NEW DELHI: The controversy that erupted over a proposal in the draft National Education Policy to make Hindi mandatory in schools across India could have been avoided had it not been for a “goof-up” during its uploading by the Union Human Resources Development Ministry on its website.
A version of the draft policy, prepared by a nine-member committee headed by eminent scientist K Kasturirangan, that was made public on Friday — the first day of the second tenure of the Modi government, said that even in southern states Hindi, along with English and regional language of states, should be taught to all school children up to Class 6 or 7.
It led to a huge outcry in the South as the recommendation was seen as the imposition of Hindi. To remedy the situation, the HRD ministry “revised” its draft, allowing for flexibility in the languages offered in schools.
It now turns out the revised version of the draft was not written in the last few days.
Sources in the government said there already were two versions of the draft — an old one that suggested Hindi be made mandatory and the modified version, which offered flexibility.
The modified one was drafted in January last itself after the first version got leaked and created a buzz on Hindi imposition. Instead of uploading the remedied one, the ministry uploaded the first draft.
“The ministry, unfortunately, uploaded the first version of the draft though it was modified in January itself after a copy of the policy got leaked and the media reported that the government was mulling on asking all states to follow the three-language formula with Hindi as a compulsory language,” a senior official in the ministry said.
“Since it would have been embarrassing to admit the mistake”, the ministry on Monday claimed the draft had been revised following the current outcry, though it had already been reworked in January, the official added.
On January 10 this year, after it was reported that the panel had suggested adopting Hindi in all schools, the then HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had tweeted: “The Committee on New Education Policy in its draft report had not recommended making any language compulsory. This clarification is necessitated in the wake of mischievous and misleading reports in a section of media.”
When contacted by this newspaper on Tuesday, higher education secretary R Subrahmanyam said: “There was an inadvertent error that had been corrected later.”
How it happened
The revised draft was available since January, yet the ministry by mistake uploaded the earlier one on Friday, which was read as Hindi imposition. On Monday, to avoid embarrassment, they quietly uploaded the version revised in January. No rewording happened in the last few days