“If I had the powers of a despot, I would today stop the tuition of our boys and girls through a foreign medium and require all the teachers and professors on pain of dismissal to introduce the change forthwith. I would not wait for the preparation of text-books. They will follow the change. It is an evil that needs a summary remedy.? (Young India, 1/9/1921). This is what Mahatma Gandhi wrote more than 85 years ago. Since then India has gained Independence, has had almost 60 years of her own rule but Gandhiji'swishes remain unfulfilled.
When Macaulay created new education system for India in the 1830s his intention was to create a class of people ?Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect?. So effective was his policy that its fallout was clearly visible even in the early part of the twentieth century. Gandhiji wrote in 1938, ?I find daily proof of the increasing and continuing wrong being done to the millions by our false de-Indianising education. These graduates who are my valued associates themselves flounder when they have to give expression to their innermost thoughts. They are strangers in their own homes. Their vocabulary in the mother tongue is so limited that they cannot always finish their speech without having recourse to English words and even sentences.? (Harijan, 9/7/1938)
When India gained Independence the Indian leaders who formed the government were themselves the products of Macaulay'ssubverting educational system. In fact the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru considered himself to be the last Englishman to rule India. No effort was made to change the education policy of the British which had been strategically designed to make India a truly dominated nation. Owing to Nehru'swesternised outlook Gandhiji'splea for Indianising education, was shoved below the carpet.
In the heart of the Hindi belt, in big malls, showrooms, eating joints and hotels, salespersons and customers will be found interacting in English. Though privately all parties would confess that they are more comfortable in their mother tongue, it is a matter of status to speak English in public places. Women are anxious to show off their fluency in English at kitty parties and are swollen with pride when their children do the same. When searching for a suitable bride, convent educated girls are preferred, assuming that they have good command over the English language. ?Hi? or ?hello? are used for greeting as ?namaste? is considered to be outdated. Neighbours are addressed as ?uncle-aunty? instead of ?chacha-chachi? or ?mausa-mausi?. Calls from banks, credit card companies and investment companies are invariably in English with distinct American accent, often difficult to grasp for an average Indian. Even the local Hindi dailies are sprawled with English words. Name plates, hoardings, banners are all mostly in English.
The urge to imitate everything that is western can be most profoundly felt amongst the college students. Listening to western music, watching English movies, going to discos are all fashionable. On the other hand, folk songs that have come down through generations are unheard of. Girls dressing traditional are mocked as ?behenji types?. For the boys dhoti or kurta-pajama is considered simply out of question. Almost all would fail if tested for writing the Hindi alphabets from the beginning to the end in the correct sequence.
The showbiz is probably the worst affected area. The Miss India contest is conducted in English. So are the award functions of Hindi films, fashion shows and modeling competitions. The casting and subtitles of Hindi films are in English. The actors and singers who earn their living out of Hindi films and songs act as though struggling for words in case they are made to speak Hindi in an interview. Even the expressions and gestures of actors in Hindi films are increasingly being aped from their American counterparts, often making the look and the behaviour of the characters in the stories very alien, un-Indian. Hindi songs are sung in American accent. The FM radio jockeys use a miserable mixture of Hindi and English. The advertisements in Hindi are contaminated with English words. So are the Hindi news channels.
Gandhiji'sabhorrence for foreign medium can be felt in his words, ?Among the many evils of foreign rule this blighting imposition of a foreign medium upon the youth of the country will be counted by history as one of the greatest? If this process is still persisted in, it bids fair to rob the nation of its soul. The sooner therefore educated India shakes itself free from the hypnotic spell of the foreign medium, the better it would be for them and the people.? (Young India, 5/7/1928).
Indeed the soul of the nation has been robbed and we have done nothing to free ourselves from the hypnotic spell. When some laudable efforts were made by the NDA government to Indianise the education, Gandhiji'sCongress vehemently opposed calling it ?saffronisation? of education. The Congress has reduced Gandhiji merely to a poster boy and abandoned his ideology. It can only conduct dramatic yatras to spread Gandhiji'smessage without implementing any of it. The RSS which is often accused of Gandhiji'smurder must be credited for having kept his ideology alive.