How important is English in modern india - debate

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by A.V., Mar 14, 2010.

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  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    1.how has english language shaped indian development?
    2 is it affecting our regional language popularity or undermining their importance?
    3.has english made us more western which is affecting on our social lifestyle?
    4.your own analysis ------ pros and cons
     
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  3. Rahul Singh

    Rahul Singh Senior Member Senior Member

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    1. By big way. Awakening of India during pre independence days. Our NCERT history books explains how.

    2. Yes they have already done much after independence. Today Indians don't speak Hindi they virtually speak HINGLISH. And one who speaks pure Hindi often becomes a person to laugh at. Bitter truth but true at least in delhi......

    3. Yes. Frankly speaking now days i feel peoples who doesn't or can't speak in English is often seen as illiterate. It has become something like a matter of social status. You will often find people talking in English even though both of them know Hindi very well.

    4. No language is bad. In today's world knowing english is essential but it should not be allowed to become curse for regional language. Regional language is which keeps us close to our roots which is of utmost necessity.
     
  4. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    The English language has shaped modern India's development in many ways, here are a few... First, it helped establish a link with the West in the post colonial era whereby ideas and information could be exchanged easily, especially in the realm of higher education . Subsequently this enabled members of successive generations to emigrate to developed English speaking nations as professionals thereby helping India establish a people to people link with the West which has come in very handy after the economic liberalization. Despite the inward and myopic outlook of less than stellar post- independence governments for decades on end and the political barriers of the cold war, India's fortunes changed radically in a very short period of time after it liberalized. This would not have been possible without the English language skills (as minimal as they might be) and the people to people link I mentioned. The fact of the matter is that possessing English skills as a young Indian today opens up a greater number of opportunities.

    In regards to the stifling effects upon regional languages:
    Being proficient in one language doesn't necessarily mean that the other is any less important. The fact is that multi lingualism is very much possible as we see in Europe. In India however this problem exists because of a complicated inferiority complex (which I'm sure is heavily influenced by the colonial past) and the fact that the Indian society itself is extremely hierarchical in nature, where people constantly want to promote their social standing on the basis of caste, skin color, language, Western lifestyle or whatever else comes handy. This however has nothing to do with the English language itself. The second thing to remember is that English is the common language for science and technology which makes it inherently progressive thereby attracting the youth from less progressive cultures, but here again, parental guidance comes into play which can help bring about a balance.

    Effects upon Social Lifestyle:
    Despite all the aping, I don't think the Indian society has a good understanding of Western culture, nor has it actually absorbed Western attributes in significant measure. The imitation is limited to superficial and superfluous things fueled primarily by silly stereotyping; the two cultures however even now remain poles apart. It just so happens however that the West has become synonymous with modernity/ progress/ advancement and most of all- a higher standard of living. This is what most Indians seek to emulate (this is true for people from any other underdeveloped nation/society). Again, I don't think that English per se is responsible for this; rather it is the stagnation of the Indian society and the abysmal standard of living which has people running away. But as we see in the case of Japan and South Korea, this can be addressed.

    Analysis:
    From a purely linguistics aspect, I have always felt that the most important factor is language proficiency; what language you speak is almost irrelevant. Mastery of a language is highly correlative with reading and writing, and this in turn has a huge impact upon the intellectual development of a person, which at the end of the day is a ticket to productivity. Even in India, there are a fair share of intellectuals or even professionals graduating from high end universities like IIT, IIM, medical schools etc. who did their primary education in a regional language without suffering any setbacks. However in my experience, most of these individuals are highly proficient with their regional language. I have observed the same thing on a global scale in the USA. There are oodles of intellectuals, scientists successful professionals etc. who come here from all over the world for whom English isn't the first or the strongest language; but despite that, their intellect or productivity is never really in question. The reason I'm not too fond of casual Hinglish or the filmy lingo is because it seems to have become the primary language of communication, and this I fear may hinder the intellectual maturation process of many young Indians.

