After the huge uproar over the decision of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to drop 17 languages from the national teacher’s tests, CTET exam, Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar was forced to direct the board to conduct the test in all the languages.
The CBSE had earlier limited the language options for the candidate to Hindi, English and Sanskrit, a move which has been considered as the imposition of Hindi over other languages.
English, Hindi, Assamese, Bangla, Garo, Gujarati, Kannada, Khasi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Mizo, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan and Urdu are the 20 languages that listed for the exam.
In an information bulletin for the CTET - a test conducted for the appointment of teachers in Kendriya Vidyalayas and private institutions affiliated to CBSE - it was mentioned that the candidates have to choose from the set of three languages - English, Hindi and Sanskrit.
“A candidate may choose any one language as Language I and other as Language II from the available language options and will be required to specify the same in the confirmation page. Language options would be English, Hindi and Sanskrit only,” said the information bulletin furnished on the site.
Many, including politicians, students and activists, stood up against the move and urged the HRD minister to go back on his decision. “This is a violation of people’s constitutional rights. Not only of the teachers’ but also of the students’ rights to receive education in their mother tongue. The Union Ministry has clearly adopted the wait and watch approach. They were testing the waters to see how people react and the minute Tamil Nadu burst out in anger, they took back the decision,” educationalist Prince Gajendra Babu was quoted as saying.
Slamming the new move, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP MK Kanimozhi took to twitter saying: “The decision to drop Tamil & 16 other regional languages from Central Teacher Eligibility Test is highly condemnable and strikes at the root of federalism. Students of CBSE whose mother tongue is Tamil will be put to a great disadvantage without teachers.”
“Students are forced to study Hindi & Sanskrit instead of their mother tongue. This will lead to another language struggle throughout the country. This is another of BJPs efforts to make a Hindi-Hindu Hindustan,” she added.
Pattali Makkal Katchi founder Ramadoss also termed the move of the centre, to remove Tamil from the list, as an imposition of Hindi and Sanskrit on the state.
While the board has restored the earlier format for conducting CTET exam, the question of Hindi imposition is being too frequently revisited. Especially under the BJP regime in Centre, the government has been promoting Hindi as “Rashtra Bhasha” or the national language and to justify the move they often dress it up in the garb of nationalism.
During the India Today Conclave in January this year, noted artist and journalist Prakash Belawadi observed that both nationalism and Hindi imposition did not necessarily go hand in hand in with each other. “The idea of Hindi imposition and to conflate it with nationalism is entirely bogus. It is not correct,” he had said.
Questioning why a country should have just one dominant language, Prakash said: “The idea is an archaic one. It is not about being anti-Hindi, it is about equity. It is about common sense. In Karnataka, if bank forms don’t have Kannada and people who have studied till class 10 go to a bank, they feel illiterate. Their primary education has been in Kannada medium. Why do you impose a situation, where you make people feel inadequate in their own place?” This is not only the case in Karnataka; it is the same in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and other non-native Hindi speaking states.
Noted Malayalam writer NS Madhavan also shared different ways of imposing Hindi and pointed out that the three language formula of CBSE was not implemented in the right spirit since 1968. “The three-language formula said that in Hindi speaking states, Hindi, English and any language other than Hindi but preferably a south Indian one should be used. And in other parts of the country (non-Hindi speaking states), Hindi, English and a regional language (should be there). But in implementation, the CBSE has promoted Hindi, English and any other language. As a result, you can pass out from Kerala without studying Malayalam. This way of indirectly promoting Hindi, and of pumping a lot of money into (promoting) Hindi, has affected the Malayalee also,” Madhavan said.
Suddenly after the demonetisation drive of the Centre, Hindi numerals were used in the newly printed currencies that stand against the official language policy of the government of India. Ponting out the same issue, one person from Tamil Nadu had moved to the High Court. “We can understand speaking Hindi or even the letters but placing Hindi numerals on national currency is an imposition,” Madhavan added.
When Madhavan was asked why not learn both Malayalam and Hindi, he replied: “I say why Hindi? Why not French? I come from a state where everyone who can speak Malayalam can read Malayalam also; you cannot say that about Hindi-speaking people. 40 percent of them can’t read Hindi. So why Hindi? It can be another language which has resources.”