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Language policy in education and the role of English in India: From library language to language of empowerment

This chapter explores language policy-making processes in the Indian context, implementation issues and the place and role of English in school education. Language in education policy derives from the Indian Constitution which guarantees linguistic rights to all citizens; most importantly, members of minority groups (both religious and linguistic) are granted a special right to be educated in their mother tongue. Despite this consensus, there have been numerous political and educational controversies regarding implementation of these constitutional provisions.

The national language policy for school education, the three-language formula recommended by the National Commission on Education 1964–1966, was incorporated into the national education policies of 1968 and 1986. Accommodating at least three-languages in school education has been seen as a convenient strategy, but concerns have also been expressed from various quarters about its ‘unsatisfactory’ implementation.