    The advantages of knowing the English language far outweigh the disadvantages. There is no reason why Indian children cannot grow up to be multi lingual, provided they're confident about their identity.
     
  5. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    Perception of people in India:
    speaks smattering English== highly educated/intelligent.

    speaks native/local language==....
     
  6. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    English is important as a national language, because there is no other language common to all the Indians. Hindi may be second most spoken language, but it doesn't apply to all Indians, especially the South of India. Though this doesn't mean that regional languages should be ignored. They should be given the same status as English and they should be widely used on the state/regional level (more so since the states were divided along linguistic lines). Though when it comes to national level, English is and should be an all inclusive language for the country.
     
  7. threadbrowser

    threadbrowser Regular Member

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    English is very Important because it means i have a job. Nobody else is able to translate between andhra English and hindi english :)
     
  8. Friend

    Friend Regular Member

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    I truly believe that India owes a lot to English for development. Development of the nation is proportional to the development of the thoughts of the community along with individuals. These thoughts need to flow across minds of the other individuals benefitting the community as a whole. I am really proud of the cultural diversity of India. In the laguage front, English is what unites us in midst of the diversity. In the process of dividing us, the British tranferred this one great thing to us which unites us all. Also, in this process uniting us with the rest of the world.

    Of course English is undermining the importance of local languages. It is true that if English would not have been so impotant then the local languages would have flourished to a much greater extent. But, it would surely be at the cost of development. I would like to term it as a 'necesary evil'!!

    I am really critical about blaming English about the 'Western lifestyle'. I dont think so that people in India, at least now, study English so that they can imitate the West. English has become a part of Indian lifestyle. It would not be worthy to mark it as another 'bane' of 'West'. The influence of Western lifestyle has a lot to do with the 'rascist' mindset which we have inherited somehow. Well that can be another thread of discussion.

    Truthfully speaking, as a product of a cosmopolitan society, and, thanks to the transferrable job of my parents, I was litle influenced by my 'original' regional culture, leave alone knowing the language. Yet, my regional language was never unimportant to me. Thankfully I got the oppurtnity to get back to my region and assimilate about it as much possible. Moral of the story is that our regional language is not just another language. Its our identity. So, I however importance English gains, I am sure, we will not be stripped of our identity.
     
  9. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    If we just look around, then we see IT and ITeS. Without English, this would not have been possible.

    I don't think so. I studied in a Missionary School, where the primary means of teaching was English. I can speak in my mother tongue, however, I can't write it. But that did not affect my career. English is officially/Unofficially the Worlds' language. But when it comes to communication with friends/parents/relatives - my mother tongue is the preferred language.

    Nah!

    I actually do not see any cons. In a globalized world, we need to speak the language, the world understands.
     
  10. gogbot

    gogbot Regular Member

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    Language , is often one of the greatest barriers to cross, more than any landmass or Ocean.
    The fact that English was thought to as many people as possible, has really helped our nation in becoming a far more global culture.

    But it has also helped us preserve our own culture, by making english a common place in India as it is abroad, people don't feel as detached from India.

    I have a whole bunch of Asian friends from SK, China and HK.
    Who come to English speaking nations, just to learn to speak English. and Speak it well.


    We has a link to the rest of the world through English, we have communication , we have idea sharing , we have commerce.

    When Chines or Japanese Businessmen want to do business with foreign companies, they take translators with them.
    We can send our people , without such extra baggage.

    English, breaks a lot of barriers and borders, its natural existence in India has done wonders for our return to the world stage.

    English is the language of commerce

    More than anything on the economic development, English to the masses, has helped shatter the colonial mind set of the people
    of India. English is no longer the language of the masters, but just a language of India.



    Well, English is the global language , you have to speak English if you want to be a International.
    The regional languages always have their own importance.

    every one should at least learn to speak if not read their own regional languages.

    But You need English if you want to go outside of the region where you language is spoken.

    English has always been more important then the regional language,

    Simply put it helps break more communication barriers.

