By Dr B. Bhattacharya
Continuing our debate on the role of English in India, we present here more articles received in response to the open forum dated July 4, 2004.
The topic of debate as introduced in ?Open Forum? (Organiser, July 4/11, 2004) is one of the highest priorities of all true Indians now. T.B. Macaulay submitted his lengthy minutes to the Governor- General of India in February 1835 wherein he advocated spread of Western education amongst the higher classes of people in India through the medium of English. His intention was to create an elite section in the upper-class Indians who would be separated from the larger section of masses by their tastes and habits, manners and practices and would remain as Indians only in blood and colour of their skin. They would like to consider themselves as more close to the ruling class, thus creating a supportive base within the influential native population in favour of British regime. His motive was highly sinister to divide the Indians into various camps and then rule them forever.
Macaulay had very little information about India and her ancient history. The injury inflicted upon her soul during the past one thousand years by the aggressors from West Asian countries reduced her people to a disintegrated, superstitious and frustrated lot to be pitied by anyone like this newly arrived arrogant English Lord. But the latent spark in this ancient nation got ignited by the touch of education, though foreign and partial, and brought into fore in no time the patriotism which had so long remained dormant in its heart. People all over India and from all walks of life, joined hands to liberate their motherland from the clutches of foreign yoke?their war-cry was Vande Mataram?I bow to thee, O Mother!? After a long struggle and sacrifice of countless lives, India achieved freedom albeit divided into three parts on communal basis, which is however a separate story.
It was but natural that India, possessing a distinctive culture and shaped to a common mould by many generations of shared historical experiences, would choose the path of progress which would be best suited for nation- building. But the political events of independent India, it appears, were destined to move in a different direction. Lack of conviction and commitment to the ideology, made the new rulers unable to identify the real requirements of the new-born nation. As a result, even after a lapse of 57 years, the nation is yet to be settled in its real shape and character. A nation, I feel, cannot be made strong if the people are divided by the Constitution itself on the basis of religion. Equality of individual rights of all people must be maintained at any cost but the concept of ?more than equal? is a stigma of body-politic and must not be allowed to continue. Proper education to our young generation on this issue is the need of the day.
People all over India and from all walks of life, joined hands to liberate their motherland from the clutches of foreign yoke?their war-cry was Vande Mataram?I bow to thee, O Mother!
India is a multi-lingual country. During British rule, English was the official language for all purposes. After Independence, Hindi has been made the official language and English has been retained as an associate official language till all non-Hindi speaking states approve of its abolition. India is a vast country and there is no harm if more Indian languages can be included in the panel of associate official languages. There must be a general consensus on this issue and nothing must be done as an imposition. But it is certain that English should be removed from the list as early as possible.
The tiny states of north-east India have their own problem of language. Most of their languages are yet to be developed. They have no script of their own and Roman script is used for writing their languages. Removal of English language as an associate language of India would be practicable only after a satisfactory solution of these vexed problems.
After India attained Independence, English-medium public schools and Catholic missionary schools appear to have received a boost which is apparent from their fungus-like growth in all corners of the country. The ?products? of these academic centres appear to be more ?English? than the indigenous English of UK. Their lifestyle, dress code, ethical sense, etc. in general, seem to have been shifted far away from our national life. The bulk of populace with such an eroded culture is on the increase at a fast rate. The phenomenon poses a serious threat to Indian culture and society and is a potential danger to the stability of our nation. The neo-Macaulayist of electronic and print media are spewing venom over anything appearing to them as traditionally Indian, branding them as ?communal?. In a post-synodal apostolic exhortation of the Holy Father, John Paul II, on the issue relating to education, it has been said as follows: ?Throughout Asia, the church'sinvolvement in education is extensive and highly visible and is, therefore, a key element of her presence among the people of the continent. In many countries, Catholic schools play an important role in evangelisation.? It is no surprise that the young generation, both boys and girls of present India has moved far away from the roots and has lost the mooring of the spiritual life of the forefathers. Conversion to other religious faiths is of little importance to such a generation.
Education through English medium has to be totally discarded in India. However, English should be retained as a subject of study so that India can maintain her links with the changes and developments in science and technology in the international arena. The regional languages listed in Schedule VIII shall be given adequate scope to develop fully so that the people using these languages can acquire formal education to the highest level in their own language.
Sanskrit occupies a very important position in our national life. It is one of the oldest and richest languages of the world but the tragedy lies in the fact that the national government of India did not find it necessary to pay fair attention to the development of the language and make it popular among the common people. Sanskrit is found to be one of the most compatible languages for computer programming. Ancient India'swisdom will reach the people when Sanskrit, the storehouse, is made open to them. It is highly necessary that efforts should be extended in this direction that will generate confidence and self-esteem in the minds of our young generation. The language should also be included in Schedule VIII as the mother of Indian languages and also because there are groups of people living in certain parts of our country who interact amongst themselves in Sanskrit. If required, statutory provisions should be amended accordingly.
Macaulay failed to fulfill his colonial mission as the people at large could not be separated from their roots and it was his clan who had finally to forsake the country, leaving behind their colonial interests. But the forces enumerated below which are active to destabilise and denationalise our country have been allowed to raise their heads by the follies of our policy- makers who took over the rein from the hands of colonial rulers: * Marxism as a political concept, discarded by the countries of its origin. * Neo-Macaulayists of the print and electronic media who are puppets in the hands of their foreign masters. * Islamic fundamentalism?a direct affect of the faulty constitutional provision. * Proselytisation of the Christian missionaries.
These forces are active under the catchy slogan of secularism. They are distorting our ancient history with a purpose. It is high time that all people who love the country will rise to the occasion to join hands to restore and preserve the ancient intellectual treasure, which is our ancestry that has to be handed over to our posterity.
(Writer can be contacted: R-8, Navadarsha, Birati, Kolkata-700051.)