Mandarin or 'Chinese' was dropped from the list of examples of foreign languages that can be taught in schools, according to the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
While the language was a part of the draft version of the policy, that was released in May 2019, it is missing in the final policy document that was approved by the Union Cabinet this week.
“A choice of foreign language(s) (for example, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese) would be offered and available to interested students to choose as elective(s) during secondary school,” the draft policy document, released in 2019, had said.
In the final version, that sentence was changed to:
"In addition to high quality offerings in Indian languages and English, foreign languages, such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian, will also be offered at the secondary level.”
Senior officials told The Hindu that joint consultations between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) over the issue has been on for over a year.
Speaking to the publication, Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare said that the list was only a list of examples and not an exhaustive list of all the languages that are allowed. Schools are free to offer other languages, he said.
The report further mentions that there are "security concerns" that the government has over Mandarin being used as a language of instruction in Indian educational institutes.
The apparent omission of Mandarin can be seen in the context of rising tensions between India and China along the border of the two countries.
Ministry of Education Denies Reports
On Sunday, 2 August, however, the Ministry of Education (previously the HRD ministry) said that “neither prescribes nor prohibits study of any foreign language,” reported The Indian Express.
“Para 4.20 of NEP 2020 has given names of certain foreign languages ONLY AS AN EXAMPLE. The Policy neither prescribes nor prohibits study of any foreign language which will be as per the choice of students,” the Ministry said.
The New Education Policy also states that the medium of instruction until at least class 5 (and preferably till class 8) should be “home language or mother tongue or local/regional language”.
The new policy allows the state, region, and child to chose three languages. However, at least two of the three languages have to be native Indian languages.
(With inputs from The Hindu and Indian Express)