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Will English dominate India in another fifty years?

May 29, 2008

school kidsEnglish is now the third most important language in India if one goes by the medium of instruction at upper primary level. That’s significant in a country of 22 official languages. Hindi is still way ahead which isn’t surprising as Hindi speaking states are more populated and even when it comes to the number of states, Hindi is a language which is spread across several states (in the north). Here are the figures for enrolment (from National University for Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA):

  • About 50 percent of students at the upper primary level study in Hindi-medium schools
  • About 8 percent study in Marathi medium schools
  • About 6 percent of students study in English medium schools

More kids go to English medium schools than these figures show
It’s important to realise that these figures do not give the true picture as there are a huge number of unrecognized schools on the Indian educational landscape and many of these are English medium schools. A study in Punjab had revealed that about 26 percent of students of the total number enrolled study in unrecognised schools, and these unrecognized schools often have better infrastructure and facilities than government schools. This is probably true of other states as well and this means that our researchers and planners are “missing the visible but unseen in their analysis of the current enrolment and their plans to provide education for all.”

What I am trying to say is that English has far more followers that the government figures show.

Startling growth of English medium schools
According to government figures, enrolment in English medium schools (upper primary) is at an all-time high, having increased a sharp 74 percent in just three years – during 2003-2006.
The most dramatic increases are in the southern states. Only two Hindi speaking states (Punjab and Himachal Pradesh) show significant increases in enrolment in English medium schools.

  • Andhra Pradesh – 100 percent increase (from 10.6 lakh to 20.9 lakh)
  • Tamil Nadu – 17 percent increase (from 14.7 lakh to 17.2 lakh)
  • Maharashtra – 12 percent increase (10.6 lakh to 11.9 lakh)
  • Punjab (up by 93,000) and Himachal Pradesh – both 4 percent increase each
  • Karnataka – 2 percent increase
  • Kerala – 3 percent increase (from 2.4 lakh to 3.2 lakh)

Percentage figures for Gujarat were not available but the actual number of students studying in English medium schools has gone by 60,000 in the state. In Rajasthan the number is 30000 which isn’t a bad figure at all although lower than the states mentioned above. Other Hindi speaking states do not show significant increases.

One needs to keep in mind that certain states (North-East for example) which already have a high percentage of students studying in English medium schools will have slower or negligible growth in enrollment into English medium schools. I wonder if at least partly that is the reason why the Gujarat figures are low as well but I do not have confirmation of this. Then there are states where overall enrollment has decreased, and these states too will show a slower growth in enrollment into English medium schools. This has happened both in Kerala and Karnataka. In Kerala the reason for low overall enrollment is thought to be to because of negligible population growth but I am not sure what the reason is in Karnataka.)

Where the northeastern states are concerned, the growth figures would be negligible as English-medium schools already have a 90 percent share of total enrolment. In Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim enrolment in English medium schools is almost 99 percent!

In Manipur, Goa and Chandigarh, it’s about fifty percent, very high as compared to the rest of the states of India.

It is believed that even Jammu Kashmir has a high level of students enrolling in English medium schools but figures were not available.

Regional languages as medium of instruction on the decline
All regional language medium schools (including Hindi) are showing either a decline or a sluggishness in growth (2003-2006) in percentage terms. However when it comes to Hindi medium schools, actual numbers have increased due to a greater increase in population of Hindi speaking states.

The fall in enrolment in regional language medium schools is proportionate to the increase in English medium education.

Why do people prefer to educate their kids in English medium schools?
It’s very difficult to answer this question but I have some theories and you are welcome to add any.

  1. People feel that only English can help their kids do well in life because higher education in India is in English and all employers prefer people who speak English
  2. Some places have a larger number of good quality English medium schools than vernacular medium schools and parents want the best school for their child
  3. There is a loss of faith in government schools, most of which are not English medium schools
  4. A large number of Indians in urban areas see English as a good link language in a country where many languages are spoken. They also see English as a global link language.
  5. A large number of Indians think that English has become an Indian language and in fact we have developed our own version of English. They do not think of it as an alien language
  6. English carries with it some element of snob value and everyone wants to learn it to increase their social status

Why is there a slower growth in enrollment in English medium schools in some states?

  1. For some reason people there are not convinced about the economic benefits of English
  2. More people in the north of India see English as an alien language. This has a historical reason as the northern states bore the brunt the racism practiced by our then British rulers and the “rising of the nationalist movement in the 1920’s brought some anti-English sentiment with it.” Thus the local languages became emotionally associated with nationalism and patriotism and these feelings persist to this day

What does the future hold?
The language trends are clear to see. English is growing slowly and steadily. Even in the north which is a Hindi speaking bastion, states like Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are going against the trend there. I have no doubt that a day will come, perhaps sometime in the next 50 years, when all parents will want to educate their children in English medium schools.

Is this the end of the road for our regional languages?
I doubt it. In fact I have had various opinions on this on my language post. From what I gleaned from there is that the dominant regional languages will survive. Hindi has two big advantages: one, the maximum number of Indians speak it and two, Hindi speaking states do not make it compulsory for students to learn any Indian language except Hindi. Students in other states (except Tamil Nadu) have to learn two Indian languages compulsorily (in addition to English), and while one is their mother tongue the other is Hindi. This dilutes the effort spent on their mother tongue. Most people in non-hindi speaking states grow up learning 2 Indian languages plus English and often take up a foreign language as well. As they enter college, English is the medium of instruction and although Hindi is not compulsory anymore, a language other than English is compulsory for Humanities courses. Students who feel disinclined to start learning a new language like French often take Hindi as they are already proficient at it after having learnt it at school. And in any case, not all colleges offer the students the facilities of learning a foreign language like French or German. French and German are the most popular foreign languages although this is changing and students are showing a lot of interest in Chinese and Japanese.

