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‘Sanskrit will be optional, KV schools have no option’

NEW DELHI: HRD minister Smriti Irani has denied all allegations that education was being saffronised after her recent decision to remove German and replace it with Sanskrit as the third language for students studying in Kendriya Vidyalayas.

The minister said, “Those who accuse me of being a RSS mascot or RSS representative possibly want to deflect the attention from the good work that we have done. This agenda will be flagged and I will be whipped for as long as there is a need to keep attention diverted away from the good work. I am ready for it. I have no problem.”

She defended her decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in the KV’s, saying that the teaching of German under an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2011 had been in violation of the Constitution.

Irani said that the three-language formula ensured that students could be taught any of 23 Indian languages listed in Schedule 8 of the Constitution and said that German can be taught as a foreign language.  “We are teaching French, we are teaching Mandarin, we teach German in the same way. I can’t understand why people are not understanding what I am saying,” she was quoted as saying.

However an Indian Express report points out that for KV students from class VI-VIII, Sanskrit will end up being the de-facto option for the third language.  The report adds that “logistical difficulties,” even earlier on had meant that Sanskrit ended up being the third option. The report points out that in “2001, KVs passed an order making Hindi, English and Sanskrit mandatory as the three languages.” The regional language option would only be effective if 15 or more students opt for the subject. It was only 2011 when the MoU with Germany was signed that German came in as the third option.

The report points out, that “top government sources admitted there was little logistical preparedness for offering any regional language” to the students. It notes that “officials said the ministry and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan are ‘banking on the fact that most students who are now forced to drop German will anyway pick Sanskrit’”.

As the IE report notes, where the regional languages are concerned, neither the officials at KV nor the ministry have shown any preparedness to ensure that training is given to teachers in regional languages.

While Irani is right to point out that German as third language was in violation of the Indian Constitution and National Education policy, the fact that virtually nothing has been done to promote regional languages, means that at the end of the day the decision has done nothing for the latter.

With Sanskrit ending up as the de-facto option, the decision effectively means that regional languages are still suffering in the education system.





There has to be a lot of preparation for India-Pak meeting, says Tharoor

New Delhi: Amid speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit, former union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday said it is for the government to take a final call on the issue, but added that there has to be a lot of preparation, agenda and clarity for a bilateral meeting between any two leaders.

“The fact is this is a multi-lateral meeting. There are nine world leaders present from the region, they can meet each other in the context of a multi-lateral meeting. But for a bilateral meeting between any two leaders, there has to be a lot of preparation, there has to be an agenda, there has to be clarity,” Tharoor told the media here.

“And whenever an Indian and a Pakistani leader meet, there is obviously a signal that is sent in the process. And the government will have to decide, it is not for me to suggest one way or the other. The government will have to decide whether they are ready to send such a signal that is up to them,” he said.

Tharoor further said the bilateral meetings have a different context and that context has to be explored very thoroughly and very thoroughly prepared. Earlier on Sunday, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Sharif as he said that India is for “cooperative and peaceful ties” with Pakistan.

Akbaruddin said Prime Minister Modi is keen ‘to have meaningful dialogues with as many south Asian colleagues as possible’. “This would mean taking into account all aspects of relationships,” he added. The Indian Government had earlier in August cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks after Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit held talks with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the proposed meeting.


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