Study of Languages in India

Children in India are made to spend a lot of time learning languages. A child in the state of Andhra Pradesh learns three or four languages – the mother tongue Telugu, English, Hindi and sometimes Sanskrit. A child in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and China learns only one or at most two languages. To that extent, the child in these countries has more time to learn other subjects like science, mathematics, history, geography and geology. This child also has time to think and analyze.

The argument in Andhra Pradesh is that children should learn their mother tongue, Telugu. There is no dispute about this.  There is also a case for learning English because it is an international language and higher scientific and technical knowledge could be obtained only through English language. Not only advanced countries like Germany and Japan, but also the less developed countries in Europe and countries like Malaysia have only mother tongues as medium of instruction, not only at school level but also at the university level.

As regards Hindi, the argument is that people seek employment in Hindi speaking areas in India and hence they should learn the language. This argument is not tenable. Out of 100 students hardly 1 or 2 go outside the state to Hindi speaking states. For their sake, the remaining 98% of children need not be made to learn Hindi. Their time for learning more of science and mathematics need not be robbed. Again 1 or 2% of the people may go for jobs to neighboring states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Orissa and Maharashtra. Does this mean that every student should in addition to the other subjects, learn Tamil, Kannada, Oriya and Marathi? Thousands of Hindi speaking people come and work in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and Karnataka. Do they learn Telugu, Tamil and Kannada at school?  No. If a Hindi speaking person can work in non-Hindi speaking state without learning the language of that state in school, why not a Telugu or Tamil speaking person work in non-Telugu or non-Tamil  speaking state without learning the language of that state in school?

Regarding Sanskrit, some may argue that it has rich literature. But most of the Sanskrit literature has already been translated into Telugu and children can read the translated works. If any one has special interest he or she can learn, but for that, others need not be taxed. Tamil also has equally rich literature. It does not mean that every child in India should learn Tamil language at primary stage.

It is clear that burdening school children with several languages has deprived the nation of outstanding scientists and technocrats. Learning several languages, not only takes away the time from other subjects but also makes the students lose focus and concentration. It is important to correct this trend.

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