(Photograph is copyrighted to me)

Related Reading: The language issue in India
Does language divide Indians socially?
The multiculturalism of India
The British and the Americans don’t like Marathi “chauvinism”

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175 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2008 11:33 am

    Hindi is NOT the national language of India!

    According to the Constitution which came into force on Jan 26, 1950, English was to be the official language of the Central government for 15 years. NOW, ANY LANGUAGE ACCEPTED BY A STATE OF INDIA AS ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE WOULD BE A NATIONAL LANGUAGE.

    FOR THE PAST 21 years, I have been under the impression that Hindi is the national language of India. Just a couple of days back I realised that India does not have a national language. I felt ashamed. How come I did not know this? Thank God, I am not alone in this. My friends are also under the impression that Hindi is the Raashtra Bhasha of India. Also, I can safely conclude that more than half of India’s population is under the same impression. Oh, come on, India!

    But now it surprises me to hear that India never had a national language. This explains why India attached importance to each of its constituent languages. I do not know who first put this thought in my mind. There is one very interesting fact about the languages of India. Though India may boast of being home to many major languages of the world, this abode of languages, ironically, does not have a national language of its own. According to the Constitution of India, any language, accepted by a State of India as its official language will be given the status of national language. In India, no language is accepted or spoken by the States unanimously. Even Hindi, the language spoken by most people, is unable to attain the status of national language as it is does not fulfil the condition laid down by the Constitution of India. Though Hindi is spoken by a large number of people, only ten States of India have accepted it as their official language.

    Article 343 of the Constitution declares Hindi as the official language of the Un-ion of India. English remains the additional official language. It is the authoritative legislative and judicial language. In fact, one could say that English is the official language of India for all practical purposes. For many educated Indians, English is virtually their first language though a large number of Indians are multi-lingual.

    Then what is the difference between national and official language? The national language defines the people of the nation, culture and history. The official language is used for official communication. While the national language can become the official language by default, an official language has to be approved by law in order to become the national language. All languages spoken in India, starting from the language spoken by the most people to that spoken by the least are our national languages. This is because all of them define the people of this nation, culture and their history, collectively. India has no legally-defined national language; it has only 18 official languages according to the Constitution. There is a special provision for the development of Hindi under Article 351, though.

    According to article 351, “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages”.

    This section is the most shocking section of the constitution that is causing all the problems in India.

    The Constitution of India came into existence on January 26, 1950. It said that Hindi and English would be the “official languages” of the Central government of India till 1965 (for a period of 15 years); subsequently, Hindi was expected to become the sole “national and official language” of India. This applied to Central as well as State governments. Hindi and English became the “official languages” in every department controlled by the Central government. This explains why Hindi is prominent in the Indian Railways, the nationalised banks, etc, which come under the purview of the Central government.

    As January 26, 1965 neared, some in the non-Hindi belt, particularly the Tamils, started voicing their apprehensions openly. The idea of making Hindi the sole national language was blasphemous to the students as it involved the simultaneous and complete withdrawal of English, even as a medium for competitive examinations for jobs and education! This meant that the northern region would bag government jobs and dominate the field of education, given the proficiency in Hindi of the people of the region. Since government jobs were the most sought after in the pre-1991 era, the measure was seen as an indirect attempt to deny jobs to the English-educated South Indians. The non-Hindi-speaking people from South India feared that they would be discriminated against in government employment and in other possible ways. Between 1948 and 1961, on an average, every year, close to 24% of Central government officials had been selected from the State of Madras (the present-day Tamil Nadu). Uttar Pradesh came second best, accounting for about 16%.

    The 1940s, 1950s and the first half of the 1960s witnessed many anti-Hindi pro-tests in the form of public meetings, marches, hunger strikes and demonstrations before schools and Central government offices; black flag demonstrations greeted Central government ministers. Most of these were organized either by the DK or the DMK and the general public supported them fully. There were hundreds of such protests from Tamil Nadu and thousands were jailed. Several hundreds were injured when police used lathi-charge to disperse the peaceful protesters. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then PM, even though supportive of the pro-Hindi group, came up with a set of compromises that denied Hindi the “sole national language” status, realising the seriousness of the issue.

    To all my fellow broad-minded patriotic Indians whose mother tongue, and hence national and official language is not Hindi, please do not be fooled into thinking that there is only one national or official language of India. Be proud to speak in your own mother tongues i.e. ALL OUR NATIONAL AND OFFICIAL LANGUAGES, INCLUDING ENGLISH! If there is a language that can unify India, it can only be English!

  2. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    June 8, 2008 1:16 pm

    //Hindi is among the rare languages on earth which has wonderful ability to spread//

    The ability to spread has nothing to do with “beauty and richness”…a virus can spread too.

  3. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    June 8, 2008 1:18 pm

    ராஜ் (Raj / రాజు్),

    That’s an impressive amount of homework you have done. It would be nice if you could give complete citations of whatever references you mention.

  4. June 8, 2008 9:19 pm

    विवेक (વિવેકભાઈ),

    Thanks. I loved your second last comment 😀

    Here are the references:

    # Universal declaration of linguistic rights in both Català and English – UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF LINGUISTIC RIGHTS

    # The part about the Karnataka Rakhshana Vedike is from Wikipedia.

    # The book The Constitution and Language politics of India is edited by Wg. Cdr. B. V. R. Rao.

    # Two articles were written by Ramachandra Guha, the columnist, historian, biographer and cricket historian.

    # One article is from the Time Magazine

    # I am not able to find the source of the last article at the moment.

    # The article that would interest you the most ofcourse is The Stalinization of Hindi by Onkar Joshi

    I realise now that Mr. Onkar Joshi has protected his page by copyright. I apologise to Onkar and Nita and to anyone else whose copyright I may have infringed upon.

