Since it became an independent country in 1947, India has wrestled with the question of how to manage its vast range of languages. According to the Three-Language Formula, a political compromise originating in the post-independence debates of the 1950s, each federal state should ensure its citizens have access at least to Hindi, English, and a third language that may be a regional language or, in the northern Hindi-speaking states, a language from southern India. Through a study of the historical development and ramifications of this policy, and especially its implementation in the northwestern border state of Punjab, it is shown to align with the long-established tendency for national language planning and policies to entrench historical and sociopolitical inequities. Analysis of Punjab’s public-education policy texts by means of critical discourse analysis highlights the (re)production of political ideologies and social hierarchies in the implementation of State-level language policy within the government-run school system. The sociolinguistic realities of the region are not always reflected in the policy directives that influence public education in Punjab. This case study adds to the literature showing that powerful sociopolitical forces continue to impact the position of vernaculars in India and that its linguistically diverse states and policy frameworks are unable to accommodate numerous languages on the margins.
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Thesis advisor: Fettes, Mark
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