Friday, August 8, 2008

Utility of English in free India

In spite of having a history of centuries of foreign rule, Hindi has stood the test of time and circumstance. English entered into the confines of India with the Englishman who ruled over India for more than a century. In that period of time, the Britishers saw that English language, penetrated into the very roots of India’s education.
However, the controversy of the utility or non-utility of English in India arose with the departure of the Britishers and the coming of the Indian regime. The need for continuing English in our educational system felt being questioned. People believed and rightly so too, to a great extent that continuance of the English language would indicate our acceptance of at least mental slavery of the outgoing regime. This prejudice against the spread and continuation of the language has been brewing for a long time. It is the language of our foreign rulers and so, people feel that it is a reminder of our slavery and thus must be dispensed with.
Besides, the plea taken by the Anti-English lobby is that, even the Constitution says that, English may continue in India only for “official purposes” and also that, it shall continue so, only for a period of 15 years, from the commencement of the constitution.
The anti-English reaction is of course very natural, but not quite rational. For, on the one hand while an independent country must have its own language, India being a multi lingual country cannot press for any one language to be made a national language. The presentation of one, on the national scene becomes an emotional issue and the project has to be shelved. In these circumstances even if we may not work for the further spread of English, we cannot eliminate it from the Indian scenario. English will apparently never lose its importance in India or anywhere else in the world.
Regarding education through the medium of English, this can be given a rethinking. For, the majority of the masses in India happen to live in the rural areas for whom, imparting of knowledge in their mother tongue would be much easier than doing so in English, a foreign medium of instruction. There is no doubt that medium of instruction being English, the local vernacular has remained at a low level of development and even the culture has been hard hit. This is because a language besides a mode of conveying ideas becomes a living embodiment of attitudes and beliefs. Thus, the study of the English language which is an embodiment of English authors, has thrust upon us the English views of life which have been, and continue to be a hazard to our cultural heritage.
The study of English weakens our very national structure for, what is a nation without its own national language to be proud of? It is really degrading for a country to give so much importance to a foreign language and that also the language of its foreign rulers.
However, the negative side is not the only one to be considered. There is undoubtedly a very major reason for us to continue study of English. First and foremost at present is that there is no one language that can take the position of a national language. While English is known in every part of the country so, as the situation stands today, we can say that even when we don’t want it, English has acquired the place of at least a link language more than any other Indian language. So, we can hardly think of dispensing with this language. At present we can see it as the strongest bond for our national integration.
Let us consider the wealth of the English language. It is a rich language in which new addition of thousands of words come annually. The language is a living one, unlike our traditional language Sanskrit which is today absolutely dormant.
Besides the richness of the language it is a huge reservoir of knowledge. In these days of scientific and technological advancement, we cannot afford to be left out of the area of advanced studies. All this is however available in English alone. So, in case we wish to steer the country towards modern knowledge and advancement, we can not do without the English language. We can never hope to participate in any international meets if we do not develop our knowledge of English as, this is the one and only language used and understood by most of the countries of the world. It would not be daring to say that, if there is anything that has led India towards progress, it is the introduction of the educated India into the flow of modern life and that, Indians have achieved by the study of this language. Even Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I regard that English language as an open window for peeping into Western thought and science. The study of the English language is therefore necessary to induce us into new worlds of thought and feeling, to make our outlook scientific, rational and up-to-date”. It is thus felt that, there is no harm at all to take the best of anyone.
India has so many languages and each individual is emotionally attached to his language then, how will there ever be a consensus in bringing out a National language. So, it is rightly felt that the English language could continue to be our language till Hindi is developed to the standard of taking over its place and becoming the national language. English has to continue as the link language through the length and breadth of this sub-continent. It should also be the medium of instruction in all educational institutions so that the students get an education into the latest trends of science and technology.
Let us forget emotions for Hindi becoming a national language and be more practical and use English as long as we need it. We must stop agitating against English and realize all the benefits we have reaped and will reap from the study of this language.

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