In the ultra-nationalist circles, there has been a campaign against English as it is the language of the colonial powers that subjugated the nation. Much has been done to make Hindi as the only official language of the country at the Central government level. Also the state governments have been promoting their respective regional languages, so much so, educated persons feel they are almost illiterate when they go out of their state. Even in the cities in their own states, they feel handicapped for lack of proficiency in English.
The realisation that English knowledge is essential for opportunities to get jobs and prospering in life has been dawned on common people. As a result, ‘shops’ teaching spoken English have come up all over the country.
The Delhi Government of Aam Admi Party (AAP) has earned appreciation for its focus on education. Responding to the demands of students and their families that are financially unable to send their children to expensive English medium schools, the state government has offered a course in spoken English skills in the Capital’s government schools. This will enhance the self confidence of students passing out of government schools and increase their job opportunities.
The misguided Hindi-patriotism has played havoc especially in Tamil Nadu (Madras) where anti-Hindi agitation became violent when there was an attempt to introduce Hindi as the official language. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru retreated from the step and declared English would continue to be the official language along with Hindi. And the language agitation in the South ended.
It is necessary to promote Hindi, but it need not be at the expense of English that is still the link language for the various regions of the country. But why blame Hindi-speaking states alone? States like Bengal and Kerala too, in their eagerness to give importance to their respective regional languages, neglected English teaching. After 70 years of freedom, if English still retains its prominence, there is some strength in the language, and considering it as the mother tongue of aliens is not wise. English has attained the status of the link language of the world and dominates in international sphere. Even ultra-patriotic Islamic countries and nations of the East like China and Japan, now have begun to realise the importance to English.
Our patriotism and nationalism should not be Hindi Vs English. It should be Hindi and English. All states should emulate the Delhi government’s decision to introduce spoken English in school level.