Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017

Insistence on English for students leads to bitterness

A circular issued by the Department of Collegiate Education (DCE) to principals of government and aided degree colleges that “meritorious” students with “good proficiency in English” should be sent to participate in the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Youth Affairs has created a controversy.

This kind of “picking” is seen as a way of denying local and rural students an opportunity to participate in the event and in stark contradiction with the government’s own stated policy of promoting regional language and local people. Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj said that it was “a gross insult” to local students who may not be proficient in English. “The NRIs are shown local Kannada cultural forms at the event and provided the Karnataka food as a speciality. How can they keep students who have studied in Kannada medium away from the event?” he sought to know. However, sources in the DCE pointed out that the department had no role to play in organising the event and were “merely passing on instructions given by the Department of Industries and Commerce.” In fact a letter written by the Department Industries and Commerce states that 160 young overseas Indians from various countries would participate in the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and the Government of Karnataka had to identify 200 local students.

“It is requested to identify 200 local students from colleges and universities preferably at the graduate and postgraduate level (English-speaking) for participating in the event....,” the letter written by the Commissioner for Industrial Development and Director of Industries and Commerce to Additional Chief Secretary of Higher Education department stated.

Sources pointed out that this was done on the request of the MEA as there were delegates coming from abroad. “This is not a Karnataka event and we were asked to do this so that it is easy for students to communicate with their counterparts from other countries,” a source pointed out.

However, several college principals that The Hindu spoke to said that they had not sent any students for the event as the postgraduate exams had commenced and students were busy with that.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:30:59 PM |

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