The draft proposes that as part of the three-language formula, non-native speakers must learn Hindi in school, apart from the regional language and English.

 Kannada activists oppose Hindi imposition in Centres draft education policyFile image of protests against Hindi imposition
news Culture Sunday, June 02, 2019 - 16:49

Activists in Karnataka are up in arms against the Centre’s draft National Education Policy 2019 which gives primacy to Hindi as part of a three language formula. The draft proposes that as part of the three-language formula, non-native speakers must learn Hindi in school, apart from the regional language and English. Similar protests against imposition of Hindi have been noticed from non-Hindi speaking states including Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Ganesh Chetan, a member of Kannada Grahakara Koota, argued that the Constitution had to be amended. As it presently stands, Hindi has been given special privileges under part XVII and articles 343- 351, he pointed out. These make Hindi an official language in India; however, it doesn’t mean that Hindi is the national language, as many believe.

“Hindi has been given special privilege under the Official Languages Act. I do not know why the government has proposed something like this,” Ganesh said. “We have been running a campaign across the nation against Hindi imposition. Last year, we had a convention in Bengaluru with representatives of 30 languages. We need language equality or the campaign will continue.”

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Srivatsa, National Campaign-in-charge for the Indian Youth Congress, called for all MPs from Karnataka to oppose the Centre’s move. He tweeted, “MPs of Karnataka must vociferously oppose this new draft education policy. Hindi Imposition will be resisted by all non-Hindi speaking states & not just the south @narendramodi must in fact declare all 8th schedule languages as official languages of India. #StopHindiImposition.”



Former NASA scientist and polymath Ashwin Mahesh also weighed in the issue and tweeted, ”The 3-language mis-recommendation is an example of a deep error in our approach to policy - a Centre-appointed committee makes recommendations on what states should do, in a matter that is in almost entirely within the states' purview!!”

In his subsequent tweets, he focused on the importance of the mother tongue.

“We need 3 formulas for language, not a 3-language formula. (a) Learning in the mother tongue is easier. (b) Familiarity with local language has social, economic and cultural value. (c) Access to languages of the marketplace increases opportunities,” he said.

He added, “Parental choice is also important. Policy-makers tend to decide what is good for the people without asking them, or they claim to already know what they (should) want. Respect for their choices is key, and I'm confident it will broadly align with the '3 formulas' approach.”

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The draft was released on Friday by former ISRO chief Dr K Kasturirangan and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English,” the draft states.

However, in the face of vigorous opposition, the Centre issued a clarification saying that the text was a draft only.

When asked about this by reporters in Bengaluru on Saturday, Union Minister of Fertilisers and Bengaluru North MP DV Sadananda Gowda said, “The Prime Minister in his first meeting with the MPs, categorically said that regional languages and regional issues should be taken on priority. So I don’t think there is any confusion [that Hindi won’t be imposed].”

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