China slammed India’s sweeping move of ditching ‘mandarin’ or ‘Chinese’ language from the list of foreign languages for academics in the country’s newly revised education system released last week.
The announcement came after India’s federal government following a 35-years stagnation in updating the country’s education system, made sweeping alteration including changing the status of 10+2; removing school bags on certain days among a plethora of other changes.
However, one change in India’s National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) echoes the still sore wound in the nation’s territorial integrity which was just recently tampered, after an India-China face-off in the Galwan valley region where at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
The National Education Policy 2020 has dropped ‘Mandarin’ from suggested foreign languages prescribed in the list of different languages that can be taught in schools.
The Hindu noted, the language was included in the draft for the policy last year but was missing in the final output just a few days back.
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“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…, the final draft of the NEP 2020 reads; Chinese is missing as can be noted.
Understandably, the omit did not fare well with China, a nation which under the Communist leadership of President Xi Jinping is aggressively pushing Chinese soft power in the world, through education and culture.
Not only this, but India’s Ministry of Education is also reportedly mulling plans to ditch university tie-ups with prestigious Indian educations institutes and the directly Chinese State-backed Confucius Institutes.
The report claims China-backed Confucious Institutes operate globally with an ostensible aim of spreading the Chinese soft-power in the world through language and culture.
54 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed between the Confucious Institutes and premiere Indian universities including the IITs, BHU, JNU, NITs and Chinese institutions.
India’s move to review the MoUs come perhaps late, as a flurry of education centres in the UK, US and Australia in the past has shut down programmes operated by the Chinese institutes, the BBC reported last year.
Criticising India’s latest moves, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Zhao Gancheng told Beijing’s mouthpiece Global Times:
“Targeting Confucius Institutes and removing Chinese from the list of examples of foreign languages are among a slew of recent moves by the Indian government signalling that New Delhi is planning to upgrade the gradually subduing border conflict with Beijing to the education and cultural exchange level, a move experts called so dangerous that it could hurt the cornerstone of China-India relations.
“Cultural exchanges form the cornerstone of the bilateral relationship,” between India and China, claims Gancheng, and if sabotaged it can seriously deteriorate bilateral relationships,” he said.