Sanskrit to be an elective subject in schools

Srinivas Sunder sunder at
Mon Oct 10 21:23:49 UTC 1994

In response to Shree J. Sharma: The CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education)
is one of the 2 or 3 nationwide educational boards; as I understand it, CBSE
is a part of the Ministry of Education (Human Resources?), and various schools
all over the country can seek affiliation from it. As such, a directive from
the Supreme Court to CBSE to include Skt. as an elective in Secondary school
is a nationwide directive, not one that pertains to Karnataka only. All 
Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) as well as Central schools, and a good number of 
private schools all over the country are affiliated to the CBSE. The other 
national board is the ICSE - which is, I believe, the old Cambridge system with 
a new name. In addition, of course, you have the various state-level boards, 
run by the Education Ministries of the various states. I am sure that all CBSE 
schools do not use only English as the medium of instruction; some also use 
Hindi - this I know from the fact that our question-papers in the CBSE Board 
exams used to have the questions in both English and Hindi.

Beats me what the fuss (esp. on this list) is all about. First of all, it 
must be the higher-secondary level (grades 11 and 12) that this order must
pertain to; Sanskrit is already available as a core subject (2nd language) 
at the secondary level (10th grade) in CBSE; and many CBSE schools also offer
it as a third language between the 6th and 8th grades. The effect of this SC
ruling is only to force CBSE to offer it as a subject at grades 11 and 12 too. 

The fact that it is an elective means that it is not being forced on all CBSE 
students; CBSE only has to arrange for schools that request it as an elective 
to be provided with a syllabus, list of textbooks, qualifications for teachers, 
question papers for board exams and so on. Schools that then include it as an 
elective will offer its higher secondary students a choice between Skt. or some 
other subject as the 5th subject at the 11th and 12th grades, in addition to 
their 4 core subjects. 

CBSE's objection that it would also have to offer Persian and Arabic if Skt. 
were made an elective, is to say the least, frivolous. Persian and Arabic 
are not available at the 10th grade level in CBSE schools; Skt. has been, for 
at least 10 years now. This debate over Skt. being an unsecular language has 
obviously been over at CBSE for some time now. The objections raised by them 
now are only a reflection of the polarization, along religious lines, of 
India's polity.


PS: AS far as I know, AIR still has a Skt. broadcast every morning.

PPS: To answer yetanudder question: Part of the reason there is so much
animosity to Skt. in India is the identification of Skt. with the upper-castes
(read Brahmins and "Brahminists"). This is esp. true in TN, where animosity to
symbols of Brahminism (and some would say, Brahmins too) is high. There
is almost as much animosity to Hindi (perhaps more). The result? English has
pride of place, second to only Tamizh as the language that is emphasized the
most in schools affiliated to the State Boards in TN. Foreign, yes. But not a
symbol of the "bl___y Hindi-speakers" or the "snooty Brahmins."

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