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Mandatory Hindi goes out of draft education policy

New version removes clause stipulating the languages students must choose

The clause recommending mandatory teaching of Hindi in all schools was dropped from the draft National Education Policy on Monday, after the Union government faced an intense backlash from Tamil Nadu and protests from other States.

However, the revised draft — uploaded by the Human Resource Development Ministry in the morning — retains the recommendation to introduce a three-language formula from Class 1, merely having removed the clause stipulating the specific languages that students must choose.

The revision was not effected by the Central government but by the committee drafting the policy, headed by former ISRO Chairman K. Kasturirangan.

Alternative option

Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Kasturirangan said, “This was an alternative option already approved by us. We had kept options for many controversial cases. It is something I learnt from my ISRO days, to always have a backup ready. If you look at the overall policy, there is substantial space devoted to recognising the diversity and multilingual nature of the country, and giving autonomy to the States. This [clause] was slightly out of step with the spirit in which the policy was written. So we thought the other formulation removes any misunderstanding and assuages feelings in the affected States.”

Since the original draft was released on Friday evening, all Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have severely criticised the recommendations.

The ruling AIADMK, an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, also refused to dilute the State’s two-language formula. Protests were also reported over the weekend in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The controversial sentence appeared in Section 4.5.9, titled ‘Flexibility in the choice of languages’. It said: “...students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking States would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking States would include the regional language, Hindi and English.”

It has now been replaced by the following: “ ...students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school.”

Future of SP-BSP alliance turns uncertain in U.P.

BSP plans to contest in the Assembly bypolls on its own

BSP leader Mayawati’s silence on the matter added to the speculation. FILE PHOTOFILE PHOTO

The future of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh turned uncertain on Monday after the BSP indicated that it was in the mood to contest on its own in the coming Assembly byelections to 11 seats.

Since BSP leader Mayawati is the first and last word in the party, her official silence added to the speculation.

Review meeting

On Monday, she held a review meeting in Delhi with the coordinators and office-bearers of Uttar Pradesh to analyse the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, in which the party won 10 out of the 38 seats it had contested.

The BSP’s ally, SP, fared worse, bagging a mere five.

Till evening, she was yet to issue a formal note on the meeting as is customary in the party.

While there was no formal announcement on the future of the alliance, sources said Ms. Mayawati had presented the assessment report that the alliance with the SP did not benefit the party much since the transfer of votes was poor, in particular of the Yadav community, the core vote of the SP.

A senior BSP leader, who attended the meeting, told The Hindu that the party would contest “all 11 seats on its own,” practically ruling out an alliance with the SP.

Ms. Mayawati also instructed her party coordinators and leaders to “strengthen the organisation in the 11 Assembly seats on a priority,” the BSP leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

However, there was no word on the future of the alliance or if contesting in the byelections alone meant it was the end of the road for the alliance.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav told a public meeting in Azamgarh later that his party would fight for social justice together with the BSP.

(With inputs from PTI)

Kejriwal offers free travel for women using public transport

Opposition decries the move as ‘misleading’, ‘poll plank’

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that the Delhi government intended to subsidise travel in public transport for women commuters in the Capital.

While the modalities of the scheme were still being worked out, the government intended to allow them free travel on metro trains and State-run buses “by August-September,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

The CM claimed the scheme was in line with his government’s intent to encourage the use of public transport, make it “safer” and to promote the participation of more women in the city’s workforce.

The Opposition decried the move as “misleading” and a “poll plank” inspired by Mr. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party’s defeat in the recent Lok Sabha election.

It also questioned why no such efforts had been made over the last four-and-a-half years that the AAP government had been in power.

“It will be up to [women] commuters to purchase tickets or not; government departments have been asked to work on the proposal and present it for consideration within a week,” the Chief Minister said.

An-32 with 13 on board missing over Arunachal

It had taken off from Jorhat in Assam

An Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 transport aircraft, with 13 people on board, went missing over Arunachal Pradesh on Monday.

The aircraft took off from Jorhat in Assam at 12.27 p.m. for the Mechuka advanced landing ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh.

“The aircraft last contacted ground agencies around 1300 hrs. Since it did not reach the destination, overdue actions have been initiated,” the IAF said in a statement.

The aircraft had eight crew members and five other persons on board. Massive efforts were on to locate the aircraft. The IAF has deployed C-130J and An-32 and Mi-17 helicopters in the search operation, while the Army has deployed an Advanced Light Helicopter.

Some reports were received on the possible location of an alleged crash site, and helicopters were routed there.

“However, no wreckage has been sighted so far,” the IAF said.

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