New Delhi: Following the outrage from the southern Indian states, the HRD Ministry on Monday omitted the mandatory teaching of Hindi from the draft of National Education Policy (NEP). The revised draft does not mandate the languages that students may opt to study at mid-school level.
The modifications have been made to the section 4.5.9 of the draft policy, which was earlier titled "flexibility in the choice of languages".
While advocating for the study of three languages, the revised version is now titled "flexibility in the three-language formula" and it does not pin-point the languages students would be studying. It simply states that the students would have the choice to study three languages with one language at the literature level.
"In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school," the tweaked version uploaded on the Ministry's website stated.
It is pertinent to note that the recommendations of the earlier version stated that the students could make a choice of the third language they wish to study in Class 6, as long as the other two languages included Hindi and English for non-Hindi speaking states.
"In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English," the earlier version stated.
This mandatory clause was met with uproar from the politicians and citizens of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, who slammed the draft policy for imposition of Hindi allegedly in order to homogenise the nation's diverse linguistic fabric.
The NEP draft was uploaded on the Ministry's website on Friday to seek recommendations from the public as well as the other states. It sparked a row ever since, with all the opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK, MDMK, Congress and Kamal Haasan-led Makkkal Needhi Maiyyam slamming the recommendations.
NDA ally and ruling AIADMK too, said that it wouldn't discontinue the two-language formula followed by the state, which does not mandate teaching Hindi.
Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah on Monday joined the slugfest on mandatory Hindi teaching terming it a "brutal assault" on the non-Hindi speaking states.
"Ours is a land that exhibits Unity in Diversity. Peaceful coexistence is the need to establish harmony and any force shall work against the laws of society. For us Kannada is an identity, and learning any other language should be by choice and not by imposition," Siddaramaiah tweeted.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also joined the ranks. "Hindi is not our mother tongue, do not enforce it on us and incite us," the official twitter handle of MNS said.
On Sunday, the Centre deputed senior cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and S. Jaishankar to calm the flaring tempers across the country. The newly sworn-in Ministers tweeted in Tamil as well as English reassuring the people that no language will be imposed and the policy will not be effected without consultations with the other states.