The introduction of non-Tamil Indian languages in the school curriculum has done its part to strengthen Singapore's multicultural ethos. Identifying the diversity of Indian cultures in the population, the Government has recognised five other Indian languages in the curriculum: Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) notes on its website that "having an appreciation of (mother tongue language) cultures enhances Singapore's multicultural identity... it gives our students a competitive edge when tapping into global or regional opportunities in the future".
However, a recent move by the Hindi Society to raise the fee for Hindi language classes, by as much as 50 per cent, undermines this vision of Singapore.
Hindi draws the highest number of Indian students after Tamil in Singapore. This has to do with the status that the language enjoys in India. Indian students who do not have the option of learning their original mother tongue, such as those from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, often opt to learn Hindi.
The two agencies that offer Hindi in MOE schools, in the form of parallel coaching or weekend classes, are the DAV Hindi School and the Hindi Society.
The Hindi Society revised its fees for this year without any advance notice. This is in contrast with MOE, which released the fee schedule for three years in 2017 to provide certainty and allow parents to plan in advance.
A one-line e-mail sent by the Hindi Society to parents on Jan 21 said: "Please note fees for the year 2020 have been revised with immediate effect."
For some students, fees have jumped from $60 a month to $90 a month. Can the Hindi Society justify this increase?
Rajiv George Aricat