Council passes Bill making Marathi compulsory in schools

It will be introduced in all schools, irrespective of board, from Class I to Class X from the coming academic year

The Legislative Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a Bill making teaching and learning Marathi compulsory in schools across Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra Compulsory Teaching and Learning of Marathi Language in Schools Bill, 2020, introduced by Minister for Marathi Language Subhash Desai, will apply to all schools irrespective of the board they are affiliated to, and calls for phase-wise introduction of Marathi language as a compulsory subject from Class I to Class X starting from the academic year 2020-21.

The subject will be introduced in Class I and Class VI from this academic year and extended to further classes.

These provisions will be compulsory for schools seeking recognition or NOC from government. Schools which already have the NOC and do not teach Marathi will lose recognition. The Bill provides for a penalty of up to ₹1 lakh on schools violating this.

Usually, a Bill is introduced in the Assembly first. However, in this case as an exception, the Council chairman allowed Mr. Desai to introduce the Bill in the Upper House. It will be tabled in the Assembly on Thursday.

During the discussion, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “I don’t think Marathi is sakti (compulsion), but it is the language of shakti (power) and bhakti (devotion). Who are these people who ask for evidence of how old the language is? Were they even born then? Marathi can even bring English to task. To conserve Marathi, it is we who need to work. We (the Thackerays) were criticised because my children studied in English medium, but my parents never taught me to despise another language. My children speak Marathi properly. Shiv Sena was formed for the very identity of Marathi and I am fortunate this is happening under my government.”

Former transport minister Diwakar Raote said, “I welcome this Bill that was originally proposed in the 1960s. I read a letter in a Marathi daily the other day that demanded that Marathi be made third language in other States as well. Government invitations these days are largely in English, when English was intended for exceptional cases. All judicial business also happens in English. The government order to have shop signages in Marathi is in English. I am glad that our government has brought this Bill.”

Leader of Opposition Pravin Darekar said, “This Bill will re-emphasise the glory of the Marathi language. I request IAS and IPS offices to talk in Marathi regularly. Even now, cars are penalised for having Marathi number plates. This law penalises schools who do not implement it by ₹1 lakh, but that amount may be nothing for big schools. The law needs to be implemented strictly.”

Hemant Takle (NCP) said, “This one thing was lacking to restore Marathi’s glory, which has been done today. Some people will say this will restrict students’ growth, but it is the responsibility of the government to ensure nobody lags behind. There is a Sanskrit university and we need to try for a Marathi university.”

Many members also demanded that Marathi be given the status of a classical language.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 6:58:33 AM |

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