Wednesday, 23 November, 2022
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IITs tell govt it’s difficult to offer degrees in regional language, NITs more open to idea

Under its new National Education Policy, the government has been pushing for courses in mother tongue. AICTE has already given go-ahead to its affiliates.

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New Delhi: Offering a degree in regional languages is difficult for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), but they can provide aid to students from non-English backgrounds to navigate the language barrier, the institutes are learnt to have told a government panel.

Under its new National Education Policy, the Narendra Modi government has been pushing for courses in mother tongue. The policy has allowed engineering institutions to offer education in mother tongue or regional languages.

The government has formed two panels to explore the feasibility for the same.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex body for technical education in the country, led the first panel. It has already given a go-ahead to its affiliate institutions to offer engineering in regional languages.

Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare is leading the second panel, which is exploring this possibility in IITs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs). This panel hasn’t yet submitted its report.

The IITs have told members of the Khare-led panel that it is difficult for them to offer full-fledged degree courses in regional languages because of the non-uniformity of students, sources familiar with the development told ThePrint. At least two members who are a part of the panel confirmed this.

The NITs, however, have shown interest in offering degrees in regional languages, the sources said.

ThePrint reached the Ministry of Education for a comment via email but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

Also read: IIM-Calcutta board calls director Anju Seth’s allegations ‘self-serving’, accepts resignation

‘Non-uniform distribution of students’ an issue

Speaking to ThePrint, a member of the panel noted that “almost all the IITs” said it’s not possible for them to offer degrees in regional languages “because of the kind of non-uniform distribution of students they get”.

“For example, IIT Delhi may have more Telugu-Tamil speaking students than Hindi speaking students, despite the fact that Hindi is the mother tongue for many people in Delhi. So in that case, how do they decide which language to offer,” said the member.

“Therefore, they have told us that instead of a degree as of now, they will offer support to students who are coming from non-English backgrounds. They will handhold those students in their first year and teach them in their mother tongue if they do not understand instructions in English,” he added.

The IITs also highlighted the problem in finding trained faculty members to teach in a particular language.

“It is possible that IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi may have more Tamilian faculty members who know the language well, but one expects IIT Madras to have more Tamilian students. However, that is not the case. IIT Madras has students from all over the country and more often than not, they do not speak the local language. Getting the correct match for faculty and students would be difficult in that case,” a second panel member told ThePrint.

According to sources, the panel discussed that the move to offer courses in regional languages is more feasible in AICTE colleges as most of the state colleges get local students. For instance, AICTE colleges in Andhra Pradesh get a lot of Telugu speaking students. The same is the case in other states.

However, the situation in the IITs, which have a more cosmopolitan nature, is different, the panel is learnt to have discussed.

Also read: No exams at IIT-KGP, online test at IIT-Delhi: How IITs will hold exams as Covid cases rise

What IIT directors have said publicly

Some of the IIT Directors have spoken on this issue publicly as well.

In December last year, IIT Delhi Director Ramgopal Rao said on his Facebook page that teaching B.Tech programmes in local languages would mean the “beginning of end for IITs”.

Describing it as his personal opinion and not that of his institute, he said, “Offering entire BTech programmes in local languages would mean language will become a criterion in our faculty selections. This will be the beginning of the end for IITs.”

IIT Kharagpur Director V.K. Tewari, however, lauded the move and said a “regional language policy is needed” in technical education. Adopting regional language in technical education is “a necessary long-term goal”, he said on his Facebook page in November.

NITs more open to idea

The NITs have been more forthcoming to the idea because in some states, these institutes have 50 per cent of the seats reserved for locals, said the sources.

“NIT Bhopal, Allahabad, Himachal Pradesh and Jaipur have so far shown interest in offering degrees in regional language,” the second panel member said.

According to JEE Main reservation criteria in the NITs, 50 per cent seats stand reserved under home state quota for eligible candidates. There are 31 NITs in India, one almost in each state.

