There became an experience of déjà vu as I accompanied the debate about the “imposition of Hindi” and its retraction via new Narendra Modi authorities over the last few days. Seven years ago, I had seen and suffered a similar controversy over “objectionable cartoons” within the NCERT textbooks in political science. I turned into one of the chief advisers, along with Professor Suhas Palshikar.
The controversy exploded in May 2012 with a quick, heated, and ill-informed debate at the grounds of Parliament regarding a caricature inside the Elegance XI textbook that allegedly denigrated Dr. Ambedkar. That change was observed through an equally heated countrywide media trial in which basic facts about the manual had been the most significant casualty. Faced with this political heat, the UPA government truly capitulated. The HRD minister provided an abject apology in Parliament and was given pliant teachers to get the NCERT to drop the “offending” caricature. Professor Palshikar and I resigned in protest. Professor Palshikar turned into an attack in his office. The sample is eerily identical this time. The Modi authorities released the draft of the new National Policy on Education [DNPE] submitted in December 2018.
A controversy erupted almost immediately about the BJP’s alleged to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states. The allegation becomes politically very touchy, as it emanated from Tamil Nadu. Now, conquering Tamil Nadu features high in the BJP’s destiny electoral roadmap. The considerable obstacle is off the route, the BJP’s image as a “Hindi-domination” celebration. This change echoed in a pretty ill-informed debate, so far, in the media. Almost all the media reports and commentaries have targeted two paragraphs in the 484-page record and assumed that the DNPE had endorsed something new. Comments on the dominance of the English language in Para 4.5.Four(on pages 81-eighty three) have excited a few editorials within the English media. Spelling out of the same old three-language formula in para 4.5.9 (on web page eighty-four) invited the price of the imposition of Hindi. Suppose the commentators had read the complete section 4. Five of the DNEP on “Education inside the neighborhood language/mother-tongue; multilingualism and the electricity of language” and chapter 22 on the promotion of Indian languages would have visible that the rate of a grand design for the imposition of Hindi is undoubtedly untrue. I am afraid the temptation to incorrect-foot the Modi government has led many competition leaders to take an ill-advised, if no longer irresponsible, position on something that concerns a vital problem of countywide significance.
Let’s be fair to the document: The draft NPE nowhere takes the Hindi chauvinist position of Hindi being the “countrywide language” of India. This expression does not exist in the Indian Constitution. Nor does this report contain something that shifts from the country’s present language policy concerning the reputation of Hindi. It repeats the three-language components that have been, as a minimum on paper, the same old legit policy on language schooling for the reason that the first National Policy on Education in 1968 (para 4 (three)(b)). The system indicates that every toddler has to research three languages: one’s nearby language, Hindi, and English. If the child’s regional language happens to be Hindi, she should examine another “Indian language,” ideally a South Indian language. This system was reiterated through the National Policy on Education in 1986 (revised in 1992) and the National Curriculum Framework of 2005. The DNPE reiterates the inherited consensus. If something, the DNPE is more cautious about underlining the position of Hindi than the authentic NPE.
The three-language formulation becomes a prudent manner to remedy the vexed problem of English and the present diverse day Indian languages, or beaches, as U.R. Ananthamurthy could name all of those. It respected the importance of the country/local languages while recognizing the emerging utility of Hindi as a bridge among Indian languages and English as a bridge to the arena out of doors India. Sadly, the method was never practiced in its authentic spirit. The Hindi belt states discovered ways to circumvent it. Instead of having Hindi-speaking youngsters study, say, Tamil Ma, Rathi, or Bengali, they started using perfunctory coaching of Sanskrit (or, in some cases, Urdu) to meet the formality of the 1/3 language. In truth, the 3-language system supposed that non-Hindi-speakers learned Hindi while Hindi speakers learned no other contemporary Indian language. This inequality has naturally brought about heartburn.
Successive governments in Tamil Nadu have rejected this component as a manifestation of linguistic inequality. The English-speaking elite has cleverly used this quarrel among beaches to perpetuate the English language’s dominance and the weird practice of English as a medium of guidance. Far from a conspiracy to impose Hindi, the DNPE is a leap forward in coverage, questioning the issue of language and schooling. First, it recommends multilingualism as the inspiration for education in a rustic like ours, thus shifting away from a useless debate about what needs to be the countrywide language. It recognizes kids’ potential to analyze numerous styles and the cognitive advantages of multilingual training. Second, like the other policy files, it reiterates the well-known pedagogic know-how, supported by cognitive psychology, that the kid’s “domestic language” or “mom’s tongue” must be her medium of instruction. This is in sharp comparison to the cognitive barbarity of the unfolding of English as a medium of practice in a place wherein, more frequently than not, the child, the dad, the mom, and the lecturers are harmless of this language.
Third, it celebrates the strength of Indian languages as providers of present-day schooling and the USA’s destiny. It makes a strong case for the teaching of and knowledge creation in those languages. The authorities would do adequately to effect the distinctive guidelines for supporting the boom, renovation, and vibrancy of Indian languages. Fourth, and conversely, it attests to the reality that the English language’s dominance is due less to its intrinsic cost and more excellent due to the fact it’s far the language of the dominant elite. I call the triumphing situation a machine of linguistic apartheid. The DNPE boldly says something that had to be said: the dominance of English desires to cease.