May 14, 2021
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Ever since she was appointed the Human Resources Development (HRD) minister in May, Smriti Irani has been no stranger to controversies about her educational qualifications, after it came to light that she had made contradictory declarations in her electoral affidavits while contesting the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2014.

It was not surprising therefore for a questioner to seek a definitive answer from her at the India Today Woman Summit 2014 on Saturday, August 9, 2014. The minister was expansive and dismissive in her response, and she declared imperiously:

"In that kitty of mine where people call me 'anpad' (illiterate) I do have a degree from Yale University as well which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated by leadership capacities.  Extraneous circumstances are being created so that I deviate my concentration from what my goals are"

The questioner was not satisfied with her hauteur and persisted with his demand for a clarification, at which the minsiter snapped:

"Please go and file a PIL against me in court, I shall give you your answer in court to settle this once and for all."

Since no Yale degree had been mentioned in either of her two declarations of 2004 and 2014, there was bound to be curiosity about this new claim, and the minister's cause was not helped when it emerged that while she, as a BJP vice president, had indeed attended a course at the Yale University, it was only a six-day crash-course where she was part of a team of 11 Indian MPs who came to the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut on June 19 last year.

An inevitable controversy erupted on social media and in a clarification last night, an official spokesperson of the HRD ministry said that Irani had received a certificate for her participation in a Yale University program.

We give you some of the reactions on Twitter: 

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