Language Policy: Writers Support Govt - The New Indian Express

Language Policy: Writers Support Govt

Published: 17th January 2014 10:19 AM

Last Updated: 17th January 2014 10:19 AM

Prominent Kannada writers and thinkers have urged the State government to go all out in making a strong case for its language policy which is scheduled to come up before a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on January 21.

Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Rathnakar held a meeting with writers on Thursday to help the government prepare for the first Constitutional Bench hearing of its language policy, which mandates that the medium of instruction in Classes 1 to 5  in the State should be Kannada or the mother tongue.

“There was absolute consensus that we should support this language policy of the State government, which was struck down in 2008 by the High Court that ruled that only government and aided schools can have medium of instruction as Kannada or the mother tongue,” writer and critic Baragur  Ramachandrappa said.

Last July, a two-judge bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam referred the case to a larger, Constitutional Bench that will hear the case January 21 onwards. “There are some fundamental questions facing us and we have expressed our collective views. The main questions are, how do we define mother tongue and will this language policy violate Constitutional provisions for minority schools? In my view, it does not violate any Constitutional articles,” Prof Ramachandrappa said.

In June 1989, the State government, in accordance with Article 350A of the Constitution, spelt out its language policy specifying the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the primary school level and making it mandatory for every child who has not opted for Kannada as the first language to take it as a second language. Another order was issued in April 1994 to make the language policy effective from the 1994-95 academic year.

It was pointed out in the meeting that the Supreme Court had, in 1993, struck down a petition filed by English Medium Students’ Parents’ Association that sought to challenge the June 1989 policy order.

Participants also discussed whether the language policy violates Article 14 (protection against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), Article 19 (freedom of speech), Article 29 (interests of minorities) and Article 30 (right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions).

Researcher M Chidananda Murthy said the question of whether minority institutions will be affected is irrelevant.

“It is not a question of minority or majority. This is a language that we are talking. Educationists across the world have testified that education in a child’s mother tongue helps better cognitive development,” he said.

Law Minister T B Jayachandra, Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar, Kannada Development Authority chairperson Mukhyamantri Chandru, writer Chandrashekhar Patil and others were present.

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