Are India's Leaders Uneducated? What is Modi's Education Level?
Bollywood star Kajol has said at a recent event that Indian political leaders are uneducated. Though she did not name anyone, she is facing vicious attacks by Modi Bhakts, a label embraced by the staunch supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Here's what she said, "Change especially in a country like India is slow. It’s very very slow because for one we are steeped in our tradition, steeped in our thought process and, of course, it has to be with tradition. You have political leaders who do not have educational system background. I’m sorry I’m going to go out and say that.” “We are being ruled by leaders, so many of them, who do not have that viewpoint which I think education gives you”, she added.
|Copies of Modi's Degrees. Source: BJP|
There have long been questions about the educational qualifications of Mr. Modi who has talked about his humble origins as chaiwalla (tea seller) . These questions have been stoked by contradictory assertions by Mr. Modi and his closest lieutenants in the BJP party. First, Mr. Modi allegedly said in a 1990s interview, well before he ascended to the office of the prime minister, that he did not have any formal education. In multiple video clips that circulated on social media, most of them before the 2014 general election, Modi mocked himself for being ‘uneducated’. But in 2016, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley showed copies certifying that Mr. Modi was awarded a BA (division III) from Delhi University in 1978 and Gujarat University gave him an MA (division I) in Entire Political Science in 1983 as an external candidate. In response to an RTI (right to information) query, seeking a list of students who had qualified for a BA degree in 1978, the SOL (School of Open Learning) said, "The data is not maintained in the branch in the order as desired by the applicant." It should be noted that there's no such discipline as "Entire Political Science" offered at Gujarat University.
Attempts by Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party (AAP) Chief Arvind Kejriwal to get Gujarat University to confirm the BJP leaders' claim have so far failed. The AAP chief has now filed a review petition after the High Court set aside an order from the Central Information Commission (CIC) that had directed the university to "search for information" regarding PM Modi's degree, according to ANI reports.
In an open letter, Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia has warned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “lack of educational qualification” was dangerous for India. “Modi does not understand science…” Sisodia alleged. “He does not understand the importance of education. It is necessary to have an educated prime minister for the progress of India.”
The Indian Prime Minister's poor education is reflected in his lack of understanding of the complexity of the idea of Indian nationhood and its long contentious history. It also shows in his poor decision-making processes in demonetization and nation-wide covid lockdown.
Modi's attempts to forge India's new Hindutva identity as a Hindu Rashtra are raising serious doubts about maintaining its unity. Hatred against religious minorities, particularly Muslims, has reached new heights. In a recent Op Ed, Mr. Shashi Tharoor summed it up in the following words: "The BJP’s belligerent Hindutva nationalism – which promotes a narrow interpretation of history and demonizes India’s minorities, particularly Muslims – can be likened to a toxin injected into the veins of Indian society".
Gopal Krishna Pillai, one of India’s most highly regarded former home secretaries, says “secular Hindus are uncomfortable, frustrated” adding “and don’t know what should we do in Modi’s India”. He told Karan Thapar in a recent interview that India could be 10 years away from danger point which he described as “civil disturbance” if the present treatment of Muslims is not checked and reversed, At one point in the interview he even briefly accepted that India could face “civil war”.
In a recent interview to CNN, former US President Barack Obama has pointed out the consequences of BJP's anti-Muslim policies. “If the (US) President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a Hindu majority India is worth mentioning. If I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you don't protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, there is a strong possibility that India would at some point start pulling apart,” Obama had said. “We have seen what happens when you start getting those kinds of large internal conflicts. So that would be contrary to the interests of not only the Muslim India but also the Hindu India. I think it is important to be able to talk about these things honestly,” said Mr. Obama.
The poor handling of demonetization and the Covid pandemic by the Modi government have caused untold suffering for the Indian people, particularly the poor. Modi's attempts to accelerate the documentation of the Indian economy have killed the informal sector which employs the bulk of India's workers, causing persistently high unemployment. Nationwide COVID lockdown has further exacerbated the situation for India's poor. It has resulted in worsening inequality in the country. A recent survey found that the income of the poorest 20% of the country declined by 53% over the last 5 years. The survey, conducted by the People's Research on India's Consumer Economy (PRICE), a Mumbai-based think tank, also shows that in contrast, the same period saw the annual household income of the richest 20% grow by 39%, according to a report The Indian Express.
Modi's false claims of India's glorious Hindu past seems to have been accepted by his followers without question. These claims include the inventions of computers, rockets, spacecraft, the internet, plastic surgery and nuclear weapons in ancient India—long before Western science came on the scene. Here's an excerpt of a report on Indian Science Congress held in 2019:
"The most widely discussed talk at the Indian Science Congress..... celebrated a story in the Hindu epic Mahabharata about a woman who gave birth to 100 children, citing it as evidence that India's ancient Hindu civilization had developed advanced reproductive technologies. Just as surprising as the claim was the distinguished pedigree of the scientist who made it: chemist G. Nageshwar Rao, vice-chancellor of Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. "Stem cell research was done in this country thousands of years ago," Rao said".
Hindutva ideologues are now in charge of school textbooks. They are deleting references to India's long Muslim history, particularly the Mughal period that produced top tourist attractions like the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Red Fort in Delhi.
India has also dropped Darwin's theory of evolution and the periodic table of elements from some school textbooks, part of a widening campaign by Modi's Hindu nationalist government that has prompted warnings from educators about the impact on teaching and the country's vital technology sector, according to media reports.
Prime Minister Modi's poor education was obvious when he addressed the joint session of the US Congress during his recent state visit to Washington D.C. He had trouble reading his speech from a teleprompter. He said "investigate" instead of "invest" in girls. He incorrectly read "optical" fiber as "political" fiber. He pronounced "relationship" as "relasonsippi". It's amazing how wildly popular he is with the Indian diaspora, particularly in the United States where Indians are considered to be the best educated ethnic group.
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