Smriti Irani

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For the HRD Ministry’s attempt to make students attend school on Christmas to celebrate AB Vajpayee’s birthday
The problem with a courtier being more loyal than a king is that she sometimes becomes a headache for others. And Smriti Irani is beginning to make a habit of it. No sooner did Narendra Modi decide that 25 December would be celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, than did Irani’s Human Resources Ministry order all CBSE-affiliated schools to conduct an essay competition on that date.

This would have made students toil on a day that most of the world has a holiday for Christmas. Irani took to Twitter to say that the Times of India article which revealed this was misleading and that it was not compulsory for students to participate. But a reporter of the daily newspaper then put up a scanned copy of a circular that gave credence to its version of the story: even though it didn’t say ‘compulsory’, the circular exhorted schools to ‘encourage the participation of students’.

One could grant Irani the benefit of doubt if not for the repeated instances where policy seems to be getting tweaked in a certain saffron direction, like the imposition of Sanskrit as a third language in Centrally run government schools.