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Hindi Enters Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management (Hindi Imposition at IIT and IIM)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 2016 (ID. 2016-10-01)

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OUTLINE

Abbreviations

Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Indian Institutes of Technology's (IIT's) Past Record on Language Issue

3. Is Teaching in Mother Tongues Possible in IITs?

4. Prediction: Only Hindi and English Lectures will be Offered!

5. Past Examples of Deception on the Language Issue

        5.1 IIT Entrance Examinations Example

        5.2 IAS Preliminary Examinations Example

6. Do not Fall for the Trap "We will Offer Hindi this Year but will Add Your Language Next Year"

7. First Things First

8. What Should We Do to Protect Our Children's Future?


ABBREVIATIONS

CBSE - Central Board of Secondary Education
CFTI - Centrally Funded Technical Institute
CSAT - Civil Services Aptitude Test
CU - Central University
IAS - Indian Administrative Services
IIEST - Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology 
IIIT - Indian Institute of Information Technology
IIM - Indian Institute of Management
IIT - Indian Institute of Technology
IPS - Indian Police Service
JEE - Joint Entrance Examination
JoSAA - Joint Seat Allocation Authority; it is responsible for seat allocations  to various IITs, IIMs, NITs, IIEST, IIITs
LIC -Life Insurance Corporation
NIT - National Institute of Technology


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Indian government's interest in offering lectures in students' mother tongues at IITs is a cunning approach to bring Hindi as medium of instruction at IITs (along with English). Once this "mother tongues proposal" is accepted, Indian government would offer lectures in Hindi only and offer one excuse or other for delaying (and eventually not offering) lectures in other Indian languages. We have precedence of this tactic in the past in other areas (See Section 5). Before even considering lectures in Hindi (and supposedly other languages), offer IIT entrance examination question papers in all Indian languages and allow students to answer those questions in any Indian language. If the Indian government cannot offer question papers in all languages, how can it offer lecture in all languages? (Section 7) There should be iron-clad guarantee through parliamentary legislation that Hindi lectures will not be offered until lectures are offered in all languages (Section 8); also amount money spent on each of the languages should be the same; no higher funding for Hindi (Section 8).

1. Introduction

"Indian Government is considering classroom lectures to IIT students in their mother tongues... As per the plan, IITs could devote a section for teaching in regional languages. This class could be in addition to regular teaching hours or could be held simultaneously" (The New Indian Express; August 14, 2016). We assume that students would also improve their English proficiency to read technical books and papers in English and write reports and make presentations in English.

Interesting news but beware of Hindi wolf entering the barn wearing sheep skin.

Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are the premier institutions of higher learning in engineering and technology. Well funded by the Indian Government, financially far better off than state run institutes and universities, admission to IITs are much sought after by students. A degree from an IIT almost guarantees a lucrative job offer in academia or industry. English is the medium of instruction so far. Lectures are in English. Notes, books and other study materials are in English. Examinations are in English. This does give some difficulty to students who studied in the mother tongue in school, compared to those who attended English-medium schools. Indian government's idea of offering lectures in mother tongue does seem a good move.

Our concern is not with the idea but how the Indian government would execute it or partially execute it. Once everyone accepts the idea of offering lectures in mother tongue, Indian government would show its real face, the Hindi-face, and offer Hindi lectures in every Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Indian Institute of Medicine (IIM) and central university, and may be, a few classes in a few other Indian languages in a few institutions. Mark my words, this is sure to happen. I am as certain of this as I am certain that sun would rise in the east tomorrow morning.

IIT's past record on the language issue predicts what will happen. Read on.

2. Indian Institutes of Technology's (IIT's) Past Record on Language Issues

Admission to IITs are based on All-India competitive examinations called Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). It consists of two parts: JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced. Only those students selected on the basis of  their JEE-Main marks go on to write JEE-Advanced, and top scorers in JEE-Advanced are admitted to Indian Institutes of Technology.

JEE-Main examinations are conducted in English and Hindi only (Foot Note-1). This is, of course, unfair to non-Hindi students. Why won't they hold examinations in at least the 22 languages listed in the constitution? India's largest education network website PaGaLGuY.com reported on  September 14, 2015: "CBSE [which conducts the JEE examinations] seems to be having a problem in addressing this issue simply because of the enormity of efforts it will have to put in".  PaGaLGuY.com continued on the same September 14, 2015 report: "Professor Adrijit Goswami, who was in-charge of the JoSAA for the year 2015 said,  "It's tough to translate the questions and have so many sets of question papers in so many different languages." Actually it is not that difficult to issue question papers and evaluate answers in 22 languages. These examinations are conducted once a year and it can be done and it should be done.

