Assam not keen on Hindi lessons

Guwahati, Oct. 14: Dispur has developed cold feet over the move of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam to make Hindi a compulsory subject in the High School Leaving Certificate Examination following stringent opposition from several quarters.

The board’s move is based on the premise that knowledge of Hindi will stand students from Assam in good stead when they travel to other parts of the country for higher education or jobs. The board wants to popularise Hindi as the national language in the state.

Sources said the government had now asked the board to first conduct a survey to gauge the people’s opinion before firming up the plan.

The board has been strictly told by the state education department to immediately put its plan on hold till further orders.

“The survey will be conducted among teachers, students, academicians and the people. At a time when the ruling Congress government is facing sharp criticism from the Opposition for its alleged failure in the field of education, it does not want to create further controversy by making Hindi a compulsory subject,” a source said.

“Apart from the survey, SEBA has been asked by Dispur to organise seminars, workshops and meetings to generate public opinion on the issue. Education minister Gautam Bora will also hold discussions with SEBA on the issue.”

The source added: “A strong lobby opposing Hindi has already started pressuring the education department and using its clout in Dispur to restrain SEBA from implementing its decision. The lobby has been able to gain support from the influential All Assam Students’ Union, Asam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad and Asam Sahitya Sabha.”

“The lobby has contended that there will be far-reaching negative repercussions if Hindi is made compulsory. The government fears that the students will be unnecessarily harassed if compelled to study Hindi as some of the leading private English-medium schools have approached the education department against SEBA’s move.”

The board’s secretary, D. Mahanta, said a final decision would be taken keeping in mind the students’ interest.

Another SEBA official, however, said the HRD ministry had favoured making Hindi a compulsory subject at the school level.

“Under such circumstances, SEBA will have to thrash out some alternative plans,” he said.