The foremost need is to stay away from politics which we attach to any and every work of the government. Decisions are taken by the administrators and it is apparent that not all can be made contented, specially the opposition. Think of this- Of two finalists, both from dissimilar religions, the Indian PM has to declare one as a winner. He employs the finest measures of assessment and finds the Hindu candidate better than the other one. But the opposition, news channels, and even the common public, to some extent, would blame the PM of being biased. Same is the case now when the minister of HRD, Smriti Irani, has tried to rectify a mala fide and unconstitutional addition to the curriculum of Kendriya Vidyalayas. Let us appreciate the fact that the constitution of India recognizes 23 Indian languages which can be taught as third language in schools. But the ones, advocating modernity, synergy, competitiveness and global harmony would stick to an unfounded reason that the present government favors Hindutva, Hindi, Sanskrit, Vedas, and such other Indian legacy and ethics. Unacceptable? Then shall we wait for and then extend baseless support to a political party that promises teachings of lip locks, foreign languages, modernism, and even the dark side of jihad? I am sorry I am not in favor.
There is a very thin line of demarcation between being secular by words and being a secular by actions. I can form a political group and can promise perks for the minority, which in the present milieu will be regarded as secular. On the contrary, my support, be it something backed by facts and conditions, for Hinduism and Indian languages would turn me to being communal. ‘They are taking India to the ages of epics’, ‘By advocating the elevation of Sanskrit and Hindi, the new government is appeasing Hindus for votes’- these are the expressions shared by many in the prime time shows of news houses. It is acceptable to study history as they say that with unsound knowledge of our past, the future cannot be made prosperous. But if the government will embrace biographies of freedom fighters, they will turn communal. Coming to the row over discontinuation of German as an alternative to Sanskrit, let me tell you that German was added in the year 2011 via an MOU between KVS (Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan) and Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhawan, which was never brought up to the ministry for perusal or clearance. It is then obvious that a mala fide act of the past shall be curbed as and when it comes to the notice of the authority, which is what the HRD minister has done.
Let us also know what happened when. The National Policy on Education, 1968, came up with the dictum of ‘Three Language Formula’, hence adding any one of the modern Indian languages, as a third language apart from English and Hindi, as a compulsion. It was aimed at national integration and was expected to make a student from the north learn any regional language of the South and vice versa. Many, however, opted for the Sanskrit language as the third one owing to transfers of government officials, hence change of schools from one area to the other. Then in 2008, KVS came up with offering some prominent foreign languages, German, French, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish as an optional learning subject; German thereby was readily picked up by students. This encouraged the unconstitutional replacement of Sanskrit from the Third Language list by an optional foreign language, German in 2011. It is apparent that the interest of the new generation has been much towards German, hence regional languages along with Sanskrit disgraced with time. Then can we term the much wanted and apt verdict of the HRD ministry mistaken and detrimental to the development of students? Wasn’t the same obligatory to safeguard our linguistic heritage and national harmony?
Now for the advocates of modernism and global synergy, leave apart what constitution says or what unlawful was done in 2011. Sanskrit, which you regard as substandard to the German language, embraces the optimum tradition of not just drama and poetry, but also technical, scientific, dharma and philosophical texts. German, however, derives almost all of its vocabulary from Indo-European language family. Then, for the aspirers of German universities, know that most university learning in Germany is conducted in English, and the verdict of the government does not completely sack German from Kendriya Vidyalayas, which can be pursued as an additional subject. Then, for job-aspirers in Germany, know that all prominent German companies conduct their operations in English. Also overcome a widespread delusion and know that Sanskrit can be pursued even after schooling in almost every eminent university of India; the work prospects for Sanskrit learners range from the post of a teacher to a translator. But let us not remain narrowed to work prospects. Sanskrit’s fame also rests in the facts that it is the most scientific human language of all time and that Classical Sanskrit is the most sophisticated and precise human language ever invented. For an advanced and pro-western Indian, know that Madonna has used Sanskrit chants in her singings, and her Grammy award winner song, ‘Shanti’ has lyrics of the mantra ‘Om Shanti’. For global acknowledgment seekers, know that St. James Jr. School in London, England offers Sanskrit as part of the curriculum.
While in the U.S., high school students get credits as Independent Study and towards Foreign Language requirements by studying Sanskrit, promotion of Hindi and Sanskrit in India, for unsolicited causes, raises criticism on communal, backwardness and Hindutva lines. I, in no way, am backing the verdict of the government baselessly, but yes I favor execution of what our constitution says, advancement of Indian linguistic heritage, and suppression of any measures that result in superseding of eminent Sanskrit language by any European language. Why can’t we acknowledge that the deeds of the government, when they endorse something like this, are brave and mandatory, and not communal? German language can be pursued in addition to the compulsory curriculum and also via private lessons. The ministry of HRD, which is remedying the mistake of 2011 allegedly committed by the UPA government, deserves applaud and not disparagement. The PIL filed by a group comprising of parents, saying that mid-term change in curriculum can lead to setbacks as nearly 70,000 students, who have studied German throughout the year, will be affected. This indeed calls for swift perusal and the government must find a way out in no time may be by allowing German in the upcoming assessments. But when an evident breach of the national education policy is known to have happened in 2011, calling corrective measures as backed by Hindutva is absolutely unfounded.
Lastly, Indian heritage is acknowledged round the globe for our Vedas, Upanishads, and epics written in Sanskrit; however Indian society isn’t fetching any paybacks from the same since Sanskrit has been regarded as a ‘complex’ language. Tell me can this be a valid excuse? Prior to the incursion of Mughals in India, Sanskrit was prominent medium of exchange; however British and Mughal invasions dumped the same and promoted languages which can be termed as ‘foreign’ in the Indian context. The mother of almost every Indian and regional language, Sanskrit, is on the verge of total collapse, then the chasers of national harmony and consensus can never validate replacement of Sanskrit by any foreign language. While art and culture lovers across the world are making every possible use of Sanskrit, can India manage a situation when the natives herein would refer to foreigners for construal of Vedas and Upanishads? The other side of the coin is also worrying and any verdict promoting Sanskrit cannot be executed vaguely. The HRD ministry can come up with a scholarship programme so as to encourage students who wish to pursue Sanskrit after School. Plus, counselling of students and promoting work prospects in government departments will arouse many to opt for this Vedic language.
All in all, Hindi and Sanskrit are the insignia of India, and the government while rolling out the new national policy on education is expected to pay heed in this context. Hindi as a compulsory subject till class 5, meaning thereby all through the phase of primary education, should be a must in all schools, private as well as government and affiliated to any Boards of education, along with in Madrasas; and Sanskrit as an optional subject everywhere from class 6 to 8 is the need of the hour, not just to stimulate linguistic legacy but also to let people across India share thoughts quickly and thus develop. The HRD minister can put aside all negative judgments by opposition in view of fortifying the education system, and it is expected that productive outcomes will soon be reaped.