    That's, an obvious question of course it has.

    The world has a wide variety of culture the primary divider stopping us from enjoying all of them is laguage.

    Language is medium with its own set of culture and entertainment.

    Its because we have a culture that accommodates so many languages including English , that we are able to also enjoy Western culture.

    Primarily throggh the Internet , movies , Music , TV shows and Print. We often develop our values and culture based on the material we expose our self to.

    The number of roack bands in India, and the popularity of bands like Metallica . is a clear sogn of that.

    But i don't see why we have to look at this as western culture, today it is as much ours as it is there's we are both consumers and procures.


    The Beatles came to India to find inspiration for their music.
    We have a fusion of Indian and western ideals.



    English is as much an Indian language as it is Hindi.
    India has helped shape the English language, the constant flow between British administrator and Indian translator has added many words to the English dictionary, In a similar manner to the Americans .

    Does the language not become ours if we help make it what it is today.

    Even our Hindi, is based on Sanskrit, which is just a script of Latin.

    Culture is not a constant, it is ever changing it evolves . To try and stop the process , English and western culture is part of our culture we should embrace that , to try and stop it would just lead to stagnation in this globalization period of our history.

    English is the language of Commerce, it is also a large medium that exposes us to a lot more of the world and material

    In India we have a Local language , national Language and then an International language.
    Local, Hindi , English . An then we have a the 4th language , the one we get when people smarter all three of them to gather to speak in local, Hindi and English at the same time

    This alone shows you how deeply entrenched English is in our society.

    And through English, India's people have access to so much in the world. There is no language barrier between us and the rest of the world, as there often is in many other Asian nations.

    As far as cons are concerned there are two.

    1. English in India has become the language of the privileged , some schools have it as the first language some have it as the second. this has created a even further gap between the rich and poor. Government needs to mandate both English and Hindi and First and second languages respectively.
    every Indian needs to know English , Hindi .

    2.There is a reason that Chinese and Japanese and even Korean is more wide spread through out the world then Hindi or any of India's 20+ local languages. for one thing , most Indian's already do commerce in English, advertising in English.
    Simply put no one has to learn another language to come to India, to do business with India. India already speaks English.
    India;s other languages loose relevance on the world stage.

    Thanks for reading
     
  11. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    India Faces a Linguistic Truth: English Spoken Here

    India Faces a Linguistic Truth: English Spoken Here

    By MANU JOSEPH
    Published: February 16, 2011
    LETTER FROM INDIA; New York Times


    NEW DELHI — In a recent Hindi film, the actress Katrina Kaif holds a thin white bed sheet against her bare body and sings, in English: “I know you want it, but you’re never gonna get it.”

    That what has become one of the country’s popular Hindi songs opens with an English sentence is unremarkable for Indians. So is the truth that Hindi films are now written in English — the instructions in the screenplays are in English, and even the Hindi dialogue is transcribed in the Latin alphabet. Mumbai’s film stars, like most educated Indians, find it easier to read Hindi if it is written this way.

    Almost all advertising billboards in India are in English. There is not a single well-paying job in the country that does not require a good understanding of the language. Higher education here is conducted entirely in English. When Hindustan Pencils makes cheap pencils, which its sells to rural children for a rupee apiece (about 2 cents), the company prints the brand name, “Jobber,” in English. “A villager has more respect for a brand that is written in English,” said Dhruman Sanghvi, a company director.

    English is the de facto national language of India. It is a bitter truth.

    Many Indians would say that India’s national language is Hindi. They would say it with pride if they are from the north and with a good-natured grouse if they are from the south. But this is a misconception. The fact is that, according to the Indian Constitution, the country does not have a national language.

    In the years that followed the nation’s independence from the British in 1947, there were efforts to hoist Hindi as the national language, but regional linguistic sentiments were high. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, men immolated themselves to protest what they thought was the colonizing power of Hindi. As a compromise, Hindi was downgraded to one of the two official languages in which the government would conduct its business.