  5. Guqin permalink
    June 9, 2008 7:50 am

    Raj and Vivek,

    I just saw your comments addressed to me.

    Common script for Chinese started only a little over 2000 years ago when King of Qin Kingdom re-united China, but other scripts co-exist today as well (Tibetan, Mongalian etc. If you can find a Chinese paper money, you will see them on it.).

    I am not sure if Chinese languages are as rich as Inida’s after 22 centuries of unification (Some parts join in later). There are lots of dialects though. For example, Shanghai city has its only dialect. I come from the south, in my family there are only four people but we speak three different dialects due to my parents’ migration (still within the county, less that 100 km from one another).

  6. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 9:38 am

    \\ The ability to spread has nothing to do with “beauty and richness”…a virus can spread too.\\

    -Then English is the biggest virus on earth

  7. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 10:46 am

    someone said Hindi is mother tongue of people only in Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh……..I wonder then what is my mother tongue???…

    I dont know what they think the language of Delhi and Haryana is?……….Perhaps they dont know that majority of Himachal Pradesh is Hindi speaking and majority of J&K is Urdu speaking, perhaps they dont know that Hindi Grammer considers Punjabi as a dilect of Hindi

  8. June 9, 2008 11:50 am

    Nonsense! I merely quoted someone else! But see how that person is claiming the beautiful national and official language, Punjabi as a “dialect”! Shame on the notorious linguo-fascists!

    English is the lingua franca of the world that was never imposed on people from the non-Commonwealth countries!

    So English is NOT a virus!

    On the other hand, a language that is imposed by hook or crook on others IS a virus!

  9. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 12:30 pm

    Certain people dont know that anyone who understand Hindi can easily understand punjabi and vice versa……….

    Punjabis are among the most partiotic people in the country, despite of the fact that the state of Punjab is the richest in the country, and punjabis are not more than 3-4% of india’s population…Punjabis form the biggest chunk in india’s army…and were among the pioneers in india’s freedom struggle….also they are among the most successful individuals in the country in all fields……….One should go and ask a Punjabi, about the closeness between the two languages

    People dont uderstand thet Hindi is a family of languages which keeps changing from east to west…….In east ie Bihar it is Bhojpuri…moving towards west, in eastern and central UP it becomes Avadhi, more towards west it becomes Bundeli, In western UP, Delhi and Haryana it becomes Khari Boli, and towards extreme west it becomes Punjabi………….

    After the independence when Hindi was supposed to be the official language of India, then there was confusion that “Which Hindi” to be made as official language of India…………and out of so many Hindis, punjabi was considered as seperate language……Though technically it is a seperate language, but Practically it is a dialect of Hindi

    see the following link, where it is stated that out of so many Hindi languages Punjabi was given status of seperate language……..same is the case of Hindi and Urdu, both are technically different languages but practically are same languages…i Have the highest regard of Punjabi and Urdu as seperate languages………..but practically all are dialects of one language…..PUNJABI IS A DIALECT OF HINDI AND HINDI IS A DIALECT OF PUNJABI

  10. vish permalink
    June 9, 2008 1:02 pm

    “So English is NOT a virus! ” English is an Anti-Virus for non hindians…

  11. June 9, 2008 2:14 pm

    Oh my God! A certain person wants to claim the beautiful national and official languages of India, Punjabi and Urdu and Kashmiri as “dialects”! What a shame!

    Ha . . . ha . . . ha, well said Vish!

    If English is a virus, then why is a certain person commenting on an English blog???

  12. justrecently permalink
    June 9, 2008 2:30 pm

    @ Suresh Jani: I don’t think people who learn English need to stop speaking their mother tongue.
    Will the degree to which English is spoken in India mirror the degree to which there will be general access to higher education and prosperity ? It seems to be so – who would want to pay for a higher education infrastructure in different languages, especially as higher education is internationally embedded?
    This may come at the cost of cultural richness – but only if “studied” people don’t appreciate their own richness.

  13. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 3:07 pm

    Those people who are divided on regions and languages want to see rest of india too divide like them
    I would also say HINDI IS A DILECT OF PUNJABI……………..Take Punjabi, take Hindi, Take Urdu, Take Kashmiri…..ALL ARE NORTH INDIAN LANGUAGES…………..all are from the same family and are very close to one another

    Punjab is home to punjabi

    Lucknow is home to Urdu

    Kashmir is home to kashmiri

    and here people are not divided on languages and regions like some other places in the country

  14. June 9, 2008 3:22 pm

    One particular person does not know that we broad-minded patriotic people of the West, South, East, North-East and North-North-West are UNITED because of our linguistic diversity and because of English!

    On the other hand certain people from one particular region of the country are divided because of caste, religion, etc. and they want to see the whole of India messed up like certain states!

  15. Ravi permalink
    June 9, 2008 3:29 pm

    I think everyone appreciates english no matter where they go in India. I just came back from pune and there I had to converse in hindi to autowalas n hotel attendents besides them everyone(maharastrians) think that english is cool. Its surprising to see some people not digesting english in this developing country. I wish al those people someday would realize that they are realizing out of their sense.

    Single script is totally lame and impossible to implement (absurd). I suck at learning to speak a language its ridiculous to ask someone to learn a new script. People dont have time to learn a computer language for living how come some person here is asking to learn a new script which is of no use…this isnt cool and sucks big time.

