Home > History, India, Indian Economy, Indian education, Politics, Social Trends > Team Manmohan crammed with A-listers – The Economic Times

Team Manmohan crammed with A-listers – The Economic Times


Manmohan Inc’s team would be any multinational corporation’s dream. Resume for resume, its key members are in a league of their own.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) council of ministers, led by the 78-year-old Cambridge-educated economist, has at least 14 ministers who have graduated from Ivy League universities like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and of course, Oxbridge. There are also Cabinet members who have degrees from US universities. (via Team Manmohan crammed with A-listers- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times).

More than 60 years after the departure of the British, Indian media at least seems to adore ‘phoren’ educated politicians. A few days, another journalist was effusive when Azhagiri took oath of office in ‘faultless’ English.

Today, the same media finds merit just because these ministers are ‘phoren’ returned. While Indian Universities have become recruiting grounds and supply centres to the West for trained and qualified manpower, Indian media thinks that only ‘phoren’ educated and returned are good enough.

English language media in India is still in its colonial haze – and to see such decadent, colonial ideas, 60 years after the British were thrown out, boggles my imagination. To approve of a politician, because he has English-language skills, or their ‘phoren’ education seems so important to these journalists, who seem to be wagging their ‘colonial’ tail with such approval – and vigor.

These journalists instead should have been worried that 60 years on, Indian Universities dont seem to be meeting standards. And looking at the (seeming) failure of these Universities.

This (mixed record) of Indian Universities can largely be laid at the doorsteps of the faulty educational policies that Indian Governments have been following. For one, why is the State increasing its role in education. For another, why is the State supporting English language education with thousands of crores of subsidies – while Indian language education languishes.

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  1. June 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    When you write “Indian language education languishes,” what Indian languages are you speaking about? The US would be a banana republic if every state spoke a different language.

    The Tower of Babble was never finished because everyone spoke a different language.

    It’s time that India just bit the bullet and declared English as the national language. Stop this futile, silly, counterproductive nonsense about “Indian” language.

  2. June 16, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Bernie – I dont know if you are discussing religion or history.

    If it is history, then you are wrong. The Babylonian Tower Of Babel was the place where modern languages were knocked into shape. Before the Tower Of Babel, all languages (Indian languages excepted) used only consonants – without vowels. It was at the Tower of Babel that languages were refined, forged and improved.

    Modern European trace their languages to Indo-European roots – which in layman’s language is Sanskrit. The Uralic languages were also similarly influenced by Indian Dravidian languages (in laymen terms, Tamil).

    Indian languages have a history and literature which is about 10 times older than English.

    To give up those achievements for a transient vigor of the English language is to my mind short sighted.

    Your chauvinism notwithstanding.

    Till as late as 17th century the English speakers had (rightly) a low opinion of their language – and thought the Earth of French language.

    Maybe, if you read a book like The Scarlet Pimpernel, you will get a flavour of the times. The flame-out of Spain (and Spanish language) is an interesting historical case study.

    Anyways. I am repeating myself. If you click on the embedded links, you will get an idea why your idea is half-baked.

    And if you are relying on religious sources, to make points in a non-religious debate, I have no response to offer.

  3. June 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    First of all, the tower of Babel was never finished because no one understood any one else. Before the tower of Babel semitic languages were written without vowels but the langauges themsleves were spoken with the vowels.

    No one is asking to give up ancient languages. I studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew; however these should not be used in air travel, scientific research, or medical facilities, etc. Pilots who do not understand English well misunderstand tower instructions and eventually kill passengers.

    Doctors who do not speak English well eventually misread the pharmacology of drugs and eventually kill patients.

    By allowing a hundred different languages India consigns itself to be a third rate nation forever.

    Belgium is threatening to be ripped apart because it has two official languages.

    Pakistan’s government would collapse if they didn’t use English so that Punjabis could talk to Pashtuns and Sindhis. But until the whole country starts speaking English, it will remain a 5th rate country.

    I suggested English as a single language for India, not for any jingoist reason, any one language instead of hundreds would be beter for India, but because I doubt Indians speaking one dialect will accept any other Indian language being made official over theirs.

    OK, you don’t want English, fine. But pick one language.

