All members had signed the alternative version, says Union HRD Ministry.
Anticipating trouble with the mandatory Hindi clause of the draft National Education Policy, all members of the committee which drafted it were asked to sign an alternative version even before the original draft was released, according to committee chairman K. Kasturirangan and senior officials at the Human Resource Development Ministry.
“All [committee members’] signatures are there on this version,” said a senior official closely involved with the preparation of the draft policy, disputing reports that two members of the committee — K.M. Tripathy and Ram Shankar Kureel — had disagreed with the changed language.
The official confirmed that several alternative versions of the draft had been pre-approved even before the committee officially submitted it to the new HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on his first day in office on Friday.
Former ISRO chief Kasturirangan, who headed the drafting committee, also told The Hindu on Monday that alternative options had been approved and prepared. “This was an alternative option already approved by us,” he said, emphasising that he had not made the changes on his own. “We had kept options for many controversial cases. It is something I learnt from my ISRO days, to always have a backup ready,” he said. “We thought the other formulation removes any misunderstanding and assuages feelings in the affected States.”
The draft report was, in fact, originally submitted to former HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar more than five months ago, on December 15, 2018, as confirmed by the submission letter reproduced at the beginning of the document. In fact, Mr. Javadekar’s own introductory message has also been published with the draft report. However, the Ministry did not release the report until the Lok Sabha election was completed, and the new government had taken over.
When the report was finally released on Friday, protests broke out in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal opposing the mandatory imposition of Hindi. Following the backlash, the HRD Ministry released the changed version of the document on Monday, dropping the controversial clause.
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