The controversy over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degrees & educational qualifications—whether he has any, whether they’re authentic–is really an elitist tempest in a teapot. Degrees have become more a measure of social status than of political understanding or wisdom. For heaven’s sakes, white supremacist David Duke has a PhD. It’s just not a controversy most working people can identify with. So I was immensely pleased to find this devastating criticism of the row by Meena Kandasamy:
“In a nation where we have not ensured that every child gets into a school, it is crass elitism to go on about someone’s lack-of/fake degree. Pin down Modi for selling the nation to his Adani-Ambani sponsors, for the corporate loot, for the destruction of the university system, for the communal riots, for the farmer suicides, for bankrupting every single welfare scheme, for the million-zillion write-offs, for everything that’s going wrong with his regime. To try and trace his certificate is like tracing pedigree, and not something that will alienate him from the millions of poor and working class in this country who haven’t stepped inside the portals of higher education, whose lives are laid waste in making this India what it is.
And those who hanker after his degree must also stop to reflect on how much this absurd, Brahminical system spits out and crushes first-generation learners—and if someone actually didn’t go to university and didn’t get fucking broken by the system, lucky him, lucky her. Don’t hound someone for this. There’s a thousand reasons to demand that Modi must step down, to expose that he is the worst Indian prime minister in history, but trying to play the elite charade of what’s his degree is not where I want to spend my time.”