Does a higher degree decide ministerial competence?

Yes, we all know Smriti Irani is India’s new Human Resource Development Minister. But even before she could acquaint herself with the functioning of the Union ministry, the opposition and cynics have managed to find her Achilles’ heel I guess – her missing graduation degree. In what manner is she expected to perform sans the higher education, they ask.

The controversy has made me introspect the rhetoric question ‘Does education qualification decide ministerial competence?’ Well I don’t think so.


My argument is that ability and an honest intention to make a difference does not come with paper certificates. Besides Smriti as a spokesperson for BJP for many years has proved that she is feisty, quick-witted and up for any debate no matter what the topic is. There’s a sharp mind behind that voice both on and off TV screen and she has given enough evidence of her all round knowledge. In fact, I also came across an article that described Smriti’s first big departmental meeting, where this ‘12th pass’ took the ‘bureaucrat babus’ by storm and proved to be on top of her game.

In my opinion the new realm of aspirational India needs to reject the politics of identity based on qualifications and change the political agendas to development. Smriti Irani has got the chance to prove her worth and I hope she delivers. So when the time comes let’s comment on her actions than fall for clichés.

Not that I am underestimating the power of education. Of course it affects the diaspora around us but who says learning can only be attained in class or college rooms. At one point or another we have all been students in the formal system but isn’t that behind us and we continue to learn from our life experiences. Therefore, it is actually the individual’s competence that should matter and not how many degrees he or she carries.

Let’s take an example of our last few HRD Ministers. Plenty of them were lawyers, some even PHD holders…So if you examine their contributions to our education system you’ll find that nothing substantial has been achieved so far and the picture stands as murkier as ever. Thus in a way proving that academic credentials seem to have no correlation with individual’s performance.

The likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg & Steve Jobs who did not complete college have clearly made it big in life. But imagine if investors had denied them aid because their resumes lacked a degree…

I have often thought, that in a country like ours we rely on time spent studying as a measure of intellect or a criteria for a job and blindly believe college = white-collar job = success. Now don’t get me wrong some professions do require technical knowhow but wisdom, insights and intelligence are not by products of time spent in school. Your degree can tell others that you’re qualified for a job, but it does not guarantee a quick mantra for survival or success in the real world.

Of course study further if you can and if you want to attain the technical skill.  But if you can’t afford college, don’t beat yourself up and remember, you can still learn, develop and create a great life for yourself and contribute towards the society.

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