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Posts Tagged ‘Importance of English language’

Why does Mint Have a Problem with Hindi?

September 2, 2012 3 comments

Children in India are learning that टट्टी tatti  stinks, but potty is OK.

Forget Hindi! It would be OK if Chidambaram spoke in Tamil. |  Kirteesh Bhatt cartoon dated September 15, 2010; source & courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.in

Forget Hindi! It would be OK if Chidambaram spoke in Tamil. | Kirteesh Bhatt cartoon dated September 15, 2010; source & courtesy – bamulahija.blogspot.in

Crude & Vulgar

Mint has a serious problem!

This Mint writer thinks it is OK to use English words, or to use a Urdu couplet.

But not Hindi?

In an example of the degenerating quality of political dialogue in India, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, alleged that the Congress party had skimmed the exchequer and made “mota maal”. The term is a crude expression that means big money and she insisted on repeating it and that the media reproduce it. The expression is the latest one in a forgettable lexicon that Indian politicians are writing in a climate of polarization. It is not that the Congress party has not had its share of equally vitriolic utterances. Terms such as this shrink the space for dialogue between the two national parties at a time when the country is just a whisker away from a full-blown economic crisis. Everyone is better off taking a cue from the Prime Minister, who in a poetic flourish said, “Hazaaron jawaabon se achchi hai khaamoshi.” Silence is a better option than a thousand answers.

via Quick Edit | Mota maal – Views – livemint.com.

The thought behind …

N.Ram of The Hindu sets editorial standards based on BBC, NYT, etc. Mint here thinks that using Hindi words is crude and vulgar. Mota maal has no expletives, no double-entendres, no allusions, no sexual innuendos, any reference to sex or lavatory, to link it to anything crude or vulgar.

I am blinded as the writer has not given any explanation or rationale for why this expression was considered crude by the writer.

With more than 80% of Indian higher education in English, Indian languages become hand-maidens to English | Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Wednesday, September 14, 2011; source & courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.in

With more than 80% of Indian higher education in English, Indian languages become hand-maidens to English | Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Wednesday, September 14, 2011; source & courtesy – bamulahija.blogspot.in

Name is everything

As a teen-ager, I remember, it was considered cool to use English swear words – but not Hindi swear words.

Learning the first few swear-words in English was a huge shock. Using swear-words in Hindi, was never done with forethought – but the use of English swear words was explicit and conscious. That cured me of the desire to learn swear words, or to use them.

To be fair, this love of foreign language is now fairly widespread. Just like Mint thinks that Big Money is cultured language, but mota maal is not, so also children in India are learning that टट्टी tatti  stinks, but potty is OK.

Born more than 15 years after Goa Liberation, one Konkan mother,  from the Western coast uses the Spanish word caca used by Spanish adults with children, for denoting lavatory activities. In Portuguese it is cocô. In the rest of the country, Indian children are getting ‘potty’ training.

Not the first time

Mint’s editorial writers, have a big esteem deficit. A few months back, Mint challenged Indian advertising industry to copy the Chrysler Super Bowl ad. – (errata – had earlier mentioned this as Chevrolet ad, instead of Chrysler). As pointed out then, the very same newspaper would probably then turn around and cavil that Indians cannot be original – but are good enough to make bad copies.

Can media shrug off its responsibility?


‘IT players failed us in financial inclusion drive’- says the RBI

August 17, 2009 1 comment

The rich target the poor ...

The rich target the poor ...

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has accused IT giants of being indifferent towards the cause of financial inclusion in India. “The scale of business in financial inclusion is so big that we need participation from big IT companies,” said KC Chakrabarty, deputy governor, RBI, speaking on the sidelines of a financial inclusion seminar organised by Skoch, a consultancy firm. He added lack of interest and involvement by big IT companies was making banks’ endeavour of financial inclusion unsuccessful.

According to Mr Chakrabarty, involvement of big IT companies was important to bring down the transaction cost. (via ‘IT players failed us in financial inclusion drive’ – The Economic Times).

How India missed out …

Due to our well-cultivated tunnel vision about English language (amongst many other things), India missed out on Japanese investments, technology and business. Indian loyalty to English language exceeds the loyalty of the British themselves to their language – and we refuse to see how this affects us.

