The Modi government has acted quickly to address the apprehensions driven by unwarranted speculations over the supposed ‘imposition of Hindi’ and categorically stated that the draft new education policy is not going to impose any language on any one. Here is a clear statement from Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The above clarification should put an end to speculations and fears about what the Modi government may do to the Indian languages. The BJP and Modi government have time and again showed the will to protect not only the Indian languages but also all safeguard all types of regional identities. Here are the reasons that make us believe that Modi government will do only good with regard to regional languages, cultural identities and local aspirations.
- BJP in its manifesto has promised a significant step which no previous administration had thought of. It promised to “launch a Language Translation Mission that will enable ready translation of English text in Science & Technology and humanities in any of our languages. This will take the best works, bilingually, to every student in the country.”
- It has also promised a specific step in ‘conserving Bharatiya linguistic culture’. It has proposed a National Task Force to study the status of all written and spoken languages and dialects in India besides promising to work towards revival and promotion of vulnerable or extinct dialects and languages.
- Rightly after the massive mandate, addressing the newly elected NDA parliamentarians, PM Modi has coined a slogan ‘NARA’ that will guide his government in the days to come. ‘NARA’ stands for National Ambitions, Regional Aspirations. Thus, the Modi government is committed to catering to the regional aspirations that includes language as well.
- Even in the draft new education policy, it is evident that importance has been given to the mother tongue. It observes that it is easy for students to learn and grasp if they are taught in home language/mother tongue. It strongly argues for the availability of high-quality science and technology books in the regional languages including the tribal languages. It categorically bats for the home language/mother tongue as the medium of instruction at least until grade 5, but preferably at least grade 8. It states that the bilingual approach is different from the primary medium of instruction.
- Beyond this, normal conduct of BJP and PM Modi provides enough evidence that it cares for regional languages, expressions, and identities. For instance, PM Modi had hailed Tamil as the oldest language. As we saw in the election rallies, PM Modi made an earnest effort to speak few words in the language of the place he visited. At various public fora one of which is mentioned here, PM Modi had urged the people to respect regional languages. Notably, it was under Modi government 1.0 that DGCA had asked airlines to make in-flight announcement in regional languages.
PM Modi in September 2016
“When we speak in our own native languages, we easily slip into English for a word or two that we either don’t know in our own language or for words that we think are more effective in English. My question is, why don’t we slip into one of the Indian languages to use such words? A lot of effort has gone into building up words for all these things in languages like Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam. Why should we not use a word from one of these languages in the middle of a line spoken in Hindi?”
Conclusion- An Unfounded Campaign
Modi Government has shown that it has a specific vision and programme to safeguard the interests of all languages through draft new educational policy and beyond. Even in the previous Education Policy amended in 1992, there was a suggestion to use Hindi as a link language. Since the new draft education policy has not yet became a policy yet and the government has categorically stated its commitment to address all the concerns surrounding it, the so-called ‘imposition of Hindi’ bogey is unwarranted.