Hindi is Bush?s new secret weapon
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Hindi is Bush?s new secret weapon

The Bush administration thinks learning Hindi is a critical need for the US's security, reports S Rajagopalan.

world Updated: Jan 07, 2006 01:08 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

American children will now learn Hindi -- and for a good reason. The Bush administration thinks that learning Hindi and a few other foreign languages is a "critical need" for the US's national security and prosperity.

President George W. Bush on Thursday unveiled a $ 114 million plan, called the "National Security Language Initiative". Apart from Hindi, the languages being courted are Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Farsi. "This programme is a part of a strategic goal, and that is to protect this country," Bush told a conference of more than 120 US university presidents.

A request is to be sent to the US Congress to include it in the funding for fiscal 2007 (beginning October).

Bush cited another compelling reason for the initiative. The US, he said, could shed its image of a "bully" in the post-9/11 world if more Americans could speak a foreign language. "When Americans learn to speak a language, learn to speak Arabic, those in the Arabic region will say, 'Gosh, America's interested in us. They care enough to learn how we speak'," he said.

A State Department fact sheet said the initiative would dramatically increase the number of Americans learning the identified foreign languages "through new and expanded programmes from kindergarten through university and into the workforce".

Traditionally, much of the focus on foreign language instruction in US schools has been on European and Latin American languages.

The programme will also draw more linguists into government service and establish a national corps of language reservists readily available to the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence community.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 09:24 IST