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Students cry language bias at Delhi varsity

New Delhi, April 10: Students from the Northeast today held protests at Delhi University and outside the human resource development ministry here against the university’s proposal to make Hindi or a modern Indian language (MIL) a compulsory subject. Some also called on HRD ministry officials on the matter.

Around 2,000 students gathered at the university in protest against the move to have a year’s foundation course in Hindi or MIL (listed in the Eighth Schedule) in the new four-year graduation course to be introduced at the institution.

“The pro-vice-chancellor came out and assured us that Hindi or MIL will not be forced on us and that we would have a choice of English. The dean of students also gave us a written assurance,” said Z. Maivio of the Naga Students Union, Delhi.

The protesters also included the All Assam Students Association, Arunachal Students Union Delhi, Tripura Students Forum Delhi, Meghalaya Students Union Delhi, Sikkim Students Union Delhi, Kuki Students Union Delhi, SSPP (Paite Students’ Welfare Association), All Bodo Students Union Delhi, Eastern Nagaland Students Union Delhi and the Mizo Zirlai Pawl.

The composition of the protesters showed that the opposition was to the concept of introducing Hindi or MIL and not an unwillingness to learn a language. MIL includes languages like Assamese and Bodo.

Suhas Chakma of the Asian Centre for Human Rights said if the university’s syllabus is allowed to be adopted, it would create unforeseen hurdles. On April 5, the rights centre wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene in the matter as non-Hindi-speaking students, particularly from the Northeast, would be “excluded” from studying at the university.

“This is a conspiracy to remove non-Hindi speakers from Delhi,” Chakma said over phone. Even if a student opts for Bengali, he would have a choice of no more than two colleges where faculty would be available. “That would make the choice of a college dependent on the foundation course language rather than the main subject,” he argued.

A leeway to Northeast students to opt for English, therefore, does not appear to have resolved the sticky issue. Last year, Hindi was made compulsory for commerce students at Delhi University and the matter is now pending before a court.