The Art of Faking – Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his statue. Image credit: India TV
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his statue. Image credit: India TV

It is known for politicians to give in false information and flawed affidavits in their election nomination papers. But BJP seems to have surpassed all other parties in concealing personal details. Not too long ago, Smriti Irani was accused of fudging and faking a degree from Delhi University and flaunting a Yale degree that did not exist. Modi’s degree controversy is in line and he seems to have become habitual of landing in such rows. First he gives wrong information and then he tries to create evidence to prove it is true. This has happened in the controversies over his marital status and his salary and IT return. He faked a ‘chaiwalla’ tag when fresh reports have suggested that he was the son of contractor owning tea vends at the Railway station, which obviously is not the same

ANURADHA BHASIN JAMWAL

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n an interview, Moti Ram Baigra, one of the four people from Jammu and Kashmir to be part of both the National Constituent Assembly and the State constituent assembly, and was a legislator for many years in the decades of 50s and 60s said that he was offered cabinet berth thrice, twice by Sheikh Abdullah and once by Bakshi.

He turned down the offer because being a school drop-out, he felt he couldn’t do justice to the post. “It would be a mockery of democracy to keep an illiterate like me in the cabinet. I am competent only to be a peoples’ representative and serve them,” he said.

Baigra was no ordinary man. He was not only close associate of Sheikh Abdullah, a believer of Gandhian and Nehruvian ideology. He was part of the Quit Kashmir movement, played a role in peace building and inter-faith harmony after the communal riots broke out across Jammu region in 1947-48 and had been at the forefront in the Chenani agitation for peasant rights. His role in politics and his articulation of ideas made him far more educated than the most literate of scholars. He turned down the offer of ministerial berth in the state cabinet only because of his poor formal education. His decision evinces his humility, though he may not have been very pragmatic.

Formal education cannot be the yardstick of knowledge and required sensitization about socio-economic situation which is learnt not inside but outside the classroom. These perhaps are far more important assets of a good leader and politician than high pedigree of formal qualification. It was, therefore, not essential for Narendra Modi to flaunt his degrees to prove his legitimacy to the post of prime minister of the country. The party he heads was democratically elected and by virtue of that he was chosen for the coveted post.

Good qualification and academic merit may indeed be an asset for becoming a prime minister which requires a fair amount of knowledge about the functioning of institutions and of the socio-political and economic complexities of the country. But it may not be the only criteria for heading such a post. Nor can anybody with little formal education be disregarded for the prestigious post; they may be far more educated in the real sense of the word, guided by their ideology and commitment, with full grasp over the range of issues they are expected to deal with. Thus, the prime minister’s competence cannot be gauged by any degrees.

It would be measured more by his or her ability to perform. While any introspection on that is subject matter of another debate, the controversy about his degrees is not quite about what his qualification is but of why he has the need to fake it if he does not have it? There is now enough evidence to suggest that his degrees are fake and the case cannot be set to rest with a simple disclosure by the Delhi University. Which institution, partially or fully dependent on State funding, after all, would like to call the prime minister a ‘Liar’. They would be duty-bound to cover up for his lies with a hundred more lies. But what of a prime minister who mis-uses the entire government machinery to convert his incontrovertible lie into a truth.

Modi’s election affidavits mention that he finished his undergraduate degree through a distance learning programme from DU in 1978 and his MA from GU in 1983. Last week, in a bid to put all speculations about his degrees to rest, the BJP in a press conference brandished his two degrees, which have raised more questions than resolved the issue. The AAP has called it a bluff on grounds of his date of birth and different variants of his name appearing in these degrees. It has also alleged discrepancies in the graduation degree and the marksheets.

While Modi’s marksheet shows 1977 as his final year in college, the same is shown as 1978 in what has been presented as his BA degree. AAP leader Ashutosh said: “In the documents of other candidates who passed out in 1978, the name and marks were handwritten. Besides, last year, in response to an RTI filed, the DU responded they don’t keep three to four decades old records. Startling disclosures have now been made by a Canadian Indian resident, who filed 70 RTIs on Modi’s qualifications.

According to the record collected by him, Modi did his pre-science in a1967-1969 from M N College, Visnagar, Gujarat. According to these RTI replies, after pre-science, he took a one year break and he took admission in the Swaminarayan Arts College in Ahmedabad. This was in 1970-1971. He attended the college which was registered. But Modi maintains that he left home after school to become an ascetic and learn about Hinduism for a couple of years and went to the Himalayas. How could Modi be in two places at the same time?

But a far more damning evidence comes from a learned professor Jayanti Patel, who was faculty member in the University, Modi claims to have earned an MA degree from. Patel writes on his facebook wall. “The breakup of marks in second year MA shows that Modi obtained 64 marks in political science, 62 marks in European and social political thoughts, 69 marks in modern India/political analysis, and 67 marks in political psychology. However, there seems something wrong with the names of the papers, to my knowledge, there were no such papers offered in part-2 to internal or external students. I was on faculty of department of Political Science and used to teach there, during 1969 – 1993 June.

Narendra Modi joined M.A. part -1 in political science as regular student, however his presence was not sufficient in my class to grant his term and I have never condoned it, of course others may have granted it but he was advised to appear externally thenceforth.” Interestingly, the MA degrees of the PM that have been made public show the specialisation as “Entire Political Science”. It is perhaps for the first time that one hears of a specialization called ‘Political Science’ suffixed with a word called ‘Entire’.

It is known for politicians to give in false information and flawed affidavits in their election nomination papers. But BJP seems to have surpassed all other parties in concealing personal details. Not too long ago, Smriti Irani was accused of fudging and faking a degree from Delhi University and flaunting a Yale degree that did not exist. Modi’s degree controversy is in line and he seems to have become habitual of landing in such rows. First he gives wrong information and then he tries to create evidence to prove it is true. This has happened in the controversies over his marital status and his salary and IT return. He faked a ‘chaiwalla’ tag when fresh reports have suggested that he was the son of contractor owning tea vends at the Railway station, which obviously is not the same.

At the end of the day, for the nation it does not matter what degrees the prime minister or his ministers have got, what is their marital status and how much has been their personal income. In a land, where lot of importance is laid on morality and values, the nation only expects a prime minister to be truthful and capable enough to perform. The truthfulness part is doubtful and as for the capability, it gets marred by the unfulfilled promises made by Modi on every front – social, economic and development.

And, what good would be the best degrees of the world when Modi and his government have turned out to be worst enemies of education, with brazen attempts to saffronize school education, rewrite history based on pure imaginations and kill the very academic spirit through ferocious attacks on dissent within campuses, persecution of academicians and intellectuals and letting loose the goons of ABVP to root out all dissent. That is what is far more worrisome than even his lies. An illiterate PM is nobody’s concern.

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