Govt clarifies as exclusion of Urdu in New Education Policy sparks anger

Waquar Hasan

New Delhi: As the New Education Policy (NEP) is believed to have laid stress on the Indian culture, the absence of Urdu from its list of Indian languages has stirred up a hornet’s nest .

Exclusion of Urdu in the entire policy has forced many people to believe that the government does not recognise the language which is spoken by the major chunk of minority population as the national language of the country.

On Wednesday, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha raised questions over dropping of Urdu from the NEP.

“Urdu is not even mentioned in the NEP. Congratulations to Prime Minister Modi. The New Education Policy does not recognise Urdu as an Indian language,” tweeted Sinha.

The statement of Sinha forced the Central government to come up with clarifications saying that the policy talked about all the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of The Constitution.

“This statement is totally false and mischievous. Para 4.12, 22.6 and 22.18 of NEP talk of all languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which includes Urdu. Incidentally, what is being deliberately and mischievously suppressed is that these paras do not talk of Hindi also, rather all languages of the Eighth Schedule are mentioned,” Secretary of Higher Education Amit Khare was quoted by The News18 as saying.

The paragraph 4.12 of the NEP reads as “There will be a major effort from both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around the country, and, in particular, for all languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

“States, especially States from different regions of India, may enter into bilateral agreements to hire teachers in large numbers from each other, to satisfy the three-language formula in their respective States, and also to encourage the study of Indian languages across the country. Extensive use of technology will be made for teaching and learning of different languages and to popularize language learning.”

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In Para 2.6, it says, “Moreover, even those languages of India that are not officially on such endangered lists, such as the 22 languages of Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, are facing serious difficulties on many fronts. Teaching and learning of Indian languages need to be integrated with school and higher education at every level…”

And, in paragraph 22.18, the NEP says, “For each of the languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, Academies will be established consisting of some of the greatest scholars and native speakers to determine simple yet accurate vocabulary for the latest concepts, and to release the latest dictionaries on a regular basis (analogous to the successful efforts for many other languages around the world).”

The government clarified that Urdu had been included through the Eighth Schedule of India Constitution but the question arose as to why the NEP did not name Urdu while mentioning all major languages.

Indeed, Urdu has not been mentioned once in the entire NEP. National secretary of Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) Syed Muzakkir termed it as a ‘step-motherly’ behaviour toward Urdu.

“It talked about all scheduled languages. It mentioned many languages but remained silent about Urdu. It is like you mention all people but left one and some. It seems that you are neglecting someone by not taking its name. This is the behaviour of the NEP towards Urdu,” said Muzakkir talking to Clarion India.

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Muzakkir said that this was step-motherly behaviour towards Urdu as the NEP took the name of almost all languages. In the draft of the NEP approved by the Cabinet, there was mention of Urdu once along with Sindhi. But in the final version of the NEP, even the one time mention of Urdu has been removed. In the final version, there is no mention of Urdu, he said.

Here is an example of how the NEP ignored Urdu while mentioning all major languages of India.

Under the headline ‘Multilingualism and The Power of Language’ in para 4.18, the NEP talks about preserving the literature of Indian languages and mentions many major languages of India but not Urdu.

“India also has extremely rich literature in other classical languages, including classical Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia. In addition to these classical languages are Pali, Persian, and Prakrit; and their works of literature too must be preserved for their richness and for the pleasure and enrichment of posterity. As India becomes a fully-developed country, the next generation will want to partake in and be enriched by India’s extensive and beautiful classical literature”.

“In addition to Sanskrit, other classical languages and literatures of India, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, will also be widely available in schools as options for students, possibly as online modules, through experiential and innovative approaches, to ensure that these languages and literature stay alive and vibrant. Similar efforts will be made for all Indian languages having rich oral and written literatures, cultural traditions, and knowledge”.

Here, there is no mention of Urdu despite naming India’s all major regional languages. However, Sanskrit which is not spoken in any region of the country has been mentioned 23 times.

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