Yale University has issued a statement saying that Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani attended a weeklong programme and received a certificate from the university last year, along with several other lawmakers from India. George Joseph/Rediff.com reports from New York
Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s claim that she has a ‘degree from Yale University as well,’ has been refuted by a statement issued from the New Haven, Connecticut based university.
The statement said Irani attended a weeklong programme and received a certificate from the university last year, along with several other lawmakers from India.
The statement said, ‘Smriti Zubin Irani attended the 7th India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme on June 19 – 27, 2013, held on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, with additional meetings in New York City.’
‘More than eighty members of India’s Parliament from fifteen different political parties drawn from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have attended the programme since it was established in 2007. Participants have included twenty-seven current or former Union ministers, chief ministers, party spokespersons, and senior party leaders.’
‘At the conclusion of the program, Smriti Irani received a certificate of participation that that acknowledged and recognised her participation in the programme. Smriti Irani’s participation and contribution to the 2013 programme was distinguished particularly in regard to issues related to social development, gender, and governance.’
The 38-year-old minister made the remark at the India Today Woman Summit, 2014, in New Delhi. ‘In that kitty of mine where people call me anpadh (illiterate), I do have a degree from Yale University as well, which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated my leadership capacities,’ she was quoted, when asked by a questioner about her qualifications.
Irani on Monday said her statement regarding her participation at Yale university's leadership programme has been "misconstrued".
"Unfortunate that statement re my participation in a leadership programme and certificate thereafter was misconstrued," she tweeted.
A report published by India Abroad then by (Associate managing editor Suman Guha Mozumder) noted that the 7th India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme was ‘dominated by the discussions on the upcoming elections in India, the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan after the United States military withdrawal in 2014 and the US culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
It said, ‘The 2013 cohort of 11 members of India’s Parliament came to the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut to complete a six-day leadership program with Yale faculty and was complemented by a four-day programme of meetings, discussions, and interactions in New York that included visit to the New York Stock Exchange, the United Nations Security Council and the New York Times editorial board.
‘Yale University, widely recognised for educating leaders in government, business, and civil society worldwide, launched the India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme in 2007. The 2013 program was held in a new partnership with the Governance and Public Policy Initiative of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.
The 2013 participants were drawn from 5 different national and regional political parties in India, and included the vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Smriti Irani, and the vice president of the Telugu Desam Party, C Ramesh.
The participating 2013 parliamentarians included among others Bhubaneswar Kalita, Rajya Sabha -- Indian National Congress Party -- Assam; V P Singh Badnore, Rajya Sabha -- Bharatiya Janata Party -- Rajasthan’ Shadi Lal Batra Rajya Sabha -- Indian National Congress Party -- Haryana and Smriti Irani, Rajya Sabha -- Bharatiya Janata Party -- Gujarat.
The first six rounds of the India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programmes were held in October 2007, June 2008, June 2009, June 2010, June 2011, and June 2012 respectively, with different delegations of Indian parliamentarians. In total, more than 80 members of India’s Parliament have participated since the programme was created seven years ago.
‘The India -- Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program underscores Yale’s longstanding commitment to educating our students for service and leadership. We have now gone a step further to include emerging and mid-career leaders,’ Yale President Richard C Levin said then.
In the academic program on the Yale campus, the delegation participated in discussions with Yale faculty on nuclear non-proliferation; the democracy movement in the Arab world; women’s empowerment; elections theory and practices; political and economic developments in China; campaign finance reform; the environmental impact of shale gas development; Afghanistan and Pakistan after 2014; pharmaceutical innovation and patent law and climate change mitigation.
In a clarification on Sunday night, an official spokesperson of the HRD ministry said that Irani got a "certificate" for her participation in a Yale University programme.
After she became a minister in May, Irani was at the centre of a controversy over her educational qualifications after it emerged that she had made contradictory declarations when she contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2014.
Image: Smriti Zubin Irani at the 7th India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme held on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, USA from June 19 – 27 in 2013