Even as the opposition continues to accuse the NDA government of saffronising education by pushing Sanskrit in schools and universities, it has come out that the promotion of the language was pursued by the UPA government as well.
In two circulars, the HRD ministry under the UPA, had directed CBSE schools to introduce Sanskrit as compulsory subject up to class X and had also asked central universities to explore the possibility of opening Sanskrit departments.
The circulars were sent following a national conference on “Importance of Sanskrit in Modern Age” held in Lucknow in September 2013 attended by then MoS (HRD) Jitin Prasad.
“It was resolved (in the conference) that all secondary schools should introduce Sanskrit as compulsory subject up to class X,” the HRD ministry wrote to the CBSE chairman on December 6 last year, while calling for a meeting with CBSE officials.
In another circular on January 7 this year, the ministry told all vice-chancellors of central universities: “There should be a Sanskrit department in each central varsity to promote and propagate the language of Sanskrit.”
The twist came to light on Wednesday when HRD minister Smriti Irani was asked in Parliament if the government was emphasizing on establishing centres for teaching and learning Sanskrit in central universities.
In trying to find answers to the question, the government dug out the two circulars.
These circulars give the BJP government a chance to turn the table on the Congress, which has attacked Irani over her ministry’s dictate to Kendriya Vidayalaya schools to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language.
The governing board of KVs in its meeting in October had directed that teaching of German as an option to Sanskrit be discontinued as it violated the three language formula of the national education policy.