Sunday, June 21, 2009


 More English?

All right, it’s time for my second post. This time, the topic will be our obsession with English, which has become a national phenomenon.

Yes, English, one of the most popular languages in the world, if not the most popular. Spoken directly or indirectly by over 1.53 Billion people, English has left its mark across the globe. Especially in India, which attributes itself to the 200 year British rule. In fact, so much so, that the situation has become so perverted, that you are not considered a successful person unless you can speak well in the language. Eat, drink and sleep it. 

True, English cannot be ignored. It is important to know it, and learn it, especially for us to connect with the outside world. But that should not come at a cost of ignoring our own mother tongue, and/or our national language, Hindi. I personally feel that Indians(though not all), are amongst the few who are not proud of their own national language, but more proud of a foreign one. This feeling is more common amongst the urban people, especially the present generation youth.

Nowadays, everybody wants to learn to speak English. No harm in that, you may say. But at the cost of regional languages? How many people are interested in learning Indian languages apart from English? Very few indeed. But the situation has become so extreme, that virtually everything has become English dependent. So you can forget about getting that job you always dreamed about, unless you are fluent in English.( Can anybody imagine a Dhoti-kurta clad guy who speaks impeccable Hindi to succeed in any interview?) You can expect to score good marks, if you are weak in English. You won’t get that respect in society unless you can express yourself freely in English. Heck, you won’t even be considered a civilized person unless you are English literate. 
I have no personal vendetta against English or English speaking people. I admire the language, and the brilliant writers who have expressed their thoughts using English as a medium. But the current situation is appalling no doubt. Just switch on the TV, for an example. You see all Indian celebrities trying their best to impress viewers by their proficiency in English, and they absolutely refuse to speak in any other language, even though they can. And am not talking only about film stars or cricketers. It’s happening everywhere.  

The uncanny ‘Learn English’ advertisements only add to the chain. They claim humongous things, that if you buy their product, you can learn English in no time at all, and be successful in your life. In one such ads, I saw a peon who was regularly scolded, bought one such English speaking packet, and was instantly promoted to a high position in office(probably a Manager), just because he started speaking in English. Honestly, you can do a better job in hog washing people. I personally think one can learn a language effectively only in a classroom, taught by good teachers.  

Do learn English, because in the modern day scenario you cannot do without it. You won’t be able to sit at any interview without knowing it. People get easily impressed when they watch any Indian speaking English, believing him to be a gentleman (even if he is a murderer), and the one who can’t to be a dork. But don’t do it to impress others. You are learning it for your own sake. And learning it, does not make you special in any way. You do it, just to get on with your life. 

The current youth trend followed is that speaking English is cool, other languages are out. Which is why we find everybody from a 5 year old to a 20-something hunk trying to struggle with the language, in order to become the cynosure of all eyes. I still do not understand why majority of the schools and colleges have English as their first/primary languages, whilst our regional languages are promptly ignored by many. Do we really have to follow every trend the British did? I suppose most of us think so.

Many parents force their children to speak only in English. Schools fine students for speaking in the vernacular tongue. Do we really want India to become an Englistan? Or maybe it has already become one. We should take a page out from the book(s) of two of our Asian counterparts, China and Japan. Both the countries have done extremely well in all respects, and they have not relied upon English for their success. True, they may not have been ruled by the British, but they are still proud of their original identity. While we continue to emulate the west, in order to become more trendy, stylish, cool, or whatever words you can think off.

Signing off for now. As usual all comments welcome. Take care.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant article.I completely agree.i guess most of us ape the west due to peer pressure as well and enp up losing our individuality in the process.We should take only the good things from the west and never ever forget the value of our culture and tradition.Our Indian heritage is indeed the greatest.

gk said...

...english has been instrumental in creating jobs in the indian market.....even the chinese are trying to get acquainted with the language..u cant ignore he language bcoz of globalization

Satwinder Singh said...

Yes, thats true. We need to strike a proper balance.

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