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Insights into Editorial: Crisis defused: on Hindi imposition


Insights into Editorial: Crisis defused: on Hindi imposition


Context:

After about four years in the making, the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 is out in the public domain, with comments sought from all stakeholders till June 30.

The Draft of a new education policy released by the Centre has made Hindi the centre of a controversy.

Among several proposals made in the draft National Education Policy (NEP), the one clause that came under fire was the “3-language formula”. The proposal was seen as a move to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states.

The provision that stipulated Hindi as one of the languages that students should study from Grade 6 was included in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) after detailed discussion and its removal undermines the spirit of the three-language formula.

The contentious paragraph in the draft has now been revised.

 

Constitution of India about Hindi language:

Article 343(1) says that official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.

Article 343 (2) mentions that irrespective of the fact that Hindi shall be the official language, but for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution.

The English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of Indian Constitution. But as of now, the status quo on the use of English remains.

The Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with Official Language.

The President of India can also authorise the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for any of the official purposes of the Union.

 

When was the Three-language formula policy first mooted?

The three-language formula was first formulated by the Indira Gandhi-led central government in 1968 in consultation with states and then incorporated into the National Education Policy.

The idea was to encourage students to learn more than one language or just their mother tongue, and to have north Indians learn a southern language and vice versa.

The original formula spelt out that students learn their mother tongue or a regional language, the official language of the Union (English) or the associate official language of the Union (Hindi), and a modern Indian language.

In Hindi-speaking states, the formula translated into learning Hindi, English and a modern Indian language (preferably south Indian). For students in non-Hindi speaking states, it mandated lessons in Hindi, English and the regional language.

But the contours of implementation still lay with states since education is a state subject. As the policy was interpreted and implemented by various states and came to acquire a political colour, it took on different versions in south and north India.

 

Now, Mandatory Hindi goes out of draft education policy:

The clause recommending mandatory teaching of Hindi in all schools was dropped from the draft National Education Policy, after the Union government faced an intense backlash from Tamil Nadu and protests from other States.

However, the revised draft uploaded by the Human Resource Development Ministry retains the recommendation to introduce a three­language formula from Class 1, merely having removed the clause stipulating the specific languages that students must choose.

 

Why southern states are opposing it?

This is not the first time that the country is witnessing protests against Hindi.

Tamil Nadu had always resisted the “imposition” of Hindi. In 1965, the state witnessed violent protests against a proposal that Hindi would be India’s only official language.

The anti-Hindi sentiments in Southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, is not just a language affair. According to a report, imposition of Hindi is seen as the hegemony of the North and the introduction of mono-culture.

Kasturirangan said that the three-language formula provides students with the basis for youngsters to pick up even more languages in the years to come.

 

Unique features of the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 policy:

The draft policy seeks to revamp all aspects of the sector and suggests brave new ideas.

  • The idea that lifelong education is based on four pillars learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be has inspired the committee to cover every aspect of the education sector: school, higher, vocational and adult education.
  • It also includes the whole gamut of professional education — engineering, medicine, agriculture, law, etc.
  • The next two stages, of three years each, are “preparatory” and “upper primary”, first ensure the acquisition of foundational skills and then their development.
  • These stages are not only consistent with the development of children, but they are also useful to meet the overall goal of ensuring basic learning outcomes stage-by-stage.
  • The aim is to double the Gross Enrolment Ratio from 25% to 50% by 2035 and make universities the hubs of research.
  • Achieve ‘universal foundational literacy and numeracy’ through initiatives like the National Tutors Programme and the Remedial Instructional Aides Programme.
  • Introduction of school complexes, a system of modular Board Examinations to allow flexibility, setting up Special Education Zones in disadvantaged regions.
  • The policy recommends community and volunteer participation in collaboration with schools to overcome the current crisis. Schools generally work in isolation from the community they serve.
  • Vocational education, meant for 50% of the students, is sought to be integrated with school and higher education.

 

Conclusion:

The education system whether public and private has been deteriorating rapidly and has affected the quality of our human resources.

If this trend is not reversed, the dysfunctional system will become more and more expensive but will not deliver the goods. It will require a huge commitment and conviction to make it happen.

The details about financing and institutional structures should be fleshed out at the earliest, perhaps by an inter-departmental committee under the Cabinet Secretary.

It is time for all conscientious persons to study the report and suggest the best path forward. If the political leadership backs it, implementation of the policy will transform our nation.

It is now the duty of the conscious persons of the country to study the draft and recommend preventive steps. The Government should also take measures for the quality implementation of the ideas and make it easily accessible to the people.