Full article on the topic “Future of English Language in India”.
Of late there has been an enormous deal of controversy regarding the question as to what position English should occupy in the new setup of things that independence has introduced in our country and what relation it should hold with Hindi which has now been accepted as the lingua franca of the country. The orthodox view advocates the complete and immediate boycott of the English Language.
- They want to be completely independent of everything foreign. To them, the English language brings unpleasant memories of the defunct British imperialism and atrocities.
- There are others, who feel that during the period of transition the study of the English language should be made optional.
- Still others argue that even under the existing conditions a sound knowledge of English is essential for higher levels of learning whether in the university or in technical institutions. They recommend, therefore, that English language should be made a compulsory subject of study.
Arguments against English Language
Main arguments against English language are as under :
- So far as the question of the medium of instruction is concerned, it cannot be denied that is must be the mother tongue. Not only patriotism but also principles of sound education and psychology lend their powerful support to the mother tongue.
- The use of English Language as the medium of instruction has rendered a great injury to our vernaculars as well as to our culture. The study of this language has poured on us the culture, ideals which are inconsistent with our own cultural history of heritage.
- It has weakened the forces of national cohesion and solidarity by creating a wide gulf between the highly educated few and the uneducated many.
- Some of the English educated and speaking peoples of India have taken to of writing even creative literature in English language. This has done good neither to themselves nor to the country. Even their names are not credited with mention in any history of English Literature, as the British People have been extremely conservative in their literary concept.
Arguments in Favour of English Language
- The English Language is an advanced and flexible one, and its teaching should not be discarded altogether. India cannot afford to ignore the educations and speaking of English language.
- English possesses the unrivalled position being a world language, not merely of trade and commerce but of social intercourse and diplomacy.
- The English Language also gives us the key to modern scientific knowledge and advanced learning.
- It has to be admitted that the well educated Indians have led our country on the path of progress and advancement. They are able to do all these things after studying the English language, speaking and literature.
However all this does not mean that we should retain English at the cost our national and provincial languages. English can supplement but not supplant them. As official language and as medium of instruction for at least non-technical studies, English will have to be replaced by our languages. Already in many parts, it has ceased to be the language of the state, of the legislature and of the courts, and very soon this will spread to the other parts of the country also. All this is as it should be. We have to bear in mind that English has today become one of the major languages of the world and Indians can neglect its study only at the risk of loss to themselves. But the medium of instruction must from the very nature of the case by the mother tongue.
Opinions about the role and future of the English language in India have varied with the years. Before the attainment of independence both English and Englishmen were condemned as foreign and therefore hostile to the national interests. Mahatma Gandhi aka Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, though admittedly a good, effective writer in English language, expressed the view that “English education has emasculated us, constrained our intellect, and the manner of imparting this education has rendered us effeminate”. In his opinion, English education put a server strain upon Indian students’ nervous energy and made us imitators. Many others have also expressed the some view.
On the contrary to it, Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore whose writings in English and Bengali won him international fame paid a deserving tribute to the contribution made by English language and literature. In his opinion, it nourished our minds and even now conveys its deep resonance to the recesses of our heart. Jawahar Lal Nehru, himself a master of the English language admitted that we cannot educate millions of people of India in a totally foreign language yet he contended that English will inevitably remain an important language for us because of our past associations and also because of its present importance in the world.
Significance of English Language
- English will continue to be, the principal medium for us to communicate with the outside world.
- English speaking and education has widened the India outlook and horizon.
- It has led to the emergence of a new class of liberal minded people in the professions and the services.
- English language is among the world’s greatest and richest languages. About two thirds of the Scientific and Technical books in the world are published in English.
- For the people of India, English is perhaps the easiest foreign language to learn.
Provision in the Constitution of India for English Language
- It is laid down in Article 343 (1) of India’s Constitution that the country’s official language will be Hindi in the Devnagari script.
- The second clause of that article provides for the simultaneous use of English language, initially for a period of 15 years from the commencement of the constitution in 1950.
- In conformity with the demand of the Southern States, the provision for the use of English for official purposes of the Union has been extended several times.
- The above said indicates the constitution of the status quo for an indefinite period, although the provision for the use of English language was regarded by the Founding Fathers of the Constitution and millions of other people, especially in North and Central India, as essentially a transitional measure.
Growing Popularity of English Language
The English language, instead of being gradually discarded and replaced by Hindi, has become more popular. This is evident from the following facts :
- A large number of students are opting for the English medium for school, college and university instruction.
- Families belonging to the middle and the affluent classes take pride in sending their children to schools where the medium of instruction is English language.
- It is believed by the guardians that the careers of their wards, in government and also in private offices, can be built only on the basis of education in the English medium.
- English continues to be the only acceptable link language for communication between the centre and the states and among the states themselves.
- It is recognized that scientific and technical knowledge can be acquired only through books and journals that are published in English language.
- Technical books translated into Hindi and other Indian languages have not proved popular for various reasons.
- English language has several advantages precision of expression worldwide popularity and a rich literature. These ensure for it a bright future despite the loud protests by language fanatics and the anti-English language pleadings in the name of patriotism.
English should not be considered to be a language of alien rulers imposed upon us. Although English language cannot become India’s main language, its use as a second language is beneficial to the country.