As a nation we have always been obsessed with the English language. We’ve almost made it a marker for excellence. If Pataal Lok said a man who liked a dog was a good man, we seem to consider that those that speak and write English.
In fact, it has led to the term Macaulayputra, to mock Indians who identify more with Lord Macaulay and are considered de-racinated from their own roots and languages.
As Amitabh Bhachchan noted in his masterclass when Rajneet asked him if he knew any English: “E lo kar lo baat. Are aisi angrezi ave hain ke I can leave angrez behind. I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, because English is a funny language.”
Perhaps that’s going to change as the new Ministry of Education announced a new policy which said that all subjects must be taught in mother tongue or regional language till Class 5.
Filed under the section Multilingualism and the Power of Language, it notes: “The policy has emphasized mother tongue/local language/regional language as the medium of instruction at least till Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond. Sanskrit to be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an option for students, including in the three-language formula.”
It adds: “No language will be imposed on any student. Other classical languages and literatures of India also to be available as options. Students to participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative. Several foreign languages will also be offered at the secondary level. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardized across the country, and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment.”
Perhaps, if that were to happen, we’d stop placing such a high marker on one language that is a constant reminder of our colonial rule which did give us one of the more memorable tributes to the peculiarities of the English language.