Updated: March 17, 2020 8:57:19 am
The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to make Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati, into Central Sanskrit Universities. The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, passed by the House through a voice vote, was passed by Lok Sabha in December 12 last year.
While the Opposition accused the government of encouraging Sanskrit at the cost of other Indian languages, the government said it aims to revive the heritage of Sanskrit through these universities.
“Sanskrit has always been the monopoly of a few and that is a matter of great sadness and tragedy for India. We have to make this monopoly of the few into the treasure of the many. And, that is what this Bill should hope to accomplish,” Jairam Ramesh of the Congress said.
Explained: How the Centre’s planned Sanskrit universities will function
However, he said, it must be remembered that Sanskrit has “been the instrument of caste oppression, caste discrimination and caste subjugation”. He added that “hardly 15,000 people in India speak Sanskrit”.
Ramesh mentioned that on February 3, The Minister of Culture told Lok Sabha that the government spent Rs 640 crore for the popularisation of Sanskrit, compared to Rs 24 crore on Tamil, Rs 3 crore on Telugu and Kannada each and zero on Malayalam and Odia. “We are in danger of giving greater importance to Sanskrit that it deserves at the cost of other regional languages,” he said.
He also asked the government to “to liberate the central universities from the stranglehold of the Ministry of Human Resource Development” and commented that its “track record of managing the central universities is pathetic in the last few years; JNU has been destroyed, Allahabad University is being destroyed”.
KK Ragesh of the CPI wondered “why the government is giving so much of importance to Sanskrit and why the same importance, same prominence, is not given to the other national languages, especially, the South Indian languages”. DMK’s M Shanmugan, too, said the government was “obsessed with Sanskrit at the cost of other languages”.
Opposing the government’s idea of bringing unity through one language, Binoy Viswam of CPI asked: “How can a language spoken by a few thousands become the language of unity of Indian people?”
Apart from MDMK leader Vaiko, almost every other party expressed their support for the Bill. He said the Bill “could be called an abominable, destructive Bill, which will lead to balkanisation of India, a Sankritised India, in which other language areas will not find a place”.
Defending the Bill, Union HRD Minster Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said “it is not a question of languages”. He said the government favours all languages. He added, “The government is in favour of strengthening all the 22 Indian languages mentioned in Eighth Schedule” of the Constitution, but “English is not an Indian language”, the minister stressed.
He said that around 5 crore students are studying Sanskrit in various institutions today, and mentioned that several other countries too have institutes for Sanskrit.
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