    I feel real sorry for this person who keeps draggin patriotism into each and every issue related to india. I dont have any impression on punjabis except they produce some cool music videos. I have just googled and shocked to figure that punjabis bombed an airindia aircraft, punjabis created violence in punjab for a seperate state and punjabis killed one of our PM. I bet these are not patriotic things…. 🙂 Dude! you gotta know that GENERALIZING is shitty..LOL

  16. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 4:01 pm

    ha ha ha

    and i thought in south there is only one cast and one religion

  17. June 9, 2008 5:22 pm


    Please don’t generalise Punjabis or Sikhs because of the comments of one particular person. He does not even know that Punjabi is a national and official language in India and also the language of Punjab province in Pakistan.
    Vivek M, Who said that there is only one caste and religion in the South? We are united despite all the differences because we share a cool national and official language, English. . .

    Raj, Ravi was just trying to show how pointless it is to generalize. That was the only reason why there was no need to moderate his comment…he was not telling us that Punjabis or Sikhs are like this…he was saying that each and every community has these incidents. – Nita.

  18. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 5:50 pm

    Everybody understand here that it’s silly to generalise anything or any community………..But strangely some people dont understand that one particular person has been gereralising one particular region which doesn’t come under south, east,west,and “north north west”

    vivek m, that is what is called flaming..when a person provokes others to respond in the same way and the person who has provoked it is you with your generalized statements. Anyway, I have now edited that part. In fact even this comment of yours had to be edited. – Nita.

  19. June 9, 2008 6:18 pm

    Ha . . . ha . . . ha, we have the person who said that 95% of all North-Easterners are terrorists talking about generalisation! That comment is still there on two posts! It shows who is causing all the flaming on this blog!

  20. June 9, 2008 6:26 pm

    Thanks so much for this interesting discussion. I have learnt a lot from it.

    I would like to add one thing: it is not necessarily a burden (even if it might seem like it at the time) to learn multiple languages when growing up. Several studies have shown that learning more than one language in childhood improves flexibility of thinking among other measures of mental ability. It can also lead to improved dexterity in the mother tongue.

    This link gives a selection of the research carried out on this topic:

    The research cited here seems to concentrate on second language learning, but I have read elsewhere that children can learn multiple languages at the same time without much problem.

    Sure, children can learn, but here we are not saying they can’t. We are saying the unfairness of an additional burden on kids only of particular states. In today’s competitive world, where every mark counts, it is not fair to burden just kids of some states with another language. Many of these tots, most of whom do not come from privileged backgrounds, struggle with their school work and can barely manage to pass! – Nita.

  21. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 6:33 pm


    I henceforth stop commenting on any of the sensitive topics on this blog…………and those who want only one sided debate on any such topics are welcome

    Thanks Vivek. You have left some very good comments on my other posts…I don’t know what happens when you comment on this sensitive topic! – Nita.

  22. June 9, 2008 6:50 pm


    It may not be burden only for a few people. But it IS a burden for the majority of children in India to learn more than two languages(and scripts) in school. Not to mention the burden of textbooks and notebooks that they have to carry. Besides this burden is imposed on only the children in certain states and not on those in other states!

  23. vivek mittal permalink
    June 9, 2008 7:16 pm


    i would add something to above………….for the first time i experienced regionalism in this country was about 2 yrs back when i was 24, a friend of mine who hails from a southern state, told that in NIT Trichy they used to make fun of north indians…that they dont take bath, they are all stupid etc……….i was shocked to hear this ……probably after this very instant i became cautious about north south debates unlike majority of north indians……..but i do realize i cant generalise the comment by that friend of mine….

    Anyway, i’ll henceforth never write on any issue about regionalism or language……..and would add that everything i’ve written on such topics are my personal views and are often provoked by other comments

    Dear Raj

    i have had lots of childish exchanges with you, but i never intend to criticize you in person……Many times i have seen your blog through link from Nita’s blog…and your articles are very impressive……hope you wont mind if sometime i comment there

  24. June 9, 2008 8:05 pm


    The first time I experienced linguo-fascism in our country was on the internet on several sites, where there are extremely stupid comments made against non-North Indians. I was shocked to read such comments, but I don’t tend to generalise unless someone provokes me to do so!

    Dear Mr. Mittal,

    I don’t intend to critise you as a person either. I agree with Nita that your comments on non-sensitive topics are good. You are welcome to comment on any article in my blog (as long as you adhere to my comment policy) 🙂

  25. Ravi permalink
    June 9, 2008 10:38 pm

    Ha ha hah… Apparently all of you are on a spree of apologizing to each other…cool! Punjab proved to have patriots as well as terrorists and I think its the same elsewhere in south/west/east india. If someone comes up with [regional] patriotism then they must be prepared to take blame for terrorism as well. No offense. I did not expected this generalizing stuff go this far…anyhow WOW [positively] its good to see people stop generalizing stuff.


    By the way I wasnt generalizing and I would never do that. But I was just laughing my ass off to people who generalize some community as patriots and some other as indian caucasians…Laughing…Tried a little hard to poke fun at ’em. While doing so you got me wrong but its ok…have fun criticizing….

  26. June 10, 2008 2:25 am

    రవి (Ravi),

    I didn’t get you wrong, man. I’m sorry if my comment sounded that way. I know you were just responding in a funny way 🙂

    विवेक (વિવેકભાઈ) and Guqin,

    Thanks for your responses on the Chinese languages and script. The Chinese script seems to be quite unique to me. What about Japanese and Korean? Do the graphemes in those languages also represent ideas? I have heard that the Japanese script uses a lot of characters borrowed from the Chinese script.

