First came the news in Times of India that the CBSE schools may have to remain open on this Christmas:
If the Union government has its way, CBSE schools may have to remain open on this Christmas.
The Union human resource development ministry wants to celebrate the birthdays of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya by observing 'good governance day' on December 25. The BJP government wants CBSE to carry out various activities, like an essay competition, so that students' participation increases.
Although CBSE has not communicated this to its affiliated schools yet, the Union government-run Navodaya Vidyalays have issued a circular to their schools. The Navodaya schools operate in rural areas on the lines of Kendriya Vidyalayas, and are affiliated to CBSE. The Navodaya circular says CBSE will be organizing an essay competition on December 24 and 25, the topics for which will be declared on December 23.
Then came the denials from the HRD minister:
Dear @timesofindia deliberate mischief by ur reporter on the front page today. All schools closed for XMas, essay competition only online.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 15, 2014
Dear @timesofindia I wish this reporter had the decency to at least check with people frm TOI who cover d HRD beat.... (1/3)— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 15, 2014
... Or for that matter verify d same with Secretary School Education, unless the idea was to deliberately misreport. (2/3)— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 15, 2014
.. @timesofindia if truth is a virtue u cherish can I c a retraction tomorrow on the front page in bold (3/3)— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 15, 2014
Dear @timesofindia even the essay competition online is VOLUNTARY.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) December 15, 2014
In Rajya Sabha, the finance minister quoted the HRD minister:
"The report is factually false," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha after Opposition parties raised the issue.
HRD Minister Smriti Irani "has informed me that no such instruction has been issued, no school will function (that day). Only an online essay competition (is being organised). That's all," Jaitley said.
But a perusal of the letter by G.S. Bothyal, Commissioner, Navodalya Vidyalaya Samiti's letter F.No. 33-2/2014-NVS (Acad) makes it clear that more than an online essay competition was being suggested for Navodaya schools:
Some of the reactions on Twitter: