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German language row: Michael Steiner says the controversy should never have happened



By NewsGram Staff Writer

The German unease with Indian government’s response to the language controversy is now out in the open.

German Ambassador Michael Steiner made his position on the matter clear by telling a journalist that the issue could have been handled better and wished that it had never happened.

Steiner’s remarks, made during his farewell on Thursday night, may not go down well the Indian dispensation. HRD Smriti Irani has already expressed her displeasure over Steiner’s direct interference in matters of internal governance.

After Smriti Irani lodged her protests over Steiner speaking openly to media on the issue, talks between the German Embassy and HRD ministry had broken down last year.

Now it has been revealed that the MEA had summoned Germany’s deputy chief of mission last year to register its dissatisfaction over the media interactions.

The issue of Steiner’s letter dated November 11 to Irani seeking “clarification” was also brought up by the MEA during the diplomatic interactions, making it known that the issue was an “internal matter”.

Apart from making the contentious remarks, Steiner also said that he had witnessed some major political and economic changes in India during his term.

“It is in this residence that EU and then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi met to break ice,” Steiner said while recalling the lunch organised by him for Modi.

Steiner also regretted that he could not facilitate a meeting between Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year when the Indian PM was enroute to Brazil.

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All hail Sanskrit – the most perfect language ever


By Harshmeet Singh

In 2011, Kendriya Vidyalaya Schools (KVS) introduced foreign languages such as Spanish and German in classes 6th to 8th as the third language, replacing Sanskrit. This move was challenged in the Delhi High Court by Sanskrit Shikshak Sangh, which argued that “The action of the respondents (KVS and CBSE) would cause irreparable damage to Sanskrit language and Indian culture and as a result, the next generation would not learn Sanskrit and hardly have any knowledge of Sanskrit and the rich ancient Indian culture.”

While the Delhi HC asked KVS to file a response to the PIL in July 2014, the Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani declared that “teaching of German language as an option to Sanskrit will be discontinued herewith”. However, she didn’t make Sanskrit a compulsory language in schools and stated that German would still be a part of the curriculum as a foreign language. Most of Irani’s critics slammed her for forcing the students to learn Sanskrit which, according to them, is a dead language and doesn’t serve any purpose.

The idea of making it a Sanskrit v/s German affair is flawed in itself when there is enough space to accommodate both the languages. And if there is actually a battle among languages, Sanskrit indeed stands out among the crowd. Our habit of slamming Sanskrit as ‘useless’ and replacing it with something European is in line with our typical affinity towards anything ‘foreign’ at the cost of our own traditions. German was introduced in KVS in 2011 after a MoU was signed with the Goethe Institute of the Max Mueller Bhavan. While many ‘critics’ questioned the Government’s decision to abruptly introduce Sanskrit in place of German in 2014, no on raised an eye brow when the students of Sanskrit were suddenly forced to take up German in 2011 and the Sanskrit teachers were overnight asked to turn into German teachers!

For a language to be taught to the students, it must jell well with the national culture and history. On this ground, German is an outcast in our schools. In comparison, no language played a bigger role in shaping up the Indian history and culture than Sanskrit. Sanskrit’s status as ‘India’s greatest literary language’ is undisputed. Contrary to the popular belief, Sanskrit was much more than a Hindu language. Ancient Indian works in the field of Music, Science and Arts have been discovered written in Sanskrit.

Experts regard Sanskrit as the ‘most scientific human language ever’. Sanskrit is probably the only known language in the world boasting of a context free grammar, which makes sentence formation utterly precise, based on set rules. Panini’s attempt at bringing together all the set rules of Classical Sanskrit is still regarded as one of the most thorough researches undertaken on any language. Many experts have also drawn parallels between the present day computer coding and Panini’s attempt at deriving set rules for classical Sanskrit’s grammar. Our attempts at discarding the ‘most perfect language ever invented’ are a true reflection of our disregard towards Indian traditions.