UPA Dumps Sanskrit to Woo Minorities
By Cithara Paul and U Anand Kumar - NEW DELHI
Published: 12th Jan 2014 08:03:33 AM
Sanskrit, India’s ancient language in which the Vedas and Upanishads were written, has fallen prey to UPA’s minority politics this election year. The appointment of a Second Sanskrit Commission, 58 years after the first set up in 1956 by the first Nehru Government, may have been the Congress-led UPA government’s half hearted bid to ward off the minority appeasement tag attached to it. But it has vanished within a week it was issued. In an unprecedented move, the circular was withdrawn within a week without explanation. It has also been deleted from the ministry website. What’s more, even the members of the Commission are clueless about the vanishing act.
The HRD Ministry had issued a circular setting up the Second Commission on December 23, 2013 with Satyavrat Sasthri, Jnanpith award winner and Padmabhushan awardee, as chairman. The 13-member committee, comprising Sanskrit experts from all over the country, was given an year’s tenure and asked to submit its report by the end of 2014.
“We were told about the setting up of the Commission. But we came to know that the circular has been withdrawn only when another Sanskrit scholar called me up to say that it is no longer there in the ministry website. We, members, have decided to seek an explanation from the ministry,” a commission member told The Sunday Standard.
The HRD Ministry, when contacted, offered no answers. “I have no information on the withdrawal of the Sanskrit Commission. I have to check,” Higher Education Secretary Asok Thakur said.
All that the other tightlipped officials were willing to reveal was: “There has been some error with regard to the circular and it will be corrected soon.” The “error”, according to unofficial revelations, varies from quarter to quarter.
One version being offered by an unnamed official is that the HRD ministry did not include a Sanskrit scholar from Panjab University, Chandigarh, the alma matter of PM Manmohan Singh, in the Commission and that the circular was withdrawn after the ministry was pulled up for this “error of judgment.”
“We did not include the name of Shankar G Jha of Panjab University and we were told to correct it by higher ups. So the circular had to be withdrawn,” said the HRD ministry official. He insisted the circular would be re-issued “soon” once the error was corrected, but he didn’t know when.
He denied that the PMO had intervened, adding that Jha was an “eminent scholar.”
Another story doing the rounds is that HRD Minister Pallam Raju developed cold feet after taking the decision.