    Look at the Muslims born in France who do not even speak Freench, They make up the majority (almost 70%) of the prison population because they cannot get employment or assimilate.

    That is what you have in India: one big unassimilated population. When I went on business last year to New Delhi, my partner from Chennai had to speak English becasue he did not understand Hindi. If it were not for English, very little real business would get done.

    If you don’t know this you are in denial. So go ahead, revere your particular and quaint language, but the truth is, unless all Indian children learn one language, and preferably English, then India will remain as it has been for millennia.

    Yes, languages may come and go, but no language in the past dominated like English does today. I would ask you why you are being chauvenistic.

    By the way, more Chinese speak English than Indians who speak Hindi. What do the Chinese know that you don’t?

  4. June 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Spelling: that should be chauvinistic.

  5. June 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    First of all, the tower of Babel was never finished because no one understood any one else.

    The Tower Of Babel never getting finished is a Biblical story – which is where you are mixing history and religion. Babylon had many ziggurats – probably derived from Sanskritic shikharat, which means peaks or the top

    Before the tower of Babel semitic languages were written without vowels but the langauges themsleves were spoken with the vowels.

    This is partly correct.

    Of course, modern Western history clubs all Levantine languages as Semitic languages – whereas the Semitic language itself is derived from Sumerian, Akkadian, Elamite, Cannanite-Phoenician, et al. Languages that were all shaped by Sanskrit and Tamil languages respectively.

    No one is asking to give up ancient languages.

    Well … there are some (in fact, many) in India who think that Indian languages are ancient (which is correct) and wrongly believe that these are good-for-nothing languages that should be junked – a belief that is a propaganda by product.

    I studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew; however these should not be used in air travel, scientific research, or medical facilities, etc.

    Yes and no. Latin Greek and Hebrew cant really be used much for anything except as academic interest.

    But you are wrong about Sanskrit. Maybe you should know that Sanskrit is being studied by computer language designers and programmers – as it was the world’s first synthetic language.

    It still reveals secrets on efficient computer programming. Every sentence in Sanskrit is a concatenated data base – and all words automatically form into a RDBMS. For a modern perspective you should read this research paper from AI magazine by a NASA scientist.

    Pilots who do not understand English well misunderstand tower instructions and eventually kill passengers.

    Any data … any study … apart from anecdotes and speculation!

    Doctors who do not speak English well eventually misread the pharmacology of drugs and eventually kill patients.

    Data … data … data …

    You are assuming that all relevant knowledge can come only in English, all advances will be made by English speaking people etc. And that is and was never true.

    By allowing a hundred different languages India consigns itself to be a third rate nation forever.

    In 1947, when the British Raj was coming to an end we heard that. Today, when Britain itself is on the verge of becoming a Third World country, you are saying the same thing. Earlier you were mixing religion and history. This time you are mixing fiction and propaganda.

    Belgium is threatening to be ripped apart because it has two official languages.

    The Desert Bloc concept that we need One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Set of Festivals, One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority leading to One Law, One Currency is a fallacious syllogism.

    Once you accept One, you will accept all others. This One Language logic is similar, and obviously false.

    Pakistan’s government would collapse if they didn’t use English so that Punjabis could talk to Pashtuns and Sindhis. But until the whole country starts speaking English, it will remain a 5th rate country.

    The US is behind Pakistan’s descent into chaos and anarchy. But anyway, Pakistan is different story – and irrelevant to this discussion.

    I suggested English as a single language for India, not for any jingoist reason, any one language instead of hundreds would be beter for India, but because I doubt Indians speaking one dialect will accept any other Indian language being made official over theirs.

    OK, you don’t want English, fine. But pick one language.

    For centuries Indians have used many languages – and the earlier we junk this concept of One Language, the better it is.

    Look at the Muslims born in France who do not even speak Freench, They make up the majority (almost 70%) of the prison population because they cannot get employment or assimilate.

    The story behind prison population Bernie is something else. You should take a 2ndlook at this Crime and Prison Story.

    That is what you have in India: one big unassimilated population. When I went on business last year to New Delhi, my partner from Chennai had to speak English becasue he did not understand Hindi. If it were not for English, very little real business would get done.

    O Master! I didnt realize this.This is really a great insight.

