Smriti Irani slams TOI, says govt never ordered CBSE schools to remain open on Christmas

The HRD ministry appears to be embroiled in constant controversy these days. First it was PM Modi's speech on Teacher's Day which was aired after school hours, and made mandatory for students, then came the German-Sanskrit controversy in the middle of the term for Kendriya Vidyalayas and now the ministry has been accused of trying to ruin the Christmas holiday.

The top headline in this morning's Times of India claims that the Union government wants Christmas to be celebrated as 'good governance day' by CBSE schools to mark the birthdays of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya.

The report notes, "The BJP government wants CBSE to carry out various activities, like an essay competition, so that students' participation increases." According to TOI, the government-funded Navodaya schools in rural areas have already sent out a notice canceling the Christmas holiday.  Commissioner GS Bothyal. TOI claims, has asked Navodaya schools "to conduct quiz competitions, screen documentaries on best practices in good governance and perform other related activities on Christmas."

Smriti Irani slams TOI, says govt never ordered CBSE schools to remain open on Christmas

HRD minister Smriti Irani. PTI

However HRD minister Smriti Irani had slammed the report on Twitter and said that no school has been asked to remain open on Christmas day. She tweeted saying that the essay competition is wholly online  and added that the reporter did not check with officials. Read her tweets below:

The TOI report claims that students will get the topic on 23 December, which gives them two days to get it written.  Irani also did not weigh in specifically on the Navodaya circular. The report has sparked off strong reactions on Twitter with some airing disbelief that the government could jeopardise Christmas for children, while other criticised TOI for publishing a false report. Check out some of the reactions below:

For the Modi sarkar, this isn't the first time that it has faced criticism for taking over a school holiday. September 5 which is celebrated as Teacher's Day and usually meant a half-day or a holiday for kids was this year turned into Prime Minister speech day.

Interestingly the government choose not to have the speech played during early school hours, but at around 3 o' clock and all schools in India had to ensure that students listened to the speech. Some schools such as Bal Bharti in Noida even went so far as to insist on a test on the speech in order to ensure that students didn't skip the lecture.

The Times of India has not yet responded to Irani's tweets or demand for a retraction.

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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2014 07:51:25 IST

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