Speaking in tongues
- Patna High Court stays Nitish Kumar's election as JD(U) legislature party chief
- Arvind Kejriwal gets down to business, calls for full statehood for Delhi
- President Pranab Mukherjee warns against deviation from constitutional principles
- Sunanda Pushkar murder case: SIT to quiz Shashi Tharoor tomorrow
- Shanti Bhushan accuses Arvind Kejriwal of accepting 'tainted' money
In a diverse country, mandating a language is a losing proposition. Teachers, parents should decide
The language skirmishes are likely to erupt again, this time over the language toddlers are taught in. While English is seen as the key to social mobility and success in India, and many parents and schools consider its acquisition paramount to a good education, state policy has refused to acknowledge that reality. The women and child development ministry, while drafting an early childhood care and education policy, has laid renewed stress on teaching in the "mother tongue". While English is not precluded, the idea is that the primary language of instruction for a child under six should be the language she speaks at home.
This is technically in line with the Constitution's assurance of linguistic rights, and successive education policy documents have suggested a three language formula. The National Curriculum Framework of 2005 says "a renewed effort should be made to implement the three-language formula, emphasising recognition of the children's home language or mother tongue as the best medium of instruction", while including English among other Indian languages. But the question is still contentious — right now, a Constitution Bench in the Supreme Court is trying to balance the government's right to mandate a language and the right of parents and students to choose their language of instruction.