Reforming Indian education

India urgently needs to put more languages in lingual-education basket – instead of putting all our eggs in the English language basket. We can’t do business with the French or Germans, Spanish or the Arabic speaking world. The Chinese and Japanese are out of bounds to us – as are the Swahili and the Bantu.

The Indian language basket also calls for diversification. India needs to learn more foreign languages. But with our bankruptcy of ideas on restructuring Indian education system or the vested interest banging begging bowls in front of the Indian tax payer!

The Indian software ‘success’

The great ‘software’ success story is actually two countries – US and UK who give between 70%-80% of Indian software business! This is coolie labour! We are missing out on the massive Japanese, French and the Spanish markets because we have not invested in those foreign languages. Same story in Europe also – major opportunities overlooked and ignored. And we have missed out on computing in Indian languages, because we have not invested there either. So, RBI’s peeve is right – but the solution is somewhere else.

Is it due to the apparent Indian decision to tie its future to the sinking ship of the Anglo Saxon Bloc?

Hand-over English education to the private sector

The reason we’ve driven all the way to Neemrana … is the NIIT University that is taking shape in the shadow of the Aravallis here, a 100-acre campus that though still under construction, will, insists Pawar, be ready to welcome its first students — for courses in BTech, MTech and PhDs in computer science and engineering, educational technology, and bioinformatics and biotechnology — in September this year. “We grew from a two-week course,” says Pawar — this was in 1981when NIIT was launched — “to a year-long course in 1989 as a need-based response and franchising model to grow HR practices, innovation and breaking fresh ground.” It rode the IT boom, creating opportunities for skill-sets in, besides IT, banking, finance, insurance and management. “The path to higher education was always clear,” Pawar now nods. (via Breakfast with BS: Rajendra Pawar).

Backdoor privatization

The Vedanta industrial group is setting up a University in Orissa. From a campus at the new Lavassa township, Oxford is going to start offering courses. These and other represent the quiet backdoor ‘privatization’ of Indian higher education.

Hidden subsidies

Large tracts of lands are being acquired by the Government, and handed over for a pittance to the private sector. Soon, we will have competition between State Sector subsidized English education – and private sector subsidized education.

Who will help Indian languages get back on their feet

While Indian language Universities are struggling – for funding, respect, status, support, foreign Universities, using paper money, backed by the Bretton Woods fraud, will impose their ideas, culture, etc in India.

While the English speaking economic bloc is struggling, India is not focussing on the French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese Blocs which are large, excellent opportunities.

This can be a way out …

This actually is a good way out. There is a significant demand for English language education – at least currently. This demand can be met by the private sector. In the meantime, misdirected State subsidies can be gainfully used to help Indian language education get back on its feet.

In the not very long run, the state must get out of making up the minds of its citizens.

Future of English Language in India

No G20 country, apart from India, promotes English at the cost of their own native language. Without India, English becomes a tribal Anglo-Saxon language.

Harish Trivedi Professor of English  University of Delhi

Harish Trivedi Professor of English University of Delhi

Just tell me …

For how long will India exclude non-English speaking from the Indian economy?

What happens to India’s investments in English education, after the death of English language? Spanish and Persian have gone that way before.

Is the stagnation and decline of Jewish and African populations related to their acceptance of foreign languages?

Looking at the issues

A recent debate on English language outlined the various sides to the linguistic choices for India.

Starting with English.

Angrezi Hatao is in effect the same slogan as Garibi Hatao. It will inevitably lead to a more just distribution of resources, opportunities and wealth. And that is precisely why all Angrezi-wallahs are hysterically against such a move.

It is often argued that India has developed and come up in the world so spectacularly because we have English. But then, how did the rest of 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 can only remain second rate.

Finally, man does not live by economics alone. Sa’adat Hasan Manto once said, “When I hear a Punjabi speaking English, I know he’s speaking a lie.” (from Yes, the have-nots will feel more equal- by Harish Trivedi, ET Debate-The Economic Times).

The Prof makes sense

So, here was this professor in English who made great sense. There are clearly three things that are important: –

One – English is the language of exclusion. And it deprives 80% of India of opportunities. It is above all, “one more marker of the have-nots.”

Two – It allows the English media and system to control the future of India – at least the debate.

Three – India needs to learn more foreign languages.

The great ‘software success story is actually two countries – US and UK who give between 70%-80% of Indian software business? This is coolie labour! We are missing out on the massive Japanese, French and the Spanish markets because we have not invested in those foreign languages.

