'Hindi imposition' backlash in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka forces Center to alter draft education plan

Southern states, especially, Tami Nadu and Karnataka had opposed the draft education policy. Top leaders in Tamil Nadu had said that the state would 'not tolerate' any kind of imposition.
Draft New Educational Policy 2019 being submitted to the Minister for HRD by the Drafting Committee. (Photo | HRD ministry/Twitter)
Draft New Educational Policy 2019 being submitted to the Minister for HRD by the Drafting Committee. (Photo | HRD ministry/Twitter)

NEW DELHI: Rushing in to douse the fire the draft National Education Policy (NEP) had lit barely days into Modi 2.0, by suggesting that Hindi be made a compulsory language in all non-Hindi speaking states, the Union Human Resources Development Ministry on Monday released a revised draft that said students were free to choose any language they wish to study in.

Ever since the document triggered a furore, the Centre fielded an array of leaders, including Prakash Javadekar, Nirmala Sitharaman and newbie neta S Jaishankar, as also the chairman of the panel that stitched the report together, eminent ISRO scientist K Kasturirangan, to say it is just a draft.

When the fire refused to die down, they took the extraordinary step of revising the draft. Extraordinary, because it is still a draft. Rarely has a  government gone to such lengths to address concerns in double-quick time.

The previous version of the NEP had proposed English and Hindi as mandatory languages in non-Hindi speaking states while a third language was mandatory in Hindi-speaking states.

The changed provision now reads, “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages....”

DMK president M K Stalin was quick to welcome the change and draw political mileage, saying it was a tribute to his father and former party chief M Karunanidhi’s legacy of opposing Hindi imposition.

“At a time when we are celebrating the birth anniversary of Kalaignar... it shows Kalaignar is alive,” he tweeted, adding: “Let us guard mother Tamil and break the hegemonic imposition of Hindi.”

For his part, PMK president Dr S Ramadoss, an NDA ally during the Lok Sabha polls, welcomed the revised draft.

“This is a huge victory for the PMK which raised its voice against the Hindi imposition on the Tamil Nadu people,” he said.

‘beautiful solution’

“A beautiful solution. Hindi is not compulsory in Tamil Nadu. The draft (policy) has been amended,” the Mozart of Madras A R Rahman said in a tweet in Tamil.

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