Sanskrit to be an elective subject in schools

dom at
Mon Oct 10 02:23:51 UTC 1994

Like the boy who cried "wolf", I doubt if I will be believed now, but
here it is anyway:


The Hindu, Bangalore, October 7th, 1994

Make Sanskrit elective, SC tells CBSE

>From Our Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, Oct 6.

The Supreme Court has directed the Central Board of Secondary Education to
include Sanskrit as an elective subject in the syllabus so far as teaching
in secondary schools is concerned.  Necessary amendment in the syllabus shll
be made "within of three months."

Mr. Justice B. L. Hansaria, who delivered the judgment, noted that "in view
of the importance of Sanskrit in nurturing our cultural heritage, because of
which even the official education policy has highlighted the need to study
Sanskrit, making of Sanskrit alone as an elective subject -- while not
conceding this status to Arabic and/or Persian -- would not in any way
militate against the basic tenet of secularism."

A Bench, which in cluded Mr. Justice Kuldip Singh, held that there was thus
"no merit" in the objection raised by the CBSE that if it (CBSE) were to
include Sanskrit as "an elective subject," it would have to make facilities
available for learning of Arabic and Persian -- these also being classical

The two other objections raised by the CBSE -- inclusion of French and
German also in the syllabus and of language like "Lepcha" -- did "not
deserve any consideration for obvious reasons."

The Bench adverted to the importance of Sanskrit and its role in national
ethos and cultural heritage as highlighted in the roport of the Sanskrit
Commission (1957) and also in the broad framework of the Education Policy
formulated by the Centre in 1968 and 1986.

There was "no doubt" that "teaching of Sanskrit alone as an elective subject
can in no way be regarded as against secularism."  The constitution requires
giving a fillip to Sanskrit because of what has been stated in Article 351,
in which while dealing with the duty of the Union to promote the spread of
Hindi, it had been provided that it would draw, whenever necessary or
desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit.  Encouragement to
Sanskrit is also necessary because of it being one of the languages included
in the Eighth Schedule.

The bench was allowing a group of connected writ petitions seeking a
direction to the CBSE to include Sanskrit in the syllabus of the Board as an
elective subject in secondary schools.

Dr Dominik Wujastyk             Phone: +91-80-843-5320
12/1 Meghalaya,                        +91-80-843-5249
Vajarahalli,                Phone/FAX: +91-80-663-3884 (not auto: phone first)
Kanakapura Road,                email:  ucgadkw at (UK) and
Bangalore 560 062                       dom at  (INDIA)
Currently on sabbatical leave from the Wellcome Institute, London.


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