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New Delhi: German chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday raised the issue of India’s plans to drop German as a language studied in state-run Kendriya Vidyalaya schools and replace it with Sanskrit during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Brisbane, an Indian official said.

On his part, Modi assured Merkel that her concerns on the matter would be looked into, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

“The Prime Minister assured her (Merkel) that he himself is the votary of young Indian children learning other languages," Akbaruddin said, adding that Modi said his government would work out how best it could be done within the Indian system.

The controversy flared over the weekend when the human resource development (HRD) ministry announced a plan to drop German and replace it with Sanskrit, forcing over 70,000 students across 500 Kendriya Vidyalayas from classes VI to VIII to switch from German to Sanskrit.

HRD minister Smriti Irani defended the move, saying the existing arrangement was in violation of the three-language formula. German was made the third language studied in these schools under an agreement signed in 2011 between the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhawan. According to Irani, German would continue to be taught as an “additional subject of hobby class".

The issue of dropping German in favour of Sanskrit has already been raised with the Indian authorities by the German ambassador to India Michael Steiner, who said he is hoping for a “pragmatic" solution.

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