Merkel flags concerns on Sanskrit v/s German row

Brisbane: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday had his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who flagged concerns over the BJP government’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit as a third language across Kendriya Vidyalayas, which has disappointed the German administration.

The Chancellor raised the issue of German language being dropped and asked the prime minister to look into the issue, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin at a briefing here.

“The prime minister assured that he himself is a votary of young Indians learning other languages, and the issue has to be worked out,” the MEA spokesperson added. The matter came up in the wake of union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday announcing that Kendriya Vidyalayas have decided to discontinue teaching German as an alternative to Sanskrit as a third language, a decision she said was taken in view of “national interest”.

Irani, however, said German would continue to be offered as a “foreign language”. She also asked the Kendriya Vidyalaya Board, which she heads, not to renew its 2011 Memorandum of Understanding with the German government’s Goethe Institute, which had provided the KVs with 700 German teachers. She said the MoU was in violation of India’s national education policy and the national education framework.

The decision is expected to affect about over 70,000 students across 500 KVs from Classes 6 to 8 who will be asked to switch from German to Sanskrit.

Sanskrit teachers had earlier moved the Delhi High Court alleging that KVs had introduced German as a third language in place of Sanskrit against the education policy.

The German Chancellor, who met Modi in his first engagement of the day, also told him “our relations are deepening” and also invited him to visit Germany at an early date.

Both discussed the biennial bilateral meeting and Merkel agreed to visit India in the latter half of 2015, while Modi would be visiting Germany, along with other countries, in the first half of the year. -Both also discussed the prime minister’s vision of reform, and how he sees it going ahead.

They also discussed bilateral cooperation and the approach to BRICS and neighbours, the spokesperson added.

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