Challenges will remain: Higher Education is more about vision and right policies
All though Smriti Irani has been moved out of HRD, I think there were some good points about her short tenure. There is a saying that big changes can be bought by a person who is new and unbiased towards the system. Smriti Iran filled both the criterions pretty well. She entered HRD from no where and through her sheer intelligence and competitive politics learnt fast the tricks of the game. Please note that the education and especially the Higher education system in the country is highly corrupt where lobbying and everything under the table are expected part of the trade. Therefore to tame this department it requires a very strong, fearless, outspoken and fire-band politician . Again Smriti Irani passed this criterion quite naturally.
Her only problem was that she took some of the senior members of the government community which she should not have. None the less her tenure kept the MHRD office at Shastri Bhavan on nerves and is a testimony to her strict regime.
Besides, she was also moving slowly but gradually towards policy changes and implementations. All she needed was good advice from genuine people who knew the system about higher education. But she trusted the wrong people inside the ministry and also from the higher education system. Any power center is capable to draw people of all hue and colours closer and the test is to choose the real ones from the pseudo or the convertibles. Smriti Irani failed here. She put her bets on the wrong people who misused their positions for vested interests.
The higher education in the country requires drastic changes that will not be possible by easy towing. The Anil Kakodkar committee report ( http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/document-reports/KakodkarCommitteeReport-05132011_0.pdf) has been out for quite some time and so is the national education policy (http://ccs.in/sites/default/files/attachments/nep-committee-report-2016.pdf) led by TSR Subramaniyam.
However merely looking at these reports as gospel of truth will not suffice. First and foremost there needs to be a strong will power to change the system like Murli Manohar Joshi had. Second there has to be real temperament to deal with the ‘ hidden Mafia’s’ in the system like Smriti Irani did. Third there has to be a vision like Pandit Madanmohan Malviya had.
The maximum damage to HRD ministry was carried out in during the regime of Arjun Singh and than Kapil Sibal. It is surprising that some core members and moles of Kapil Sibal times are still ruling the roost in the BJP led government. DR Surendra prasad a crony of Kapil Sibal is the NBA chairman. Another retired officer who helped Dr Surendra prasad helped do all the corrupt practices at IIT Delhi Mr Wadhwa looks after all the files related to IIT at MHRD ministry. It is shocking that people who were close to congress regime during Arjun Singh and than kapil Sibal are still calling the shots.
Its not easy to run the HRD ministry because it carries the intellectual and basic education needs of the country. It is also not like other ministries in the sense that delays can not be noticed. There are huge expectations in this sector because after Murli Manohar Joshi the system has just failed to take off.
The new minister has taken the first right step by visiting IIT Delhi. But that should not be sufficient. He will have to tread the extra mile only than some gains will come to the HRD. The new MHRD minister will have to sit and think about the directions that he wishes to provide for the higher education , else the system will just become uncompetitive and stagnant. He will have to pass the litmus test earlier than later as the HRD ministry takes the maximum limelight in the media if only after PMO , railways and the likes.