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Smriti Irani (Indian politician, former model, television actress) Bio, Facts. 

Smriti Irani
Born Name: Smriti Malhotra
Date of Birth: 23 March 1976
Place of Birth: New Delhi, India
Height: 1.7 m
Education: Holy Child Auxilium School
Political party: Bharatiya Janata Party
Spouse(s): Zubin Irani (m. 2001)
Children: Zohr Irani, Zoish Irani
Residence: Mumbai, India
Occupation: Politician, Actress
Smriti Zubin Irani (born 23 March 1976) is an Indian politician, former model, television actress, and producer. Irani is a Minister in the Union Cabinet of India. She is serving in the cabinet of Narendra Modi as Minister of Textiles and was given additional charge as Minister of Women and Child Development in the 2nd cabinet of Modi since May 2019. A prominent leader within the Bharatiya Janata Party, she is a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, representing Amethi.

In the 2019 Indian general election, she defeated Rahul Gandhi - the country's principal opposition leader and president of Indian National Congress - to win the seat. Gandhi's family had previously represented the constituency for four decades. Prior to this, she was a member of the Rajya Sabha for Gujarat and held multiple portfolios as a Minister in the Government of India.

In the 2nd Modi Ministry she was again sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on 30 May 2019. She is currently the youngest Minister in the Council of Ministers at the age of 43. On 31 May 2019, the government released the portfolio allocations for the ministers. She retained her post as the Minister of Textiles. She was also given an additional charge of becoming the Minister of Women and Child development succeeding Maneka Gandhi.

Early life and education
Smriti Malhotra was born to a Bengali mother, Shibani Bagchi, and a Punjabi-Maharashtrian father, Ajay Kumar Malhotra. She is the eldest of 3 sisters.

She has been a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from childhood as her grandfather was an RSS swayamsevak and her mother was a member of Jana Sangh. She was educated at the Holy Child Auxilium School, New Delhi. Later, she enrolled in School of Open Learning at University of Delhi

In April 2019, in a poll affidavit, Irani said she is not a graduate. She revealed that she undertook her exams for Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) first year from Delhi University's School of Open Learning, but did not complete the three-year degree course. As a candidate in 2004 elections from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Irani had declared that she had a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.

Acting career
Irani was one of the participants of the beauty pageant Miss India 1998 who couldn't reach the top 9, along with Gauri Pradhan Tejwani. In 1998, Irani appeared in a song "Boliyan" of the album "Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag" with Mika Singh. In 2000, she made her début with TV series Aatish and Hum Hain Kal Aaj Aur Kal, both aired on Star Plus. Apart from this she also acted in Kavita serial on DD metro. In mid-2000, Irani won the lead role of Tulsi Virani in Ekta Kapoor's production Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus. She holds the record of winning five consecutive Indian Television Academy Award for Best Actress - Popular, four Indian Telly Awards. Irani had a fallout with the producer Ekta Kapoor and she left the show in June 2007 and was replaced by Gautami Kapoor. She made her comeback in May 2008 in a special episode.

In 2001, she also played the epic character Sita in Zee TV's Ramayan. In 2006, Irani co-produced the show Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan under her banner Ugraya Entertainment and Balaji Telefilms. She also played the lead role of Uma in it. In 2007, she produced the TV serial Virrudh for Sony TV and also portrayed the lead character of Vasudha in it. She also produced Mere Apne for 9X and portrayed the protagonist alongside Vinod Khanna. She also acted in a supporting role in Zee TV's Teen Bahuraaniyaan.

In 2008, Irani along with Sakshi Tanwar hosted the show Yeh Hai Jalwa, a dance based reality show featuring celebrities along with their troops on 9X. In the same year she also produced another show on Zee TV, Waaris which ended in 2009. In 2009, she appeared in a comedy show Maniben.com, aired on SAB TV. She also co-produced the show in collaboration with Contiloe Entertainment. In 2012, she worked in Bengali movie Amrita

Political career
Irani is Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Amethi constituency and won Loksabha elections in 2019 by defeating Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Irani joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2003. She became the vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Wing in 2004. In the 2004 general elections for the 14th Lok Sabha, she contested unsuccessfully against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi. She was nominated as executive member of the central committee of the BJP. In December 2004, Irani, blaming then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi for BJP's electoral losses, threatened to fast unto death until he resigned. However, she later retracted this demand after BJP's central leadership threatened to take action against her. In May 2009, Irani while campaigning for Vijay Goel's candidature in New Delhi, voiced her concerns about the safety of women in the capital. She advocated capital punishment for rapists as a deterrent.

