My views | Oct 27, 2022
In this year of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, October 16 will be written down with golden letters. This day marked the renaissance of India’s education system when the Madhya Pradesh government launched medical education in Hindi, thereby writing the first chapter of PM Modi’s efforts towards education in native languages.
Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had said, “ Indian culture is like a fully bloomed lotus, each petal of which is like our regional languages. Destroying any one petal will destroy the beauty of the lotus. I want regional languages to remain queens of states and Hindi should be at the centre.” In these words, Gurudev beautifully described the richness of India’s cultural and linguistic diversity.
Similarly, Bhartendu Harishchandra ji’s description of Nij Bhasha, is all-inclusive in its connotation, encompassing all Indian languages from the south to north and from the east to west as our own. Languages are deeply embedded, culturally and historically, in the essence of India and Indianness. It is the language that connects an individual with the essential spirit and being of the nation and its culture.
It is in this context that we need to understand, without any prejudice, that Hindi is not at conflict with any other Indian language. Sometimes a misconception that Hindi runs counter to other Indian languages is spread. Nothing can be further from the truth. Hindi is India’s Rajbhasha and has no inherent conflict with any other Indian language. Hindi is a friend and comrade of all Indian languages.
However, in my view, Hindi and all other Indian languages need to be a little flexible. The flexibility will help address differences among languages, if any, with a spirit of accommodation and assimilation. This will further enable languages to flourish and expand in a cohesive sense of progressive culture-linguistic companionship.
Some people attach a sense of superiority to those who are accomplished in the English language. The truth is that language has nothing to do with an individual’s wisdom or intellectual capabilities. Language is only a medium of articulation and expression.
In fact, a person’s intellectual capability has a better chance of sparkling brighter if education is imparted in one’s native language. Education imparted in a language other than the native language can limit intellectual progress of a child because thinking abilities are the most compelling in his or her native language. Therefore, in my view, there is a deep connection between educational progress of a child and the medium of instruction.
Due to the lack of options in studying in native languages, we have so far been able to exploit not more than 5% of our nation’s potential in research, science, humanities and other academic fields. Therefore, India’s goal for Atmanirbharta will receive a big push when education is imparted in native languages, enabling us to take full advantage of our intellectual capabilities.
That is the reason why educationists across the world are increasingly giving greater primacy to native languages as the main medium of teaching that emboldens people’s intellectual thinking, research and analytical abilities.
The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi always favoured making technical and specialised knowledge more accessible to India’s masses by connecting these with Indian languages. Gandhi ji said, “ We should have an army of chemists, engineers and other experts who will be real servants of the nation … all these experts will speak, not a foreign tongue, but the language of the people. The knowledge gained by them will be the common property of the people.”
Following Gandhi ji’s thoughts, the Modi government, under the New Education Policy, is working towards imparting education in native languages – from primary to technical, to engineering to law and medical education. The government is unwavering in its focus on this. Under this, MP has become the first state to introduce MBBS courses in Hindi.
India is firmly marching on the path of Atmanirbharta as envisioned by PM Modi. It is important to keep in mind that Atmanirbharta is not just about business, commerce and services but also about our languages. It is vital to make our languages strong to achieve the goal of Atmanirbharta. Under NEP, Indian languages are being accorded the deserved importance in the country’s education system.
Initiatives have been taken to impart engineering education in eight Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi and Assamese – by translating books into these languages. Examinations under NEET and UGC are now also being conducted in 12 languages. All these exemplify the Modi government’s efforts and initiatives to strengthen Indian languages.
In the 19th century, Dadabhai Naoroji had described the repatriation of resources from India as “drain of wealth”. There is a “drain of brain” that we are witnessing in the 21st century. The same forces that oversaw the “drain of wealth” are now involved in “brain drain” from India by inducing India’s youth through education in foreign languages.
This situation of “brain drain” will turn into a position of “brain gain” when India’s youth start receiving education in their native languages. Today, measures are being taken to impart education in Indian languages that will prevent India’s youth from getting subjugated by foreign languages and cultures. Instead, they will be empowered to think and stoke their intellectual curiosity in their native languages.
BJP, whenever presented with an opportunity, has always worked towards strengthening and emboldening Indian languages. Even after the era of colonisation ended, successive governments in India, for long periods, had subjected Indian languages to a sense of inferiority.
While most leaders from India used to speak in English on overseas and multilateral platforms, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the country’s foreign minister, spoke in Hindi at the United Nations, marking an occasion of great honour for Indian languages.
Today, PM Modi also speaks in Hindi in overseas forums, carrying forward the legacy of Vajpayee. The PM’s speeches in Hindi have not only served to establish the honoured identity of Indian languages, but also raised the self-confidence of Indians.
PM Modi’s focus on imparting education in native languages will not only bolster Indian languages, but also qualitatively raise the intellectual capabilities of our students. I am fully confident that for generations to come Indian languages will thrive and evolve, promote public interest and development, and do this by being continuously and progressively adaptable.