And we have missed out on computing in Indian languages, because we have not invested there either.

Uday Prakash Leading Hindi, Writer

Uday Prakash Leading Hindi, Writer

The Hindi ‘un-thinker’

The 2nd part of the debate was from a Hindi professor. (Errata – Mr.Uday Prakash is a Hindi writer and not professor).

English, then, would have logically been perceived as the language of colonial rulers. But now, the situation has entirely changed. Hindi is now the language of sarkar, bazar and sanchar (government, market and media) and it has been monopolised by the dominant caste and religious group.

Official Hindi has become a vehicle of obscurantism, communalism, blind nationalism and, to top it all, casteism. English, in post-colonial India, has become a language of modernity and empowerment.

Poor and low caste people and minorities know that Hindi will make them naukar and English will escort them to the seat of the master. If you ask me to give a slogan now, it would be angrezi laao, desh bachao. (from No. It’s now the language of liberation by Uday Prakash).

Two things.

One – To Mr.Uday Prakash the entire debate was about Hindi vs English. Did someone remind him, that this debate is dead.

India will be multilingual. We have centuries of literature, culture, wisdom, knowledge, learning in Indian languages that we just cannot give up. The people of India, each individual will choose their language. No bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’ will decide that.

Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig.

That discussion is over. What is on the plate and up for discussion is how to support Indian languages get back on their feet, reduce the role of the State and how to create skills in multiple foreign languages. And not subsidize the West.

Two – Of course, we should not expect Uday Prakash to talk about nearly 800 years of violence against Indian education system – which must be reversed. May I point out, Mr.Prakash, that the Oriya student needs help more than the elitist English speaking student.

But Uday Prakash is in cuckoo land (and he is not alone, sadly).

from left to right: T.K. Arun ( Resident Editor, The Economic Times, New Delhi), Bernd Ziesemer (Editor in Chief, Handelsblatt) and John Lloyd (Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University

from left to right: T.K. Arun ( Resident Editor, The Economic Times, New Delhi), Bernd Ziesemer (Editor in Chief, Handelsblatt) and John Lloyd (Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University

Great start

The third part of the discussion was the most disappointing. The post starts off with a smart paragraph,

For far too long, English and other Indian languages have been squeezed into the binary slots of an artificial, mutually exclusive choice. This is grossly mistaken. We need English and other Indian languages. And there is no contradiction whatsoever in this proposition—it has the backing of logic, international experience and pedagogy. (from When a billion Indians prosper, so will their diction by TK Arun, ET Bureau).

Data … data … data …

Which is just right. He demolished the argument of “English-is-the-universal-language of progress” – with some simple data.

The world is full of countries that have populations smaller than that of a suburb of Delhi and yet not only hang on to their distinctive languages but also prosper. In Sweden or Finland, with a population of a few million, children learn in their mother tongue. They also learn a couple of foreign languages, mostly English and German. South Korea, with a population smaller than Tamil Nadu’s, teaches its children in Korean, and has seen a spectacular rise in living standards over the last five decades.

Japan is smaller than Uttar Pradesh, in population. The Japanese have built the world’s second largest economy without too many people being fluent in English. Relatively few Chinese speak English, but China is the world’s fastest growing economy. Such examples can be multiplied.

He continues with some smart logic on how

In this land, human sounds have resonated with meaning for the last five millennia. Yet, lots of us are only too eager to dump the resultant cultural richness coded into the Indian languages that survive. Why? Colonial baggage is the short answer.

The only misstep till here was the need for Indians to learn other foreign languages. Where did that go? How did he miss that?

After clinching a sale … shut up!

Then the unpreparedness shows through.

From five millenia (5000 years) he zooms to just 500 years ago, how “Indian languages came into their own with the Bhakti movement.” Did Indians use foreign languages before the Bhakti movement? Was there no literary activity inIndian languages before the Bhakti movement?

He can’t resist giving credit to the West, and continues how Indian languages “got new vigour with exposure to western literary trends and the social churning that accompanied the freedom struggle.” What great compositions happened during the colonial era which cannot be compared to earlier eras? In fact the opposite is true!

And then jumps to how in the last 15 years, Indian languages “had to wait for the economic reforms to get a further shot in the arm— the base of prosperity expanded, and industry’s need to tap into this prosperity channelled advertising to regional newspapers, leading to a surge in Indian language publishing.”

