Reacting to former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian’s letter, asking the government to make public his panel’s report carrying suggestions for the national education policy, HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Friday said the new policy will not be the legacy of an individual trying to make “headline”.
She said the ministry will not disclose the report’s contents unless it has received views and feedback from all state governments.
Addressing a media conference on Friday to discuss the HRD Ministry’s achievements over the last two years, Irani said, “This education policy will not become an attempt to be a legacy of one individual who seeks a headline. My request is that this (policy recommendations) is the property of one lakh and ten thousand villages, over 5,000 blocks, over 500 districts, and 20 states, which have entrusted it to us with the confidence that any recommendation that comes to the Centre will be shared with them before it is made into a draft policy.
“It is unfortunate that misleading or distasteful headlines are done. I will not renege on my promise to state governments that they will have a voice in it (draft policy) before I dedicate it to the nation.”
Subramanian was the chairperson of a five-member committee tasked with assimilating feedback, collected by the HRD Ministry through grassroots- and national-level consultations on 33 themes, and making suggestions for drafting a new education policy. The panel submitted its suggestions to the government on May 27.
With the report not public yet, Subramanian had sent a three-page letter to Irani on Thursday, informing her that after some “soul searching” he has decided to go public with its contents as education is a matter of public interest. The former bureaucrat, however, did not mention when he intends to do this.
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The HRD Ministry officially replied to the missive on Friday, informing Subramanian that the timing and method of disclosure of the report rests with the government.
The ministry’s letter to Subramanian states, “Subsequent to the presentation of the committee’s report to the government, the report itself and the responsibility and prerogative of determining the modalities, timing and manner of dissemination and further consultation would vest with the government. The ministry is presently in the process of studying and internalising the recommendations, an essential precursor to subsequent processes. Given your vast, rich and long experience in pivotal and responsible positions, you would no doubt appreciate the position.”
The former cabinet secretary said, “There are two different issues. First, I completely agree with the minister that the process of policy-making is the government’s prerogative. Second, all documentation which is of public interest should be in the public domain as per the RTI Act. I am not contesting what the minister has said. For me, this is a matter of principle of information. I had objected even when the Vohra Committee report of 1993 was not disclosed.”