Mixed views in Karnataka on Hindi as the third language

The draft national education policy report of the K. Kasturirangan committee evoked mixed response in Karnataka, with political leaders and experts favouring nationwide debate and consensus before “imposing” Hindi on the school children in non-Hindi speaking states as a third language.

“There should be no problem in learning Hindi as a third language with Kannada and English as the first and second languages in our schools. But it should be optional, giving freedom for students and their parents to decide,” ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislator Basavaraj Horatti told IANS here.

With two-thirds of the people across most of the state familiar with Hindi for historical reasons, he said it is only in the southern region or the old Mysore region that the people would find it difficult to accept or learn Hindi as a third language due to lack of exposure to it.

“Barring Bengaluru, which is a cosmopolitan city with more people from other states, students in the old Mysore region have now the option of learning Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil or Telugu as the third language, as their parents hail from the neighbouring states where these languages are their mother tongue,” said Horatti who was earlier Primary and Middle Education Minister.

Allaying apprehensions of Hindi being imposed in non-Hindi speaking states, the BJP said there is no mention in the draft report on Hindi being imposed or made compulsory as third language in the schools across the country.

“First of all, it is a draft on what should be the national education in the country and not a policy on how to implement the three-language policy. It is unfortunate some political parties, leaders and anti-Hindi activists are protesting or raising objections even without reading the report,” BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madusudhan told IANS.

The 7-member committee, headed by former Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Kasturirangan, had been set up by previous HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in June 2017 to overhaul the education system at the primary, middle and high school levels. It presented the report on May 31 to new Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in New Delhi a day after he was sworn-in.

“The committee has recommended teaching of Hindi, English and one regional language in the non-Hindi states. The draft does not say or recommend teaching Hindi as a third language in non-Hindi states. On the contrary, it has recommended teaching Hindi, English and one of the modern Indian languages in Hindi-speaking states,” said Madhusudhan, citing the draft report.

A linguistic expert, however, told IANS that since the NDA government came in 2014, there has been increasing use of Hindi and has become the main medium of communication across the country.

“There is nothing wrong in using the language (Hindi), which is understood and spoken in three-fourths of the country, but should not be enforced or imposed in non-Hindi speaking states like in south India where local or regional languages are dominant and are in extensive use,” said the expert who did not want to be identified.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Javadekar also clarified in New Delhi on Saturday that the draft report was a recommendation and not a policy, and that “all Indian languages will be promoted”.


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