Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Place of English in India


The place of English in India has been a matter of controversy since Independence. There are two extreme views. There are those who advocate that English is indispensable and should be given supreme importance to keep the country abreast of the latest developments in science and technology. There are others who in their nationalistic zeal want a complete switch- over to Hindi and a Ban on the use of English in any field.


The very Proposition of banning English in India smacks of bigotry, fanaticism and narrow nationalism. We ban a thing that is harmful for the health of a nation. But the English Language in itself can’t be held guilty of any such thing. It has done nothing that goes against the interest of the nation. Rather it has enriched our store of knowledge and enabled us to communicate with the international community.

Today when the world has become like a global family and all businesses and industries are run internationally it is impossible to work without English. These are the days when students and other people also join special English language courses to make themselves able to stand anywhere and communicate with anybody in the world.

Before independence English was necessary to communicate with and to understand Britishers so that we can make them run away. Also it was necessary for the help from other countries in our fight for independence. After independence it becomes necessary to grow with the same pace the outer world is growing and developing.

English has remained with us so long that now it has become a part and parcel of our daily life. It is such an inexhaustible treasure of knowledge that we will only impoverish ourselves by banning it. It will just keep us banal, without any new idea for success and advancement. By banning English we will be stripped of our knowledge because we will not be able to use it widely because of the lack of official and business communication as well as informal sharing of views and ideas with the rest of the world, depriving ourselves from the exposer of different cultures and new developments. Banning English will also be forfeiting the right to freedom of speech and expression from those who want to or do speak or write in English and who don’t know local languages.


The slogans against English are coined by those who have constricted thinking and remained circumscribed by their national prejudices. These type of prejudices seldom works for the good and many times can create severe problems. People conceive concocts to oppose English. By this their diseased thinking they are doing more harm than good to the nation. Most of the people who averse to use English they try to sabotage English just to satisfy their egoistic or political needs.


However, all this is not to suggest that all pride of place in India should go to English language. Its true that use of plethora of English language can overlap with Hindi or our other regional languages. We must honour our national language and take all exhaustive steps for its development. All work as far as possible should be done in the national and regional languages. But we should have no prejudices against English language if we are not to deprive ourselves of the latest developments in the field of science and technology.


English has gone so deep into our roots that we can’t do without it. Its successful penetration of the world’s language world makes it very important for us. It is an international language and we shall make ourselves aliens in the international community if we think of banning it completely.