By Ashwini Kumar Upadhayay
The Union Government in consultation with all the States formulated three-language formula in 1968. The formula as enunciated in the 1968 National Policy Resolution, which provided for study of Hindi, English and modern Indian languages in Hindi speaking States and Hindi, English and Regional language in non-Hindi speaking States. The formula was formulated in response to demands from non-Hindi speaking States particularly Tamil Nadu. Later, National Education Commission recommended a modified three-language formula. But, after significant debate, Parliament adopted original three-language formula 1968. National Education Policy 1986 reiterated the 1968 formula. A new committee of experts was constituted in 1990 under the chair of Ali Sardar Jafri . This committee recommended modifying three-language formula in Hindi speaking States as thus: (a) Hindi (b) Urdu or any other modern Indian language and (c) English or any other modern European language. In non-Hindi speaking States: (a) Regional language; (b) Hindi;
(c) Urdu or any other modern Indian language excluding (a) and (b); and
(d) English or any other modern European language”. However, all the States have not followed the three-language formula till date.
The public servants and members of higher judiciary, who has completed their education in regional languages only and not able to read, write and speak Hindi, become uncomfortable when transferred in the State having another regional language. Difficulties faced by them while communicating with common man knowing other regional language can be well appreciated. Problem can be resolved by making study of Hindi compulsory for all students of I-VIII standard in spirit of Articles 21A, 343, 344, 348, 351 and Preamble of the constitution.
Study of Hindi should be compulsory for all students of I-VIII standard so that Indian citizens can easily communicate with each other. It will promote fraternity, unity and national integration, the great golden goals as set out in Preamble of the Constitution.
At present, when a north Indian visit east, west or south India becomes a foreigner, as he cannot read, write and understand their local language and so also citizens from those States find it difficult to communicate with person visiting from north. Besides the fact that Hindi is the official language as has been enunciated in the Article 343, it is spoken and used in major part of the country. There are only few States where there is only regional language is spoken.
The crucial role of universal elementary education for strengthening social fabric of democracy and provisions of equal opportunity to all, has been accepted since inception of our republic. The Article 21A was inserted in the Constitution in the belief that the value of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through the inclusive universal elementary education to all children aged 6-14 years. However, it is very unfortunate that study of Hindi is not compulsory for all the students of I-VIII standard.
At time of framing and adoption of the Constitution, it was envisaged that English will continue to be used for executive, judicial and legal purposes for an initial period of 15 years i.e. till 1965. The period of 15 years was prescribed after detailed deliberation so that necessary arrangements could be made for smooth language transition. The Constitution makers were conscious that language transition in all fields may not be possible by 1965. They also had the foresight to allow the use of English along with Hindi during the first 15 years and envisaged that Hindi with help of other regional languages would evolve as the link language of India, capable of being accepted by people living in non-Hindi speaking regions but their dream is being negated by few States.
Whoever had studied the Hindi in primary schools knows that its learning is very easy. It is the simplest source of expression and all the students of I-VIII standard can easily learn it without extra stress. Now days, students are opting English as a compulsory language but choose Hindi as optional, which is not good. Every nation makes his national language as compulsory part of syllabus and curriculum particularlyprimary education. However, in India, Hindi is not compulsory for all the students of I-VIII standard. Although, its learning is very important, as the regional language can be learnt at home itself.
Majority of children of Tamilnadu don’t know Hindi. They face problems when they go outside the State for higher studies or job. They try to manage with English, but we cannot expect a person in a grocery or a tea shop to know English. If we consider all Indians, the number of people, who can read write and speak English is much lesser than Hindi speaking people. English is used in judiciary but everywhere starting from market place to industrial shop floor a link language is needed and that can be Hindi. Conversation between an Engineer and worker or a Doctor and patient cannot be effectively done in Hindi. Therefore, study of Hindi must compulsory for the children aged 6-14 years.
Hindi is 5th most widely spoken language in world. India is known as ‘Hindustan’, which implies that majority Indians are Hindi speaking. Hindi was considered as official language even before the Independence. It has been adopted as the official language by the constituent assembly on 14.09.1949 and every year this day is celebrated as Hindi day. Hindi is referred as the nation’s collective voice because of its wide use by the great Indian freedom fighters. It has been proved that use of Hindi is better for brain than English as reading, writing and speaking in Hindi involves more areas of the human brain. It is not out of context to state that the then president of the USA, George Bush had allocated a budget of $114 million to promote Hindi. Hindi is spoken in almost all parts of India, but few States have not made its study compulsory in primary schools. Tamilnadu continue to oppose Hindi that is why their children find it very difficult to read, write and speak Hindi. Hindi medium schools are decreasing and English medium schools are increasing at a rapid rate due to privatization of education. There is dire need to make Hindi a compulsory subject for student of I-VIII standard.
