The feature that outraged the southern political parties (specially in Tamil Nadu) from the draft National Education Policy (NEP) of the Centre was the three-language policy, in all schools, at state level and Hindi to be compulsory in southern states. As far as Andhra Pradesh (united) is concerned, this three language formula with Hindi as second language has been existing for half-a-century or more. There was no strident opposition at any point of time and the people of Andhra Pradesh had been the beneficiaries of learning the national language. Though their spoken Hindi is somewhat accented with the regional slant, they almost perfected the art of reading and writing to a great extent.
How the regional parties play a parochial role:
Late Shri NT Rama Rao (NTR) ever since he established his party – Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982, he had been harping on only one string i.e. the Telugu Pride. Of course, that touched the chord of Telugu people then, as the Telugus were taken for granted by the Congress party that ruled the state uninterruptedly all the while. The Late CM -NT Rama Rao, after coming to power for the first time, downgraded the Hindi language in school education and curriculum to give an edge for the regional language-Telugu over Hindi. For the state Board Examinations, the pass mark for Hindi was 35% (that was the cut off mark for all subjects) before NT Rama Rao took over the office. It was reduced to 20% with reduction of syllabus and hours of teaching by him. He did not leave the issue there, he also gave a policy change that Hindi Marks should not be added to the aggregate marks while totaling to award the class: first, second or third for those that pass the Board Examinations for a certificate.
So, therefore, reading Hindi became a tokenism and consequently there was a huge fall of Hindi teachers in schools. A kind of disillusionment for those who studied Hindi to get jobs in the state! This all to say, people are be-fooled in the name of regional pride. When education comes under concurrent list, when most of the elite (that includes politicians and their children) opt for ICSE or CBSE school-education (Centre-supported Boards) to their wards, where Hindi is one of the languages to be learnt, why depriving those in the state-run schools?
Necessity of Hindi :- Unlike in Japan where they have one-Japanese language, similarly in Germany- German, Russia- Russian, there is no one language to name with in India. Here, in India, one can have as many languages as his own i.e. multilingualism. Language and culture are intertwined. Culture is a part of language. If you learn your mother tongue, that means you are learning your culture. Sanskrit is the “source-language” for almost all Indian languages; more so for Hindi. Learning Hindi as second language (first being the child’s mother- tongue/state language) benefits a child for having learnt a link- language within India and partly outside India i.e. in other countries also.
Difficulties in other countries for Indians:-
There are Indians in the UK, USA, Australia and other parts of the world who complain that they have no common Indian language to speak to with each other than English in those countries. For instance, if a Telugu person meets a Maharashtrian, Tamilian, Kannadiga, Oriya or Malayalee what’s the common language to speak to? Nothing. So, they take refuge in English. Whereas a Hindi-speaking person wouldn’t face that problem. He is better off than a southerner, for there are many Hindi- speaking states, even for those who are outside India they could talk to their fellow Indians in their mother tongue Hindi.
National identity should take over regional pride:-
For the sake of national identity, regional pride has to be reined-in (to an extent). As far as people are concerned, even for the staunch Tamilians, they have no grouse against Hindi. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be seeing Hindi movies and Hindi serials on TV so fondly and talking about those actors in it. The politicians of the respective states wouldn’t allow the people to have their say. The politicians of the South blindly think that the anti-Hindi movement that they started somewhere in 1930s has still resonance with. Undoubtedly, they are trying hard to whip up passion presently, as it’s an emotive issue.
Incentivising of Language- learning is needed:- Any step should be an incremental one rather than a sudden drastic policy. In Andhra Pradesh, most of the people are educated in Hindi because of the yeoman service rendered by the ‘Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha’ established during the freedom movement to unify the people of this land. The courses that the Prachar Sabha conducts are attended by students mostly in the evenings. The certificates it awards to students after the courses of Prathama, Madhyamika, Rastrabhasha, Pravesha etc. are earnestly received by students and are flaunted as achievements to others. Such Hindi Prachar Sabha have to be established all over in South India. In A.P the Hindi Prachar Sabha would run its course in every district and taluk. These bodies have to be flooded with funds. Those who pass in them in flying colours should be appointed as teachers to teach some more students. Or else, their degrees should be monetarily incentivised.
For those who pass Pradhamika course, they should not only be awarded a certificate but also some amount of cash award, say: one or two thousand rupees. That way, many poor children would join for want of money or knowledge (as language provides profound thought). Even in central government jobs, those from South India who have the knowledge of Hindi and have certificates to that effect should get additionally, 5-marks or points more than the other candidates. The government of the day, should create a conducive environment before implementing any policy. Top-down measures would not work, bottom-up approach is the need of the hour in this sensitive issue of language-policy.
Finally, comparing Hindi vis a vis English (as English is difficult to learn compared to Hindi etc.) is an unnecessary controversy. For, English is no more a foreign language in India and it’s the second official language of the country.