In early 2010, Irani was appointed National Secretary of BJP and on 24 June, she was appointed All India President of the BJP's women's wing, BJP Mahila Morcha. As National President of BJP Women's Wing she has significantly and successfully pursued Permanent Commission for Women in the Indian Army by facilitating legal aid to women officers. In August 2011, she was sworn in as a member of parliament from Gujarat to the Rajya Sabha.

Irani contested the 2014 general elections against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh. Irani lost to Gandhi by 1,07,923 votes, a 12.32% margin. On 26 May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed her as the Minister of Human Resource Development in his cabinet. Her appointment was criticised by many people owing to her lack of formal higher education.

Irani has been accused of misrepresenting her educational qualifications. Conflicting affidavits were allegedly submitted by her while filing for different elections. In June 2015, a lower court held that the allegations against Irani were maintainable and a delay in prosecution was not a valid reason for dismissal. Irani asked people to file a PIL about her educational qualification to know about the truth behind the affidavit controversy.

Irani's term as HRD minister proved to be a controversial one and saw a massive increase in volatile campus politics. Irani made a speech in Parliament in which she discussed the 2016 JNU sedition controversy and the Suicide of Rohith Vemula. University of Hyderabad doctor Rajashree M contradicted some claims made by Irani regarding the circumstances of Rohith's death.

She announced to start new yoga departments in six new universities in June 2016.

In July 2016, in a cabinet reshuffle Mrs. Irani was shuffled to the Ministry of Textiles from MHRD.

In July 2017, she was handed the additional charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India) when Former Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu resigned from the Ministry to take part in Vice-Presidential Elections.

Work Undertaken as Union Minister
Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani is currently the youngest minister in the cabinet of Shri Narendra Modi. She is also the first woman to hold office as the Union Minister for Human Resource Development and Union Minister of Textiles. She is also the youngest woman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Some of her key achievements in various portfolios held by her have been listed below :

Union Minister for Human Resource Development (May 2014 to July 2016)

In her term as the HRD minister, Smt. Irani undertook a number of decisions which helped in improving the quality, inclusivity and outcome of education in the country. Some of the key achievements have been listed as under :

  1. The Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) was launched by the Minister post the retreat of IITs in 2014. The network is an initiative within the in Higher Education sector aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country's existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India's scientific and technological capacity to global excellence.
  2. Udaan Yojana and Pragati Scheme launched in 2014 by Smt. Irani aims to address the low enrolment of girls in engineering colleges. The scheme has been designed to provide a comprehensive platform to deserving girl students who aspire to pursue higher education in engineering and assist them in preparing for the IIT-JEE while studying in Classes XI and XII. By 2016, 143 of the 300 girls under the scheme had cleared JEE. In the same year the Pragati Scheme was launched in order to provide financial support and encouragement to female students to pursue technical education.
  3. Know Your College Portal was launched in the year 2014 for helping a prospective student make a value judgement with regard to the selection of an appropriate college for pursuing higher education by providing the necessary information about the college.
  4. The IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India Scheme, brainchild of Smt. Irani was launched by the former President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2015. It is the first of its kind MHRD supported Pan-IIT + IISc joint initiative to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance. Within a year of its launch 31 ministries and government departments have proposed to co-fund 229 research projects worth Rs 59,589 lakh at IITs and other premier Indian research institutes.
  5. National institute Ranking Framework is an indigenous ranking framework for higher educational institutions launched by Smt. Irani in 2015, It will now allow the students seeking admission into colleges to assess the performance and quality level of different colleges.
  6. SWAYAM -Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds, launched in the year 2016 by Smt. Irani is a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) platform, which aims at providing online courses, study material and course registration. It has been designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. It further aims to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.
  7. Veer Gatha series was launched by the HRD ministry under the leadership of Smt. Irani in the year 2016 as an initiative to take the stories of India's bravest of the brave soldiers to young school children and inspire them.

