New Delhi: Following protest by southern states, the controversial reference to the three-language policy in the draft National Education Policy was removed with the committee, headed by scientist K Kasturirangan, informing the government that there had been an “inadvertent error” in the text submitted for public feedback. With the reference to English as “elitist” and exclusionary triggering protests in southern states over “imposition” of Hindi, the government clarified that the draft was recommendatory and had been revised to say students be given flexibility over choice of language under the three-language model in schools.
In attempts of damage control amid a controversy over the draft version of the National Education Policy 2019, the government has said Hindi will not be thrust upon any state. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar posted messages on Twitter assuring that the draft will be reviewed before implementation. Both ministers, from Tamil Nadu, tweeted in Tamil in response to the state with the loudest objections.
Chorus against the policy refused to die down last week with Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Congress lawmaker from Kerala Shashi Tharoor issuing warnings against the forced imposition of the Hindi language on South Indian states, a sentiment previously expressed by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and DMK leader MK Stalin among others. Sitharaman tweeted, "Only after hearing public opinion the draft policy will be implemented. Only to nurture all Indian languages PM launched EkBharatSreshhtaBharat. The Centre would support to honour and develop the ancient Tamil language."
Jaishankar, meanwhile, assured people that the draft will be reviewed before implementation. The assurances followed explanations from the Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and his predecessor Prakash Javadekar a day ago that did not appear to quell the concerns.
Shashi Thraoor spoke against defenders of the draft NEP like Karnataka BJP leader Tejasvi Surya who said the policy also encourages students in Hindi-speaking states to learn languages from other states. He said, "Most of us in the South learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam or Tamil." A popular campaign sprung on the internet with thousands protesting what was seen as an effort to make Hindi mandatory till Class 8.