In a major ministerial shake up two years since he took over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made changes in key portfolios like law, communications and parliamentary affairs.
Under the reshuffle and expansion, 19 new minister joined PM Modi’s team.
But, Modi’s decision to elevate Minister of State Prakash Javadekar to cabinet rank and send him to replace Smriti Irani in the Human Resource Development Ministry, took everyone by surprise.
Modi relegated Smriti Irani to Textile Ministry.
Let us have a look at some of the controversies Smriti Irani embroiled herself during her tenure as HRD minister.
- Fake Degree
Smriti Irani is accused of submitting false and misleading information regarding her educational qualifications in her affidavits in three elections held in 2004, 2011 and 2014.
- German Language Row
The Union Human Resource Development minister had created a stir in November last year after she ordered the removal of German as an optional language in Kendriya Vidyalayas.
- Rohith Vemula’s Suicide – Dalit vs Non-Dalit
Smriti Irani faced a lot of public outrage and opposition attack for failing to handle the suicide of Dalit PhD scholar from the University of Hyderabad, Rohith Vemula. In an attempt at damage control that backfired, Irani dismissed the issue of Dalit vs non-Dalit in the case of Vemula’s suicide.
- Rollback of DU’s 4 Year University Programme
Immediately after Smriti Irani took over as HRD minister, she ordered a roll back of the infamous four-year university programme of the Delhi University.
While many hailed it as a welcome move away from an unplanned academic path, others criticised Irani for overstepping and overruling the decision of an autonomous body.
- Veg Canteens at IIT’s
Irani’s ministry also came under fire over reports that it had asked the IITs to explore the possibility of having separate eating space and mess for vegetarian students.
- Seditious Activities In JNU
Irani also faced flak over the controversy over alleged seditious activities on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. She also faced the attack from the Congress after she read out a JNU pamphlet word-by-word in the Parliament.
- IIM Bill
The HRD Ministry’s bill on the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) had raised a storm of protest from the boards of most of the premier institutes. The top IIMs members raised an objection to HRD ministry’s move to include provisions in the IIM bill that enable some form of government intervention in the functioning of the IIMs rather than giving them greater autonomy
After much controversy and deliberation, the ministry decided to delete the clauses.
- IIT Director vs Irani
Irani’s HRD again grabbed the limelight following the resignation of IIT-Delhi director RK Shevgaonkar from his position in December 2014, two years prior to completion of his tenure. It was being alleged that Shevgaonkar submitted his resignation reportedly under government pressure. IIT officials alleged that the director was under pressure to release salary dues to former faculty member and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
- Banned Student Group At IIM-Madaras
HRD Ministry faced flak for banning a student group at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras for distributing controversial pamphlets that were likely “to create an atmosphere of hate”. However, Irani denied her ministry’s involvement in the issue.
- Good Governance
The Ministry was embroiled in yet another controversy at the end of 2015 when Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti asked all its schools to observe December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day’, which required physical presence of students on a holiday.