Daily Editorial Analysis for 5th August 2021

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(Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, The Economic Times, PIB, etc.)


No fundamental right to strike

Why in News

  • Recently, the government introduced the ‘Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021’ in the Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Defence to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services in order to “secure the security of the nation and the life and property of the public at large” and prevent workers at government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike.
  • The bill seeks to empower the government the power to declare certain services as “essential defence services,” prohibiting strikes and lockouts in any industrial establishment or unit providing such services.

Rules and Rights

  • This is not for the first time that strikes by government employees are being made explicitly illegal by the government.
  • The Madhya Pradesh (and Chhattisgarh) Civil Services Rules, 1965, prohibit demonstrations and strikes by government servants and direct the competent authorities to treat the durations as unauthorized absence.
  • A strike under this rule includes “total or partial cessation of work”, a pen­down strike, a traffic jam, or any such activity resulting in cessation or retardation of work. Other States too have similar provisions.
  • Under Article 33 of the Constitution, Parliament, by law, can restrict or abrogate the rights of the members of the armed forces or the forces charged with the maintenance of public order so as to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and maintenance of discipline among them.
  • Thus, for the armed forces and the police, where discipline is the most important prerequisite, even the fundamental right to form an association can be restricted under Article 19(4) in the interest of public order and other considerations.
  • The Supreme Court in Delhi Police v. Union of India (1986) upheld the restrictions to form association by the members of the non­gazetted police force after the Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966, and the Rules as amended by Amendment Rules, 1970, came into effect.
  • While the right to freedom of association is fundamental, recognition of such association is not a fundamental right. Parliament can by law regulate the working of such associations by imposing conditions and restrictions on their functions, the court held.
  • In T.K. Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2003), the Supreme Court held that the employees have no fundamental right to resort to strike.
  • Further, there is prohibition to go on strike under the Tamil Nadu Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1973. Also, there is no moral or equitable justification to go on strike.
  • The court said that government employees cannot hold the society to ransom by going on strike. In this case, about two lakh employees, who had gone on strike, were dismissed by the State government.


  • There is no fundamental right to strike under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Strikes cannot be justified on any equitable ground.
  • Strike as a weapon is mostly misused which results in chaos. Though the employees of OFB have threatened to go on strike, Parliament, which has the right to restrict even the fundamental rights of the armed forces, is well within its right to expressly prohibit resorting to strike.

A language ladder for an education roadblock

Why in News

  • The recent decision of 14 engineering colleges across eight States to offer courses in regional languages in select branches from the new academic year marks a historic moment in the academic landscape of the country on which rests the future of succeeding generations.

Showing the way

  • On a parallel note, the decision of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), to permit B.
  • Tech programmes in 11 native languages in tune with the New Education Policy (NEP), is a momentous one. This monumental move opens the door to a whole world of opportunities to students of B.Tech courses, in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi and Odia.
  • The Prime Minister of India in his address marking the first anniversary of the National Education Policy (NEP), hailed the move and pointed out that the NEP’s emphasis on the mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instill confidence in students from poor, rural and tribal backgrounds.
  • Importantly the mother tongue is being promoted and referred to one of the key drivers, the Vidya Pravesh programme launched on the occasion.
  • These remarkable steps should be welcomed and scaled up over the next few years to ensure that the dreams of millions of students seeking to pursue professional courses in their mother tongue are realized.
  • Interestingly, in a survey conducted by the AICTE in February 2021, of over 83,000 students, nearly 44% students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, underscoring a critical need in technical education.
  • The progressive and visionary NEP 2020 champions education in one’s mother tongue right from the primary school level, improving the learning outcomes of the child and the development of his/ her cognitive faculties hinge upon this.
  • Multiple studies have proved that children who learn in their mother tongue in their early, formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
  • UNESCO and other organisations have been laying emphasis on the fact that learning in the mother tongue is germane to building self-esteem and self-identity, as also the overall development of the child.
  • Unfortunately, some educators and parents still accord unquestioned primacy to English, and resultantly, the child’s mother tongue ends up as their ‘second/third language’ in schools.

There are bubbles now

  • Sir C.V. Raman, who, demonstrating exemplary vision, observed, we must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity.
  • While educational system has seen phenomenal growth to the extent that it offers courses of international repute in engineering, medicine, law and the humanities, paradoxically, excluded our own people from accessing it.
  • Over the years, we have ended up building academic roadblocks, impeding the progress of the vast majority of our students and remained content with creating a small bubble of English­medium universities and colleges, while our own languages languish when it comes to technical and professional courses.

Global practices

  • Among the G20, most countries have state-of-the-art universities, with teaching being imparted in the dominant language of their people.
  • In South Korea, nearly 70% of the universities teach in Korean, even as they aspire to play a role on the international stage. In a unique move, with the increasing craze for learning English among parents, the South Korean government, in 2018, banned the teaching of English prior to third grade in schools, since it appeared to slow pupils’ proficiency in Korean.
  • Similarly, in Japan, a majority of university programmes are taught in Japanese; in China too, universities use Mandarin as the medium of instruction.
  • In Europe, France and Germany offer us great insights into how nations protect their languages. France went to the extent of having a strict ‘French­only’ policy as the medium of instruction in schools.
  • In Germany, while the language of instruction in schools is predominantly German, even in tertiary education, more than 80% of all masters’ programmes are taught in German.
  • Canada showcases a sound approach to education, revealing a picture of a country with linguistic diversity. While English is the dominant medium of instruction in most provinces, in Quebec, a province with a majority French speaking population, French is the medium of instruction in primary and secondary education in many schools, as also a number of universities.
  • In this global context, it is ironic that India has an overwhelming majority of professional courses being taught in English. In science, engineering, medicine and law, the situation is even bleaker, with native language courses being practically non­existent.
  • The NEP outlines the road map, demonstrating means to protect our languages while improving the access and quality of our education.
  • Private universities must join hands and offer a few bilingual courses to begin with.
  • One of the biggest bottlenecks for more students to take up higher education in the native languages is the lack of high-quality textbooks, especially in technical courses, and this needs to be addressed urgently.

Build on these initiatives

  • In the digital age, technology can be suitably leveraged to increase accessibility of these Indian language courses to students in remote areas.
  • Content in the digital learning ecosystem, still a nascent domain in our country, is greatly skewed towards English which excludes the vast majority of our children, and this has to be corrected.
  • A welcome development in this regard is the collaboration between the AICTE and IIT Madras to translate SWAYAM’s courses in eight regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Gujarati. This will be a major boost for engineering students and help them transition more smoothly to an English­dominated curriculum in later years.
  • We need more such tech­led initiatives to really democratise higher education.

Not exclusivist

  • In today’s increasingly interconnected world, proficiency in different languages opens new vistas to a wider world.
  • In the end, we must remember that if we neglect a language, not only do we lose a priceless body of knowledge but also risk depriving future generations of their cultural roots and precious social and linguistic heritage.
  • More institutions will be encouraged and inspired in the coming years to offer courses in regional languages. India is a land of immeasurable talent.
  • The decision of the 14 engineering colleges across eight States to offer courses in regional languages needs to be seen and appreciated.


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