BJP leader Tejasvi Surya today mounted a defense of the National Education Policy 2019 Draft, claiming it had been "twisted, misinterpreted and misunderstood" and it was wrong to say the centre "is trying to impose Hindi".
Quoting from sections of the policy, Mr Surya insisted the NEP "doesn't impose, (but) rather encourages, learning Hindi as a language in school".
"As a Kannadiga who is proud of my mother tongue, its beauty, history and contribution to Bharat's rich culture, I feel a few aspects of the National Education Policy 2019 Draft have been twisted, misinterpreted & misunderstood to say govt is trying to impose Hindi," Mr Surya wrote on Twitter.
As a Kannadiga who is proud of my mother tongue, its beauty, history & contribution to Bharat's rich culture, I feel a few aspects of the National Education Policy 2019 Draft have been twisted, misinterpreted & misunderstood to say govt is trying to impose Hindi. (1/n)— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) June 2, 2019
The parliamentarian from Bengaluru South in Karnataka posted a series of messages, with screenshots from the NEP, as he sought to stem the tide of criticism facing new education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.
Another article within the same chapter clearly indicates that the policy doesn't set out to impose hindi on anyone. P4.5.1 of the policy deals with the medium of instruction, where it promotes the use of the local language as the medium of instruction until Class 5. (6/n) pic.twitter.com/77a9sij09d— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) June 2, 2019
"The NEP doesn't impose, rather encourages, learning Hindi as a language in school," Mr Surya wrote, pointing out the policy specifically encouraged children in Hindi-speaking states to learn languages spoken elsewhere in India "like Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali etc".
When it's encouraging a child in a non-hindi state to learn Hindi, it also directs the kid in a hindi-speaking state to learn a language spoken elsewhere in India like Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali etc. The purposes are national integration & preservation of all langs. (4/n) pic.twitter.com/6gfkZdA9Z8— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) June 2, 2019
Suggestions Hindi could be made mandatory had particularly alarmed politicians from Tamil Nadu, a state that has long worn its anti-Hindi sentiment on its sleeve.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, in a series of tweets in Tamil said: "what is the meaning of three language formula in schools? The meaning is they will make Hindi a compulsory subject..."
In another tweet, he said "If Hindi language is a compulsory subject its import is imposition of Hindi. The BJP government''s real face is beginning to emerge...".
"I warn BJP any such move will cause them a huge disaster," DMK leader MK Stalin said. MDMK leader Vaiko warned of a "language war".
AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran said, "Imposing Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states will destroy pluralism. This would make non Hindi speakers second class citizens."
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan said, "I've acted in Hindi movies... (but) no one should impose anything on anybody. After all, it's up to the individual to learn any language of their choice."
On Friday a panel led by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, a former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), had put forward a report that said while the "three language formula" followed in a section of schools since 1968 should be continued, "children will now be immersed in three languages early on, starting from the Foundational Stage onwards."
This was seen by many as an effort to make Hindi mandatory till Class 8 and Twitter users inundated the social network with messages against the move, making #StopHindiImposition and #TNAgainstHindiImposition the top trends.
Faced by the backlash, Mr Pokhriyal said the suggestions were only a report and not yet a policy. "It's not the policy. Public feedback will be sought. It's a misunderstanding that it has become a policy. No language will be imposed on any state," he said.
With input from PTI