languages (question) (was Re: pronunciation of Sanskrit)
srini at engin.umich.edu
Tue Apr 15 21:35:20 UTC 1997
I'd like to thank Sundaresan Vidyasankar for answering my questions in
a relaxed, factual, dispassionate, informative manner.
I hadn't realized the "three-language formula" was something which had
to do only with educational policy, so I might have asked what could
seem like somewhat odd questions.
Thank you for clarifying it all.
I am afraid that there are a lot more unpleasant/disturbing
details than what one can gather from Vidyasankar's post...
for people interested in a healthy democracy and federalist
structure and for folks interested in the history of these
policies... here are some of them... I apologize in advance
for violating Dominik's 2 screen rule.
1. Originally, in the Indian Constitution, education was
not on the Concurrent list but was entirely in the State list.
This had its antecendents in the 1935 Govt of India act which
had provided for provincial jurisdiction over education. The
Constitution framers thus took into account the length and breadth
of the country, the huge population, the wide linguistic, cultural
and ethnic diversities.
2. It is during the darkest period of Indian democracy thus
far that education was moved to the Concurrent List - the
Emergency during the mid-70s when many liberties were arbitrarily
suspended, governments were dissolved on a whim, and hooshiinis
of a number of people cut off.
Here is a quote from Siba Bhattacharya and Luna Kayal's "Indian
Education Policy Study" (Ajanta Publications, 1995). The authors
are faculty at the Dept of Education, Univ of Calcutta.
"Developments of a far graver import took place subsequently.
The trend towards centralisation gathered momentum in the
country from the early 1970's, and those in control of the
Union government began to betray increasingly pronounced
authoritarian trends. A decision was reached in this climate
to remove education from the State List and place it in the
Concurrent List. A few State governments had strong reservations
regarding such a reversal of Constitutional arrangements; their
voices lost out. Most of the State governments were in any
case still under the dominance of the political party which
also exercised authority at the Centre; opposition on their
part to the Centre's move was either perfunctory or non-existent.
Taking advantage of the extraordinary circumstances that prevailed
during the Emergency, in 1976 the Union Government rushed through
Parliament an amendment of the Constitution which transferred
education to the Concurrent List."
3. The Concurrent List has turned out to be a misnomer despite
Article 246 of the Indian Constitution. Legislation, administrative
measures taken by the Union Govt has precedence over similar measures
of a State Govt. The implications are clear - the Concurrent List
can be construed/implemented just like an Union List... thus severely
marginalizing a State Govt's role.
4. The first National Educational Policy was voiced in 1968,
wherein the 3 language formula was given an impetus... it
came right on the heels of the severe and tragic disturbances
of 1965 when Hindi was supposed to take over as THE official
language and English was supposed to die... well, in the event,
the deadline on English was postponed sine die ;-)
The question arises as to why a 3-language formula for education
as in English/Hindi/<regional_language> would be stressed right
after things soured... and right after "unfriendly" governments
came to power... the whole thing has a Machiavellian ring to it.
The earlier form of inducement in the South to learn the Hindi
language i.e Dakshin Bharat Hindi PracAr Sabha and so on seems
to have been relatively innocuous... their role could have been
stressed. [Autobiographical note: ammA, sister, and self did
go thru this route to achieve Hindi proficiency before joining
Kendriya Vidyalaya where we sang
"bhArat kA svarNim gaurav kendriya vidyAlay lAyegA
takSas'ilA nAlandA kA itihAs lauT kar AyegA".]
5. Despite the ceaseless chant of "unity within diversity", many
Central measures, including the educational, overlook the
diversities which enrich the nation and the need to nurture them.
6. Here are some expert opinions on the 3-language formula:
"The so-called three language formula, which proposed that
school going children in States north of the Vindhyas would
learn a southern language and similarly children in the South
would learn a northern language, in addition to their respective
mother tongue and English, did not make any headway. Nor has
it been possible to introduce Hindi as a compulsory third
language, in addition to the mother tongue and English, in
the primary and secondary stages in the different parts of
the country." (Bhattacharya. op.cit.)
"With the failure of the Three Language Formula in the Hindi
speaking States (see Table 3), bilingualism has not spread
in the Hindi States. All translations from and into Hindi
are done by scholars of other languages. Consequently during
the past 44 years Hindi has hardly absorbed any elements from
the other non-Hindi languages. As against the national average
of 13.34%, bilingualism in the Hindi States is the lowest i.e.
4.76% (1981 Census)." (Bh.Krishnamurti. "Official Language
Policies with Special Reference to the Eighth Schedule of the
Constitution of India" in Language and the State: Perspectives
on the Eighth Schedule. Creative Books, New Delhi,1995. A
collection of articles by distinguished scholars.
7. Again a quote from Bhattacharya (op.cit.) regarding the Navodaya
Vidyalaya scheme of secondary level education, introduced by the
Central Govt in the middle '80s... one model school in all the
districts of the country...
"The children admitted to these schools are expected to
forsake their mother tongue and agree to have, both as
the medium of instruction and as language courses, only
Hindi and English. Provisions will be made for teaching
these children other foreign languages, but not their own
mother tongue nor any other Indian language. This, to put
it mildly, is perversity at its worst.
The seeming unreasonableness of the scheme does not quite
end here. A State Govt must accept its details in toto,
otherwise no funds will be forthcoming from the Centre under
8. Finally, a little real data... the Eighth 5-Year Plan (92-97)
outlay for education allots
Rs. 7443.00 crores to the Centre and
Rs.12156.73 crores to the States and Union Territories.
Concurrent List... indeed !
Ref: 1. Indian Education Policy Study. Ajanta Publication, 1995.
Authors: Siba Bhattacharya and Luna Kayal.
2. Language and the State. Creative Books, 1995.
Editors: R.S.Gupta, Anvita Abhi, Kailash S.Aggarwal.
3. Language movements in India. Central Inst of Indian languages.
1979. Editor: E.Annamalai.
4. National Policy on Education - 1986. Ministry of Human
Resource Development, Govt of India. New Delhi, May 1986.
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