Why has Gujarati alone figured as a regional language in the Joint Entrance (Mains) Examination (JEE) question paper? West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has posed this question, reacting to the guidelines of the National Testing Agency (NTA) created under the supervision of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry.
In the fierce debate over the guidelines, the TMC head has warned, “There will be widespread protests if the issue is not resolved.” Accordingly, her party has hit the streets.
For a long time, the all-time JEE used to have question papers only in English and Hindi (initially, it was just English). The applicants could answer the questions in either of these two languages. However, the NTA recently incorporated the Gujarati language among the options.
The TMC, communist parties and the Congress have raised the question as to why Gujarat has been given priority over other regional languages. The Congress asked whether Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were planning to create Gujarat’s domination in various institutions.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “Our India is a country of many languages, religions, cultures, groups. However, the purpose of this central government is to disrespect all religions and regional languages. The JEE used to be conducted in English and Hindi for a long time. This time, the Gujarati language has been included. This move is not commendable at all.”
Banerjee wrote, “I love Gujarati. But why are other regional languages being ignored? Why be unfair to them? If there is Gujarati, there’s got to be all regional languages, including Bengali.”
Cautioning the Centre, Banerjee said, “If this issue is not resolved properly, there will be widespread protests. Because the decision has hurt the feelings of people speaking the regional language. “
The Centre-State conflict over the language of JEE papers has now escalated with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar pointing out the fact that Bangla is indeed accepted as one of the languages in which the student can answer the questions. The governor tweeted about the affair with a letter dated 2013 and another of this year. The governor had attacked the TMC government over the issue of JEE.
The first letter posted by the governor is dated 2013. It shows West Bengal telling the Centre it would not be a part of JEE (Mains) in 2014. The next letter is dated 2019 where the State is seen asking the Centre to include the Bengali language.
The governor is clearly telling the TMC government that its approach to the issue is either riddled or dichotomous.
JEE language: Fact check
But Gujarati is not the only regional language in which one can take the JEE now. Questions can be answered in Marathi, too. Urdu also has been added.
In fact, the States ought to tell the Centre whether it is accepting JEE. West Bengal has not done this so far after opting out of the system six years ago. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Haryana, Uttaranchal and Nagaland have until now given their consent to the Union government.
Once the Union MHRD receives the consent from a State, an entire ecosystem needs to be built to accommodate its language if it is not Hindi or Urdu (the two most widespread languages used across States). Preparing question papers in a new language is only a part of it. A critical mass of teachers in the language is needed to serve as examiners of the answer sheets. Among the regional language-speaking States, Gujarat alone is ready with this elaborate preparation.