Why should English be made India’s national language

first_imgLet me ask you if you are an Indian, is your mother-tongue a regional language? Chances are it is. It might be Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi or even Manipuri, Dogri, Marwari. Yet, do you speak Hindi too? Chances are you do as it was part of your syllabus in school…or perhaps it is your mother tongue. Finally, I do not need to ask you whether you know English because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.Now my next question is: Why as an Indian do you need 3 languages to live in a world where an average American, German, Russian or even Chinese needs to know just one?The answer is because you have 3 tiers of languages, namely regional, national and global where knowing just one language i.e. global would suffice. So, how can we get rid of some redundancy?Can we get rid of the regional language? One may argue that regional languages are ingrained in our diverse culture and that holds true. One can not imagine someone in Orissa to learn a language other than Oriya as their first language. Or can one imagine a newly born in Telangana to pickup Haryanvi as her first language? Regional languages have been affected over millennia to reflect the lifestyles of the speakers. And we must preserve their state so that future generations can inherit the same ‘Indianess’ hat their forefathers carried. So, we pretty much need the regional languages for now.Next, let us see the role of the global language vis-a-vis English in India, a language passed to our country when it was a British colony. English is the standard medium of education across the world, especially in the scientific field. A working knowledge of English is not only a prerequisite for acquiring skills but also gives impetus to one’s potential to obtain a job. Indeed, the few edges that India holds over countries like China in fields like IT can be attributed to the fact that unlike China, it incorporated English in its school curriculum. Hence, we realize that learning English is necessary for survival and for earning one’s bread and butter in this ever so interconnected and interdependent globalized economy.So, what are we left with?We are left with the concept of a ‘national language’ that we like to idealize as the binding force for the nation. But if you go ask someone in Tamil Nadu, Kerala or the North East, they will vehemently disagree with you. In my own experience, I once went to Pune and I expected a security guard to reply in Hindi, but he could only answer me in Marathi. It shows that not only are there Indians who are unwilling to learn the national language, the national language has also lacked penetration in other major regions and has failed to become a mainstream language in these 75 or so years after Independence.But then we do we persist with this idea of a national language? Isn’t the primary purpose of a language to communicate in order to bring the people on the same page? But look at our national language in which not even our national anthem is sung. In case of government jobs, it is burdening a competent candidate from the south, west or east to learn the mother tongue of a candidate from UP. It is dividing people in a way excluding the people from non-Hindi speaking states from policy-making roles at the centre in Delhi. No wonder there is a feeling of alienation amongst several Indians who can’t speak the current national language.So, what is the solution? Well. the solution is to consider Hindi too as a regional language albeit one encompassing a much larger region spanning multiple bordering northern states. Then…drop it from the curriculum of all non-Hindi speaking states so that all Indians are expected to know just two languages:Their mother-tongue, the regional language which may or may not be Hindi.The new national language, also the Global language and the primary language for imparting Education, English.The nation-wide implementation of this scheme might face opposition from people especially in the Hindi belt who consider Hindi synonymous with the idea of India and take pride in speaking in Hindi over colonially-enforced English. I can very well comprehend that as even a part of doesn’t want to let go of using my own country’s desi languages which might even be more scientifically developed than English, as in the case of Sanskrit.But we will need to talk to the sceptics and make them understand the practical implications of going through with large-scale adoption of English at all levels. We will need to make them see that if say 70-90 crore non-Hindi speaking people of India are to be taught a language which will take a few years to learn, it makes much sense that they invest these years into learning a language that can help them with education and employment. Because that is what matters today.Also, one needs to consider that English already has a much better adoption rate in the south and north-east than Hindi. Perhaps changing our choice of a national language is half the battle won to bring all of us Indians much closer.And one day, if each and every citizen of India can speak, read and write in English, we will not only be 100% literate but also better poised to grab economic opportunities and be much better connected with the world.last_img

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