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CA Examinations and the Language Conundrum

At some point of time, all of us would have heard an assertion on the learning approach that "Children learn the best in their own language / mother tongue." Countless empirical studies on this subject is available on the domain, including published reports and detailed statistical analysis, with one common persuasive conclusion in most of them - It is indeed better for a student to learn in their own language or mother tongue.

In the Indian context, the Consultation Themes on New Education Policy issued in 2015 emphasises on the following in this connection -
a. Part XI of Policy Consultation on School Education - Deals with promotion of languages 
b. Part XIV of Policy Consultation on Higher Education - Deals with promoting cultural integration through languages.

My point of interest is the one pertain to school education to begin with. The Higher Education focuses more on cultural integration, rather than medium of education. The Part XI of Policy Consultation on School Education also highlights that mother tongue based education has shown increased attendance and retention of tribal students, children are more engaged in the teaching and learning process, use of Lively, interactive using pictures and artifacts from tribal culture. 

The following para additionally highlights the point I am trying to emphasis i.e. learning in mother tongue is always better for grasping fundamental concepts -
NCERT’s Evaluation study found that Mother tongue based education had a positive impact on students’ achievement in language and mathematics. Significant achievement found in the oral, written tests in language and Math by children in these schools when compared to non-intervention schools.

And it is now that I would like to venture out into the core purpose of this post. At elementary education levels, including school education, learning in Mother Tongue is ideal. When it comes to Higher Education Level, the previous statement sounds like death knell, since these kids who learn the fundamentals in their native language, struggle hard to cope up with a new linguistic medium of learning for advanced ideas. And if by any chance, they have the advantage of having their higher education also in their native language or mother tongue, they surely shine.

In India, the most of the higher education programme do provide an opportunity to learn in the students' native language. Even if such facility is not available for all the students at all the locations, these advantages are typically available for the students of a particular linguistic background in the state in which such language is the primary medium of communication. However, most the Management Courses aren't so. And students from non-English background do suffer even to qualify for these programmes though they may probably have a natural instinct for being a good Manager.

Since most of the Management Programmes are only in English, and per se English isn't a Mother Tongue to most of them (barring a select few Anglo Indians, accounting for around a Million or two in a population of 120 Billions), we can still atleast maintain that such difficulty is common for almost 100%. 

But when it comes to two programmes, though not exactly higher education, but everything to do with knowledge and education, I find that a wide majority of the country's bright kids are deprived big time. The Civil Service Examinations and the Chartered Accountancy Examination.

In both these examinations, the linguistic medium can either be English or Hindi, but not other languages. This implies that a student who has till then been learning in their mother tongue (other than Hindi), would suddenly find that they are about to face a far bigger challenge than whatever they have been facing till then. Whereas, the bunch of kids who have been learning things in Hindi (as their Mother Tongue), wouldn't face any such difficulty at all! They would happily continue to learn and give examinations in the area of their choice in the language of their preference / comfort. 

It does create an inequality between those who have been learning in Hindi versus those who have been learning in language other than Hindi. No wonder that most of the Civil Servants are from the Hindi Speaking States such as Bihar / Uttar Pradesh / Delhi. One would find many such civil servants posted down south, and still speaking only in Hindi to the local individuals, and rebuke their subordinates if they can't converse in "Raashtrabaasha". 

In fact, incentives and promotions depends on the ability to speak or write Hindi in most Government Departments / Companies. What about people for whom Hindi is not the mother tongue at all?! Now leaving aside the Employment Prospective aside, which is essentially post qualification or examination, the very prospect of losing out on Education or Rankings to a Hindi speaking lad, simply because the the latter managed to have his higher education in the very same language he speaks, thinks, converses, writes day in and day out, is nothing short of a tragedy.

The Chartered Accountancy Examinations are also pretty much giving the same impression. With countless students from the Hindi Speaking Belt, excluding the Delhi / Gurgaon / Noida segment, opting to write in Hindi, these kids are better equipped to clear what is often referred to as the World's Toughest Examination. And I firmly believe that such advantage which the Hindi speaking kids enjoy, reeks of our Institution's lack of foresight and bias towards anything Hindi.

On the CA Examinations I tried finding if the Chartered Accountants Act and the Regulations made thereunder speaks anything specifically on the "linguistic medium". Section 30 of the CAs Act, 1949 deals with power to make regulations and Chapter III of the CA Regulations deals with "Education / Examination", both of which is shared below

Section 30 of The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 

30. Power to make regulations.
(1) The Council may, by notification in the “Gazette of India”, make regulations for the purpose of carrying out the objects of this Act. [***]
(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such regulations may provide for all or any of the following matters:—
(a) the standard and conduct of examinations under this Act;
(b) the qualifications for the entry of the name of any person in the Register as a member of the Institute;
(c) the conditions under which any examination or training may be treated as equivalent to the examination and training prescribed for members of the Institute;

Chapter III of The Chartered Accountant Regulations, 1988
This Chapter comprises of Regulations 21 to 42 and deals with Examinations 

Neither Act nor the regulation utters a word about the linguistic medium of education / examination. But still the CA Institute sets a paper in English and also in Hindi. They power to set a paper / prepare Study Materials in Hindi isn't derived from the CA Act or the Regulations. It is probably derived from some other law, whose origins I am not able to trace or identify.

But the moot point is this - this is not equal opportunity. Either the CA Institute should conduct the examinations only in English (and thereby making it equally tough to all) or conduct the Examinations in atleast the 18 Major Regional Languages (and thereby making it equally easy for all). Anything other than this, we will forever see only an approach / model, which is inherently biased in favour of Hindi Speaking citizens of this country, and against those who learn in and speak a different language.

This would also probably require the restatement or amendment to the Article 14 (the closest that I could identify in this regard) of the The Constitution of India, whose extract is given below -

14. Equality before law

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
One amendment - along with religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, the Government should consider adding "Language", since the present examination system for both the Civil Services and the CA Examinations, is discriminatory and inherently biased against people who don't speak Hindi.


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