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Stranger to Controversies, Prakash Javadekar Gets Environment, Information & Broadcasting Ministries

Javadekar took over the reins of the ministry from Smriti Irani at a time when controversies kept the campuses simmering. But he successfully managed to stay away from controversies and avoided making statements.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:May 31, 2019, 6:03 PM IST

New Delhi: Prakash Javadekar has been given charge of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change along with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

In the previous cabinet, Javadekar had taken over the reins of Human Resources and Development ministry from Smriti Irani at a time when controversies had kept university campuses simmering. But he managed to stay away from controversies and avoided making statements, unlike his predecessor.

“He avoided controversies. This could come from the fact that he has been a veteran spokesperson of the national party. He knows what is likely to get negative publicity,” said a former bureaucrat.

Javadekar is an alumnus of the University of Pune and his long-time friend Aniruddha Deshpande from Deccan Education Society still remembers his agitation against fee hike. According to some old associates and colleagues, Javadekar was aggressive as a student but as a minister, by being cautious, he adopted the strategies of a spokesperson.

In 2017, the Ramjas College in Delhi saw protests that took a violent turn. The members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad (ABVP) objected to an event organised by the English department of the college. The speakers included Umar Khalid, who was accused of chanting anti-India slogans at the JNU campus in 2016. “The minister wanted the controversy to die and diffuse on its own,” said a retired bureaucrat who was then in the higher education department.

He added, “We had seen the previous minister being at the forefront of all campus controversies. On the other side, Javadekar was falling on the tenet of autonomy of the campuses and university issues to avoid any escalation.”

Last year News 18.com visited Aligarh Muslim University after the administration had slapped sedition cases on Kashmiri students. An official in the university, familiar with the issue, said, “The HRD ministry wanted this matter to end as soon as possible.”

‘Autonomy’ has been one of the most used words by Javadekar. He also coined the principle of ‘fund and forget’. The officials in the ministry said that the purpose of this principle was to minimise the ministry's interference in the internal affairs of institutions.

The HRD ministry faced criticism over the UGC SC/ST faculty quota that reduced the chances of teaching opportunities for the oppressed communities. This was the issue which is primarily legal in nature. The government, therefore, issued an ordinance stating that the institution shall be the unit for calculation of the rosters. This is a complete and comprehensive solution that assured protection of the rights of the SC/ST communities.

Though Javadekar has been reform-oriented, Pai said, “Whichever minister comes next must give more time on higher education and not to party work. MHRD is a transformational department of the government of India. It requires more time.”

Javadekar was busy with party work for the state as well as Lok Sabha elections.

Javadekar has on multiple occasions endorsed that the subject on Bharat Bodh is needed saying it can look at how ancient India contributed to astronomy, science, aeronautics etc. However, Mohan Bhagwat is unhappy with him over the delay in the New Education Policy.

Javadekar wants to bring a policy that looks into holistic education for the generation to come. In his opinion, mind is not a hard disk to be filled with data alone, but needs value education, experiential learning, skill education and physical education.

Mukul Kanitkar of the Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal told News 18.com, “Javadekar is non-controversial, interactive, inclusive and effective tenure.."

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