Countering the assertion of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani that the decision of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language was in “violation of the law”, her predecessor and eminent lawyer Kapil Sibal on Monday said, “Sometimes people have a misunderstanding of the law”.
Talking to The Indian Express, the senior Congress leader, who played an important part when the MoU was signed between the KVS and the Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhawan in 2011, said, “The decision (to teach German at the KVs) was taken in view of the fact that in a globalised world, when we are being slowly but surely integrated into the global economy, our children need to know foreign languages.
“For example, I pushed for Mandarin since India and China are going to be at the heart of global trade. A lot of investment is coming from China and if our children don’t know Mandarin how will they communicate with the Chinese, understand them. Knowing their language is a way to integrate the two societies. It was with that impetus in mind that I pushed for Mandarin, German and any other language that the child wanted to learn… At the same time, we also need to ensure that our own languages like Sanskrit flourish. But, look at private schools, where a lot of children are learning foreign languages. I think it is good for them, good for India.”
Asked what his reaction would be if the HRD Ministry forced private schools to also stop teaching foreign languages, Sibal replied that it would be “most unfortunate”.
Asked if could understand why the Narendra Modi government took the decision to stop KVs from teaching German, Sibal replied in the negative. “I don’t know what could be the rationale behind such a decision. A lot of things are happening in the context of appeasing to a certain section, those who feel that the interests of the Indian culture are being subordinated in a globalised world.”
Asked if he was referring to the RSS, Sibal replied, “I don’t want to take any names. But, I think this is a example of the mindset of those in power.”
On whether he feared that more such steps were in the offing, he said, “We are already seeing a lot of these things happening. Look at appointments, trying to fill up posts with people from a set mindset. I think as far as education is concerned, the more the government keeps away from it, the better it would be for the children. Any attempt to regulate the content will result in the community faltering.”
But, in light of the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue in her meeting with Prime Minister Modi on Sunday, does he expect the government to roll-back its decision? “I am sure the powers-that-be will take steps to undo the directive. Such issues need greater thought and there can’t be knee-jerk decisions, especially where the issue involved in the future of children,” Sibal said.