Angrezi and the Indians

Most of us are often awed by English speaking people – a trait that many Indians share. And if the fluency and accent is appropriate, that awe often gets converted in to worship. Why don’t people appreciate it when a person shows eloquence in Hindi, Urdu or even Punjabi? A question i keep asking myself.

A simple thought tells us the reason. Towards the end of the twentieth century, as we saw more globalized world and more jobs coming in from outside India, English became an important criteria to get a decent job. There’s no point denying the fact that English has indeed created more job opportunities for Indians, and not just in our own country but outside as well. Knowledge of any other language could not have produced the similar results for an average Indian. But this is the only truth which justifies the hype of this foreign language. There are numerous other things that happened and changed our society with the advancement of English language in India.

First and foremost, the hype itself creates a problem. Whether it’s a job interview or a practical viva, a formal speech or a bunch of boys trying to impress girls (or vice versa)- everywhere it makes people conscious. It might not be the case with you but think about millions of other Indians. They are not so good in English but struggle everyday to prove that YES THEY CAN SPEAK ENGLISH, to the people who can understand Hindi. One can see the lack of confidence in an individual if he or she struggles to communicate in English. So many institutes are coming up these days to teach English. I wonder why…

Secondly , it has created a divide among the people. Today we have three classes in our society- Not upper middle and lower but English speaking, Hinglish speaking and Hindi (or regional language) speaking. And that has in turn divided our schools, colleges and organizations. Further the organizations and institutes have different group of people belonging to these three sections and prefer to stay within themselves and not with other section. There is nothing wrong in that but i am worried about the fact that it is similar to the caste or creed system and that can never be a good sign for a country. When we say our forefathers were wrong in creating caste system, we are doing the same for future generations but of course in a different way. The simple fact that Non English speakers are hesitant to talk to English speakers because of some sort of inferiority. The feeling of superiority on the other side is equally there. The irony is that most of those English speakers understand and able to talk in Hindi (or regional language) but they prefer not to. English has connected itself with style and modernism which remains a typical mindset of many youngsters.

Thirdly, it adversely affects the productivity of our country. I have closely observed two sets of organizations – one where people try to impress others with quality English and the other where work is given priority and not the so called cool style. Think about it- Does it really matter how good or bad the English language skills of Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Anna Hazare. There is a language in which we think and that is our mother tongue in most cases. Since English is an acquired language and not native it is not possible to think in this language unless you are brought up in a family where only English is being spoken. The gap in the language of our mind and tongue may lead to lack of excellence, specially in the creative fields. Of course when we talk about the corporate world, English does matter a lot but again the question is that how many of us in our lifetime going to interact with the people who understand only English. Not more than 10 percent in a country of 1.2 billion people. Yet the majority of our students are forced to commit themselves to English, and is given priority over innovation.

Luckily in the age of internet when English has become a necessity, the language has adapted itself beautifully to suit everyone. It’s simple and easy. Even a fifth grader or a naive like me can work with it comfortably. Yes, I feel English is an important language and in fact it is the only medium through which i am able to share my thoughts with you. But i do feel that it should never be the criteria of judging an individual, nor it should be preferred over innovation and hard work. A language is a tool, let it be a tool. Equally important are other languages. It is a high time to preserve them too, else they might blend themselves in to English.

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13 thoughts on “Angrezi and the Indians

  1. ankur says:

    An article nicely written.I wish to share my thought on this matter.A language is part of your culture, your identity. I'm Indian and proud of my language i.e. Hindi It's part of me.Learning other languages opens yourself to others cultures, people and you can share things.But when I speak English,which is my second or third language,I feel that I am losing my identity in some ways.I can't express myself as I normally would in my first language and as a result, the people that I meet can't know the "real" me. English has horrendous grammar, making it difficult for non-speakers to learn and secondly it has little or no phonetic spelling.Even in England,you learn another language at school.So what I personally feel is that English is fading language as western influence fades..It would be more useful to learn either of these lingoes – Spanish, German , Arabic or even Chinese as in time, these may replace English as the "global language". So why going bonkers over some Yankee or British English???

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  2. Kundu says:

    Nicely written article although I would have loved to read how could the other languages be promoted. Many writers(of regional languages) are finding it very hard to sustain. One step that I suggest is the translation of literature in regional languages.

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  3. Deepak Rana says:

    That's why i have focused more on the psyche of the people. Once people are willing to stick to their language, discovery channel, google, facebook and news channels all will adapt themselves to that language as they have in past. The solutions will follow once people get in to that state of mind. For example we do not have many great writers in Hindi today compared to English writers. If Hindi Script writers compete with those in the hollywood, people themselves will get interested in to Hindi writings. Translation is obviously important but more important is the evolution of new ideas and innovation in regional literature. . .for some reasons it has stopped evolving and therefore hasn't adapted itself to the modern times.

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  4. My journey says:

    Very palpable read, love it when you say "When we say our forefathers were wrong in creating caste system, we are doing the same for future generations but of course in a different way". Thanks!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Well my friend you have got it completely wrong. Today we live in a globalize world and English is the only language which connects us so there should be more focus on part of both government as well as an individual to make strong efforts to include English in their day to day conersation. Unless they use English in their daily life they won't be fluent and would always struggle, so they should make it a point to converse in English. Let me give you an example from my own experiences, I know a boy who has done his schooling from a Hindi medium school. Now when he has reached in the engineering college everything is in English be it mode of instruction, books, problems everything. I could see him in one of the classes literally crying because he couldn't understand anything what the professor was saying in English. Although he was brilliant in Hindi but it's of no use when it comes to higher studies. Had he and his parents known the importance of English he would never have been in such a position. We shouldn't be too much judgmental when it comes to English and should acknowledge that adopting English language is the way forward and its only gonna be fruitful for us.

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  6. Deepak Rana says:

    if you want to limit yourself to engineering and exclude the other important aspects of education, then sure go ahead with this mindset. I feel English is something that connects us very strongly and if future generations only use English then it wont be a problem, but when your mother tongue is different from your official language it becomes a challenge to deal with every day situations…

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you; why aren't eloquent hindi or kannada speakers treated with the same kind of respect as an eloquent english speaker? And why don't they speak in the language in which they are most fluent? Because the english speakers wouldn't understand them if they did, that's why…..

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  8. Deepak Rana says:

    My mother tongue is a Pahadi dialect which doesn't have a script. Secondly, i am not against English language. My point is that hindi writer deserves the same appreciation like an English one if their content is same, but unfortunately it is not the case

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  9. Deepak Rana says:

    I think your interpretation of my article is different. I never said English is not required, nor i am against it as the number one language of the world. My only point is my considering English speakers better over Hindi speakers. French don't do that, nor the Spanish or Germans for that matter. That sense of superiority of English over regional languages, i am against that.

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