NEW DELHI: HRD Minister Smriti Irani today rejected allegations that she was promoting vegetarian food in IITs, contending that it such meals were stopped during UPA rule, much before she assumed charge following complaints about high price.
"...We have turned IITs into a vegetarian complex? I would like to tell my learned friend that IIT students in Delhi explained and in fact expressed their anguish at the high cost of non-vegetarian food and it was stopped in April 2014 much before I took office," she said while replying to debate on a bill in the Lok Sabha.
"In fact, the IITs are exploring through three organisations or individuals the possibility of providing non-vegetarian food to its students. These are decisions I do not interfere with," she said while countering the charges of some MPs in Lok Sabha today.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi had said that there has been move against non-vegetarian food and added the government should be concerned about promoting IITs and not promoting vegetarian food in IITs.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha MP and CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury had also expressed concern over reports of non-vegetarian food being taken off menu in IIT Delhi and had sought her intervention in the matter.
With regard to the issue of German being replaced with Sanskrit as third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Irani strongly defended her action but said that foreign languages will continue to be taught as optional.
"When I am accused of only upholding Sanskrit because I am saffron, I would like to remind my learned friend that I was upholding an aspect of the National Policy of Education as envisaged by Gandhi which spoke of the Three Language Formula. It is a law of the land now," she said. Smriti Irani also reacted sharply to accusation that her Ministry was promoting the legacy of some people at the expense of others.
"We embrace Maulana Azad, we embrace Pandit Nehru, we embrace the legacy of Rajiv Gandhi but this is also the 900 year of Bhaskaracharya. Would we leave our legacy behind when its inconvenient," she questioned.
Irani said her Ministry has decided to dedicate a week to Mathematics in December in the week preceding December 22 which is the National Mathematics Day to infuse innovation in numeracy and mathematics and help increase scientific temper.
The week will be called as 'Growing Aptitude for Numerical Innovation and Training' (GANIT).