The centre recently released National Education Policy 2020, which includes a Three Language formula. The three language formula recommends at least two of the three languages to be native to India. In the draft NEP released last year, a paragraph suggested that under the three-language formula, teaching/learning Hindi will be mandatory in those states where the language is not usually spoken. Following protests by non-Hindi speaking states like Tamil Nadu, the Centre dropped the reference to mandatory learning of Hindi.
Hindi is the confluence of Urdu and Persian which emerged in the 17th century. Talking about languages in south India, they have a longer history than Hindi, in fact older than Sanskrit. Notably, the most ancient forms of the Dravidian languages are found in southern India, when there was no linguistic diffusion between North and South of India, until the 5th century BC. This means dravidian languages developed independent of Sanskrit. This also suggests that the demography of south was populated by the speakers of the Dravidian languages even before the entry of Aryans into India. So, it is not surprising for the southern belt to feel anxious, when learning Hindi is made mandatory.
Federalism is part of India’s evolution and autonomy to states is vital in federalism. Hindi is not the national language to get a mandatory status in schools. As per Article 345 of the constitution of India, “the legislature of a State may by law adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the Language or Languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of that State.”
Even today, there is a linguistic disadvantage to non Hindi speaking states.The recent speeches during lockdown made by Prime minister Narendra Modi might have pumped up confidence in many citizens of the country. But how many could understand what he spoke ? People in non Hindi speaking states had to rely on subtitles or another Hindi speaking person to understand and follow the guidelines of the prime minister of India. The solution to this is not to make Hindi learning mandatory, but to start seeing Hindi as just any other language placed in Schedule Nine of the constitution. Learning Hindi is not the cause for anxiousness, but showcasing it as a national language is. When a national politician could afford a translator for his speeches during elections for seeking votes, why cant he/she follow the same when addressing the nation?
Another example is, there is only one supreme court in India situated in Delhi. Though the judges pass verdicts in english, the hassled paperwork to be dealt with for filing a case in supreme court requires Hindi. Article 130 of the Constitution states that the Seat of the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time. This provision can be utilised to form regional benches, which not only emphasises the importance of southern India, but also helps people from rural areas understand the procedures of apex court in their respective vernaculars.
India is a diversified country and we, the citizens of India should be proud of it. Every part of India has its own history and culture to be respected and etched in books. Even today, the CBSE Ancient History textbooks, talk about various dynasties of northern part of India, with minimum space given to south Indian dynasties. It is not surprising for every student to know about Ashoka, the great, but not about Ganapati Deva of Kakatiya dynasty with immense achievements.
When every state is given enough autonomy, the protests against steps like these are least seen. The rich heritage of India as a whole and as parts are to be taught to children in the language of their choice. The federalist nature of the country should be respected and When this happens, ironing out protests for a separate constitution as being demanded by few groups in Nagaland and against a particular language like in Tamil Nadu can be resolved in an amicable way. Unity in diversity is the Mantra.