Union Minister for Textile :(July 2016 to present)

Smt. Irani was appointed as the Textile Minister in the year 2016, taking over from Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar. She has held the position of the Union Minister of textiles since 2016 and retained the portfolio in the new cabinet post the 2019 elections. Her contribution to the sector has also been appreciated by the textile council TEXPROCIL. Various industry bodies such as the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF), hailed her re-appointment as the Union Minister for Textiles.

  1. Apparel and Made up Sector Special Package launched in the year 2018, is a Rs. 6,000 crore worth of package launched by Smt. Irani in 2016, aimed at strengthening the entire textile industry by providing financial support to small scale players in the industry.
  2. Support for Technical Textile, in a bid to fulfil the long-standing demand of the industry, in January 2019, Smt. Irani declare technical textile items as a separate category and declared that the government had notified 207 HSN codes as technical textiles. The said move is expected to benefit 900 million farmers in the country and will help the industry to grow over Rs 2 lakh crore in the tech textile sector and help the potential investors to enter into technical textiles.
  3. Special focus on the North Estern Regions, during the first term of her tenure as the Minister of Textiles, 21 readymade garment manufacturing units in the north eastern region had been made functional. Special initiatives were taken to further push sericulture in the region, for which Rs. 690 crore had been earmarked.
  4. Silk Samagra workshop was launched by Smt. Irani in 2018, which is an Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry for 3 years from 2017–2020. The main objective of the scheme is to maintain Breeders stock, Breed improvement through R&D Projects, Development of mechanised practices, Technology translation through Sericulture Information Linkages and Knowledge System (SILKS) Portal, Mobile Application for Stakeholders and for seed quality monitoring.
  5. ‘Samarth Scheme’, is an aspirational initiative launched by Smt. Irani in her second term as the Union Minister for Textiles. The ministry has envisaged an expenditure of over Rs. 1,300 crore to upskill over 4 lakh workers in 16 states.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (July 2017 to May 2018)

  1. Smt. Irani was praised by none other than Superstar Shah Rukh Khan who extended his support to the 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), held in November 2017. He said “Great endeavour by I&B Minister Smriti Irani to make IFFI the most inclusive, relevant forum for Indian cinema. My unwavering support to you”. The event was a star studded one, with Sridevi, AR Rahman, Shahid Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj and many other stars registering their presence at the event. For the first time, under the Accessible India Campaign of the Government of India, cinematic works were presented in audio-described format for the visually impaired.
  2. During Mrs. Irani term as I&B Minister, State-run broadcaster Doordarshan net revenue rose to Rs827.51 crore in the financial year 2017,surpassing its annual target of Rs800 crore.

Union Minister for Women and Child Developments (May 2019 – Present)

In the second term of the Modi Government, Smt. Irani was appointed given the key portfolio Union Minister for Women and Child Development.

  1. Committee on Gender Budgeting, within first few weeks of taking charge as the Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Irani acknowledged the role of Gender Budgeting in the progression of a women-friendly nation and proactively engaged with various stakeholders in order to give recommendations for immediate actionables to the Prime Minister's office with reference to Gender Budgeting for Budget, 2019–2020.
  2. Amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2019 : One of her first legislative initiatives as the Minister for WCD was the said amendment, which aims to make punishment more stringent and even include death penalty for offenders involved in sexual crimes against minors. Further, through the said amendment, the minster also undertook the initiative to define “child pornography” and reiterated a “zero tolerance” stance against the crime.
  3. Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh, As part of the Poshan Abhiyaan, Smt. Irani along with Bill Gates, through his foundation, announced the launch of India's first Poshan Atlas, Bhartiya Poshan Krishi Kosh(BPKK) in order to create a repository of diverse crops across 127 agro-climatic zones of the country.

MP from Amethi
Irani, in 2019 general elections, in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh, made historic win against Rahul Gandhi, congress candidate, by margin of 55,120 votes. Rahul gave up with three lakh votes to count. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its top brass put in an all-round effort over the past five years to ensure this win. Irani made multiple visits to Amethi after her loss to launch central development schemes in the constituency, which hadn't got that kind of attention under its Congress custodians. Congress continued to assume that the family loyalty factor would continue to work, Irani stressed how a record number of toilets and houses had been built by the Centre for the poor in Amethi since the Modi government came to power.

This is the seat from which Rahul Gandhi has been chosen as the member of Parliament since 2004. In 2014 Smriti Irani gave him a tough contest and gathered over three lakh votes in the Parliamentary constituency with the preparation of 45 days before the election.

