The Draft National Education Policy has met with stiff resistance. Tamil chauvinist parties see it as an imposition
Politics around Hindi has been there in India ever since independence. Since the northern states had a bulk of the population, most of whom spoke Hindi, there has always been a motivation by certain Governments to promote the language as a national language — one that is spoken across the country. This has always aroused a level of anger among other large language populations, particularly in the south, where many languages are from a different language family, mainly the Dravidian language family. And in the largest Dravidian state, Tamil Nadu, there has always been a massive issue around Hindi for decades. It is the subject which gave birth to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) when former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru first broached the idea of making Hindi a primary language.
The heirs of M Karunanidhi see the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) as another attempt by the Central Government and North Indian politicians to push Hindi on an unwilling people. But while we can and will debate the politics of language in India, the fact that the issue did not generate the level of controversy that it used to is because Hindi has become gradually more popular thanks to Bollywood. More Indians speak and understand Hindi than ever before and credit shouldn’t just go to the movie industry but also the massive amounts of internal migration that has taken place.
But on the language front, it is a good proposal in the draft NEP where students in India are encouraged to learn another language outside the local language. This should not only be Hindi for students outside Hindi-speaking states but it should also give students in Hindi-speaking states the choice of learning a language of their choice. This would do wonders for national integration and would also allow students across India to understand and appreciate more cultures. It is said that speaking and understanding multiple languages wires the brain differently and it is not just speaking skills but also in analytical skills. It opens up new cultures and, thus, opens the mind to new and fresh ideas. Many Indians already speak three or more languages and have seen the benefits of that. This is not forcing a bad idea on children and nobody is arguing that complete fluency is required, but this is something that should be promoted and should not be seen as the primacy of one language over another.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer