Language Complexity and Multilingual Education in India – A Policy Perspective


  • Resmi P Bhaskaran Executive Director, CLIL@India, Manipal University, Manipal



Primary education, medium of instruction, Mother tongue education, Multilingualism, Education policy, Language policy, Three tier language formula, Linguistic diversity, Market, Multilingual Education in India, Language Complexity


Debate on the medium of instruction in the primary education in India has a long history. Initially it was between classical Indian languages and foreign language, English. Colonial rulers promoted English education with adequate fund and trained teachers with modern education background. In the advent of independence movement, the medium of instruction became a political issue. The issue of what should be the medium of instruction for mass education has received the attention in all the education commissions from 1853 onwards. Independent India delineated this issue within the context of national integration and brought out three tier language formula in 1968. Only a few Indian States implemented it, while majority ignored this policy proposal. Meanwhile, the demand for English as medium of instruction strengthened among the urban middle class, making way out for modern Indian languages also from the classrooms. The present paper is an enquiry into the strategy and the methodology delineated to handle the linguistic diversity of the nation as well as the socio-economic mobility of the people through classrooms by Indian State using policy history framework.


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This paper is presented at the CLIL India Workshop at Manipal on April 18, 2017. Acknowledge the critical comments of Dr. Rakesh Singh on the earlier version.

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She defined multilingual education as (1) multilingual: uses and values more than one language in teaching and learning, (2) intercultural: recognizes and values understanding and dialogue across different lived experiences and cultural world views, and (3) education that draws out, taking as its starting




How to Cite

Resmi P Bhaskaran. (2017). Language Complexity and Multilingual Education in India – A Policy Perspective. Issues and Ideas in Education, 5(2), 199–214.



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