defining it and how it is important for good governance and for health of the country and its people, ending his speech with a somewhat ambigous notion which he related with mathematics, he said, “Circumference of mann (heart), is directly proportional to sukh (happiness). Larger the sukh, more the circumfrence of the heart”, referring to how our hearts are open for anyone in the world as we welcome them like our guests.
Other BJP leaders have also visited the Faculty of Law Campus in the recent past. Leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj visited the institution last year in August, while Subramanian Swamy is scheduled to speak to students on 29th January, 2014.
Sushma Swaraj, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha gave a lecture on the “Role of Opposition in Democracy” on the 2nd of August, 2013 at Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. She was greeted by a long applause and series of whistles by the gathering after which she began talking about the functioning of a democratic government and how the ruling party and the opposition party together strive to create a better society.
Swaraj also talked about how it is the responsibility of the opposition to create sufficient checks and balances in the system and keep the ruling party on its feet. She moved on to highlight the government’s mistakes in tackling cases of high sensitivity such as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, tackling corruption, etc. In light of the apparent divide in BJP as far as the position of Modi is concerned, Swaraj’s lecture comes across as a political tool to paint a very content and united picture of the insides of the party politics.
The audience, despite the big name did not comprise of a large number of people. Sushma Swaraj ended by saying that all that BJP has done till now and will continue doing, is only and only in pursuit of greater good and nothing in pursuit of self interest.
The death of Mohammad Afzal Guru on 9th February 2013 caused an unprecedented stir within the different factions of the Indian society. A death sentence had been looming above his head ever since it was declared by a ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ court for his crucial role in the 2002 Parliament house attack. Eleven years later, the Kashmiri convict was sent to his death, opening a Pandora’s Box filled with debatable questions on the decision of ending his life.
Though most political parties are celebrating Afzal Guru’s death, the BJP further stating that it should have been done a lot earlier, a section of Kashmiris criticised the Indian government of discriminating against Kashmir and hurting its sentiments. When we look at death sentences issued in the past, notably that of Ajmal Kasab, most of the citizens didn’t bat an eyelid as the man who represented the monstrosity of 26/11 was taken to the gallows. However, what really gives one man, namely the president, to push aside pleas for clemency and condemn a man to his deathbed? One might blame it on public pressure, the chance to justify the deaths of millions, to hold up the pride of India and a multitude of other excuses. Afzal Guru’s death was riddled with controversy and protests, as he wasn’t even granted one last wish of seeing his family before his execution. On the other hand, we have a woman who was one of the masterminds behind Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination receiving life imprisonment instead of a death sentence, due to the mercy shown by India’s most influential woman, Sonia Gandhi. The death of convicts seems more like a political gamble rather than a true analysis of who deserves what form of punishment.
Drawing the line between what is considered ethical and what isn’t seems to be one of the toughest questions faced by this country. Despite the magnitude of the crime committed by Afzal Guru, jailers spoke of his pious nature and the change in his attitude as he spent his last few years in jail. A man well versed in both Hinduism and Islam, he claimed to have been dragged into the world of terrorism instead of willingly engaging in it. Before his demise, he said goodbye to his fellow inmates as he was taken away to be hanged. Comparing this behaviour to that of his past deeds, it is hard to draw the line between justice and mercy. Though the anger of the Kashmiri people and their representatives might be justified to an extent, while looking at the bigger picture one has to note that duty to the nation comes before showing sympathy to a man caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Maybe Afzal Guru deserved to live, or maybe his death is the wakeup call that India sorely needed. Either way, there is no real answer to what sort of crime really deserves capital punishment. At the end, we are all just pawns being played in a big political game.