Degree or no degree, Modi has failed this test

The PM could have owned up and said his education has been in real life experiences.

 |  4-minute read |   10-05-2016
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There are several arguments in favour of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi having fabricated his BA and MA certificates, and very few that can support he earned them the right way. A lab report should help.

On social media, the documents held up for all to see on TV by the BJP chief, Amit Shah, on May 10, have been subjected to detailed scrutiny by the likes of Deepa Khadar, a dental surgeon based in Bangalore.

modi-fake-degree_050_051016080237.jpg A copy of the controversial degree.

She points out that the font used in the BA degree certificate was not available in 1978 to the university. She mentions that the watermark in the Delhi varsity certificate appears only on the right side of the document.

“That’s because the forgers have used a real certificate copy, and then proceeded to remove the watermark on the left side so that all of the text that they needed to forge appears on a white background without a seal — this is because it is extremely difficult to forge sections where there is a watermark in the background.” Ouch. There are other arguments that pivot on mismatching of dates, et al.

They don’t matter much. They are only mere details in a sad story where the prime minister of a country — close to 40 per cent of whom are fittingly illiterate — has even to defend his educational qualifications. It is, of course, not necessary for an Indian PM to be a degree holder. And it is not necessary that a degree confers on one even functional intelligence.

In fact, getting a degree in a college in India could be construed as an exercise in certain type of idiocy. How to think is exactly what is not taught. The quality of teaching and what is taught, too, do not argue for the general reasonableness of the system. If we put the all too real point of fabrication aside for a moment, we could begin to understand some fundamental issues dangling on the horns of Mr Modi’s dilemma. These issues have to do with the idea of the current government’s perception itself of the world; its vision. 

A good school or university ought to be primarily exposure, a window to the outside the world. Recently, North Korea’s young tyrant, Kim-Il-un, opened a great university with a sophisticated computer lab. Some of the scientists, including Nobel laureates (No, no Sri Sri, sorry) who had come on a visit, found out that students on their own could not access the Internet. It could be done only if the instructor was around. Probably because only he has the password.

A similar disposition - history, as a guided tour, for instance - informs the situation in India now. 

The very many claustrophobic utterances by the questionably qualified HRD minister Smriti Irani in the recent past; the kind of confrontationist stand of the government has been adopting against JNU or Hyderabad University; the removal of Jawarharlal Nehru’s (a visionary liberal leader and an adept historian) from Class 8 textbooks in Rajasthan; the constant urge to rename historical roads and monuments, which amounts to fudging facts; the facile manufacturing of figures to improve the government’s performance records; the adoration of IITs and IIMs, instead of strengthening  primary education; the wannabe fascination of the prime minister to be seen in intimate physical proximity with the world leaders in politics and business; the obsessive attempts at discovering science and history in mythology; the kind of language the bhakts use in social media interactions; all point, and contribute, to one emerging theme: the closing of the Indian mind.

By that I mean, the liberal Indian mind. This government, degree or no degree, is guilty of that. Perhaps, it is fitting that a degree-less prime minister is presiding over such a dispensation.

The prime minister could have owned up and said his education has been in real life experiences. In fact, a good number of universities abroad would give credit to that.  But now the debate has moved, and it has moved in the direction that the AAP and the Congress want. The Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has once again proved that he is the real Opposition to the ruling BJP.  

Kejriwal has put the PM to one of his periodical and impromptu tests. And Mr Modi has flunked again. Mr Modi could still take the repeat. He has got three more years. Just the time to a get a good BA degree — if only he learnt his lessons well.


CP Surendran CP Surendran @cpsurendran

Senior Journalist

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