Yogi Adityanath does not cease to surprise. Just when everyone thought under him the BJP would aggressively pursue the Sangh agenda in Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister has delivered a mighty blow to the latter by introducing English from the nursery level.
The antipathy of the Sangh for English is well-known. Last year, Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, an RSS-affiliate, in a letter to the Union Human Resource Development, had sought that English be phased out as medium of instruction at all levels. According to media reports, it wanted a new education policy that would accord priority to Indian languages. It had suggested that even IITs and IIMs shift to vernacular.
Earlier this year, another Sangh-affiliate from Goa, Baharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch, had demanded that the state government withdraw grants to English-medium schools and promote the dominant local language instead. A few years ago, a senior BJP leader, had said that English language had caused great loss to India. “We have started forgetting our religion and culture these days,” he had said while ruing that Sanskrit had lost its appeal in the country. Later he said his remark was taken out of context. However, his original remark had found support in RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Of course, any demand for withdrawal of English as medium of instruction is patently silly. In a globalising world where interaction among people across national boundaries is not a matter of choice but a necessity, the importance of English as the bridge language needs no overstating. Same goes within India which is home to several languages. The argument that it has destroyed Indian culture and hindered its emergence as a nation always needed to be treated with some disdain. The advocates of this line of thinking often confuse the medium with the content. Their actual problem should be with the latter not the former which is a neutral entity.
It is not that the BJP did not know that the anti-English attitude within its ideological brotherhood was nonsensical. But backing it, with nationalism as the peg, helped the party to put the earlier ruling establishment in a spot of bother. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it has to take a clear position on the issue and stop the debate forever. Yogi Adityanath has shown the party how to go about it.
“...We have decided to introduce English in government schools from nursery. There is no reason why they should be made to wait till Class VI to learn the language,” he said in an interview. It is a pleasant surprise from a leader who is known to be a Hindutva hardliner. That he is the head of a famous math, commands the support of a strike force of youth who vouch by aggressive Hindutva and the fact that he wears saffron all the time makes any progressive step from him unexpected. Shouldn’t a man with a background like this be promoting Sanskrit instead?
This Yogi appears to be cut from different cloth. He is tough and he is certainly not the kind to be cowed down by pressure. Going by his personality, he is not likely to yield to any pressure from the RSS and its affiliates or allow them any space while ruling the state. His move on English, in a way, sends a message to the latter that is short and blunt: Keep off.
If he manages to send a similar message to the gau-rakshaks and other vigilante groups indulging in criminal activities in the guise of Hindutva then it would serve as a template for the other BJP governments to follow. Right now the biggest threat to the party is not from the Left-liberals or secularists, but from the Hindutva fringe groups who have little regard for the law and the authority of the state. At some point sooner rather than later, the BJP would need to draw the line for such elements. Yogi Adityanath could be the right person to lead the way.
Updated Date: Apr 08, 2017 12:02 PM