Sanskrit to be an elective subject in schools

The Skeptic z900672a at
Thu Oct 13 03:22:47 UTC 1994

On Tue, 11 Oct 1994, Srinivas Sunder wrote:
> 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.

As I understand their objection is based on economic ground. If they are 
forced to provide education of Sanskrit even though optional they will 
have to hire at least one more teacher. As CBSE schools are private and 
for profit organizations, they want to look at their bottom line. As they 
see it there is no great demand for teaching sanskrit and if anyone still 
wants it he/she may go to non-CBSE school, as far as they are concerned.
PS: AS far as I know, AIR still has a Skt. broadcast every morning. > 
That is a joke. Like the discussion of a Sanskrit speaking village. I 
wonder who uses Sanskrit news as their only news bulletin. It is more of 
an entertainment or education.

> 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."
Whatever, the reason what is wrong with that? why should any language be 
imposed on anyone?
It is mostly Hindi speakers who are source of this animosity since it 
became the official language.

Aditya Mishra
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email:  z900672a at


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