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Part one – India’s Language Policy – Challenges

, July 30, 2014, 0 Comments

India language Policy challenges-MarketExpress-inThe question often arises: what should be India’s national language. The problem does not end merely by deciding what shall be our national language. More than a national language what we require is a comprehensive language policy. We have many languages widely used in our country, but what shall be the appropriate role of each? What language shall be used for inter-state communication? What language shall be used by the central government for official purpose?

What language shall be most appropriate as medium of instruction in schools? Should we have a different medium of instruction for higher education? How many languages should a student learn in school and at what stage? These are some of the questions a language policy is expected to answer.

It has now come to be accepted that the medium of instruction in schools should be the regional language. Thus, the medium of instruction shall be Malayalam in Kerala, Telugu in Telengana, Hindi in UP and Haryana, Bengali in West Bengal and so on. In most cases, this does not create any difficulty as for instance when the regional language and the mother tongue of the student happen to coincide. But, this is not always the case. Take the case of a Hindi-speaking family settled in the state of Tamil Nadu. The local schools shall have adopted Tamil as the medium of instruction.

The problem is not very difficult when the concerned North-Indian family has decided to settle down permanently in Tamil Nadu. In this case, they may reconcile to the idea of sending their children to Tamil medium schools. But the problem will be much more acute for a family which has to shift to different parts of the country, e.g. a family which gets transferred from Haryana to Tamil Nadu and then to Telengana and from there to West Bengal. It would be too much to expect a child to change his medium of instruction three times during the course of his school education. This brings us to the need for having schools in different parts of the country providing education other than in the language of the region.

What should be the medium of instruction in higher education? The problem here is different from what it is in schools. The difference arises from the fact that inter-state mobility is much more in higher education than in school education. If universities in each state adopt the regional language as their medium of instruction, it will severely restrict inter-state mobility of students and teachers.

The problem is more acute in the case of institutes of national importance. Take the case of IITs, which are the pioneering centers of technological education in India. What language shall these institutes adopt as medium of instruction? Should IIT, Chennai adopt Tamil, IIT, Kharagpur Bengali, IIT, Kanpur Hindi and so on or all these institutes adopt a common medium of instruction? If a common medium of instruction is adopted, what shall this medium be?

In Part II we shall examine the need for a link language., three part series on India’s Language policy.

Read Also Part Two – India’s Language Policy – A Link Language

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