German/Sanskrit row gets diplomatic colour

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 15, 2014 08:33 IST

The row over a government diktat discontinuing German as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas and replacing it with Sanskrit has assumed a diplomatic shade, with Germany raising the issue with New Delhi.

German ambassador to India Michael Steiner said on Friday that he had held talks with the government on the issue. “My feeling is that the Indian government will find a pragmatic solution... It’s a win-win-win situation in the interest of students, India and Germany,” he said.

The October 27 decision of the Kendriya Vidyalaya governing board to discontinue teaching German as an option to Sanskrit could affect about 70,000 students from classes 6-8.

Union Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani on Friday defended the decision and said the decision would not impact students.

Irani maintained that the language would still be taught under foreign language category. She said that the 2011 MoU signed by the Kendriya Vidyalaya which made German a ‘third language’ as a subject in schools was in violation of the national education policy and that the decision was taken in “national interest”.

“We have not replaced Sanskrit with German. We have a three-language policy. In a country with 22 scheduled languages, 125 constitutionally recognised languages and 1600 dialects, we have decided on this policy after taking into account India’s diversity,” she said.

The decision had invited ire from NDA ally PMK which asked the government to revoke the decision. The diktat “is a planned imposition of Sanskrit,” PMK chief Ramadoss said.

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