Sunday February 25, 2018
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Opt for vernacular education to see original ideas

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By Harshmeet Singh

When the British first learnt about the humongous linguistic diversity in India, they refused to accept India as a nation. For them, one single language for the public was a major prerequisite for a nation, like French for France and German for Germany. Yet, against all the odds, India managed to preserve its linguistic diversity right through the monstrous British rule that lasted close to 300 years.

But slowly enough, India is losing its proud linguistic diversity. The new generation is being forced to take up education in English, thereby shrinking the population of regional language speakers across the country. The significance of regional languages in education is a much debated issue among scholars. Higher education in vernacular language is seen as the very foundation of a learned society.

The decreasing population of vernacular medium schools in India is a major cause for concern. Much before the kid enters the school system; he is exposed to his or her mother tongue. The kid’s first interaction with his surroundings is in his mother tongue. The basis of kid’s first thoughts is his mother tongue.

What does the history say?

Today’s model of our schools was shaped by the European Christian missionaries who replaced the gurukul system in our country. Subjects like English and European history overtook Sanskrit and Indian thoughts. The better employment opportunities for ‘western educated’ Indians in British administration saw a number of parents admitting their kids into the new English medium schools. Till the revolt of 1857, the British gave decent importance to the teaching of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages in school. But post the revolt, primary education was neglected by the British.

In 1882, the Indian Education Commission was set up under Wilson Hunter to propose changes in the education system. While it supported vernacular medium of instruction in primary education, English still continued to be the medium of instruction at secondary and higher level. To counter this, Bal Gangadhar Tilak established the Fergusson College at Pune in 1870 while the Arya Samaj opened Dayanand Anglo Vedic College in Lahore in 1886. In 1898, Mrs. Annie Besant opened the Central Hindu College in Kashi (now Varanasi). All these were meant to give a push to education in vernacular language in the country. The next major boost to vernacular language education came during the non-cooperation movement. Institutes such as Kashi Vidyapeeth, Jamia Millia Islamia and Gujarat University also came into being to give a further push to education in vernacular language.

Importance of vernacular education

According to a UNESCO report, vernacular education greatly enhances the overall learning of the students. Yet, according to the data furnished by National University of Education, Planning and Administration (NUEPA), over 2 crore children were enrolled in English-medium schools from Classes I to VIII in 2010-11; this is a 274% hike from the numbers recorded in 2003-04!

Forcing a kid to change his thought process and think in English, rather than in his mother tongue is a grave injustice to the kid. It is akin to restricting the kid’s ability and taking away his liberty at the very beginning of his learning age. For coming up with ‘original ideas’, the kids need the freedom of thought that can only come with their mother tongue.

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70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai

An unseasonal 'Diwali' has suddenly been ushered on the island, which used to be plunged into darkness after dusk in the absence of electricity at the three villages

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The power connection is also expected to speed up work on the proposed 8-km long ropeway connecting Mumbai directly with Elephanta Island running above the Arabian Sea
The power connection is also expected to speed up work on the proposed 8-km long ropeway connecting Mumbai directly with Elephanta Island running above the Arabian Sea. Wikimedia Commons
* Elephanta Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage site
* An unseasonal ‘Diwali’ has suddenly been ushered on the island
* The official is hopeful that now, the Islanders can get better educational institutions, boost tourism
Seventy years after Independence, a 7.5-km long undersea cable has finally brought electricity to the world-famous Gharapuri Isle, which houses the UNESCO World Heritage site Elephanta Caves, about 10-km from Mumbai, a top official said here on Thursday.
The project to electrify the island, thronged daily by thousands of Indian and foreign tourists, has cost a total of Rs 25 crore and was completed in 15 months, said Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. Regional Director Satish Karape.
“This is India’s longest undersea power cable which took around three months to lay. Plus, we have installed a transformer in each of the three villages, six streetlight towers each 13-metre tall with six powerful LED bulbs and provided individual power meter connections to 200 domestic and a few commercial consumers. Intensive testing over past three days has been successful,” Karape told IANS.
A function will be held at the island later in the day when renowned social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari will formally ‘switch on’ the power supply in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Jaykumar Raval, Ravindra, and other dignitaries.
Inhabited since the 2nd Century BC, the island has seven big and small rock-cut caves temples carved between 5th-6th Centuries AD.
Inhabited since the 2nd Century BC, the island has seven big and small rock-cut caves temples carved between 5th-6th Centuries AD. Wikimedia Commons
Karape said that of the total project cost, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority gave Rs 18.50 crore while the rest had been borne from the MSEDCL’s own resources.
The 22-KV cable has four lines, including one exclusive standby line, to ensure 24×7 high-quality power to the Islanders with sufficient excess capacity to take care of future requirements for more than 30 years, he explained.
An unseasonal ‘Diwali’ has suddenly been ushered on the island, which used to be plunged into darkness after dusk in the absence of electricity at the three villages — Raj Bander, Mora Bander and Shet Bander — housing around 1,200 people, mostly engaged in fishing, farming, boat-repairs and tourism-related activities.
Since the past few years, however, the villagers managed with just three hours electricity courtesy power generators provided by the state government, but these were expensive and unreliable.
The previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party regime had initiated the proposal, but it fell through as the tender attracted a single bid, and later the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government revived the proposal almost two years ago.
The 22-KV cable has been connected directly with the MSEDCL’s Olwa sub-station, Panvel Division in Raigad on the mainland, Karape said.
Since a small dam exists on this 16-sq km island, a water filtration plant can be set up to provide safe and clean drinking water to the locals and tourists, who now rely on bottled mineral water.
Since a small dam exists on this 16-sq km island, a water filtration plant can be set up to provide safe and clean drinking water to the locals and tourists, who now rely on bottled mineral water. Wikimedia Commons
The official is hopeful that now, the Islanders can get better educational institutions, boost tourism — probably with the overnight stay, subject to other governmental clearances — install a lighthouse on the isle’s hilltop, and even power the Elephanta Caves if the Archaeological Survey of India permits.
Since a small dam exists on this 16-sq km island, a water filtration plant can be set up to provide safe and clean drinking water to the locals and tourists, who now rely on bottled mineral water.
The power connection is also expected to speed up work on the proposed 8-km long ropeway connecting Mumbai directly with Elephanta Island running above the Arabian Sea, planned by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), and billed as a boon to nearly two million tourists who visit it annually.
Inhabited since the 2nd Century BC, the island has seven big and small rock-cut caves temples carved between 5th-6th Centuries AD. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The island also has two large British-era canons atop the hill.
Presently, the thickly-forested island abounds in monkeys and other creatures, is accessible only by an hour-long voyage by motorboats and launches from Gateway of India or Raigad, with the compulsory return in the evening.