Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who has been under fire for “imposing” Sanskrit language in Kendriya Vidyalayas, said Wednesday that she was only upholding the law of the land.
“When I am accused of only upholding Sanskrit because I am saffron, I would like to remind my learned friend that I was upholding an aspect of the National Policy of Education as envisaged by Gandhi which spoke of the Three Language Formula. It is a law of the land now,” she said.
She further said: “I uphold an MoU – and it is a question which the House should answer – which says that German is the third language of India. Can I, as a representative of our nation, sign that? Honestly, I cannot. The only thing I can do is to ensure that the children in our schools and colleges have access to Indian and foreign languages. And I tell you, Sir, today that let this House know that, apart from German, French, Japanese, Mandarin are continued to be taught in Kendriya Vidyalayas.
Meanwhile, Irani on Wednesday rejected allegations that she had promoted vegetarian food in IITs, maintaining that a decision to stop non-vegetarian food was taken in April this year, before she took over charge of the ministry, following complaints from the students the items were highly priced.
“…We have turned IITs into a vegetarian complex? I would like to tell my learned friend that IIT students in Delhi explained and in fact expressed their anguish at the high cost of non-veg food and it was stopped in April 2014 much before I took office,” she said while replying to debate on the School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014, in the Lok Sabha.
“The IITs are exploring through three organisations or individuals the possibility of providing non-veg food to its students. These are decisions I do not interfere with,” she said while countering the allegations of some Lok Sabha MPs.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said the government focus on quality education for students and not dictating what they should eat.
In Rajya Sabha, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury raised the matter.
Irani also announced that December 22 would be celebrated as ‘National Mathematics Day’ and the preceding week observed as ‘Growing Aptitude for Numerical Innovation and Training.