While the NDA government is facing criticism for its decision to replace German with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas, it now turns out that the previous UPA government’s HRD Ministry, under then minister M M Pallam Raju, had also sought to “introduce Sanskrit as a compulsory subject up to Class X” in all secondary schools.
According to a ministry note dated December 6, 2013, the ministry sought to work out the modalities to implement a resolution passed at a national conference on ‘Importance of Sanskrit in Modern Age’ held in Lucknow in September 2013, that sought to introduce Sanskrit as a mandatory subject up to Class X.
The three-day conference was inaugurated by Raju, in the presence of his MoS Jitin Prasada and Congress leader Karan Singh. Prasada was also present at the closing ceremony of the conference.
“A national conference on ‘Importance of Sanskrit in Modern Age’ was held in Lucknow from 13th to 15th September, 2013, wherein it was resolved that all the secondary schools in the country should introduce Sanskrit as a compulsory subject up to Class X,” says the note, which has been accessed by The Indian Express.
“In order to work out the modality of implementing the above resolution, a meeting has been called under the chairmanship of Ms. Vrinda Sarup, Additional Secretary, SE&L on 19.12.2013 at 3:00 pm,” adds the note, which was marked to the NCERT Director and CBSE Chairman.
When contacted, Raju, however, denied that there was any move to make Sanskrit compulsory. “We wanted it to be an optional language. We realised the base of teachers was not adequate,” he said, adding that they wanted to “strengthen the language” and “rediscover” the lost scientific knowledge in Vedas.
While CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi did not respond to calls or texts, then NCERT Director Parvin Sinclair said she could not remember such a note.
In a letter dated January 7, 2014, the HRD ministry also asked Vice Chancellors of central universities to “explore possibilities of opening of Sanskrit department” and to furnish “action taken in this regard”. One of the resolutions adopted at the Lucknow conference was that there should be a Sanskrit department in each central university to “promote and propagate” the language.