Home >politics >policy >Subramanian Swamy not in race for JNU’s VC post: Smriti Irani

Lucknow: Putting the rumours about Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy being in the race for the post of vice-chancellor (VC) at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University to rest, Union minister for human resource development Smriti Irani on Saturday said he was past the age limit required for the post.

“I also wish to make it clear that my ministry doesn’t recommend name for the post of VC. It is recommended by the search and select committee. In any case, I think there is an age bar for the post and Swamyji has crossed the age bar. But at least now I know who my friends in the Left are afraid of," she said while attending the Hindustan Shikhar Samagam in Lucknow.

The “BJP-leader-as-JNU-V-C" news gained currency after Swamy had tweeted, “Media is on fire that I have been offered the JNU VC post."

Irani also spoke about the Congress party’s allegations about saffronization of education and that she had visited the RSS headquarters to give a presentation on her ministry to the Sangh top brass. “I don’t think the news about my presentation to RSS is correct. And as far as the allegation of saffronization goes, I think such allegations would keep on coming whenever a BJP government is there," she said.

Irani, however, refused to be drawn to queries on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose Amethi Lok Sabha constituency she has been visiting regularly. “I don’t think I like to make personal comments. I discuss issues. Rahul Gandhi is free to go anywhere," she said when queried on Gandhi’s second foreign visit in recent times after the first one had led to lot of media speculation.

On the legal notice served on her by the UP Congress committee, she said, “I think in independent India everyone is free to raise queries within the limits of decency and none can take away that right."

When asked whether she was likely to be projected as the UP chief minister by the BJP in the 2017 assembly polls, she said, “...I think it’s needless to speculate and concentrate on the job at hand."

Irani said she had spoken to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to introduce HRD ministry’s ‘Shala Darpan’ scheme in the state.

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The Shala Darpan, she explained, was an online portal in which all the details of the students and teachers as well as exam-related information would be maintained. Developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the portal, she said, would also help provide regular updates to parents to help them monitor their wards’ progress.

“The scheme has already been rolled out from Kendriya Vidyalaya. And it isn’t just about student performance alone. In fact, I have spoken to UP’s basic education minister Ram Gobind Chaudhary about my plan to have a system under which the minister gets to know even while travelling in his car, such details like how many teachers have turned up in a particular school and how many are absent," she said.

Irani said she had asked the UP government to furnish a list of government schools that want foreign teachers to impart education to their students.

This would be as part of her ministry’s Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) programme. “I have already asked UP minister Ram Gobind Chaudhary to send me a list. We will send top academicians to these government schools whose cost would be borne by the centre. The idea is to make sure that students in government schools don’t feel inferior or left out just because they don’t have enough resources," she said.

Irani said an estimated 25 million students were studying in Class 11 and 12 and this number means that the college and university system would have to be expanded big time. Speaking on the need to optimize land use, she said, “Growing urbanization means that existing infrastructure would have to be put to optimum use. So for instance, I have spoken to UP’s education minister to consider the possibility of running special batches for girls in the morning in government schools. We have also asked the engineering colleges across the country to check if they can run skill development courses in the evening," she said.

Irani said she had held three regional meetings so far. She also spoke of the need to form a district-level skill plan to help bring about systemic changes. She said that UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had assured her of all the support in this regard.

Irani who at 38 became the youngest HRD minister said her ministry was busy promoting folk arts in school through the novel national-level kala utsav for CBSE school students, the final of which would be held annually in Delhi every December.

“Each participating student would be required to prepare an e-book on the folk or art form that they plan to perform on. The idea is to make the student realise the nuances of the art that they are performing on," she said.

As proof of the centre’s efforts to end gender bias, she spoke of the initiative of the ministry of women and child development, which has issued detailed guidelines for engaging gender champions in schools and colleges. Gender champions could be of either sexes above 16 years of age.

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