Hey all. I’m PotatoPen. I go to Studydale Vidyalaya, I sit on the table of the 6th Grade all day, nothing new to me you may say. But hey, I’m not complaining. It’s 11.30, the 4th class for the day in Class VI. I’m acclimated to hearkening phonetics such as Ja/Nein Fragen for interrogative structural sentences and use of the pronouns – interrogative and personal – Wo, in, bei. We were precisely in the 4th lesson as per the curriculum. Things are fine status quo.The classroom setup is always comforting to me observing children all day. Vimal is digging his nose and throwing his boogers at Joshitha who’s trying really hard to concentrate and sharpen her 2cm pencil. Anand is at his usual place, under Sabrina Miss’s nose, taking notes voraciously and picking up broken ends of chalkpieces for Ma’am. Okay. Fast forward three days..
I am trying to cozy up to the hot lady’s finger (which ends in disaster everyday) and take a good sweep around the class when suddenly I hear “Patatha Samskrutham Vadatha samskrutham” I start rubbing my eyes. Everything IS in it’s place. Same boogers, same enthused spirit, same sharpener. I haven’t been transported to the naughty junior section who use me as a ball to throw across the class. Anyway, back from the nightmare.
This is my class! But it’s not German. It’s sanskrit! Eh? Is there a mistake? Could they find only Brinda Miss as a substitution teacher for a “free period”? Something must be wrong. I tried to focus on something, anything to get me to understand the gravity of the situation. One of my eyes (yes, I have a thousand of them) fell upon the notice board and I read out in bold that as per a Government Notification, the German language as a third language has been replaced by Sanskrit across classes 6-8 and that German will only be an additional language. You’ve got to be kidding. There are around 500 Studydale Vidyalayas in the country with over 70,000 students! The decision had been taken by the Board headed by the Union Minister. It was plain absurd. It was mid-term, the kids had jus gotten attuned to learning a new language. I vowed to give up my afternoon siesta to delve deep into this issue.
Okay let’s first lay the facts on the table. It is Prime Minister NaMo’s Rajya; Smriti Irani is the Union Minister for Human Resources Development (we’ll discuss the irony here some other time, not today). There is something called a National Curriculum Framework (NCF) published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India and a three-language formula (discussed in detail later in this page). It has been understood that the schools entered into an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Goethe Institute who institutionalized and equipped the teachers with material and supplementary study capabilities. The MoU has suddenly deemed to be violative of the provisions of the NCF and “illegal” owing to Schedule VIII of the Constitution which lists only 18 Indian languages. This ignites the rampant imposition of Sanskrit and obliteration of German as a third language.
OK, so what is the 3-language curriculum?
· The First language to be studied must be the mother tongue or the regional language.
· The Second language:
1) In Hindi speaking states the second language will be some other modern Indian language or English, and
2) In non-Hindi speaking states the second language will be Hindi or English.
· The Third language:
1) In Hindi speaking states the third language will be English or a modern Indian language not studied as the second language, and
2) In non-Hindi speaking states the third language will be English or a modern Indian language not studied as the second language
The implementation of the three-language formula has met with severe dissatisfaction leading to an uneven distribution thus tremendous failure.
Intended distribution of the languages as per the curriculum:
Early Childhood Education:
Formally teaching the reading, writing, and subjects is not allowed. Opportunities to listen and speak are to be provided. With out adopting any formal approach ‘essential skills of identification, comparison, matching, naming, drawing and counting’ are to be imparted.
· Primary – 1 to 5 standards:
1) I and II – One language: the mother tongue/the regional language.
2) III-V – the mother tongue/the regional language.
· Upper primary – 6 to 8 standards
1) VI – VIII. Three languages: the mother tongue/the regional language, modern Indian language and English.
· Secondary Education:
1) Secondary – 9 and 10 Standards: Three languages
Three languages: the mother tongue/the regional language, modern Indian language and English
· Higher Secondary – 11 and 12 standards
This system of the distribution of languages is not really new from the recommendations that have been offered in the past.
Okay we have understood the basics, so what exactly is the issue here? Is it the New Rama Rajya’s imposition of the revival of the ancient Sanskrit or the annihilation of any foreign intrusion into the holy lands of the country? There are two ways to look at this situation:
1. Trade, commerce and Economic ties
2. Linguistic opportunities
1. Trade, commerce and Economic ties:
In the massive catapult of the economy forward and signing treaties with every major nation in the world, puts India under the spotlight and it is of prime necessity that the nation is sufficiently equipped to “take on the world”. In this advent of transnational fiscal footfall, how is it possible for one to survive with a limited knowledge of the native Indian languages?
For a minute, let’s forget the economy, budgets, balance of payments and other jargons specific to the Finance sector. As a common man of a certain above average affluence, we buy cars from Germany, Korea, Japan, France and the US; we buy the choicest of perfumes from France; we are privileged to fly Lufthansa and Emirates; we undertake world tours; we use almost every product with a “Made in China” tag and despite all this, are we that imperious to say that we refuse to learn other languages, as a part of the education curriculum? It is understandable that our own culture and values as a nation is diminishing at a rapid rate and that we need to undertake fast-track measures to recuperate from the western incursion. The question that should be thawing our brains is – Is this the right form of reform? In a country as varied as ours, which is as multi-lingual, multi-faceted, multifarious, mixed and heterogeneous as ours, is it the right approach to domineer and thrust upon the nation one language, in an aim to promote it?
In a global village consequence, there is only presence of the human interaction and how can there be interaction when there is always an egoistic civilization wielding imposition as a tool? In this context, it is only fair that we are open to imported cultures and languages.
2. Linguistic concerns:
The children have been issued an ultimatum to choose Sanskrit over the present-day German as a third language (though it continues to be retained as an additional language). A choice of Sanskrit or any other native Indian language is now looming over their heads.
Being a mid-year initiative, the Government of India (GoI) has adopted a superfluous modus operandi to another “preserve Bharat” scheme. The most affected as an outcome of this new campaign is only the future national of this country for having pushed him/ her into a closed system and curbing him of his appetite to explore areas of his/ her interest.
It is a well-known fact that there are extensive opportunities abroad for higher education which is embraced fortunately by students across the land. In such a scenario, is it fair to push the youth into a foreign land where they have to survive with absolutely no prior exposure of the land they would have to subsist in?
Sanskrit is undoubtedly one of the oldest languages in the world and it is the most widely respected and has given rise to various offsprings such as Hindi, Hebrew and other foreign languages. This eternally omnipotent language is indeed a matter of pride and adoration for the country. However, for a country of a population of 1.27 Billion, a mere 14,135 speak Sanskrit as their native tongue, and yes, it demands to be revived. However, it could always be tailored into the existing education machinery while not distressing the growth of the country into a globally potent nation. It is of absolute significance to uphold a liberal view, free from prejudice and accord to be tolerant towards other customs and traditions.
The Apex Court’s decision in this regard is to be assumed and examined at par value. It (SC) has reiterated that Sanskrit is the mother of all languages (I’m paraphrasing here) and has lauded the efforts of the Centre to revive the language, which will enable students to learn other languages easily. It has emphasized that the war-front implementation is to be done only from the next academic year, to prevent undue stress and hardship on the students. However, the Apex Court has failed to comment on the pace, form and manner of enactment of the proposed change in the Governmental policy. I’m sure there’s a surprise waiting.