Thursday, September 16, 2010

Round 2 of HRD Ministry v. Pratap Mehta

Pratap Mehta recently wrote on stinging piece on the need for "introspection" in the HRD ministry in The Indian Express. I don't know enough to judge the substance, but the tone of the article is full-throated, aggressive, but hardly personal. One can't say the same about the response from Sunil Kumar, additional secretary at the HRD ministry. Since it is by a serving babu on a subject that concerns his ministry, Kumar's is obviously an official reply, not a personal rant. Which is why his petulance is even more embarrassing; his is after all the government view.

Also note the logic: Kumar objects to Mehta's claim that the Education Tribunals Bill has not passed Parliament by saying that it was passed by the Lok Sabha, but is still pending in the Rajya Sabha (what then, is Kumar's definition of Parliament?). He also brushes aside Mehta's critique of a sample bill, drafted by a group of academics, as a slight on their "unimpeachable" credentials, not as something that requires a counter-argument by him. While Kumar's idioms may be his own, it is inconceivable that a serving babu would write this without approval from his minister. And it says "to be continued", which means there's more coming.

UPDATE: Sunil Kumar's concluding part is now available. Mehta must neither preach nor rant, Kumar preaches and rants in this column. While the substantive issues are up for grabs, the petty tone of Kumar's official response re-asks the original question: where is the HR in the HRD ministry?
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