In­dia’s new god­dess - English

The Church of England - - LEADER & COMMENT -

In­dia is un­for­tu­nately in the news for the wrong rea­sons at the moment, the gang rape of a med­i­cal stu­dent on a bus, prov­ing to be fa­tal for the vic­tim. We in the UK would be very hyp­o­crit­i­cal to leap to con­demn a whole cul­ture for such an event, even for the fur­ther news of kid­nap­ping of girls for sale into mar­riage. Here we have a cul­ture in which Vic­to­ria Clim­bie and Baby P can be mur­dered, with the full panoply of our car­ing pro­fes­sions stand­ing by. Here we have sex gangs prey­ing on girls ‘in care’, passed around and abused as if pieces of meat, with po­lice and crown pros­e­cu­tion ser­vices turn­ing a blind eye for rea­sons of multi-cul­tural po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. Here the BBC has been found to have spawned and pro­tected a celebrity child abuser over many years.

And UK cul­ture has been at­tacked for decades by the cul­tural left for its colo­nial his­tory, a Marx­ist con­dem­na­tion of all things Bri­tish as en­slav­ing, op­pres­sive of women, cruel to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, su­per­cil­ious to other re­li­gions. This ab­so­lutist crit­i­cism of tra­di­tional Bri­tish so­cial moral­ity now con­trols a good deal of the me­dia and the par­ties of the left. But is this crit­i­cism more than rhetoric in the cul­ture wars we are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing? If we turn to In­dia, we may find a much more mixed pic­ture. A fas­ci­nat­ing Ra­dio 4 pro­gramme, still avail­able on BBC iPlayer, ‘The God­dess of English’ cer­tainly mod­er­ates the Marx­ist crit­i­cism. In that pro­gramme Za­reer Masani takes the lis­tener through var­i­ous di­men­sions of In­dian cul­ture in their re­la­tion to the English lan­guage. His in­ter­views un­cover a pop­u­lar de­mand to ed­u­cate chil­dren into the English lan­guage as a route out of poverty and to a good job. The poor are spend­ing money on send­ing their chil­dren to schools op­er­at­ing in the medium of English for this end. Busi­nesses need young peo­ple pro­fi­cient in the lan­guage.

It is a Dalit thinker, an ‘un­touch­able’, who in­vented the ‘God­dess of English’ as an In­dian de­ity, and re­jects the crit­i­cism of In­dian right and left that he is be­tray­ing lo­cal cul­ture: rather the crit­ics al­ready have English and yet want to bar the way up to the lower caste. English gives a uni­ver­sal per­spec­tive on the world, and should go along­side lo­cal in­dige­nous cul­ture and lan­guage, ac­cord­ing to the Dalit and to busi­ness­men in­ter­viewed.

One in­ter­vie­wee ar­gues that the Arab na­tions are los­ing out on the world stage by ig­nor­ing English, un­like China. And he ar­gues that the very con­cept of to­tal equal­ity in value of all peo­ple is alien to Hin­duism, it is found pri­mar­ily in English – lan­guage bears cer­tain val­ues. So our lan­guage is of help to In­dia, in­clud­ing its the­o­log­i­cally rooted val­ues of equal­ity be­fore God.

How iron­i­cal that our po­lit­i­cal rulers are tak­ing the re­verse road here, plug­ging val­ues from other cul­tures into our so­ci­ety, of­ten which do not stress the value of each and ev­ery hu­man per­son, par­tic­u­larly poor women.

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