Also read: Only 35% minority students in minority engineering colleges, govt reveals in Rajya Sabha


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  1. India doesn’t have uniformity in community like China and Japan have .India was notnot even considered a nation wholly before emergence of britishes .
    .English is the only language which can bind us and even Hindi in North part of India .
    I don’t know if the current government want to divide India on the basis of community.These idiots have already bragged for Hindu and Muslims.
    Just think the situation it would be created in India if people would have learnt engineering in different languages , they won’t able to create something collectively .But even they would have opinion community wise and there would be ultimately chaos in exchange of ideas.
    Bangalore would need a bunch of translators there which would take more time to create the same project. And the it hub of India would definitely fall down and the big mnc would show no interest in India afterwards.Unemployment would increase drastically . Modiji , we are already facing too much unemployment in India . You are not putting any efforts in it and just interested in privatisation , new like Sabha
    but let others to ease there business aliances in India
    India is not Japan or China and coping them won’t make us like them . India is India and has its own circumstances , community differences , diversity .If we won’t able to exchange our ideas then there would definitely a day when it would loose it’s charm and would same be underdeveloped nation
    Let India be in future like India not Japan , China or Korea

  2. IITs can switch to the elephant in the room, the obvious Indian alternative to English i.e. Hindi. If they can provide aid to students to improve English, they can provide the same aid to non-Hindi background folk for improving Hindi. As is, most students and professors in technical institutes converse among themselves in Hindi with English technical vocabulary which needs to be phased out eventually. Students from South India also do have a basic idea about Hindi because it is a compulsory subject in central government schools. Once the first few generations of Hindi taught engineers is created, there will not be any issue of finding skilled professors who can teach in Hindi. IITs should not make petty excuses or fear disappointing lingual minorities in taking this bold step.

    • The politics of language !

      By the politics of religion we have become a majoritarian country. Let’s do the same ind of majoritarianism politics linguistically.

      In India, politics is everything. Meanwhile 50% of state govt schools don’t have proper drinking water or bathrooms. Why no politician talks about it? For that matter does the great NEP propose anything to tackle it ?
      What is the use of so much noise if our primary education itself is in dire need of funds? But we have funds and bureaucratic bandwidth to promote languages in higher education!

      So religion or language or caste is an opium of identity, isn’t it? It is a weapon for the political class to cleverly manipulate those identities and deceive the poor and the ignorant.

    • It is not the question of teaching. How will they ever learn current technolohical developments in the world? Which studenr would like to get a degree in Hindi or other regional language? Where are the jobs and who wishes to restrict his life to his language state area? This is a rificulous and BJP will be wiped out or india will be wiped out.

  3. What about a common language other than English
    There will be difficulty in exchange of ideas and everywhere a translator would be necessary who might not be effective

  4. Even in home state quota in NITs, not all students admitted in such quota will have same mother tongue as the state language. Why subject such students to this kind of bureaucratic nightmare.

    Make it optional for students to take in English or state language. Even in North India though one is expected to speak in Hindi, not all students speak Hindi as their mother tongue.

    The NEP should not be taken as a religion by the government. It should be treated as a set of recommendations, not a mandate. Some of the recommendations are impractical to be taken with a pinch of salt. May good sense be there in our political class.

  5. Leave the premier institutes to do what they do best. There should be flexibility for them if you want them to be world class.

    The NEP – did it contain anything to make our children become more creative, self-expresive and innovative? Or was it full of motherhood like sarkari recommendations?

  6. India would have been a better country without English. Not all prosperous countries are English speaking countries. I am not opposed to learning English as a separate language. But, use of English as a language of instruction has put millions of Indians at a disadvantage. English is a clumsy and bastardized language. Its grammar and syntax have no consistency in the rules. Even after fifteen to twnety years of education, Indians speak bad English and write worse. Half of the effort of the students goes into mastering this chaotic European language. IITs should come out of their love for English and restructure the curriculum in Indian languages.

    • I don’t know if you’re an engineer or not but being an engineering student, i think english is best language of instruction. Textbook knowledge is never enough for becoming a good engineer. You have to learn from different sourceslike conferences, articles, research papers, which are all in English. I think all STEM courses should be strictly in English. By learning them in regional language, one will only limit his/her curiosity…

    • When most of the European, Chinese and Japanese technical institutions offer in their respective mother tongue, why is not possible here? Offering such courses here will not only open wide avenues but also nurture of our regional languages.

      • Is nurturing regional languages more important or having good quality engineering institutions more important?

        There is no evidence to show that if we study and teach in Indian languages we will produce more world class engineers. It is curiosity and ability in chosen field that makes a good engineer not the language he speaks or studies in. Besides much of engineering is basically mathematics, and one does not excel in maths better simply because one studies maths in an Indian language.

        I hope GOI does not increase irrelevant administrative load on premier institutes. Already we have Sanskrit departments at IIT. Next step surely add some more language departments at IIT too. The only benefit I see in all this is to give employment to some localites to become government employees at premier institutes not really for improving calibre of our engineers or our engineering professors or capabilities of our institutions.

        Already migrant parents of school children are burdened with some states mandating to study state language as second language, no other choice offered.

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