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Centre drops mandatory Hindi from draft education policy after outrage

Facing severe criticism from the DMK and other parties in Tamil Nadu, the Central government on Monday revised its draft education policy, dropping the contentious provision of imposing mandatory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states.

The parties in Tamil Nadu had strongly opposed the three-language formula proposed in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) and alleged that it was tantamount to thrusting Hindi language on non-Hindi speaking states.

On Monday several parties, including the Congress and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, joined Tamil leaders to oppose the proposed provisions of the NEP.

However, after the three-language proposal sparked an outrage the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry swung into action and released a revised draft of the NEP.

“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 (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board examinations some time during secondary school,” the revised draft of the NEP said.

In the earlier draft, the panel had suggested mandatory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states.

According to the revised draft, the modular board examinations for language proficiency would test only basic proficiency in each language. “Such a change in language choice in Grade 6 would certainly be feasible if the student so desires and would in such cases be supported by teachers and the schooling system,” it added.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who had the formed the panel to draft the NEP when he was the HRD minister in the previous term, asserted that no language should be imposed on anyone.

He clarified that the committee had only prepared a draft report and no decision had been taken on implementing it.

Mr Javedkar said it was just a proposal from the HRD ministry and due consent will be taken and deliberations will be carried out to decide on the matter.

Over the past few days Tamil Nadu has led protests over the alleged “Hindi imposition” attempt by the Centre. The recommendations relating to teaching of Hindi drew sharp reactions from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam.

Earlier on Monday, the DMK passed a resolution against the Centre’s draft policy and said that the NDA government should not test its patience. Even the PMK, an ally of the BJP, alleged that the recommendation in the draft policy amounted to imposition of Hindi and demanded the scrapping of the proposal.

Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman welcomed the Centre’s decision. “Draft (NEP) policy corrected. Beautiful solution,” he tweeted.

Apart from Tamil Nadu, objections were also voiced in non-Hindi speaking states.

Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said one language should not be imposed on others in the name of three-language formula.

Former chief minister, Siddaramaiah posted a series of tweets slamming the Centre with the hashtag #StopHindiImposition.

“New National Education Policy draft imposes Hindi in non-Hindi states and this goes against our sentiments. If recognition of regional identity is inconsistent, according to a few, then imposition of Hindi is nothing but a brutal assault on our states,” he wrote.

Joining the anti-Hindi bandwagon, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackery warned the Centre against taking any steps to impose Hindi on others.

“Hindi is not our mother tongue, do not enforce it on us and incite us,” said a tweet from MNS.

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