WHY DO HINDUS PUT UP WITH SMRITI IRANI?
“She came, she saw, she conquered and she went,” is how Dr. G. Viswanathan who chaired a session at the Hindu Education Forum at the recently concluded World Hindu Congress described Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani’s guest appearance at the conference.
The description is accurate but hides both the disappointment of the participants as well as the haughtiness of the minister. Smriti Irani came late to the conference, went immediately to the podium out of turn, claimed she was there to listen to the participants, made some statements about abortion and left the place. The only relevant point related to education was about UGC’s new system of allowing students to transfer credits between universities for which she took credit, but the plan to implement this system has been in the pipeline for many years.
At the end of her speech, Smriti Antoinette insulted an elderly Education activist who had sincerely listed down his organization’s proposals for improving the Indian education system and wanted to hand over a list of their proposals. Smriti Irani was dismissive of him and refused to accept the sheet of paper and insultingly told him to hand it over to the organizers of the conference.
The look on her face was as though she had been assaulted and wanted nothing to do with such constructive suggestions. When the Education activist tried to explain that they were just suggestions and wanted to hand it over to her, she looked at the organizers as though she was helpless and needed protection and told them to deal with any suggestions.
Most activists who had gathered there were completely shocked as they had worked in the trenches for long years and looked forward to giving their inputs to the minister. Moreover, she had herself made the claim during her speech that she was there to glean ideas from the delegates.
She piled on the insults when she treated the conference like some beauty pageant where she was the centre of attention and conducted a photo shoot right in the hall on her way out even as the organizer was speaking on the podium. The media too seems to have lost the plot completely as they covered the speeches of ministers and were seen trying to get as many photographs of ministers instead of focusing on the speeches and presentations of the delegates among whom were many stalwarts from the worlds of activism, government, academia and other fields.
In contrast, other ministers like Nitin Gadkari and Nirmala Sitharaman who had been invited to attend other sessions at the World Hindu Conference interacted with the participants displaying patience and genuine interest. Even a very highly accomplished person like G Madhavan Nair, the former chairman of ISRO, was humble and listened to the speakers and was seen interacting with the participants during breaks. Dr. Subramaninan Swamy too was seen interacting with the public in the lobby of the hotel which was the venue of the conference.
Little wonder then that she lost to Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha election earlier this year. With such a haughty attitude, she is sure to have alienated voters. Smriti Irani must remember that the support she received from the grassroots workers during the election was really support for Narendra Modi and opposition to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Clearly, it is not just the characteristic of inflating her educational qualifications that she shares with Sonia Gandhi nee Maino, but also the Marie Antoinette Syndrome.
Smriti Irani’s arrogance will not be accepted by Hindus with whom she spent less time than she spent with her personal tealeaf reader or whatever the practitioners of similar trades are called. Perhaps her astrologer should look at the past and provide lessons in history instead of trying to divine the future. He would be better off informing her that tyrants like Marie Antoinette who were drunk on power have appeared throughout history and have invited terrible consequences upon themselves by setting the stage for violent revolutions.
Hindus need to discard Smriti Irani completely and organize a fresh conference on Education for activists and keep out Smriti Irani as she is completely useless. Among all the sessions at the World Hindu Conference, it was the Education forum which was crying out for interaction with the government and needed such interaction as this sector is almost completely under the control of the government, but Smriti Antoinete has clearly failed in her job and has lost the confidence of those most interested in reforming the Education sector.