Future Of English In India
English came into India as the language of the masters the British. The Englishmen came to India as traders and stayed on as the rulers till they were forced out of the shores of India by the non-violent fight started by Mahatma Gandhi. Inspite of the departure of the Englishmen from the Indian scene as its masters, their language has come to stay. Nearly 5.9 decades after we won freedom, we still continue with English. It has been given a place in the schedule of languages under the constitution. This has given rise to endless squabbles and controversies. In the constitution, Hindi has been given the status of the Lingua Franca, but has allowed English to be an associate language and it could continue for all practical purposes in Non-Hindi States till the latter agree to switch over to Hindi, or they are ready to accept Hindi as the national language. A doubt is raised whether English would go away from Indian life within a few years or it would continue for many more decades.
Protagonists of Hindi point out that when we have driven out the Englishmen from our country there is no meaning on carrying our activities in every field in English. Hindi is said to be spoken by the majority of the people in the country and hence it should replace English. Those who oppose Hindi point out that Hindi as defined is not spoken by many, but only dialects of the language are in common use. It is also argued that if Hindi is used as the language of the nation, the southern region would be adversely affected, because to the people of southern India Hindi is a new language, where as English inspite of being a foreign language is spoken and understood by many.This controversy raises the question of the future of English in India.
English is bound to stay here for a long time. Many feel that it must continue. Today, even an illiterate person is able to understand some English words more easily than their equivalents in the language of their region. Many words in our language have become incorporate in the English language. The characteristics quality of English is that it is able to assimilate into it words from other languages and that is the reason that it is still a powerful language even though the world has passed through many changes. Inspite of opposition to English in some quarters, it still continues to be used in daily life much. Today in our country many nursery schools and convents have sprung up offering English to all those who wish to learn it. Education in such schools is costly, but many even among the lower levels economically lower levels are prepared to send their children to these schools irrespective of the costs involved. People working as domestic servants also give such an Education to their children. This illustrates the hold of English of Indian life.
This position speaks much for the future of English. The language has its own beauties and its utilitarian quality. Both these aspects assure the future of English here. English has become an international language and in almost all countries it is learnt diligently. Though in many countries the mother language has been used as the means of instruction, English is not banned. It is found indispensable to keep abreast of latest knowledge on various subjects. In these days when science and technology develop by leaps and bounds, it is not an easy matter to ignore the English language in which the results of much research work are generally published. Translations cannot proceed with the same rate as the advance in technology and science. In all international forums English is used by speakers. Even when some of the leaders speak in their mother tongue as English translations is made available for the benefit of the others who cannot understand what is being spoken. Another point in favor of English is that it continues to grow.
For yet another important reason, English would and should continue in our country. The divisions of India into linguistic states though meant for administrative purposes has posed many problems at least some of which should have been anticipated by the makers of our constitution. The grave defect found today is linguistics fanaticism that is raging in many parts of our country. Many forget that fanaticism (single-minded zeal) of one kind or other has been responsible for India being under foreign rule for centuries as is evident from the history of the country. People want their language to flourish and there can be no quarrel with such an aspiration. But the love for one's language breeds in one a hatred for the other languages. This has given rise to a peculiar position in India. An Indian traveling from one state to another has a feeling that he is in a strange land and not in his own country, He finds name boards,signs and even the numerical in the script of the region and nowhere can he find a clue to what he wants.
As long as linguistic squabbles continue,, India cannot have a single, common language and the only one that could fill the breach is English. Even if it is not given the status of the National Language, it should continue as the language of communication among the states. There is no use closing our eyes to reality and standing on prestige as far as languages are concerned. If the various languages are allowed to grow freely, they will develop without detriment to any other language. but if people go on fighting about the relative merits or demerits of any particular language or languages there will be only chaos. As far as our country is concerned the regional languages have not grown to the extent required. For example, even Tamil which is more than two thousand years old and which can boast of one of the finest literatures of the world does not possess at the moment enough scope for translation of other classics or developments in science that take place in foreign countries. our scientists that are more at home with English than at their own language. It is easy to keep pace with the rest of the world with a good knowledge of English. However great a scholar one may be in one's own language, he cannot win recognition in the world without English. Even great writers, scientists, artists and others become famous and known all over the world only through English newspapers and other media. The publication of an article, for example in the Russian Language, may be applauded and honoured in the Soviet Union. But the author's fame could spread in other countries only if the article is either translated or given recognition in a language which most people know.
A fanatic adherence to one's own language and hatred of other languages will not help anyone. In India such petty jealousies are wide spread and they even affect national interests. People tend to forget that they even affect national interests. People tend to forget that they are Indians with common bonds. One of the bonds which have been binding the people all over India as one unit is English and it would be foolish to ban it from our lives just because it is a language of foreigners. We have not refrained from using many of the things left behind by the Englishmen. For example, India has been making rapid progress in a game like Cricket which is a typical summer game in England. When we follow an English game, English life style, English mode of dress and many things English, there can be no harm in using English language at least as a link language in the future. It should not only be continued, but also developed in the same way as one would like to develop one's own language. It is English that can carry a developing nation like ours on the way to progress.
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