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Ramesh Pokhriyal Tenure as Education Minister Caught Between 'Suraksha' and 'Shiksha'

Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'

Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'

Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has resigned from his post on July 7.

Ramesh Pokhriyal’s tenure as the Union Minister of Education was most challenging as compared to his predecessors as he had to balance between education/exams and life/safety. He interacted with students more than 23 times since the pandemic changed the course of the teaching and learning process, the last one being the announcement of JEE Main dates on July 6.

“He always felt suraksha first and then shiksha, as a result there were strict SOPs for centers opening for exams. He felt the need to communicate to the teachers and parents and get to know their conditions,” said the source close to him.

The 2020 JEE (Main)/NEET exams were fiercely opposed by the opposition leaders. There were calls for cancellation but by the end of it 4.81 lakh students had appeared for the exams and 5.88 lakhs had registered.

His tenure though started on a very “auspicious note” as the Ministry of Human Resource Development got renamed as Ministry of Education. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 was rolled out with several meetings taking place on its implementation program though the most important part of appointing heads of the institutions came to a halt.

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As part of the NEP 2020, Pokhriyal also stressed on making regional language and/or mother tongue the medium of instruction in higher educational institutions. He also said that programmes can be offered bilingually instead of just one medium of instruction.

At the time of deciding CBSE exams the Prime Minister, Defence Minister all had come in to deliberate and decide the feasibility for exams. PMO dominance in decision-making marked his tenure as well.

He was attending virtual meetings on policy-related matters. After recovery he started suffering from post covid complications but nothing had stopped him from writing for his leisure. The minister has written almost 75 books on various subjects from life in hills to Swami Vivekanand and on Indian thought. His day would start with writing and even end with it too, which he tried to maintain even during ill health.

The tenure was not without its share of controversies with regards to his qualification and degree issued from an unrecognized university to his dual date of birth which he attributed to Hindu traditions, and ascribing to Sanskrit the power of creating talking computers.

In 2019 he had falsely claimed that NASA had acknowledged the power of Sanskrit language for developing talking computers.

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first published:July 07, 2021, 15:51 IST