Discard English language for true Demographic dividend

English language has a prominent place in India. While Hindi is the national language, but due to legacy of opposition from some sections in Tamil Nadu, English remained as the mode of communication, instead of Hindi. While the huge Middle Class sees this as an opportunity and finds English as a vehicle for upward mobility, the reality is darker.

 

Crores of poor Indians are slaves to English language

Crores of poor Indians are slaves to English language

Given below are the facts and the solutions:

  • English was only to be a “temporary” medium. The onus of restoring usage of national language for communication was vested with future Governments. It’s been 66 years and we are still living with English
  • Macaulay, who introduced English medium studies and decimated vernacular language Schools (India was 100% educated when Macaulay shut down local schools. Read “A beautiful Tree” by James Tooley), made it his express purpose of creating “Brown Sahibs” – Indians by look but English by soul
  • What has the usage of English meant? The young generation (India is the youngest nation on Earth) aspires to migrate abroad, feels disconnected with its own culture, dresses in western styles and even aims to have same excess consumerism which has been a bane of destruction of western societies. Worst – natural absorption of youth in skilled jobs, requires knowledge of English, and creates a barrier worse than any form of discrimination possible
  • Indians abroad have a slavish mentality towards the fair skin, they are instinctively servile towards westerners and don’t accord a community preferential treatment to fellow Indians. Contrast with how the Chinese or Japanese community abroad, persistently helps those of their kind and work in tandem
  • Worse – even those coming to India to study or work, are accorded a high status and fellow non-English Indians are treated as second class
  • Crores of youth pass out from local language Schools in India p.a. – These youth have a glass ceiling within their own country – Even after being fully intelligent and capable, they can’t aspire to rise beyond Government jobs or petty administrative work in Private companies – This is so because private businesses in India communicate in English language There is a lot of talk that more population means a demographic dividend. With no means of absorption of this mass of capable youth, isn’t boasting about demographic dividend same as poor families having 9-10 kids and justifying by saying that it would mean more hands to work?
  • Markets for vernacular language educated youth is thin – This automatically implies lack of quality local language higher education institutions because of lack of end demand and profitability
  • This also means that the local language businesses are retarded in India – There are hardly any technology research and cutting edge product development across sectors e.g. there are hardly any good IT Software’s/ books market in Hindi! Contrast with China – Western companies are not allowed market access in China and in-house businesses are supported – That’s why we see a multi-billion dollar Baidu.com and Alibaba.com in China, but we have ceded Indian markets dominance to Amazon and Google
  • Why do Indian writers give bestsellers in English, aspire for Booker, but not for Gyanpeeth? Who will write in Hindi if there is such a thin Hindi literature market?
  • Why are there no MBA’s in Hindi? Since no one will hire them?
  • Best of educated Indians migrate abroad owing to vast English markets – why do we then fret over brain drain?
  • Why do Indians have black money stashed abroad? Since they want to use this money abroad for Western standard of living?
  • Why are 56% educational institutions in India controlled by Christian organizations? Since they prefer English teaching?
  • Even our history taught in Schools is what the British wrote
  • Who is the finest Hindi writer which comes to your mind? Munshi Premchand? He existed 50 years back and the only reason you remember him is since you studied him in School
  • All the work of William Dalrymple and other western writers writing about India, is available in Hindi literature. But we study western writers, not believe truths in Hindi literature
  • Except for Engineering and Medicine, arts doesn’t have a market in India – what can a BA (Arts) aspire to earn in India? Is that because of thin Indian culture market led by excessive westernization and ignorance of Indian Art forms?
  • Since English educated generation aspires westernization – India has strange relationships with neighbouring countries in South and South East Asia and high imports from USA and Europe. English movies and sitcoms are a case in point
  • The top Management of Indian companies are centred on exclusiveness around English – we are losing our demographic dividend to this coterie
  • Perverse Westernization has set in – we gained initially from English education in terms of technology, software knowledge etc. – but nowadays most technology is available off the shelf. We have passed the point where we gained, now we are paying for it – we are importing worse practices like frequent divorces, consumerism and shoddy work ethic of the West
  • China, Japan, Russia – and many other countries have seen booming economy and removal of poverty, in spite of functioning in their own languages – Who will take care of Hindi, if not Indians? Our cultural forms/ arts, knowledge don’t have sufficient markets and hence instead of preservation and growth, they are being lost – anyone coming to India used to adapt to Indian ways (Read “White Moghuls” by William Dalrymple), but now the reverse is happening
  • Indians migrating abroad become even more English then the English themselves. How many 2nd generation families abroad make their kids learn Hindi?
  • How many of us ask those coming to study or work in India, to learn Hindi?
  • China is building Confucian cultural centres abroad. How many temples has Indian government built abroad?
  • Who will promote Hindi, if not India?
  • Why is English Media obsessed with denigrating institutions and stellar personalities of Hinduism? What is Indian architecture?
  • Buildings are not built in stone with Indian engravings (Stone buildings with open courtyard in between suits hot Indian climate since it naturally keeps interiors cool). Why do most new buildings like Delhi Airport look horrible imitations of the West?
  • How much vernacular language markets would be developed if Hindi is accorded the primacy it deserves? – China has a robust Chinese language software/ hardware market. India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan. Billions of dollars’ worth of IT software market alone can be developed if Hindi is accorded the primacy it deserves
  • Indian talent is sought worldwide – Leading MNC’s are all deploying Indians to top most positions – What is the role and contribution of Indian value system coming from local language learning through their family?
  • Why do most tremendously successful Indians abroad, donate their wealth to Western bodies and not India? Is it because since they don’t value Indian-ness and hence NRI’s are unable to evaluate the tremendous role of their Indian-ness in their success?