If preparing question papers in 22 languages is difficult, then offering lectures in 22 languages in every subject in every one of the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) is monumental and simply impossible. We will discuss the impossibility of this in Section 3.

By the way, JEE-Main examinations are used for admissions to National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and Centrally Funded Technical Institutes (CFTIs) also. So non-Hindi students are at a disadvantage in getting admission to these institutions also. End this discrimination first before introducing Hindi lectures in IITs through deceptive means.

We also want to point out that many examinations for jobs at  central government offices and Indian government administered undertakings such as Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and government banks are also held in English and Hindi only. End this discrimination first before introducing Hindi lectures in IITs through deceptive means.

3. Is Teaching in Mother Tongues Possible in IITs?

As we stated in Section 2, offering lectures in 22 languages in all 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in all subjects is absolutely impossible. [It means, you need to have professors/lecturers from each language capable of teaching dozens of complex subjects in each of the 23 IITs. It simply is not possible. The Hindi-centric Indian government, that refuses to offer question papers for JEE-Main in all languages because it is difficult, is never going to offer lectures in all subjects (several dozens) in all 22 languages (or even just 10 languages) in all IITs. It is not going to happen.

4. Prediction: Only Hindi and English Lectures will be Offered!

If the Indian government came out and said Hindi would be added as a language of instruction in addition to English, there would be at least some opposition. That is why Indian government flouted the idea of offering lectures in students' mother tongue. Who can oppose that? In Section 3 we showed that it is impossible to offer lectures even in all 22 languages , or even 10 languages in each of the 23 IITs. Once the idea of offering lectures in mother tongues is accepted, Indian government would come and say we have difficulty offering lectures in all languages and so we will start with Hindi in all 23 IITs and introduce other languages later. That is never going to happen. We will be stuck with English and Hindi in the IITs and this would be a great disadvantage to non-Hindi students. (To dampen criticism from Tamil Nadu politicians and chief minister, a few lectures may be offered in Tamil at IIT, Chennai (Madras) while Hindi lectures would be offered in all subjects in every IIT, including IITs in non-Hindi states.)

This tactic of shedding crocodile tears for all languages and then pushing in Hindi only is a tactic the Hindi-centric Indian government had used at least twice. It is discussed in the next Section (Section 5).

5. Past Examples of Deception on the Language Issue

5.1 IIT Entrance Examinations Example

Indian Institute of Technology entrance examinations used to be in English only. Then some Hindi students demonstrated demanding that examinations be held in "Hindi and regional languages" too. Indian government agreed but with a little twist: Candidates may write the examination in the mother tongue but question papers would be in English and Hindi only. IIT admissions were highly competitive and even just one mark could mean a higher ranking and admission and the candidate with just one mark less not getting admission.

Then IIT entrance examinations became two parts: JEE (main) and JEE (advanced). Only those who pass through JEE (main) could write JEE (advanced), and the higher ranked JEE (advanced) candidates get IIT admission. Guess what? JEE (main) is held in English and Hindi only and all other languages were removed. A huge advantage to Hindi state candidates.

This is exactly what would happen with mother tongue lectures too. May be a few IITs would offer a few courses in Tamil, Telugu, etc. but all IITs would offer all courses in Hindi and English. A bonanza for Hindi state students and a great blow to non-Hindi students. 

5.2 IAS Preliminary Examinations Example

IAS examinations used to be in English only. Then there was demand to hold them in Hindi also. To null opposition from non-Hindi states, Indian government said that it would hold in all languages listed in the Indian constitution. When the time came, question papers were in English and Hindi only although questions may be answered in any language listed in the Indian constitution.

Then IAS examinations became two parts: Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) and Civil Services (Main). You need to successfully pass CSAT to write Civil Service (Main). While you can still write Civil Service (Main) in your mother tongue but with question papers in English and Hindi only, you can write CSAT examination in English or Hindi only. Again a huge advantage to Hindi students.

With such a past history, do you really think that lectures will be offered in all 22 languages? I will answer categorically that it is just a trick to make Hindi (and Hindi only) the medium of instruction along with English in Indian Institutes of Technology. Do not fall for this trick. 

