Uttarakhand has become the first state in the country to mandate English speaking in all government schools once a week.

This comes from a government whose head and some key members are linked to Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) that says primary education should only be given in mother tongue.

One of the mandates of the RSS is to “protect and promote Bharatiya languages”. To commemorate this objective, it organises Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha to deliberate over local dialects.

According to the official website of RSS, the Sabha met at Nagpur in on March 9-11 and passed a resolution pressing on “primary education across the country should only be in mother tongue or the local language”.

Another point says: “The entire society including the swayamsevaks should give preference to mother tongue in conversations and day to day interactions in the family indicating the importance of local Indian language.”

In addition, it recommends “preference should be given to Bharatiya languages in all governmental and judicial works. In addition to this, Bharatiya languages should be encouraged in governmental and non-governmental appointments, promotions and all kinds of functions instead of giving preference to English”.

The resolution was forwarded to the Uttarakhand government as well.

But, instead of coming up with a plan to promote local languages — Garhwali, Kumaoni, Janusari and others — finance minister Prakash Pant during his pre-budget talk had announced promoting English language.

Sashikant Dixit, kshetra karyavahak of RSS, said, “We have submitted the resolution to the Uttarakhand government. And we are not against English either. But, the government should plan something to promote local dialects rather than focussing on English.”

Dixit, however, said his organisation will pursue with the government on its plans for local languages.

Government teachers, however, welcome the step with a rider.

Virendra Krishali, district president of primary teacher association Dehradun, said, “English is now a compulsory subject from class 3 in government schools. And definitely the language is necessary. However, the teachers need to be trained in the language and even strategy is required to inculcate the acceptance of English language amongst students.”