The criticism forced the HRD Ministry to issue a statement clarifying that the education policy was only a draft and will be finalised after incorporating public feedback and views of the state governments.
Following outrage over a draft education policy that suggested making Hindi mandatory third language in schools, the newly-elected BJP government reiterated that it was only a draft and no language will be imposed. The pitch for a three-language formula in the draft National Education Policy drew a strong reaction from political leaders across the ruling and opposition parties, especially in Tamil Nadu.
According to the draft education policy, students in Hindi-speaking states should learn a modern Indian language, apart from Hindi and English and, in non-Hindi-speaking states, Hindi along with the regional language and English.
Hashtags #StopHindiImposition, #TNAgainstHindiImposition trended on Twitter, sending the government in damage control mode.
Tamil-speaking ministers in the Union cabinet came forward to clarify that the government does not mean to impose the Hindi language and that the recommendations will only be implemented after incorporating public feedback.
Here’s what they said
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal
Amid growing opposition against the NEP draft, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said the Centre has no intentions of imposing any language on anyone. “Committee has submitted its report to Ministry, it’s not the policy. Public feedback will be sought, it’s a misunderstanding that it has become a policy. No language will be imposed on any state,” he said. The draft of the new NEP, formulated by a committee led by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan during the previous BJP government, was handed over to Pokhriyal, who took charge as the Union Human Resource Development Minister on Friday.
I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, under whose charge as the former HRD minister the NEP was drafted, clarified that the committee had only prepared a draft report and no decision has been taken on implementing it. “The committee has submitted its report. The draft has been prepared but the government has not taken any decision. It is just a misunderstanding. We will only take a decision after feedback on the draft has been received,” he said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Seeking to pacify the agitation against the three-language formula, Sitharaman posted a tweet in Tamil to clarify that the controversial draft proposal will be reviewed before its implementation.
“Only after hearing public opinion the draft policy will be implemented. Only to nurture all Indian languages the Prime Minister launched Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat. The Centre would support to honour and develop the ancient Tamil language,” she said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister Subramanian Jaishankar, also a Tamil speaker, tweeted in both English and Tamil, that “no language will be imposed”.
“The Central Government will take the draft of the Education Committee only after hearing the opinions of the people. The government will take all efforts to promote and encourage all Indian languages. The Central Government has no intention of impose any language.”
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu
Coming to the defence of the government, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Sunday appealed to people to study, analyse and debate the Draft New Education Policy and not to come to hasty conclusions.
DMK chief MK Stalin
DMK chief MK Stalin came down heavily on the government over the NEP draft, saying that his party will express their strong opposition in the parliament.
The three language formula which bats for Hindi from “pre-school to class 12 was a big shocker,” and the recommendation would “divide” the country, Stalin said.
Recalling the anti-Hindi agitations beginning as early as 1937 in Tamil Nadu, the DMK leader in a statement said since 1968 the State was following the two-language formula of learning only Tamil and English.
The DMK would never tolerate imposition of Hindi and strongly oppose it. “Still, I believe that the Central BJP government will not make way for another language stir,” he said.
Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan said, “I have acted in many Hindi films, in my opinion, Hindi language should not be imposed on anyone.”
Haasan said his party would pursue legal options against it. “Be it language or a project, if we do not like that, it should not be forced on us,” he said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor
Thiruvananthapuram MP and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the solution to the three language formula is not by abandoning the idea but by its better implementation. Tharoor said that the three-language formula dates back to mid-1960s but it was never properly implemented. “Most of us in South India learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam and Tamil,” he said.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy
Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said one language should not be imposed on others in the name of the three-language formula.
Kumaraswamy said, “I am aware of the draft education policy released by the HRD Ministry. One language should not be imposed on others for any reason in the name of three-language policy. State governments’ stand will be known to the Centre after gathering more information on this issue,” he tweeted.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah also slammed the government, saying “Instead of imposing Hindi, the government should focus on recognising regional identities & give more space to the states to express & manifest their ideas through their own culture & language.”
Taking to Twitter, Siddaramaiah said, “We are all Kannadigas in India.”
“Kannada is the sovereign language in Karnataka. Re-imposition of Kannadigas through the new National Education Policy can not be supported. Kannada is ours. There is no question of compromising our language. I request my state representatives to take part in thinking about it.”
Congress MP P Chidambaram
Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the draft proposal proved that the BJP’s real face is beginning to emerge. Taking to Twitter, Chidambaram said, “what is the meaning of three language formula in schools? The meaning is they will make Hindi a compulsory subject…”
In another tweet, he said “If Hindi language is a compulsory subject its import is imposition of Hindi…The BJP government’s real face is beginning to emerge…”
The CPI(M) in a statement said it is “unequivocally opposed to the imposition of the three-language formula”, adding that “such forcible imposition will lead to feelings of “linguistic chauvinism” detrimental for the unity of the country.”
The party said it is of the “firm opinion” that the “opposition is not to any particular language but for ensuring the opportunity for all Indian languages to develop and thrive”.
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