Atishi Marlena, advisor on education to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government, is among the nine party functionaries who got the dismissal letter on Wednesday following an advisory from the Union Home Ministry which asserted that the ‘creation’ of these posts had become ‘void’. She served as an advisor from July 2015 to April 17, 2018 and was also involved in drafting the manifesto of the party in the Delhi Assembly elections
The cancellation of their appointment has escalated the tussle between the AAP government and the Centre once again. AAP leader Raghav Chadha, whose appointment as an advisor to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also got cancelled, hit out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying their removal “smacks of political vendetta” and the reason behind it was that the BJP could not match up with the good work done by the Delhi government in the field of education and health.
Marlena received the letter when she was at a meeting with NGO Teach for India members. According to the education department officials, Marlena was “the most critical person for AAP in its efforts in the field of education”, something the party has said is its electoral plank in other states.
She has had held 120 meetings — roughly eight per week — since the beginning of the year as Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia’s advisor and the point-person for eight key projects which includes the meetings Marlena or Sisodia have chaired with officers as well as NGOs, sources had told The Indian Express. The projects include Mission Buniyad that aims to improve learning levels of primary and secondary students and the Teacher Development Coordinator Programme designed to create a platform for peer learning among teachers, dealing with the grievances and inputs from School Management Committees and for restructuring the directorate of education.
Praising Marlena, the deputy CM said she was instrumental in improving the education system in the national capital.
Marlena was also instrumental in shaping the Happiness Curriculum designed to increase the “happiness equality” levels of students. She is said to be involved in strengthening regulations on private school fees and organising parent-teacher meetings, including the largest such meet in Delhi in 2017. As many as 1,041 schools had participated in the meet.
Born to Delhi University professors Vijar Kumar Singh and Tripta Wahi, Marlena did her schooling from Springdales School in New Delhi and studied history at St. Stephen’s College. She went to Oxford University for her Masters in the same subject on a Chevening scholarship. She later joined as a Rhodes scholar in Magdalen College, Oxford, in 2005.
Having spent some time teaching at Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh earlier, Marlena got involved with organic farming and progressive education systems, when she moved to a small village near Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal. She worked with several non-profit organisations there, where she casually met some AAP members including Prashant Bhushan.
Among the nine advisors whose appointment have been cancelled are Amardeep Tiwari (Media advisor to law minister), Arunoday Prakash (Media advisor to Deputy CM), Raghav Chadha (Advisor to finance minister), Atishi Marlena (Media advisor to Deputy CM), Dinkar Adib (OSD to minister Satyender Jain), Ram Kumar Jha (advisor to logistics, Manish Sisodia), Samir Malhotra (consultant, Satyender Jain) and Prashant Saxena.