    The other official language was English, which has long been considered a default language, a foreign language. But this is no longer true. Since independence, the influence and reach of English have grown immensely. It is impossible to arrive at a credible figure for the number of Indians who understand English (a lot), who can read it (many) or who can write it (very few). But what is indisputable is that in India today, English has the force and quality of a national language.

    Alarmed at the power of English, India’s cultural elite and politicians have tried, through public policy and sometimes violence, to promote Indian languages. In Mumbai, for instance, every shop is required to announce its name in Marathi even though most of the people in the city can read English but not Marathi. In the recent past, thugs have beaten up shopkeepers who did not comply with the requirement.

    Accepting that English is the national language would have benefits that far outweigh soothing the emotions of Indian nationalism. It is to emphasize this point that Chandra Bhan Prasad has built a temple to the Goddess English in an impoverished village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

    People like Mr. Prasad, who want to liberate the poorest segment of the population, the Dalits, through the extraordinary power of English, view Indian culture and all related sentiments with suspicion. It was that same culture that had once deemed the Dalits “untouchable,” relegating them to the lowest of the low in the caste hierarchy.

    In Mr. Prasad’s temple, there is an idol in robes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Very soon, Mr. Prasad said, he would encourage young Dalit couples to include a ritual in their wedding ceremony in which they would sign the letters A, B, C and D on a piece of a paper. “That would be a promise they make that they will teach their children English,” he said.

    He also plans to adopt an Islamic tradition and fix a loudspeaker in the temple from which a recorded voice would chant the English alphabet, from A to Z , every day at 5 a.m. All these are just symbolic gestures, he said, and the best he can do in the absence of genuine political support for making English the national language.

    The chief beneficiaries if English attained this status would be the children who attend the free schools run by the central and the state governments. An overwhelming majority of such schools are not taught in English. Indian politicians, whose own children attend private English-language schools in India and abroad, want their constituents to marinate in their mother tongues.

    Sanjay Tiwari, the son of an illiterate security guard, was a victim of this attitude.

    Until the age of 16, he studied in Hindi and Marathi-language schools. Then, he taught himself English, “and escaped.” He is now a marketing executive who makes a reasonable living in Mumbai, “only because I can speak in English.”

    Low-income Christians, who have easy access to English-language schools run by churches and convents because they are granted tuition-waivers and discounts, have benefited immensely over the years. It is not surprising that Christians are disproportionately represented in Bangalore’s call centers.

    Raj Thackeray, a pugnacious politician in Mumbai, is enraged by the diminished status of Marathi and the predominance of English in the city. His supporters have been known to beat up people who they believed disrespected the Marathi language. He wants everybody in Mumbai to learn Marathi.

    Mr. Thackeray derives his political clout from other Maratha men like himself who hope to push Marathi as the most important aspect of life in their state.

    When asked why his own son goes to one of the best English-language schools in Mumbai and not to a Marathi-language school, he replied that the question was not important and was politically motivated.

    His followers would no doubt follow his example if they could. For all their laments about the siege of the Marathi language, they would probably put their children in English-language schools, too, the moment they could afford to do so.

    Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/asia/17iht-letter17.html
     
  12. warriorextreme

    warriorextreme Senior Member Senior Member

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    english should be made our national language as most of us deny accepting Hindi as national language.If English is taught at equal level with the vernacular language in all vernacular medium schools then our language divide will be bridged..

    and i disagree with you on one thing...pakistanis will argue on anything...
     
  13. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    English is no more an indian language,let alone a national language,than Persia was.There was a time when the Persian was the language of India's aristocratic elite,the language in which the ideas were communicated,commerce transacted and the language which inspired and anchored the cultural expressions of the multitudes of the subcontinents erudite class.Yet Persian has receded as a medium political-cultural-linguistic expressions,except for a small circle of academics.English will eventually suffer the same fate.

