NEW DELHI: “Imagine students from Haryana speaking Tamil... singing Tamil songs” — With this idea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced an ambitious cultural exchange programme in 2015 on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Nearly three years later, the idea is about to become reality. As part of National Unity Day, commemorating Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, all Central schools in the country will promote the 22 scheduled regional languages by including a different language in their greetings for 22 consecutive days.
The idea was proposed on Monday in an inter-ministerial meeting to review preparations for National Unity Day, also called Rashtriya Ekta Divas. The Central government is likely to advise state governments and Boards such as the CBSE to execute the idea in their schools, people in the know of the matter told the New Indian Express. On October 31, 2015, Modi announced the ‘Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat Yojana’ with the aim of strengthening cultural relations between people from different parts of the country, and to encourage links between people dwelling in different states.
According to Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution, the eighth schedule lists 22 languages as official languages of the country. They are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
The exercise of greeting in different languages will be followed countrywide in alphabetical order, sources said. “On the first day, when this exercise will be introduced, the children in the schools will greet others in Assamese. For instance, children in a school in Kashmir will say “Good Morning” in Assamese on October 31. All Central schools, such as Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, and Kastoorba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, will include this exercise in their daily curriculum,” said a senior government functionary who attended the inter-ministerial meeting.
The schools will also organise events on the occasion of National Unity Day. They have been directed to conduct a pledge ceremony on that day. They will also organize a ‘Run for Unity’ and hold quiz competitions and debate contests to promote unity among children. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also instructed all its affiliated schools to observe Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.