Monday, May 26, 2014 was a red letter day in democratic history of India as Narendra Damodaran Das Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of the country. Modi’s swearing in ceremony was stud with many highlights such as the presence of heads of SAARC countries, politicians, entrepreneurs, Bollywood stars, sports persons, etc. Besides these, the countrymen and analysts appreciated the cabinet of Modi, which is quite smaller in comparison to previous government and featuring considerable number of youth parliamentarians.
However, what surprised all is the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry berth which was awarded to 38-year-old Smriti Irani. People have divided opinions about the capabilities of Smriti Irani as Minister of HRD. Some says she does not have academic qualification, while some others pointed out that she is not mature enough or has the experiences to justify the position and responsibilities.
The political journey of Smriti Irani is really impressive and gives a lesson to youth especially women of the country. From being one of the most popular small screen faces to contest a high-profile Lok Sabha poll battle in Amethi against Rahul Gandhi, Smriti Irani’s induction in the Narendra Modi’s ministry, her journey has witnessed many ups and downs.
Born in Delhi to a Punjabi-Bengali family, Smriti is married to Zubin Irani. The couple has two children including one son and one daughter. Smriti started her career as a model and became the finalist of Femina Miss India beauty pageant in 1998. In 2000, she made her small screen debut on Star Plus with TV serials Aatish and Hum Hain Kal Aaj Kal Aur Kal. The real success for Smriti Irani came with the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT) on Star Plus in mid-2000. She holds the record of winning Indian Television Academy Awards (ITAA) for best actress consecutively for five times. She has also won four Indian Telly Awards and eight Star Parivaar Awards. With the falling TRPs and differences with producer Ekta Kapoor, Irani left KSBKBT in June 2007. Apart from KSBKBT, Irani has played the character of Sita in Zee TV’s Ramayan in 2001, and worked as actress, host and producer in a number of television series and shows.
A popular TV actress in ‘saas-bahu’ soap opera of 2000s, Irani started another innings as a politician and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2003. She contested elections in 2004 against Kapil Sibla from Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi and lost by huge margin. In the last ten years she continued to remain under spotlight and hold various positions in BJP. In August 2011, she entered into the parliament as Member of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. Smriti contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh against Congress’ Vice President Rahul Gandhi and lost by a margin of 1.07 lakh votes. Smriti lost the elections but left a positive impression before BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Smriti’s political success is praiseworthy but the challenges before her as a Minister of Human Resource Development are of course a matter of concern. Education is the key of success and all round development of a nation. India is badly battling with the high percentage of illiteracy and lack of employment opportunities. Similarly, the youths of the country couldn’t pursue higher studies due to financial condition and other related reasons. The previous governments have run many projects to boost up the education from primary to higher levels. But, the outcome is very disappointing and still there are series of irregularities and loop-holes in the education system. The primary schools of most of the states are not having proper buildings, qualified teachers and other amenities. The situation is more or less similar in high school, senior secondary school, colleges and state universities.
Smriti’s responsibility as a minister of HRD becomes very tough and somehow she has to perform exceptionally well to break the jinx of education system in the country. The dismal situation of education is much alarming in BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states. In these states the government projects are not delivering the results up to expectation. The condition becomes worst at Primary level, where the education is meant only for providing “Mid Day” meal to students. Similarly, the aides offered to government run madarsas are not sufficient. The madarsa education system badly need reforms and connectivity with contemporary education offered in schools including the computer education.
Being a youth, I believe a youth carry a different bent of mind with lots of optimism and zeal to do exceptional things. Smriti has proved herself as a seasoned politician in her 10 year political journey and made a place for herself in the party. In fact, her earlier career as an actress is also a landmark in the television history of India and it would be remembered for long time. With high hope I conclude this article that Smriti has the potential to prove herself the best as the Minister of Human Resource Development and take the education system of India to new highs.