  27. Guqin permalink
    June 10, 2008 7:38 am


    Japanese has two seperate systems, one of them is just Chinese script, the other looks like components of Chinese characters (with variation of course). I am not an expert on Japanese. Korean used to use Chinese scripts and later invented their current script.

  28. Ravi permalink
    June 10, 2008 9:33 am

    Dude that is so awesome you wrote my name in telugu….I m officially on cloud 9 after seeing my name in my mother tongue that is so nice of you . …thank you so much 😉

  29. June 13, 2008 10:09 pm

    I am in America in June 2008, usually in Pune. I speak Marathi, have working knowledge of Gujarati. I was
    surfing on Internet, and reached this discussion. Mr
    Dhruv (in this discussion) is my valuable contact for
    last 3 years. He may tell about a movement to simplify
    Gujarati by taking uniform vowels. I have done so,
    while writing Marathi in Roman lipi. See M12 article
    on my website. (i = ee, u = oo). Interested readers
    may please contact me, refer (

  30. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 17, 2008 7:30 pm

    Dear Vivek,
    Sorry I could not reply to your querry about Anandshankar Dhruv as our telephone line bringing internet was disrupted thanks to the heavy rainfall. It has been restored today and as I opened this site I found a big discussion! Anyways, I am not related to Shri Anandshankar Dhruv. My grandfather was Vaidya Kavi Durlabhdas Dhruv. As for the discussion that followed, I am pained to see the generalisations and casting doubts on the patriotism of our felllow Indians. No, this is most uncalled for. We are all Indians speaking diverse languages, belonging to different cultures with rich heritage and yet united by the common thread of Indianness. And if there is one feature that can be claimed to mark the composite Indian culture, it is the spirit of tolerance – no, that is also not an appropriate word. For ages we have lived a collective life, accepted different cultures within us. It doesn’t behove us to talk this language of ‘u & me’. I would like to point out to Mr Vivek Mittal, that Raj, Vivek Khadpekar and I engaged in discussion on this blog ( & I thank Nita for putting my views without editing ) – obviously we hold different views. But we don’t think of each other as antinationals or anything like that. Nita and Raj had a suspicion that I was some Hindi-imposition-walla, but accepted gracefully that they were mistaken. Perhaps my tone & tenor of writing helped. We can agree to disagree without being impolite and acuusative of our intentions.

  31. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 18, 2008 7:31 am

    India has defied all the western concepts of a nation state. Their concept of a nation-state includes one language. Now evolution of nation-states is relatively a late development in human history. When India started off as a free nation, this concept of having one language had to be discussed. Ultimately we decided to have a single link-language and yet permitted re-organisation of our states on the basis of language. And against all apprehensions of an imminent dissolution as a free nation, we have marched on! While I don’t subscribe to the theories of Hindi-imperialism, I fully agree that the burden of having to learn a third language is unjustly thrust upon non-Hindi-speaking states. A link language is indeed necessary, but let it be evolved by people themselves. In the major part of North India at least, Hindi became a link language not by teaching but by interaction at people’s level over a long period of time. That would have naturally continued without resentment. But it is never too late. We are more confident today that India will hold on as a single nation not in spite of so many languages but rather because of that and because of the fact that each language has been given a scope to flourish. All the major languages of India be declared official. Even communications between a state and the centre can proceed in the state language with translation into any other Indian language as required. Amongst the educated, of course, English has already become the link language and that is good. It is a neutral language as far as India is concerned and would rise above all such debates about one Indian language trying to dominate over others. Meanwhile, Hindi or Hindlish or some such cocktail would continue to evolve side-by-side. That needn’t be taught.

  32. vivek mittal permalink
    June 18, 2008 9:05 am

    Dear Dr Dhruv

    \\ We are all Indians speaking diverse languages, belonging to different cultures with rich heritage and yet united by the common thread of Indianness. And if there is one feature that can be claimed to mark the composite Indian culture,\\

    Above statement of yours is the most beautiful thing i have heard on this debate………But i am personally very much disturbed by growing regionalism in the country…where people seem to talk about their states only..

    Anyway yes i agree with you that we need a link language and it should be evolved and need not be necessarily taught in the schools…….i too dont subscribe to the theory of Hindi imperialism……but at the same time i dont think Hindi is spreading only because it’s taught in schools….but mainly because we need an indigenous link language…..i cant imagine two construction workers, one from Bihar and one from maharashtra conversing in English……and many other factors like bollywood, television are helping

  33. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 18, 2008 10:02 am

    Dear Vivek Mittal,
    Stray incidences of regional fanaticism need not be a cause of worry. Besides every extreme step taken by a section of our people must be viewed with a keen desire to understand the causes which lead them to behave in this manner. That is the only way to remedy the situation. I think the discussion on this blog has produced a rich source of information and opening up of minds. Let us all try to understand that. The time has come to review the 3-language formula, with whatever noble intentions it may have been adopted. There is a glaring injustice perceived by an educated and patriot Indian population. Issues can be discussed and solutions can be found.

    Dr. Dhruv, I can’t thank you enough for participating in this discussion. Your mature views and a willingness to see another point of view has enriched this discussion. – Nita

  34. vivek mittal permalink
    June 18, 2008 10:45 am

    Of course the 3 language formula should be reviewed and the honourable supreme court can do justice to this matter, there is no doubt in that.

