Centre backtracks, makes Hindi optional

Centre backtracks, makes Hindi optional

S Murari

The Union Government on Monday made Hindi an optional language in schools along with English and mother tongue following stiff resistance from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka .The Centre made changes in the new Draft National Education Policy, making Hindi optional under the three-language formula.

"In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school," read the tweaked version of the draft policy.

The original Draft National Education Policy 2019 recommended English, Hindi and mother tongue should be taught in the non-Hindi state, while Hindi-speaking states should offer English,  Hindi and an Indian language.Many leaders from non-Hindi states, especially Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, opposed the policy.

In Tamil Nadu, DMK leader M K Stalin and other opposition leaders said they would resist imposition of Hindi while Education Minister K A Sengottavan said the AIADMK Government would continue with the two-language formula.Echoing the same sentiments, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said the Centre cannot force any language.

It faced resistance even in Maharashtra with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray came out against it. Its spokesperson Anil Shindora said:”Hindi is not our mother tongue. Don’t force it on us and incite us”.

Following an outcry, Human Resources Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank  clarified that it was only a draft policy subject to changes andt no language would be forced on anyone.

The same view was expressed by Information Minister Prakash Javadekar as well Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.They all said there was no question of imposing any language on any one and that the Modi Government is in fact for promotion of all languages.