    Till Indians learnt English, they did not speak to each other at all. Indians must have used sign language like deaf and dumb mutts (no offence to the accoustically challenged).

    If you don’t know this you are in denial. So go ahead, revere your particular and quaint language, but the truth is, unless all Indian children learn one language, and preferably English, then India will remain as it has been for millennia.

    I got good news fer you. You got company.

    P. Chidambaram, (PC) India’s current home minister and who was the ex-finance minister also said something similar. PC wants to end 5000 years of poverty.

    Just in case, you didn’t know, India has the world’s largest reserves of gold – twice as much as the US has.

    Yes, languages may come and go, but no language in the past dominated like English does today. I would ask you why you are being chauvenistic.

    By the way, more Chinese speak English than Indians who speak Hindi. What do the Chinese know that you don’t?

    Really!

    For one, you should check out your sources. Second – Just because China (as you seem to imply and claim) wants to junk all their languages and go with English does not mean that India does too!

  6. June 20, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    I do not assume that all relevant knowledge can come only in English, 95% of all new scientific knowledge is being written in English. If you don’t read English you don’t know jack sh*t.

    I know how to program in Forth, Cobol, Fortran, APL, Pascal, C, C++, and other languages. Each language has its uses. Forth is great for robotics, APL is great for handling mathematical expressions, etc. And so too other languages may have some interesting applications. However, I was discussing modern economic development. Keep your quaint languages, but if you want to be a modern country then English should be the main language.

    I am preparing for a 7 day trip and will give you links to your data, data, data requests when I return; although I am quite surprised you have not read about the numerous deaths caused by pilots because their English language skills were below par.

  7. June 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Bernie – Thanks for making out these points.

    I notice that you have not responded to many of the points I have made – I presume because you are in agreement with those points.

    I do not assume that all relevant knowledge can come only in English,

    I am so glad that you see this.

    95% of all new scientific knowledge is being written in English. If you don’t read English you don’t know jack sh*t.

    I am unsure of of your 95% figure – but I will go along with “the largest body of published scientific knowledge is published in English language”.

    Now there is a large amount of research done in Japan, China, Korea, Russia, France, Italy, Germany – who publish published large volumes of research papers in their respective languages. Indians cannot access that because they do not know these languages. Indians need to broaden their foreign language basket.

    Coming to your “95% of scientific knowledge” claim, what this implies is that some 10,000 scientists and academics need to read and write English. Not an entire nation of 1100 million.

    Anyway, the cost of accessing academic journals is so high that less than 10,000 people can read it – even though India has the second highest number of English speaking people in the world.

    So, this advantage of English language that you tout, is rather lost to India.

    I know how to program in Forth, Cobol, Fortran, APL, Pascal, C, C++, and other languages. Each language has its uses. Forth is great for robotics, APL is great for handling mathematical expressions, etc.

    So, I presume you have read that attached PDF file from AI magazine which talked about how Sanskrit language can be used as a model for new computer languages.

    And so too other languages may have some interesting applications.

    Is that speculation … guesswork .. or hope!

    However, I was discussing modern economic development. Keep your quaint languages, but if you want to be a modern country then English should be the main language.

    On the link between modern economic development and English language, an English language professor pointed out,

    “how did the … the G-20 get there?
    Fifteen of those top countries have made it by functioning almost entirely in their own mother tongue and national language. For the remaining four — the US, UK, Canada and Australia — there was no choice, for English is again their mother tongue. In a second language, the moral seems to be, one (meaning India) can only remain second rate.” (underlined text mine).

    I am quite surprised you have not read about the numerous deaths caused by pilots because their English language skills were below par.

    You seem to be suggesting that a nation of 1100 million adopt English because it is convenient for 10,000 pilots, co-pilots, trainee pilots, ATCs, trainers …?

  8. August 27, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Bernie has either not returned from his one week trip, after some 60 days.Or he sees light at the end of the tunnel.

  9. surendra sigh negi
    March 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Interesting and eye opener!
    Yes there is definite problem with second language. I had it very badly.
    During my MBBS I had only one answer to all questions, ” I don’t know”!or to keep mum, The safest way to hide that I could not speak in English.

  10. masculineffort
    May 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Agreed on English media in India. Sophomoric, silly, immature, biased, stupid, illogical.

  1. June 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

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