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 English Language and Indian Development       


        “It is my considered opinion that English education in the manner it has been given has emasculated the English educated Indian, it has put a severe strain upon the Indian students' nervous energy and has made of us imitators. The process of displacing the vernaculars has been one of the saddest chapters in the British connection.... No country can become a nation by producing a race of imitators”.

Mahatma Gandhi


        The Honourable Supreme Court of India observed in a judgement in 2009 that children studying in Indian language medium schools can’t even become clerks. The government figures released by National University for Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) in 2008 reveals that 94 % of 131.69 million children in primary school are studying in Indian language medium schools. The highest conscience keepers of our country have acknowledged that these children have no future in the present set up. The most affected by linguistic discrimination are the rural masses and urban poor. The rest of the six percent studying in english medium schools are least innovative and are becoming mere imitators.It is a manmade disaster.

        The implications are twofold. The first solution is extending English medium education to all and doing away with Indian language medium schools as in sub Saharan Africa. Studies show it has been a failure. The second solution is empowering Indian languages by providing equal access to higher education and employment opportunities as in developed regions of the world. The later is the Gandhian solution that is being followed by all countries of East Asia (except Philippines and Malaysia) Europe, new world and in all the transition economies.

         Indian Problem :-

The craze for English medium schools and desertion of Indian language medium schools is not peculiar to one Kerala. Every state faces desertion of students from Indian language medium schools. It is not natural situation but created by colonial legacy underlining blatant linguistic discrimination.

Mother Tongue matters:-

Studies show that mother tongue based education matters for better literacy and numeracy competence. Not a single developed country that is a member of G8, European Union, or OECD countries teach in a foreign language at primary level. In fact all these countries teach everything in their mother tongue at universities. Small languages spoken by few lakhs in European countries and East Asia are recognised in the international forums and higher education.

Theme of the Book 

...... Mother tongue education
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What we are told: Myths

  • English based higher education is inevitable and English language is the gift of colonialism.
  • India is fortunate to use the global language that has developed India and made India a knowledge economy.
  • English unifies the people and national integration is strengthened by the use of colonial language.
  • Indian languages are underdeveloped and are not viable for science and scholarship in the era of Information and Communication Technologies.

       What we are not told: Facts

  • Except Indian languages all major languages of the world are recognised in the professional education, international forums and cyberspace.
  • All the developing countries including India that depend on colonial languages make more people poor, uneducated and  undernourished than native language developing countries.
  • Long term economic growth in colonial language countries has been consistently lower than native language countries.
  • Language policy that favours colonial language disempowers crores of people and harms the organic evolution of a link language.
  • Bureaucratic direction in education and translation would yield no result. Only competitive text book writing will create update knowledge.
  • It is not the languages used in Supreme Court or parliament that matter. But languages used in recruiting work force in organised sector which has to be the language of citizens for better service delivery.

English is learned in India not for its inherent superiority of its language or aesthetics of English culture or economic and technological prowess of United States or it is being a global lingua franca. But for its recognition in government and industry that makes economic sense to have competency in English as Indian Languages are displaced from the economic arena built on the foundation of state support and professional courses.  It is the absence of recognition for higher end jobs and denial of access to Indian languages in professional courses by anglophile academics and bureaucracy that has made English an inevitable tool for good life.    

  •         The costs of Anglicism are unacceptably high; the people of colonial language countries face societal instabilities generated by underdevelopment and inequality created by the elite.
  •        Anglophobia is a mockery that benefits the English educated elite; Improve the employment potential of Indian languages. Limited use of the native languages in social sciences that have less employment potential is a self defeating exercise despising Indian languages as unfit for science and scholarship.
  •         There is no use banning English medium schools; Empower Indian language medium schools and establish schools for gifted.  
  •          Programme implementation of governments is effective only when the government address the people in the language in which they seek vote.  
  •                       Language academies and exclusive departments cannot develop Indian languages; Medical colleges, state of the art engineering colleges and management Institutes in Indian language medium would not only promote Indian languages, but will accelerate economic development in  India.

Anglophile Elite in India have established a belief system that Indian languages that were used to built Taj Mahal, Great forts, Temples, Mosques and Monuments are unfit to become medium of instruction in engineering and medicine. The linguistic imperialism of English and craze for English medium schools are the result of policies of the elite dominated bureaucracy that openly discriminate the people on the basis of English vs. Indian languages. They are,

1.    Centralisation of recruitment policy and blatant discrimination against Indian languages in union government employment opportunities by violating the provisions of Indian Constitution,

2.    Biased language policy that favours English without providing for equal treatment of all Indian languages,

3.    Continuing with colonial model of senior civil service that effectively scuttles the implementation of official language policy in the states,

4.    The closed system of recruitment policy for senior civil servants bureaucracy is at best dysfunctional that keeps the democracy in dark and at worst controls government, 

5.    Denial of Indian languages in professional education and establishing institutes of higher education such as IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIM (Indian Institutes of Management) only in English medium by the centre indicating that Indian languages are not suited for science and scholarship

6.    Contrary to the vision of national leaders, Anglophile policy makers create certain myths to sustain the denial of opportunities to Indian people such as (i) India is unified by English language (ii)Indian languages are unsuited for science and scholarship and (iii) Globalisation and economic development require Global language.

7.   The state governments would fail even if they like to introduce state languages in professional education because of the presence of anglo-centric education system promoted by the union bureaucracy that attracts the best of talent. Hence a coordinated approach from the union government is essential.

These policies of anglophile elite are the root causes for increasing craze for English medium schools as Indian language medium students are treated as second class subject not worthy for any decent employment opportunities and upwardly mobile professional education.

Read Malayalathinde Bhaavi-Bhasha Asoothranavum, Maanava Vikasanavum” (The Future of malayalam - Language Planning and Human Devolopment) in Malayalam written by K. Sethu Raman published by Maathrubhoomi Books for further details and analysis.