Wednesday, April 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Teaching English at school

THIS refers to a news-item that appeared in The Tribune on April 3 with regard to the Haryana government’s reported decision of introducing English at the primary level. The step is certainly against all the past experiences and the known views of experts in the field of education and child psychology the world over.

As per a national workshop conducted at the NCERT, New Delhi, last year, it was reaffirmed that at the primary level only one language, namely the mother tongue, should be taught. Otherwise the originality and sensitivity of the young minds get adversely affected. It was further said that English was an additional subject and should be introduced only at the middle or high school level.

School education in Haryana, particularly in the rural areas is in bad shape and needs reforms and restructuring. But the introduction of English at the class I stage itself is hardly the answer. As a matter of fact, it is bound to have just the reverse effect. The learning of a second language and that too a foreign one like English will certainly add to the woes and burden of children at a very tender age. It is bound to result in the increase of school dropouts and also badly affect the literacy drive in Haryana.


  It is unfortunate that the present day policy-makers in the state are unduly impressed by the public school education system where the medium of instruction right from the primary level is English. But they sadly forget that during the last 100 years or so persons who have contributed significantly towards building the Indian nationhood are those who got their first lessons in human nobility and patriotism in their mother tongue like Hindi, Gujrati, Bengali and Punjabi. The same pattern is bound to continue in the future also.

Notwithstanding the importance of English as a global link and computer language, it is not taught at primary school level in any advanced country like France, Germany, Japan and Russia. It is always the mother tongue of the country concerned. Then these are the countries which have ruled over the world at one time or another.


Shocking development

I am really shocked by the killing of 35 innocent Sikhs in Chatti Singhpora by Pakistan-supported militants. This act of cruelty has shocked the whole nation. We should be ready to face the new challenge posed by these militants.

These persons should be trampled. This cowardly incident shows Pakistan’s inhuman act which wants to bring the Kashmir issue in the limelight.

Now a different kind of mental make-up is needed. All Indians should make up their mind for a war that is much needed after Kargil. This time Pakistan’s name from the world map should be eliminated.


Organic farming

This is with regard to an article in The Tribune dated April 3 on “Organic farming best hope” by Mr Ranjit Singh. I would like to add more about organic farming in Denmark since I have carried out my research on a similar topic at the Agricultural University, Denmark, for about 19 months.

To introduce myself, I am Reader in the Botany Department, Panjab University. I have joined this Department two months ago. At the KVL University, Denmark, I explored the potential of allelopathic wheat varieties in the biological control of weeds. Although it is important to eliminate weeds, it is equally important to explore the various ways by which crops do better in the presence of weed species.

Considering all possible physical, chemical and biological interactions among soil, plants and micro-organisms, and residue degradation products, the ecology of crop-weed interaction is complex and multifaceted. I found that certain wheat varieties had an allelopathic potential to suppress noxious weeds. In the article published this aspect is not discussed.


Congress opportunism

In the fast deteriorating political scenario of the country (editorial “An opportunity for Congress”, April 4), the Congress, which once stood for Gandhi’s socio-political and cultural heritage, and Nehru’s economic idealism is now no better than any other party. Its role in the recent government formation in Bihar, its clamouring for prime portfolios in the state ministry only betrays the greed for crumbs in the rank and file, and a serious lack of cohesiveness in its functioning.

Times have so changed the mindset of an average partyman that the party ethos, its past image and the idealistic role of its yesteryear leaders seem to make no sense with him. Is it not surprising that the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, found nothing wrong in sharing power with a person like Mr Laloo Yadav, whose whims and ego are greater than the dictates of reason or the laws of the land?



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