Ajit Pawar and his foot in the mouth disease

By Deepak | Published: December 13, 2023 03:11 PM2023-12-13T15:11:14+5:302023-12-13T15:41:43+5:30

It seems Ajit Pawar was born with his foot in mouth. In Hindu mythology, it’s not a bad thing. ...

Ajit Pawar and his foot in the mouth disease | Ajit Pawar and his foot in the mouth disease

Ajit Pawar and his foot in the mouth disease

It seems Ajit Pawar was born with his foot in mouth. In Hindu mythology, it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good omen. The image of the infant Lord Krishna sucking on his toe lying on a peepal leaf is seen as the beginning of life. Pawar Junior, however, doesn’t look cute with his foot in mouth, especially when he is the deputy Chief Minister of a state like Maharashtra and if it is happening too often. His latest- …so what’s the big deal (if they are pursuing PhDs) while discussing a request from Congress MLC Satej Patil asking for fellowships from the state government has raised a furore, and rightly so. His exact words in Marathi are humiliating- kaay diva lavnaar ahet mag (what big deal are they going to achieve). Ajit Pawar should know attempting a legitimate PhD is not easy, even if it’s from social sciences or humanities. It’s not like getting an honorary doctorate from a non-descript university on account of being a politician. It takes years of toil and sweat to earn a PhD. But Ajit Pawar, coming from the position of power from since his birth in an extremely influential political family, may never understand what it means.

Ajit Pawar, before his horrid take came, started in a routine manner. He was offering a clarification saying the government had decided to cap the number of fellowships being offered to PhD students under various schemes, to 200. Congress MLC Patil made a logical request: he only asked to put the cap from the next year as six months in this financial year had already passed and the cap did not exist when the government invited applications. Moreover, the number was just 229, marginally more than the 200 that the government had proposed. Pawar could have easily agreed to the request and the issue would not have flared up. But that was not to be. Over the last few years, Pawar has earned a reputation as someone who keenly follows up a demand and then offers a blunt take if the demand would be fulfilled or not. He doesn’t diplomatically offer to look into it like many politicians do. But this also seems to have gone to his head: the reputation of being straight forward. There’s a thin line between being blunt and being rude. Ajit Pawar could have said no in a much polite manner. But his statement - kaay diva lavnar ka mag came from the position of power, from someone who had the keys to the treasury, from someone who believes he is going to offer the money from his own pockets.

If Ajit Pawar had offered the explanation that the government wanted to encourage research in basic sciences and hence wanted to curb the number of general fellowships, it would have made sense. It would have then reassured us that the government is indeed keen on holistic growth and wants to spend its money wisely. There’s a dearth of students doing research in basic science not just in Maharashtra, but also in India. It’s only in the last few years that states like Andhra Pradesh have started making conscious efforts in this direction. It’s too little as yet, but at least there’s a beginning. One wonders if the cabinet comprising Ajit Pawar even touched upon this discussion. The lack of state infrastructure to support basic science research discourages student interest. There is no comparison, but countries like the US are not at the forefront of scientific and technological development by the dint of it. There’s been a conscious effort, both by the powers that be and the society (most premier educational institutions in the West enjoy patronage from most generous donors for centuries). Pawar will do well to borrow some humility from his uncle Sharad Pawar whom he ditched to get into the power.

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