Did nothing happen between the freedom movement and the 1991 liberalization? What great literary achievements have we seen after economic liberalization? In fact after the 1991, economic liberalization, Indians won more English language prizes (Bookers and Man prizes).

Then came the bathos

He concludes with a fantastic leap of unreason, with a maudlin and contradictory statement that “Indian languages require, thus, better teaching of English as a foreign language and social transformation that will allow all Indians, and not just a tiny elite, to globalise.”

Where did that come from?



Bankrupt ideas on Restructuring Indian education system – The Economic Times

December 11, 2008 7 comments

Despite big increases in the education budget (the Eleventh Five-Year Plan has been called an Education Plan), government just does not have resources to fund expansion of the system rapidly enough to meet the growing demand, given other competing resource requirements. Even within the education sector, priority will be given — quite rightly — to primary and secondary education. Dependence on government funds will, therefore, exacerbate the quantitative mismatch between supply and demand for higher education.(via Restructuring the education system- Opinion-The Economic Times).

Kiran Karnik a well known Indian ‘intellectual’, writes this long article on the education sector. His entire focus on how to mold Indian education system on Western lines, misses a few points completely.

80% of India’s population is excluded from higher education as Indian higher system is predominantly in English. Hence, this puts a premium on English – and discounts Indian languages in the educational sweepstakes. The negative effect this on Indian self esteem is not even a point of discussion here.

The principle of exclusion (a colonial idea) is a dominant marker of the entire Indian education system – rather than inclusion. British (and before that Islamic rulers’) colonial practices supported foreign languages on the backs of the Indian taxpayers’ contribution – and actively worked on destruction of local cultures.

For instance, in the erstwhile State Of Hyderabad (equal to about 10%-12% of modern India), ruled by the Nizam, a large non-British kingdom, 2000 year old local languages like Telugu and Marathi were considered uncouth and barbaric languages – compared to a 700 year old language like Urdu, which was supported by the State. Thus anyone without the knowledge of Urdu was excluded from the system. So it is now in India, with English.

This restricts 80% of India’s population from contribution and access to opportunity. Without looking at it from an ethical point, but purely as an economic question means we should look at the cost of this policy.

How does this hinder India? India loses every year about 200,000 highly educated people to the West. These 200,000 people have been educated at subsidized Indian Universities at a considerable cost to the poor Indian taxpayer. What return does the tax payer get from this? Negative returns.

What happens when English stops being an important language in the global sphere? What use will India’s investment in English be at that time? And this will happen sooner than we imagine – at a greater cost than we believe.

What is the cost of switching from English?

Assuming that a 100,000 essential books need to translated into local languages, at a cost of say Rs.100,000 per book, it still amounts to Rs.1000 crores. Is that a large sum of money for modern India. Hardly.

What is the loss to India? How much does this reduce India’s growth rate by? Hard numbers – but defintely big numbers.

So why is India persisting with this policy. Because all the high and mighty, finally want their children to ‘escape to the West’, with a good education from India – at the cost of India’s poor. This vested interest makes this policy go around.

And a lot of propaganda.

Indian lack of Japanese language skills comes in the way ? Businessworld

November 24, 2008 5 comments

We are proud of our Anglophonicity and our connection with the US. But there is a whole world out there which does not speak English. English is not the only language of scientists and enginners. It is possible to learn from any technologically advanced country, and people can do so by learning its language. China sends thousands of young people to American universities; but it does not confine itself to the

Anglophone world. The Chinese also learn Japanese to access knowledge from Japan. Similarly, the Poles and Russians learn German to access German knowledge. Japan and Germany have not missed out on Indian brains; they just do science and technology in their own language, and use the brains of nationalities that are prepared to learn their language.

Not that Japanese companies avoid English altogether. (via Businessworld – A Perception Of India).

How India missed out …

This article lays out how India missed out on Japanese investments, technology and business – due to our well-cultivated tunnel vision about English language (amongst many other things). Indian loyalty to English language exceeds the loyalty of the British themselves to their language – and we refuse to see how this affects us.

India urgently needs to put more languages in lingual basket – instead of putting all our eggs in the English language basket.

What we cannot … however, allow ourselves to become is an outpost of the Japanese business system – which is what this article pushes India to desire.

Doing less business with India however, is as much a Japanese loss as much as Indian!!

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