Friday, February 25, 2011
Trivialization of Sanskrit in colleges
In one of my columns in an English language newspaper, I complained that an average Indian student at the school or college level knows no language well enough and that the proficiency in English that students of medium schools / colleges have acquired can only help them communicate in a few limited contexts. I traced this linguistic impoverishment to their linguistic apostasy – the almost total neglect of their mother tongue in favour of English – and urged that parents, teachers, and educational authorities should encourage children to develop a healthy interest in their own mother tongue.
By a curious coincidence, the government of Andhra Pradesh announced on the very day the column appeared that Telugu would be a compulsory language for all classes upto Class X from this academic year. Even in schools where the medium of English is other than Telugu or English, the second language will be Telugu for Classes VI to X. The new policy seeks to give the mother tongue its due place in the curriculum and implement Telugu as the first official language. It is a good move against the loss of the mother tongue that I wrote about, though the success of the new policy depends upon how the people concerned at the school level implement it.
I hope the government introduces a similar scheme at the intermediate and the degree levels also. At these two levels, there is a great demand for Sanskrit, not because students are fanatical about this so-called deva basha as much as Professor Murali Manohar Joshi was when he was the HRD minister, but because it is easy to score high marks in that language. At the intermediate/degree level, the majority of students who opt for Sanskrit cannot read or write in the language. Why should they, when the system doesn't require them to? In the examination, the students can answer all questions in English and score 90 per cent and above. Nothing in the college curriculum is so grossly abused and trivialized as the teaching, learning and testing of Sanskrit.
This can be corrected only if the intermediate boards and universities impose two restrictions: one, students who have not studied Sanskrit (or at least Hindi) in the earlier stages should not be allowed to opt for Sanskrit; and, two, in the examination, students should be required to answer all questions in Sanskrit.