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J&K: Row over Proposed Move to Make Hindi Language 'Mandatory' for Students

Anees Zargar |
The NC and CPI(M) leaders said that they are not hostile to the Hindi language but argued against its imposition without taking into account the social and historical realities of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hindi in Kashmir

Image for representational purpose. Credit:

Srinagar: The proposed move to introduce the Hindi language in schools from Class I to X has been flagged in Jammu and Kashmir with many calling the “imposition” unnecessary as it might add to the existing hostilities in the region.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Council of Educational Research and Training (JKSCERT) has reportedly constituted an eight-member committee to seek suggestions on introducing the Hindi language in the curriculum.

The proposal of SCERT, which proposes educational strategies and curriculum, triggered a row between political parties of the region. Hindi has been taught as an optional subject so far which meant that the students could opt between Hindi or Urdu apart from English – which is mandatory – in the regional curriculum.

The spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) Imran Nabi Dar told NewsClick that the decision should remain with the students. Dar said that the students should be allowed to choose and pursue any language for studying and not just Hindi.

"If they want to make it compulsory, then the students will obviously be overwhelmed and overburdened. Also, there was always a choice with students to either take Hindi or Urdu," Dar said.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami called it an imposition of Hindi language on the people of the region; something, he said, would deepen the divide.

The senior politician said that such recommendations negate the "legacy of the freedom struggle" and the constitutional promises of nourishing unity and diversity.

"Favouring Hindi at the cost of other languages amounts to an attack on national integration. The educational system and administrative institutions have accepted Urdu, which is a modern Indian language, as a link language since Maharaj Hari Singh declared it as the official link language in 1920," Tarigami said. 

Altaf Thakur, the Jammu and Kashmir spokesperson for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), however, termed the opposition to the Hindi language as "ironic and myopic".

Thakur said that the union territory is witnessing a new era in which such decisions should be welcomed.

"The mindset that believes that Urdu is the language of Muslims and not Hindi needs to change and religion shouldn't be mixed with languages. Faith and religion aren't dependent on the language you speak," Thakur said whilst refuting the concerns raised by those objecting to the move.

Tarigami, however, argued that the Urdu language, without being the regional language, is intelligible to 100% of the population and that the imposition of Hindi is an "arbitrary" decision of the BJP-led government.

"The BJP has a singular purpose, that is to deepen the divide in a multilingual, multi-ethnic society of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Both NC and CPI(M) leaders said that they are not hostile to the Hindi language but argued against its imposition without taking into account the social and historical realities of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pertinently, the widely spoken Kashmiri language in the valley was introduced less than a decade ago into the curriculum as Urdu and English remained the medium of teaching in the last century. Urdu replaced Persian as the official language during the tyrannical Dogra rule (1842-1947) but owing to vast literature gained similar prominence against Kashmiri which lacked similar grandeur.

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