The day was August 8, 1942 when the resolution of Quit India Movement was passed at the Bombay Session of the All India Congress Committee. The failure of Cripps Mission, which offered dominion status to India, led to the launch of the movement for which Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan of ‘Do or Die’. The objective of the movement was to reject the British rule and its influence in the country and to send out a message to India’s colonial masters to withdraw its governance and make space for Indians to self-rule.
The mass movement launched 80 years ago on this day delivered a major blow to the British rule in India which culminated to the country’s independence 5 years after its launch. However, even 75 years after the Britishers quit India, Indians have not let the influence, even the negative aspects of it, to die down completely.
On the 80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement, let us explore the influence of English language in India.
English is a Language. Not a mark of Intelligence.
English language is a major hurdle to progress of so many people in India. Irrespective of their talent or intelligence, lack of fluency in English often viewed as a weakness which results in them having limited opportunities of growth. For sure there are stories wherein people achieve a great deal of success despite their lack of proficiency in the colonial language, however such stories are exceptions rather than a norm.
The pressure to speak in English correctly with correct usage of grammar is very intense. It is not unusual for everyone to know someone in their close circle who will immediately stand up to correct everyone else’s English if it is spoken incorrectly. The focus is on the correct usage of language, and not on the message that is being communicated. The person who is prone to making such errors in English is often ridiculed and considered to be dumb, irrespective of his/her expertise in their own field or sector.
Manil Agarwal, Founder, Sustenable.co and Proprietor, Manil.co says, “The job of a language is to communicate everything from the most basic need of asking for water to help people engage and solve the most complex problems such as climate change, poverty and consumerism. You will find people who can use English only for the very basic survival but can present solutions to problems such as water insecurity in their native tongue. So never should one be written off because they do not know English or know only elementary English.”
Add to the argument, PR Professional, Devesh Purohit says, “The parameters to evaluate the intelligence of an employee or individual majorly involve the skill sets, educational qualifications and grasping power. Other major aspects to consider would be integrity, ethics, value system, teamwork, dedication and what does an individual brings to the table. English is a language that can be learned over a period of time by anyone. If someone doesn’t know English, it means they definitely know some other language and can communicate well to that language-speaking audience which is an asset. Not everyone knows beautiful languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Rajasthani, French, Spanish and others. The majority of the successful Entrepreneurs in India know Gujarati and Rajasthani because they hail from that soil. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Tom Cruise don’t know Hindi, Gujarati, Rajasthani and Bengali that doesn’t take away their intelligence, their skills, their talent and their legacy. Today we live in a globalized world whose core is D&I (Diversity & Inclusion). The aptitude of any individual cannot be judged on the only parameter of proficiency in the international language.”
Indians – second largest number of English Speakers
India claims to be the world’s second-largest English-speaking country. Surprisingly, it has more English speakers than even the UK – the country where the language originated. About 10 per cent of the population of India are currently English speakers, which amounts to over 125 million people. With the importance the language receives in the country, it is expected to quadruple in the next decade.
The proficiency of the Indians in the English language has benefitted significantly, as it has earned the country a name in the service industry across the world, which contributes significantly to its GDP. India is also the world’s largest exporter of human resources and also contributes significantly to the rise of the global economy. And all of this has been possible because of the proficiency in the English language among the Indian people. However, this does not come without certain costs.
Imparting English Language Education is Expensive
The English language is a primary medium of communication in a multi-lingual country. Especially when it comes to communication between the Dravidian languages speaking states and Indo-Aryan languages speaking states. Considering the fact that only 10 per cent of the total population in India speaks English, imparting the knowledge of this language is not very economical. This is much more expensive when compared to imparting the knowledge of Hindi, as about 40 per cent of the country’s population is already proficient with it.
In lieu of these statistics, the union government of India has been making efforts to increase the acceptance of the Hindi language across the country. The motive is not to impose the Hindi language against to the native regional languages, but it is to favour Hindi as against English. After all, it is time for Indians to let go of the influence of their previous colonial masters, and embrace all which is Indian to ensure holistic and collective progress for India and Indians alike.