Madhavi Roy, a second-year student of economics at Delhi University, has been learning German since 2007. Though she has not visited the country, she knows about its culture, politics and even the state of the country’s economy.
“With a combination of economics and a foreign language such as German, I’m sure any multinational wanting to diversify its business interests to Germany or already having presence there will want to hire me,” says Roy.
While she refuses to be drawn into the Sanskrit versus German controversy, she is of the opinion that many students at her age are allowed to make a conscious choice between science, humanities and commerce. “We should be given a choice to pursue the language we want to at that stage – be it Hindi, Sanskrit or a foreign language. What should be taken into account is that while most of us continue to speak Hindi at home and are in touch with the language all the time, the opportunity to learn a new language, preferably a foreign one, should be given to us,” she says.
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani has said that the continuation of German as third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas is a violation of the Constitution. According to the HRD ministry, the MoU signed between KVs and Goethe Institute- Max Mueller Bhawan in 2011 to offer German as the third language was not referred to the ministry at any stage.
Interestingly, while it is this MoU that is in the news, few know that Goethe Institute- Max Mueller Bhawan also has an initiative called schools: partners for the future or PASCH, the aim of which is to strengthen the global network of 1,500 partner schools with links to Germany. In Delhi and Mumbai, there are 12 and four PASCH schools, respectively and 44 schools in India. Besides, there are around 120 schools, including PASCH schools, where German is being taught.
According to Manisha Buttan, a professor who is also pursuing her research on the topic ‘the increasing demand of German as a language in India’ from Delhi University, the aim of learning a foreign language in India has undergone a change. While earlier one learnt the language to go to Germany, today there are over 150 companies within the country that offer jobs to students who have a good command of German. Also, earlier, most students preferred the US and UK as study destinations, today with higher education becoming tuition-free in Germany, students prefer learning the language as early as in Class 4. At universities, too, most take it up along with management and science courses .