- Uttarakhand Education Minister humiliated teacher "basic" math questions
- Even after the minister got an answer wrong, he stood his ground
- Government teacher associations expressed anger at the minister's conduct
Sample this: He wanted to know how much would two negative signs add up to. "Minus plus minus is plus," he told the bewildered teacher. Next, he asked her how much would minus one and minus one (-1) + (-1) add up to. The correct answer is -2. The education minister declared, in front of a video camera that had accompanied him on the inspection, that the answer is zero and stood his ground.
This was on Monday.
As word, and video footage of the 45-year-old minister visit got out, there was outrage at his behaviour with the school teacher and his understanding of basic mathematics.
The minister, who had defended himself on the first day and blamed the teacher for using a guidebook and not the prescribed textbook, went into damage-control mode the next day. On his Facebook page, the minister put out a video of another school inspection. In this one, the minister who had been criticised for being brusque with the teacher on Monday, appeared to be at his best behaviour.
On Thursday, associations of government teachers in several towns of Uttarakhand hit the streets to demand that the minister apologise. "The way he spoke... it was an insult to the entire teaching community," a teacher at a protest in capital Dehradun told NDTV.
The Congress, which had been wiped out in the February assembly elections, also jumped in. Alluding to the many criminal cases that the minister faces, Lalit Joshi of the Congress said if one were to review his antecedents, it would be clear that he shouldn't be where he is, but somewhere else.
Late on Thursday, the education minister put out another message on Facebook, promising that his intentions were good even if they disagreed with his style of functioning. Nevertheless, he promised to introspect.