Smriti turns down plea to make Sanskrit compulsory

Updated - April 22, 2016 05:04 pm IST

Published - November 24, 2014 02:02 am IST - New Delhi:

NEW DELHI 27/05/2014: Union HRD minister Smriti Irani arriving for the first cabinet meeting of the NDA government,in New Delhi on Tuesday May 27,2014.  Photo: Sandeep Saxena

NEW DELHI 27/05/2014: Union HRD minister Smriti Irani arriving for the first cabinet meeting of the NDA government,in New Delhi on Tuesday May 27,2014. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Taking on her critics, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Sunday dismissed charges that education was being saffronised even as she turned down demands to make Sanskrit compulsory in the curriculum.

“Those who accuse me of being an RSS mascot or RSS representative possibly want to deflect the attention from the good work that we have done ... this agenda will be flagged and I will be whipped for as long as there is a need to keep the attention away from the good work. I am ready for it. I have no problem,” she told PTI journalists at the agency headquarters here.

Answering questions on the controversial decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language in some 500 Centrally-run Kendriya Vidyalayas, Ms. Irani said teaching of German under an MoU signed in 2011 was in violation of the Constitution. An investigation had already been launched to find out how the MoU came to be signed.

Responding to demands that Sanskrit be made a compulsory language, the Minister said the three-language formula was very clear that any of the 23 Indian languages listed in Schedule 8 of the Constitution could be opted. But she reiterated that German would continue to be taught as a foreign language.

“ ... we are teaching French, we are teaching Mandarin, we teach German the same way. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people don’t understand what I am saying,” she said.

Ms. Irani had earlier strongly defended the decision to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language, saying the existing arrangement was in violation of the Constitution.

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