Srinagar: Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Friday said universities should only focus on education and that the Narendra Modi government won’t allow educational institutions to become centres of politics.
The minister added that universities should aspire to figure in “international ranking”.
The HRD minister’s comments come at a time when several universities — Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, both in Delhi, and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh — have staged protests against the government’s Citizenship Amendment Act.
He made the comments in Srinagar during an interaction with reporters after attending a function organised by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.
Pokhriyal is among the six ministers, who visited Kashmir this week as part of the Modi government’s outreach programme.
The other five ministers were Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Information Technology), Nityanand Rai and G. Kishan Reddy (MoS, Home Affairs), Shripad Naik (AYUSH and MoS, Defence) and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Minority Affairs).
Prasad visited Sopore town in Kashmir’s Baramulla district Friday.
These visits are part of the Modi government’s plan to send 36 union ministers to J&K to spread awareness about the positive impact of its Article 370 move and the development measures taken by the government for the region.
Friday marks the conclusion of the outreach programme.
‘Govt can’t let students get involved in small matters’
The HRD minister said the government can’t let students get involved in “small matters”.
“There are more than 1,000 universities in the country. Universities are the foundation of families, society, regions and nations. Universities are centres of education and they should be in a mission mode to achieve excellence in the fields of education and to figure in the international ranking (system),” he said.
Asked to comment on the issue of politics on university campuses, Pokhriyal said: “…we will not allow universities to become a centre of such politics because we want to raise a generation that will take itself to new heights, and that kind of environment is being built across the country. In the entire country, an academic environment is being made.”
Kashmir did not see anti-CAA protests and the only demonstration that the Valley saw was the one that happened in Srinagar’s Islamia college last month against the Jamia violence.
‘Govt has decided to ensure free education for all in J&K’
Pokhriyal said the Modi government is committed to ensuring free education for all students in J&K and that he had come to the Valley with “gifts” from PM Modi, which are education schemes that will benefit the students of the union territory.
The minister also said the government will roll out 45 education schemes for the country, including J&K.
“The government has decided to ensure free education for all in J&K. Students here will get free uniforms, food, books and transport. We will help in all possible ways and not a single child will remain without education,” he added.
“I am happy the education department here is working nicely. Examinations have taken place on time and students here have performed exceptionally well,” the minister said.
Pokhriyal added that Kashmir is a land of educated and hardworking people.
“The people here are educated. I am from the hills and I know children from the hills are honest and hardworking. They want to study and they will get all the opportunities to study. Our government will ensure this,” he said.
For the past two days, BJP ministers have been touring various parts of Kashmir, promising to bring positivity, Bollywood, high-speed internet, industry and jobs to the region.