    Yes, i agree with you that it all started with a nobel intention and the leaders who took over india from the English should be thanked to give us a truely democratic country with true democratic traditions…….rather than being labeled as imperialists or nazis

    Vivek, as far as I know the Supreme Court has already made its views clear on this matter. All states in India were to adopt the 3 language policy. I think that would have been a wonderful way to create strong emotional bonds in India if each state opted to learn any other Indian language, purely based on which he/she prefers. Instead, our government has chosen to ignore the honourable supreme court. – Nita.
    p.s bollywood as an industry is so successful today because Hindi was/is taught compulsorily all over India. its compulsory in poor municipal schools also remember! And it’s the masses that bollywood has been targeting (though it’s changing now) not highly educated people, many of whom see an equal number of english movies.

  35. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    June 18, 2008 7:34 pm

    I am of course very pleased that you have appreciated my approach & if my views have enriched this debate I feel a sense of satisfaction. But I must say that it fills me with joy unspeakable to see the youth of our nation engaging in such issues as language with such studied preparedness and pride in their mother-tongues. And they have all enriched this debate. I don’t understand this issue of our languages being global. I don’t know what criteria are followed to label a language as global. But global or not, all our national languages will survive. Vivek Khadpekar sounded apprehensive that Marathi may not survive in her own state. But I don’t see such a bleak future for any of our languages. There are valid reasons for that. Each language has her own state where a huge amount of official business is carried out in that language. There is a vibrant language press existing alongside the English press. Govt of India has provided free language tools for use on computer. Apart from a large variety of Unicode fonts and the keyboard-driver, it provides open office software in our nationl languages. Unicode has made our scripts sortable & searchable in the computer. So blogging in our languages has begun on a decently large scale. Also, & this I think is also an important point, we have language channels on TV & that allows a person staying in other states also to remain in touch with his own mother-tongue. And then there are Nitas & Rajs & Viveks & Vasanths! No, deathbell for our languages has not sounded yet, & God willing shall never sound on this Land which we all love & treasure – our own beloved India!

  36. vivek mittal permalink
    June 20, 2008 2:11 pm

    Nita i dont think Govt has chosen to ignore supreme court, nor could it..

    Three languages are taught in north too..and i’ve studied Sanskrit as the compulsory third language…………..and that’s another case that knowing sanskrit adds to one’s Hindi

  37. vivek mittal permalink
    June 20, 2008 3:59 pm

    Dear Raj

    Just now i’ve scene one statement of yours about translation of “Telephone Exchange” to Hindi

    FYI translation of “Telephone Exchange” into Hindi comes out as “Durbhash Karyalay”
    I dont know from where you got the theory of “house of distant voices”

    In Hindi it’s a tradition to use the word “Alay” (Home) as suffix to form words..Few examples which come to mind instantly are…

    Karya (work)+Alay= Karyalaya (Office)

    Pustak(Book)+Alay= Pustakalay (Library)

    Vidya (Knowledge)+ Alay= Vidyalay (school)

    Even the famous mountain Himalay derive it’s name in the same fashion

    Him (Snow) + Alay= Himalay (ie home of snow)

    Though nowadays no one use above Hindi words for Office, Library and school…. as today’s Hindi is not pure Hindi but is “Hindustani” which is a mix of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi,English and “Tadbhav” Hindi words
    …….and bollywood is doing it’s bit in killing pure Hindi and spreading Hindustani…which has already become main language everywhere in North and pure Hindi is limitted to Books and speeches only..

    So, Nita…bollywood is killing Hindi too….One example i would give..if i ask you what’s the parallel word in Hindi for “Happy”..then you may respond it’s “Khush”…..But that’s not true..”Khush” is an Urdu word
    In Hindi you may call it as ” Prassana” Or ” Pulkit” Or “Mudit” Or ” Harshit” or ” Saharsh”…all these five words mean “Happy”
    …and no one use above Hindi words today

  38. June 22, 2008 10:35 am

    Dear Mr. Mittal,

    Though I posted that comment, the translation was not mine as I do not understand Hindi. I do not understand Hindustani or Urdu for that matter. And I don’t watch Bollywood movies at all, not just because they are made in a language I do not understand. Bollywood does not represent anything, let alone a country as diverse as India. I would watch good movies even if they are made in Swahili or Aymara or Aztec.


    The supreme court and the high courts of India may be less corrupt than the lower judiciary, but they have a serious limitation. They are supposed to work within the framework of the constitution. They cannot set right the severe flaws in the constitution. The article related to language in the constitution is the most stupid and ridiculously flawed article of the constitution that contradicts several other articles in the same constitution. It shockingly contradicts the principles of Equality and democracy that is supposed to be enshrined in the constitution. The three language policy is not a solution to the flaws in the constitution of India. The Hindi states have got away with teaching Sanskrit as a compulsory third language when the third language was supposed to be a modern Indian language that is very different from the mother tongue. Tamil Nadu had to fight for the same right. While Hindi may have originated from Sanskrit, modern Tamil originated from old Tamil. So, in effect, Tamil Nadu follows a three language policy of teaching modern Tamil, old Tamil and English! It is not the fault of the Tamils if our modern language is very similar to our classical language! Tamil Nadu will teach only modern Tamil, old Tamil and English as compulsory languages! No one can deny us our Human Rights under any pretext!

    The three language policy itself is a very stupid policy. School children are burdened with learning so many things which are useful for the modern world and carry so many books that there is no need for a totally unnecessary third language! If the mother tongue of the child is different from the national language of the people in the state, he/she can take it up as an optional language or learn his mother tongue through different means.

    English has replaced French as the lingua franca of the world. Even countries that ignored English, like China and Japan and France and Russia have taken up English in a big way. One can travel to almost any part of the world armed with English and some sign language. I am delighted whenever I hear an autorickshaw or taxi driver in Chennai speak in acceptable English to foreign tourists. It shows that the language policy of Tamil Nadu is a huge success, though I would like to see everyone in my state speak in flawless English to outsiders but it is going to take some time. I am absolutely delighted that Andhra Pradesh is another state that has taken up the teaching of English in a big way!

