Support for the status quo may also be picking up in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The outcry against the imposition of Hindi as a third language in schools may have forced the Narendra Modi government to amend a clause in the draft National Education Policy. But political battles still remain in Tamil Nadu, the firmest opponent against the thrusting of Hindi as a compulsory third language from Class 1. The state is determined to follow its two-language formula, with children learning in English or in Tamil, the mother tongue of a majority of people, and the study of other languages being optional. A confrontation looms over the three-language formula recommended by the Kasturirangan Committee, with both major Dravidian parties against a third language in schools. Support for the status quo may also be picking up in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The point to ponder is whether resistance to young people learning other Indian languages is driven by politics. There is no getting away from politics in education as leaders take the traditional view that people are defined by their education and controlling thought processes is a kind of utopian dream of nation-builders. The issue is never seen in its most simplistic form, as the teaching of an Indian language to young people whose minds are better wired to pick up languages as an education ideal. Even a casual acquaintance with a third language in the curriculum will enable Indians to appreciate the linguistic and cultural differences, and learn to adapt better. Truth to tell, those who try to spread language and those who resist are both language chauvinists of a kind. The pity is that these arguments are derailing the well-intentioned education reform process.