With the language debate now days going on – I humbly give a few suggestions:

  • The bottom-up process of change by social awareness is going on healthily since 66 years. Large scale intermixing of Indians has meant more unity. But some archaic practices like disallowing non-English speakers in Private company selections, have created stratification and a top-down change is need of the hour. Since a healthy and vibrant Hindi market barely exists, opening new only-Hindi schools or putting restrictions on English-medium institutions would be counter-productive
  • We need top-down action in this precarious situation. Communicating with Central Government bilaterally in Hindi, by Hindi-speaking states is a welcome step
  • Now two top-down push are the crying need of the hour:

– First, Dismantling English and replacing it by Hindi as a national language of inter-   communication. This can be politically absorbed by keeping vernacular language teaching intact in states along with Hindi. The option of English learning can be left as a third option along with French, Spanish, Japanese etc, as being offered by many Schools. English can also be taught by private coaching institutes

– Second, to make the process politically palatable, especially amongst Tamil Nadu parties, an affirmative action can be devised – minimum levels of Hindi proficiency should be required for those wanting to study or work in India

  • Health Tourism has become in vogue owing to high quality infrastructure but low cost of such services in India. Similarly, the tendency of foreign students to study in India will go only upwards. Hindi proficiency should be made mandatory by HRD Ministry for foreign nationals seeking admission in India
  • Increasingly, with opening up of Indian economy, foreign expatriates come to work in India. Instead of adapting to local culture and developing respect for it, owing to our low self-esteem, we accord them high status. Anyone seeking work visa in India, should be asked to first learn Hindi

It’s time when we free the vast hordes of poor but bright men and women of our country from the slavery of English language and Brown Sahibs.

Author: Tushar Kansal

Tushar has been associated with the Project Assessment, Fund-raising & Financial Advisory realm in India for 2 decades. He has straddled multiple roles in Financial Advisory in Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, PE Deal-maker in Times of India’s Brand Capital, in Corporate Finance roles in Aircel, as an Entrepreneur in Education field and as a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) till 2014. Prior to that, he was the Head of Debt for MTS India, where he was instrumental in raising $2.5 billion structured debt. Tushar has been involved in $6 Billion of transactions in Debt/ PE/ M&A across all asset classes. He has major experience in Education domain – From 2001 to 2006, Tushar led his Education entrepreneurship venture which provided Entrance examination training for Engineering colleges in India. The venture grew to 800 students and then was bought out by a marquee pan-India player in this space, as a strategic sale. Tushar is a panel member at CNN-News18. He is also a Columnist @ Business World, Indian Defence News, Business & Economy, Indian Economist, Digital Market Asia, OpIndia & Growing India.

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