  39. Vikram permalink
    July 3, 2008 2:39 am

    I dont know why anyone would have anything against learning languages as a kid instead of ‘EVS’ , ‘History’ and other stuff (which really should be learnt later when the individual has a better appraisal of the society around him). I am personally really glad that I learnt Marathi, Hindi and English as a kid, every language is a key to new media and literature.

    I also suspect (although I have no evidence) that learning languages as a kid might help develop an individuals mental capacities more than memorizing ‘history’ and ‘geography’ facts.

    All that being said, there were serious problems with the way languages were taught in my school.

  40. July 3, 2008 9:43 am

    There is no need to memorise history and geography. Geography is a very, very useful tool for the modern world!

    I am personally delighted that I had to learn only two languages in school so that I could concentrate more on other subjects which are very useful as opposed to wasting my time in learning a totally unnecessary third language!

  41. Vikram permalink
    July 5, 2008 10:20 am

    Yes, but thats exactly what went on in my school, and my guess is many other schools in the country.

    Btw, learning geography and history when you are 10 or 12 yrs old doesnt really help that much. I am not saying that they should be completely removed from the syllabus but that they are better learnt at a more mature age.

    Learning a language entails learning a system a communication and then using that system to communicate in a meaningful manner …. that helps kids a lot more than how many states there are, their capitals blah blah blah

  42. Guqin permalink
    July 5, 2008 11:25 am

    As a world wide phenonmenon, English can be a classic of “the mind creates reality”. If every nation is convinced that she needs English, then English will indeed be the universal language in the near future. If not, English will retreat bit by bit from world stage though it may take longer.

    There are certainly many factors responsible of the popularity of English, such as the unquestionable dominance of western culture and power, but how other nations see themselves is a deciding factor too. But that also depends on the vitality and the potentials of the major non-western nations. I am optimistic of China’s future as a nation but only half-optimistic of her as a civilization, China is too old after all. I used to be optimistic of Inida’s culture too, but not so sure now. But these two nation’s decisions will decide the future of English. I also notice that Chinese people seem to have natural difficulties in learning English.

    Gugin, China does not have a colonial history like we do. I would love to turn the clock back and have an India without colonial rule, but then I wonder whether we would have an India the way we know it now. So English has become a legacy the British left us, but I think we have used it well and will use it as a tool to dominate the world. However I think China will dominate the world, and we will trot along! 🙂 And in India we need English because of the various different languages that exist here. We need English for our own purposes. Without English an Indian language will tend to dominate and we are already having problems with that. – Nita

  43. Vikram permalink
    July 6, 2008 3:11 am

    @ Nita : but I think we have used it well and will use it as a tool to dominate the world.

    Ahem. Ahem. Easy on the jingoism there.

    @ Guqin: There are certainly many factors responsible of the popularity of English, such as the unquestionable dominance of western culture and power

    Guqin, this power is mostly economic. English is ‘widespread’ in India (although it is only spoken by abt 15 % of the total population) due to the colonial legacy and employment opportunities. The non-English media (such as music, movies and television) is thriving in India as it is in other developing countries. India might be a bit of an exception as it has had an established cinema and associated music industry since Independence, but the quality of most of the movies was mediocre (dont get me wrong there have been many fine movies and music). But, the Koreans have now developed a successful cinema entertainment industry and so will others.

    @ I am optimistic of China’s future as a nation but only half-optimistic of her as a civilization

    I dont know much abt Chinese culture but how closely is it linked with religions like Chinese Buddhism, Taoism and others ? Culture in India is DEEPLY tied to religion.

  44. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 6, 2008 6:29 am


    In your comment to Guqin above, I think you have missed a crucial word when you talk about Indian cinema — “…since BEFORE independence…”.

    Also, in whatever “popular” music from around the world that I have heard, I feel that India continues to derive greater sustenance from its indigenous music traditions, both folk and classical, than most of the non-white world. On the flip side we have the unfortunate fact that the mode of our popular music today is less “participatory” and more “perfomer-to-audience” than it was just a couple of generations ago.

    There are many sociological, economic and technological factors responsible for this, which it would be far beyond the scope of the present debate to cover, but this modal change does not augur well for for the survival of its vibrant variety. So we may now be headed in a direction where the media will thrive, but not their content.

    Your statement that English is “widespread” in India although spoken by barely 15% of the population, underscores the fact that it has a critical mass in only a few urbanised pockets. And even there, the percentage of people capable of anything more than the most basic transactions in the language is very much lower. This reality is not going to change anytime soon, even though English seems poised to become more widespread, with more and more states (now even the heart of Empire, U.P.) introducing its study right from standard 1.

    I strongly feel the bogey about English, raised by our self-serving politicians sixty years ago, may be coming to haunt us now. And unlike Hindi domination, which at least we could oppose because it was so blatant, the insidious infiltration of English in those areas of our lives where it is unnecessary and meaningless can unfortunately not even be resisted.

  45. Guqin permalink
    July 6, 2008 10:25 am


    Regarding the relation between culture and religion in China: Communist movement has damaged both a lot, but traditionally, China’s culture takes a different mode from India’s. If in India, culture is religion ( if fair to say so), then in China, religion is in culture: Religion is more like the fruits on the tree of culture, or sometimes just ships in the lake of culture. I personaly think China is non-religious in general since Confucius’ time. But before Confucius’ time, especially the Shang dynasty, China was religious, perhaps similar to Egypt. But I am no conclusive authority in this matter.

