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MBBS in Hindi? But Why Were Engg Courses in Hindi Dropped a Year After Launch?

Lack of study material, translated syllabus and books in Hindi have failed to attract students, leading to closure of 70- odd courses within six years of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University’s launch.
MBBS in Hindi? But Why Were Engg Courses in Hindi Dropped a Year After Launch?

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: NDTV

Bhopal: A decade after India's first Hindi university -- Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University (ABVHV) - failed to promulgate technical, medical and engineering courses in Hindi, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is patting its back for introducing three transliterated Hindi books for first year Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students.

The government has claimed that under the leadership of Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh has become the first state to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to start medical and technical education in Hindi, as suggested in the new National Education Policy (NEP). 

Ironically, the Hindi University, which was set up with much fanfare and lofty objectives in 2011 by the Chouhan government to provide technical, medical, and engineering along with sciences and 134 other courses in Hindi, is now on the verge of closure. 

The university aimed to develop engineers who would contribute to the development of the state as well as the country. The university had also written to various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in 2015-16, saying it was ready to enrol students who were struggling to learn engineering in English.

But, even after a decade, the University has no permanent faculty. Lack of study material, translated syllabus and books in Hindi have failed to attract students, leading to the closure of 70- odd courses within six years of the launch. These courses include para-medical, diploma in foreign languages, master in computer science among others. 

"Many courses were discontinued in lieu of approval from AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education)," university registrar Yaswant Singh Patel told NewsClick over the phone.

Not just that, against over 2,000 seats for admission in 74 courses of 28 departments, the university has received only 290 registrations in the ongoing session. Between 2018 to 2021, only 888 students have taken admission, according to the university records.  

On Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, along with Chouhan and Medical Education Department Minister Vishwas Sarang, unveiled three Hindi-translated books for first-year MBBS students -- Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry -- in a mega event in Bhopal's Lal Parade ground.

Sarang claimed that a team of 97 experts translated the English books into Hindi in 232 days after conducting online surveys on various portals and social media platforms. Students coming from the vernacular mediums will be able to use these Hindi textbooks and also write their papers in Hindi.

The Union Home Minister, while inaugurating the books, termed it as a “golden and historic” day which will “reawaken, and restructure” the education system in India by bringing students out of low self-esteem.     

"Through the new National Education Policy, PM Narendra Modi has given more emphasis to the mother tongue of students. This is a historic decision. I congratulate chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for taking the lead in fulfilling the PM's vision by introducing medical education in Hindi," said Shah. 

He said: “Besides Hindi, the Modi government is planning to introduce engineering and medical education in eight languages, including Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Bengali. Soon students will be in a position to get an education in their regional language. Soon, Research and Development will also be introduced in these languages."

Shah added that “after medical, Hindi language will be introduced in engineering as well," without any mention of the Hindi University's debacle. 

The Hindi textbooks will be rolled out from the ongoing academic session with a fresh batch of students who have cleared the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) and are expected to join in November. The state has a total of 4,080 medical seats and these textbooks as a pilot will be rolled out in the Government Medical College (GMC) and then expanded to 13 other colleges.

The Chief Minister used this opportunity to mock the English language as a “status symbol” and it becoming a barrier for vernacular students. “The Britishers have gone but they made us slaves of the English language. Many medical students either quit or failed in the first semester owing to language barrier. This is a historic day for those students who will feel liberated from English language,” he said, 

Mocking the English language, Chouhan said: “They (Britishers) enforced a mindset that speaking English creates an impression and earns respect. Therefore, everyone followed it leaving their mother tongue behind. Even the poor, who are struggling to make ends meet, began to teach their children English. But the language couldn't save us."

The CM urged doctors to replace Rx (a Latin word used by doctors on prescription, meaning to take) with ‘Shree Hari’ and prescribe Crocin (an analgesic) below.  

"Hindi will be taught in six engineering and six polytechnic colleges from this year. Besides, Hindi students will have a separate merit list. And later, Hindi will also be taught in IITs and IIMs.” he announced. 

Incidentally, just like MBBS, in 2017-18, the Bharatiya Janata Party government had launched three much-hyped engineering courses in Hindi, including Bachelor of Engineering with 180 seats. But these were discontinued within two years of its start owing to poor admission, lack of study material and absence of qualified Hindi faculty members. 

Many students, including 19-year-old Rakesh Lodhi, enrolled in the Hindi University in 2017–18 to pursue engineering in Hindi. But, a year later he was forced to transfer to an English medium private college as the university was shutting down the course owing to poor admission and lack of qualified teachers and AICTE's approval. 

"Students were sceptical that the society and job-providing firms may not be ready for Hindi- speaking engineers or diploma holders," an administrative officer of the university told NewsClick. 

A few days ago, the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages, chaired by Amit Shah, proposed that the medium of instruction in technical and non-technical higher education institutes, such as IITs in Hindi-speaking states, should be Hindi. In other parts of India, it had added, that the local language should take primacy and English should only be used when necessary. 

After Madhya Pradesh, BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh also announced the introduction of medical and engineering studies in Hindi. Speaking at an event in Moradabad, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday said: "From next session, medical and engineering in every university and college of the state will be taught in Hindi." 

Speaking with NewsClick, B Bharti, former registrar of Hindi University, said:"The university was set up with the intention to promote Hindi language in higher education. But this did not happen as students are apprehensive about their future after studying in Hindi. Who would hire a Hindi medium engineer when thousands of English-speaking engineers are already in queue?" 

"The placement cell of the university is also dysfunctional and failed to provide jobs to the students," he added.   

At present, the university has about 500 students, most of whom are pursuing yoga, naturopathy, Ayurveda panchakarma, Masters in Hindi and bachelor of library sciences, according to university officials.  

"Marred with nepotism, the university has only 26 guest faculty. Of the 74 functional courses, over half had zero admissions in the last couple of years. The Hindi department itself received less than 20 admissions in the last two years. If this trend continues, it may lead to the discontinuation of many other courses in the near future," said an administrative staff of the university. 

Speaking with NewsClick, Yashwant Singh Patel, Registrar of Hindi University, said: "The recruitment of 18 professors is underway. Besides, we have opened over 180 centres across the state to teach skill development and diploma courses to the students."  

On the challenges of running a Hindi University, he said: "The idea of teaching Hindi in higher education is noble but it will take time to attract the masses. We are trying to provide study material and qualified professors so students can get quality education.” 

A senior official of the University said before introducing any course, the university needs proper infrastructure, qualified teachers and books, and this is possible only with adequate funds. "We receive a grant of Rs 3.75 crore per year, which is not enough. Besides, the new 50-acre campus located on the outskirts of the city is struggling for transportation facilities.”

In an official communique, former chief minister and state Congress leader Kamal Nath took a jibe at the BJP government's for the fanfare around introduction of Hindi in MBBS and questioned what had become of the Hindi-language engineering programmes.

"The BJP government should inform the students of what happened to the engineering programmes that were introduced at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal with similar fanfare. Why was it discontinued?" he said. 

“Nobody is opposed to teaching in Hindi. But there are a number of obstacles to overcome. The state administration should explain what plans it has in place to address these obstacles, as many research papers and periodicals only publish in English,” he added. 

The Chouhan government, which takes pride in offering medical education in Hindi, should, according to Nath, also discuss the inadequate health facilities. “What efforts have been made to address the shortage of doctors given the state of health services?” he said.

"Will holding a large celebration to celebrate the transcription of medical books in Hindi enhance the quality of healthcare? Will it help the ongoing needs of servicing doctors or the scarcity of doctors? he asked.

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