    The anatomy of a language,on its close scrutiny reveals that it is integral to the culture of which and for which it acted as medium,so long as the alien language does not ingratiate itself to the culture of the population group,its future as a medium of mass will be limited by its own inherent limitations.

    English in India,is well and truly the language of the section of the people who bread and butter revolves around the economic opportunities,access to which is provided by the erudition in the language,that exist as result of India 's economic interaction with the western world.It is not surprising this segment of the population is most conspicuous in the metropolitan cities with a long history of close ties with British Raj.Hence it is wrong to hail a language,which is merely an instrument of availing economic opportunity,as a national language or even conflate it with the notion of being a link language or a lingua franca

    As India's economic dynamics undergo change,as the country become a major center of global economic interaction,our preference to communication medium which avails the new economic opportunities,will also undergo paradigm shift.

    Any of the many vernacular languages of India might suppliant as the medium of popular communication,or we could adopt an indian language like Sanskrit,with a long history of close relation with India's linguistic evolution,as the language for official communication.
     
  14. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    i strongly disagree with you my friend....i think SANSKRIT should be are national language[if not hindi]....it is 1 language that unites almost all Indian languages....there can be NO raj Thackeray that can say we wont speak that language because even his language is derived from it.....
     
  15. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    ^^

    @S.A.T.A.

    Good post. Yes, Hindi is still the lingua franca for most of India and English is limited to a section of the people that you mentioned.

    Do you not think that the Anglophone population is increasing in India and there is a possibility that English might, at one point, be equal to, or even surpass Hindi as the lingua franca?
     
  16. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    I don't know Hindi properly, bas kaam chalo Hindi. Heck! I also am not too familiar with my mother tongue. How do you propose I learn Sanskrit or any other vernacular language at this point in my life?

    Hindi and kaam chalao Hindi is the unofficial medium of communication between people whose bread and butter does not revolve around the economic opportunities.

    English substitutes the vacuum created by the lot of the languages we have in India, for communication amongst people whose bread and butter revolves around the economic opportunities.

    But wait, a certain township being built in Bangalore. I see daily wage earners from different corners of the country working & talking in kaam chalao Hindi. They might be at the fag end, but even they are reaping benefits of India's economic success. Little, but yes!
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
  17. warriorextreme

    warriorextreme Senior Member Senior Member

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    have you not heard about certain language called as TAMIL?
    tamilians also claim that their language is as old as sanskrit...and they dont approve of sanskrit...
    so considering everyone's likes and dislikes english is only language that none can claim as their own and yet they can relate to it.
     
  18. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Every language,other than ones mother tongue,has to be formally learnt,which is where the state and its resources comes into the picture.If Sanskrit or Hindi is adopted as the national language and as means of popular communication,it will have to invest in the formally training of the population in the national language.In a generation there will be tens of millions of people communicating in the language.

    All economics is about bread and butter,everybody has to earn his bread.The economic opportunities,access to which proficiency in English makes easily available,is only restricted to a small section of India's larger economic landscape,and mostly limited to pockets of certain population centers.we people who live in Urban areas tend to overestimate our role in the larger scheme of things.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
  19. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    India's anglophone population is not getting bigger,its only getting more conspicuous,thanks to their mobility,and as preferred interpreters of India for the outside world,which is increasingly curious of India.Even among those people who are well conversant with the English language,i reckon only a faction will ever consider English as 'My language' -not in the same sense as a mother tongue.This disadvantage that English suffers in terms of not 'belonging',while still being popular or in certian case preferred,will be its undermining.
     
  20. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    Tamil...huh....nah man....never heard of it...
    well its better to use an INDIAN language either SANSKRIT or TAMIL rather than using a foreign language as a national language...
     
  21. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    English sure does matter in the race to get to the top. Be it as an individual or be it as a nation that wants to integrate with the world, esp the western world. Its use is only increasing as more and more people aspire to learn the language so that they can face the competition. Its not that learning english as a nation is the only way to the top, as china proves it, but it sure is an added benefit. The IT and call center industries are a testament to that fact.
     
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