MyInd Columnist S.Sudhir Kumar watched much talked about interview of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani with Barkha Dutt. After watching the Interview he felt disappointed. He sent us a set of questions that we reproduce here. These are the questions that Sudhir feels should have been asked that would give us a better insight into the working of the HRD Ministry.
There was a lot of buzz on the social media about Smriti Irani’s excellent interview to Barkha Dutt (Watch it here), in which she gave great counters to the questions posed. Much against my wish, I watched the interview, hoping to get some insights into her work. What I heard instead was questions on Madhu Kishwar (yes, I am not kidding. Barkha spent time discussing Madhu Kishwar), Dinanath Batra, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Rahul Gandhi, 2019 elections etc. Even when Smriti Irani was talking about policy and achievements, the topic was being immediately diverted. This is not the first time that the members of the Lutyens media club did a shoddy job interviewing the country's HRD Minister. Rajdeep's drubbing at her hands is still fresh in our memory.
There is little value in dissecting the interviews. Instead it is important for us, the people of the country, to know the actual working of the HRD Ministry under Smriti Irani.
If I were to get a chance to interview Smriti Irani today, here is what I would ask (not in the order of priority).
1. You have recently claimed that separate toilets for boys and girls have been built in all government schools. All within a year. How was this achieved?
2. Constructing toilets is a big step, a good step, but providing water supply and maintaining cleanliness is also very important. How does the government plan to tackle this problem?
3. Mygov.in has seen tens of thousands of inputs for the proposed New Education Policy. We have also heard that you are seeking opinions right from the village level. Can you explain this process?
4. How do you plan to coherently accumulate all these inputs and then evolve an entirely new policy? Isn’t it too chaotic?
5. Over the past many years, we have heard many heated debates on how our history text books are skewed towards one line of thinking. Your party has also been in the forefront of this debate. How do you plan to address this?
6. For far too long, we have debated only about history and social sciences. There is very little focus on the problems that plague our science education right from school to college levels. What is your view and how are you going to tackle this problem?
7. RTE or Right to Education is another hotly debated topic on the social media. Sadly it is not debated much on main stream media. In fact you have even met with a prominent blogger who has done some phenomenal research on RTE. What, in your view, are the short comings of this law? How do you plan to address them? What are the political implications of such moves? Given your mandate, how much risk are you willing to take on modifying this law?
8. For far too long, we have heard of a lethargic and a stubborn bureaucracy. Could you shed some light on how your work experience has been so far? Is it easy to push new and innovative ideas within the existing system?
9. There seems to be a wide gap in government's communication strategy. Many feel that the pre 2014 momentum in disseminating information and facts is missing. Some even suggest that some amount of complacency has creeped in. Would you agree/ where do you think the government is faltering when it comes to Communication?
10. Primary role of HRD Ministry is education in the country. Digital India is a big initiative of the government. How are you planning to incorporate Digital India in education?
PS: When Smriti Irani asked Barkha Dutt why she doesn't cover the inputs received from villages on the new education policy, Barkha's answer was - that's a fair question. Like I keep telling, we deserve a better media.