India’s Secularism Cannot be ‘Shaken’ Due to Sanskrit, Says PM Narendra Modi in Berlin

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Berlin, Germany:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a reception for the Indian Community in Berlin on Monday, said India’s secularism is strong and will not shake. His remarks were made against the backdrop of the government’s decision to replace German as the third language with Sanskrit in government-run schools across the country.

“India’s secularism is not so weak that it will be shaken just because of a language. One should have self-confidence. That should not be shaken,” said the Prime Minister.

Mr Modi, in an apparent reference to a time, decades ago, when German radio used to have a news bulletin in Sanskrit, said “I must applaud the Germans, they had Sanskrit news bulletins…our country didn’t… because of secularism…”

Back home in India, the government’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas has been the source of some rancor in the Indo-German relationship. Sources say, ahead of Prime Minister’s trip, the Indian side was willing to compromise but the contours of that haven’t been worked out.

So far the Sanskrit language issue hasn’t come up between the two sides, but sources say that there is a possibility of a discussion in the bilateral talks that will be held later today.

The central government, while introducing Sanskrit as third language last year, has taken a position that the MoU between the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangthan and the Goethe Institute of Max Mueller Bhavan in 2011 was illegal and was in violation of constitutional provisions.

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