6. Do not Fall for the Trap "We will Offer Hindi this Year but will Add Your Language Next Year"

If the Indian government says, "This year we will offer Hindi lectures. We cannot do that in your language this year but will do next year", never, never accept that. Ask them to hold off Hindi lectures also until next year when lectures in your language is also offered. We have precedence how the Indian government used this trick before.

As we state in Section 5, IAS examinations consist of two parts: Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) and Civil Services (Main). You need to successfully pass CSAT to write Civil Service (Main). CSAT examinations may be written in English or Hindi. 

CSAT Paper II had 80 questions of which 9 questions relate to English comprehension. All other questions may be answered in Hindi or English. In 2014, Hindi students demanded that those 9 questions on English comprehension be removed because it was difficult for Hindi students.  Indian government removed those questions starting from that year (2014). This is totally unfair to non-Hindi candidates. They have to answer all 80 questions in English while Hindi students can pass CSAT without any knowledge of English.  

Some non-Hindi members of parliament (MPs) as well as some student organizations asked that questions be printed in all languages (not just Hindi and English) and non-Hindi students be allowed to write CSAT in their mother tongue (in the same way Hindi students are writing in their mother tongue). Indian government said that it was too late to make these changes in 2014 and only the Hindi students demand to remove English comprehension questions will be satisfied in 2014 but will consider questions and examinations in other languages later. That statement was made in August 2014. I am writing this, more than 2 years later,  in September 2016; English comprehension questions have been removed as demanded by Hindi students but non-Hindi students' plea to give question papers in their mother tongue and they be allowed to answer CSAT questions in their mother tongue is not met.

This is what would happen with Hindi lectures also. So it is important not to allow Hindi lectures until lectures are offered in all languages. We cannot and we shall not believe Indian government promises when it comes to Hindi imposition.

7. First Things First

Before parliament takes up discussion of teaching IIT courses in mother tongues, non-Hindi members of parliament (MP) should insist that parliament pass legislation that question papers for IIT entrance examinations (JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced) be printed in all 22 languages, and candidates be allowed to answer questions in their mother tongue.

While at it, parliament should also pass legislation that question papers for entrance examinations to ALL Indian government educational institutions (including NIT, IIM, central universities, IITs, ISM, NITs, IIEST, IIITs, etc.) and job examinations to jobs at Indian government offices and its undertakings (including defense department, banks, airlines, LIC, etc.) be printed all 22 languages, and candidates be allowed write answers in those languages.

8. What Should We Do to Protect Our Children's Future?

General public, especially students, and politicians from non-Hindi regions should oppose this proposal tooth and nail. Hindi-centric Indian government would surely respond by saying that they are offering lectures in all languages. Ask the government to pass a law by parliament (not a government order that could be changed anytime) saying that: "All Indian languages listed in the constitutions should have equal status in Indian Institutes of Technology. (1) Lectures should be available in all languages or in English only. For example, if lectures in thermodynamics cannot be offered in Bengali at an IIT, then lectures in thermodynamics should not be offered in Hindi either in that ITT, irrespective of availability of Hindi professors and unavailability of Bengali professors. No Bengali means no Hindi, too. Hindi lectures have to wait until all languages are available. (2) This is another important clause of legislation. Amount of money spent for lectures in Indian languages should be the same for each of the 22 languages. For example, if 20 crore Rupees are spent to write/publish books and hire/train professors for Hindi, the same amount of 20 crore Rupees be spent each and every one of the 22 languages. (3) Even if there is only one student of a particular mother tongue, lectures should be offered in that language. If it cannot be offered, no Hindi lectures either irrespective of the number of Hindi students and whether Hindi lectures were offered the previous year. (4) Any student has the right to lectures in the mother tongue even if his/her medium of instruction at school was English. (5) Indian government should publish a report, approved by all IIT directors, on how they will be able to offer lectures in all 22 languages in all subjects in all Indian Institutes of Technology, before a single lecture is offered in any of the Indian languages including Hindi.

Let us not be cheated on the language issue again. Let us protect the future of our children from Hindi hegemony at Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management and central universities.

Foot Notes:

1. Gujrati, Marathi and Urdu questions are also offered for JEE in some examination centers because states like Gujarat gave up their right to hold their own examinations for admission to state-governed institutions and colleges but accept JEE for state institutions also (Most states do not want to do that because it infringes on state rights) (Thina Thanthi; December 12, 2012).


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Thanjai Nalangkilli

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