Sanskrit in Assam schools: BJP faces tribal groups’ ire over ‘saffronisation’ of education
Guwahati, March 6: The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Assam is facing opposition from various tribal groups after it has recently decided to make Sanskrit compulsory in all government schools till class VIII. The recent decision by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government in the northeastern state is seen by many as 'saffronisation of education' and a 'politically motivated' stunt to destroy the secular fabric of Assam.
The Indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabhas, Assam, on Sunday, threatened to start a massive agitation if the BJP government in the state did not withdraw its decision to make Sanskrit compulsory in schools.
The ITSS is a literary body consisting of eight major indigenous communities--Bodo, Mising, Karbi, Tiwa, Rabha, Deuri, Dimasa and Garo--from Assam.
The decision to make the subject compulsory in schools has been opposed tooth and nail as the state has numerous ethnic and linguistic communities having their own languages.
"We have been demanding the state government to follow a partial four-language policy so that the students from various indigenous communities get the opportunity to study their mother tongue. Instead of implementing the four-language policy, the state government is going to impose a dead language on the students. This is not acceptable. We will launch a statewide mass agitation along with our sister organisations if the government does not withdraw the decision," said Gobind Taid, president of the forum.
"We suspect the decision was taken by the state government to deprive the students of the indigenous communities from studying their own languages," said Bisweswar Basumatary, vice-president of Bodo Sahitya Sabha.
The forum accused the government of doing great disservice to the students and parents by imposing Sanskrit on young children.
"By imposing Sanskrit on government schools, the state government is going to discourage parents from sending children to government schools. Thus, the state government is encouraging private schools," said Pradip Chandra Deuri, vice-president of Deuri Sahitya Sabha.
However, the government maintains that by making Sanskrit compulsory in schools, it is helping to revive a 'dying language' widely-used by scholars during the ancient times in Assam