The draft constitution as revised by the drafting committee, the language provisions were renumbered and placed in Part XVII as Articles 343 to 351. In Constituent Assembly debate, Dr. Raghuvira, suggesting the boycott of English, said: “I am afraid that in the next fifteen years, the roots of English influence in this country would have become twice as strong as the English people were able to make in their rule extending over a period of 150 years. The effect of all this is that the reins of power would remain in the hands of English knowing classes”.
Learned Govind Das reiterated that passing the Constitution in a foreign language after the ends of our slavery and attainment of independence would forever “remain a blot on us”.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad said: “Now for the first time in our history, we have accepted one language, which will be the language to be used all over the country for official purposes and let me hope that it will develop into a national language, in which all will feel equal pride while each will be free to encourage and develop its own peculiar language, in which its culture and traditions are enshrined. The use of English during the period of transition is considered inevitable for practical reasons and no one need be despondent over this decision, which has been dictated clearly by practical considerations.”
Harmonious and purposive interpretation of language provisions, particularly Articles 343, 344, 348, 351 with Article 21A and Preamble of the Constitution will elucidate that it is duty of the Union and States to take appropriate steps to promote and propagate Hindi so that it serves as a link language for all the citizens of India.
The Constitution makers deliberated the issue of official language in detail at the time of framing and decided that Hindi shall be adopted as official language of the Union. This is the basis of declaring Hindi as official language under the Article 343. Under Article 351, it is duty of Union to promote Hindi so that it become medium of expression for composite culture without interfering with genius, forms and expression.
Mahatma Gandhi, in his address to Gujarat Education Conference at Bharuch in 1917, stressed the need of a national language and said: “Hindi is only language, which could be adopted as ‘National Language’ because it is the language spoken by majority of Indians. It has potential of being used as economic, religious and political communication link.”
Supreme Court in R.R. Dalvani case held: “The spirit and letter of Article 351 is violated by scheme of the Tamilnadu State to grant pension to Anti-Hindi agitators. It contains voice of disintegration and fomenting fissiparous tendencies. If any State is engaged in exciting emotion against Hindi or any other language, such provision has to be nipped in the bud because these are anti-national and anti-democratic tendencies.”
80 per cent Indians can read, write and understand Hindi but due to few selfish politicians, study of Hindi is not compulsory for all the students. Even in north-east and north-west, people loves to speak it. Hindi is closer to mother language of all languages – Sanskrit. It is only language, which can be link language of India. Compulsory study of Hindi for all students is not only necessary to secure social economic equality but also essential to promote fraternity assuring dignity of individual and unity and national integration. The fundamental right of equality of opportunity in matters of public employment can’t be secured to all citizens in spirit of the Article 16 without making the study of Hindi compulsory for all students of I-VIII standard. Thus, it is duty of the Union and States to take appropriate steps in this regard on top priority.
Right of child should not be restricted only to free and compulsory education, but must be extended to have equal quality education without any discrimination on ground of child’s social economic and cultural background thus common syllabus and common curriculum is required. Uniform education would achieve the code of a common culture, removal of disparity and depletion of discriminatory values in human relations and it would enhance virtues and improve quality of human life, elevate thoughts, which will advance Constitutional philosophy of equal society.
Today’s children are the citizen of future. Education connotes the process of training and developing knowledge, skill, mind and character of student by formal schooling. Uniform education system will help in diminishing opportunities to those who foment fanatic and fissiparous tendencies. India shall be a better or worse place to live according to what we teach our children today. Education is an investment for harvesting a future crop of responsible adults, productive of a well-functioning society. Children are vulnerable and they need to be valued, nurtured, caressed and protected. Democracy depends for its very life on high standards of education. Dissemination of learning with search for new knowledge with disciple all round must be maintained at all costs. In our country, where a number of languages are spoken, it is a good idea to make Hindi compulsory in primary education so that it serve as a link language of India. It will benefit the youths seeking employment opportunities in other States. At present, when a south Indian visits northern State, he speaks in vernacular language. If he knows a little bit Hindi, he can easily communicate with the common people there.
In few southern States, Hindi is taught in primary schools as a second or third language. It is well known fact that a person is capable of expressing best in mother tongue. Since, most of Indians can read write and understand Hindi, only Hindi can serve as a link language of India. The non-Hindi States must encourage the Hindi. Efforts should be made to introduce Hindi in primary schools as a compulsory subject rather than optional. The young generation is keen to learn it.
Hindi has rich heritage and literature so all States should adopt three-language formula and make the study of Hindi compulsory for all students of I-VIII standard in spirit of Articles 14 and 21A of the Constitution of India. In addition, Central government should frame a National Policy to promote and propagate Hindi language in spirit of Articles 343, 344, 348, 351 and Preamble of the Constitution of India.
—The author is BJP Spokesperson, and Advocate, Supreme Court.