Post her victory from Amethi and entry into the Lok Sabha :

  1. She has been allotted a first-row seat in the Lok Sabha, signalling her ascent in the BJP hierarchy.
  2. Smriti Irani lends shoulder to mortal remains of close aide who was shot dead in Amethi.
  3. After winning election she launched “Didi Apke Dwar” program, a block-wise Janta Darbar for listening to and solving public grievances.
  4. She fulfilled her election promise of Kendriya Vidyalaya for Amethi within first 3 month of winning the seat.

Awards and International Conferences

  1. Young Global Leader, Irani was named Young Global Leader from India by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2015. The said award in the past has been given to leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron, Alibaba Group chief Jack Ma, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Google chief Larry Page, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
  2. Irani was unanimously elected as a Member representing the Asia Pacific Region to the Task Force responsible for establishing the 1st ever Committee for Young Parliamentarians in the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
  3. Irani was also the USAID Goodwill Ambassador to India for WHO-ORS program for 3 Years.
  4. Irani in 2019 was name was listed in Femina's Power List under the theme “Women Who Changed The Game” for her victory of Amethi over congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Controversies
Undergraduate degree controversy
Irani was accused of providing contradictory affidavits about her educational qualifications during different elections. In her affidavit for the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, she reportedly stated her educational qualification as B.A. from Delhi University (school of bhangra correspondence). However, while filing affidavits in her nomination papers for Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2011 and Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 2014, she said her highest educational qualification was, B.com, Part 1 from School of Open Learning at University of Delhi.

However the court decided that she would not be further summoned. It was later clarified that she has done B.com, Part 1 from Delhi University (not completing the full course till Part 3) in the affidavit she filed for Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat in 2017 which stated "Bachelor of Commerce, Part 1. Three year degree course not completed".

A freelance writer Ahmer Khan filed a complaint in April 2015 that Smriti Irani had filed an affidavit in April 2004 for the Lok Sabha elections, stating that she had completed her Bachelor of Arts in 1996 from School of Correspondence (Delhi University) but in another affidavit of 16 April 2014, filed by her for the Lok Sabha polls, it was said that she was a Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from the School of Open Learning (Delhi University). The plea said that the facts and circumstances reveal commission of offences by Smriti under section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.

The court had on 20 November 2016 allowed the complainant's plea seeking direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring the records of Ms. Irani's qualifications after he said he was unable to place them before the court. During the hearings of the complaint, the court was told by a poll panel official that the documents filed by Ms. Irani regarding her educational qualification while filing nominations were not traceable. Also, in pursuance of the court's earlier direction, Delhi University had also submitted that the documents pertaining to Ms. Irani's BA course in 1996, as purportedly mentioned by her in an affidavit filed during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, were yet to be found.

On 6 October 2016 Patiala House Court on Thursday asked Election Commission to authenticate certificates of Union Minister Smriti Irani and later adjourned the matter till 15 October.

On 18 October 2016, a Delhi court said that Smriti Irani will not be summoned for the fake degree case because the petition filed against Irani questioning her college degrees was an attempt to harass her. The court said that the complainant may not have filed it if she were not a central minister. Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh said that original evidence had already been lost due to the passage of years, secondary evidence wasn't enough for court. The Magistrate also said that the complainant made a "delay of 11 years" in filing the complaint against Irani.

Yale University degree row
As an incumbent minister for human resource and development of India, at the 2014 India Today Women Summit, Irani stated, "I do have a degree from Yale as well, which I can bring out and show how Yale celebrated my leadership capacity." The degree which Ms Irani was mentioning turned out to be a certificate from Yale faculty for attending a 6-day training program at the university.

Personal life
In 2001, Smriti married a Parsi businessman - Zubin Irani. In October the same year, the couple had their first child, a son named Zohr. In September 2003, the couple had their second child, a daughter named Zoe. Both her children are also practicing Parsis by religion. Smriti is also a stepmother to Shanelle who is Zubin Irani's daughter from his previous marriage with a coordinator and former beauty contestant Mona Irani and now is a law student at Georgetown University in the United States.

Electoral history

  • 2014 - Lost against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) even after gaining over 3 lakh votes
  • 2019–present - Member of Lok Sabha from Amethi (Lok Sabha constituency) defeating Congress National President Rahul Gandhi, on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.
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