    Vivek said: The mode of our popular music today is less “participatory” and more “perfomer-to-audience” than it was just a couple of generations ago.

    I notice a related phenonmenon too: Western arts are rather impersonal and Indian and Chinese arts are rather personal. This is true even with music which is supposed to be the nakiest art form. When I litsen to western classical music, most of it has an impersonal feel, even those with a passionate, stormy surface (like Beethoven), there is still some internal indifference in it. I think this character of western culture is affecting other societies. In my observation and experience, western style Capitalism, democracy, law making, ethics and even morality have this impersonal element in them.

  46. Guqin permalink
    July 6, 2008 11:04 am

    English as a language has this impersonal feel to me too, in fact, a very strong one. I guess this is partly because of its being my second or third language, but that can’t be the only reason.

  47. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 7, 2008 4:08 am

    I agree with Vivek K. that English is creeping far & wide steadily in our nation. But I do feel that we cannot do without it and there is no escape from that. It is a necessary link language amongst the educated Indians and has ceased to be viewed as a foreign language. And I don’t think we would loose our essential cultural values ever – some values might inevitably change, but the essence will never be lost.

  48. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 7, 2008 6:36 am

    Dr. Nishith Dhruv,

    I don’t at all disagree with you about the importance of English today, and wouldn’t even dream of using words such as “escape” in its context. If your comment is triggered by the last sentence of my response yesterday to Vikram, may I hasten to point out that the context in which I wrote it lies in the sentence immediately preceding it. And my last sentence encompasses a very broad temporal and cultural canvas which, in the interest of brevity, I avoided indulging in.

    Your optimisim is very touching. I wish I could share it. Unfortunately I don’t; I can’t. It is quite possible that we mean very different things by “cultural values”.

  49. Vikram permalink
    July 7, 2008 8:33 am

    Guqin, I totally second your opinion about English as an impersonal language. Perhaps this is due to the traditional use of English as a link and ‘utilitarian’ language in India, but I am quite a bit into Western classical music and English music from the 70’s, and I find the same impersonality that you do. Impersonality isnt always a bad thing, esp. when it comes to law and order but that is a different matter.

    Abt religion, I wouldnt say that in India religion IS culture (esp. in certain states where the linguistic influence on culture is very strong, for eg. West Bengal and the 4 southern states), but certainly Indians are on average very religious. A lot of the music, art forms and even cinema is often influenced by religion. No surprise then that it is also very important in politics, but that again is a different matter.

    Where would you guys draw the line between the unceasing transience found in most cultures and ‘cultural invasion’ ? Indian culture has always been highly syncretic, after all a lot of our food, language and customs have been influenced by others, most notably Iran. Could it be that we feel uncomfortable with the fact that we are inducting English deeply into our world but our own culture isnt making inroads anywhere in the West ?

  50. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 7, 2008 8:54 am


    //Could it be that we feel uncomfortable with the fact that we are inducting English deeply into our world but our own culture isnt making inroads anywhere in the West ?//

    My take on this is very different. In fact the “induction” of English into “our” world is widespread and shallow, rather than deep. And it does not bother me if our culture is not making inroads in the West (though at a very superficial level I daresay it is). What does disturb me is that we seem to be losing our grip on our own culture, and our roots are gradually being atrophied. And I am not saying this in an alarmist “Hindutva khatrey mein hai” kind of vein. I very much believe in the syncreticism you mention. It’s the growing intolerance of that in our society that is to be worried about.

  51. Guqin permalink
    July 7, 2008 11:23 am


    // Where would you guys draw the line between the unceasing transience found in most cultures and ‘cultural invasion’ ? //

    Chinese culture has seemed to possess strong resilience. Mongol and Manchu conquests led to their conversion to China, and when Buddhism went to China, it was digested into Chinese culture as well. Hence most Chinese people don’t feel “transience of culture” and “cultural invasions”. However, today we are facing the great challenge again the four time from western civilization. In theory, I see no reason why China would fail this time, and yet self-imposed internal distructions such as the “cultural revolution” may make the story different or at least more difficult this time. This is why I wrote that I was only half-confident of China the civilization in my first post.

    I am totally amazed by how complex the language issue in India is. However I would like to share a general observation though it is overly simplifying:

    Viewing India’s Enlish issue in the context of recent world history since the west’s global conquest, I feel that English the language is a McMahon line in the mind just like the physical McMahon line in the land. It is the tool and the result of how the west organizes their conquired world without consulting the will of their dominated peoples. In a certain sense, the line organizes India into a united state thus makes India stronger and more competitive and yet the same time creates divisions in the larger and older cultural Asian neighborhood that India belongs to ( I consider seperation of Pakistan, war with China etc. parts of this larger historic drama). This is always true with line drawing: Combining and dividing are its duality. Here, the English language serves a similar purpose, it organizes the speaking India and in this sense uniting it into a stronger whole. So, fundamentally, English is only an organizer, that is, it is powerful yet neccessarily superficial. Hence Vivek’s saying “widespread and shallow”.

    I think the fundamental issue is that originally India isn’t supposed to be unified, which is decided by the nature of Indian civilization. In Ganhdi’s and Lao Zi’s (ancient Daoist sage) thinking: Better to be a collection of many small, free, peaceful kingdoms. But this type of civilization would have a hard time in the modern world which is a result of the west’s powerful organizing. I think it is for this reason, most Indians would accept the unification of India as a good thing naturally without questioning its deeper and further meanings. And the British take advantage of this mentality and always boast that they have done “a good thing” to India. ( A British visiter in this site always made this comment hypocritically. Whenever he was out of points, he would say: At least we unified you) But in long run, it makes India the state an un-familiar setting for its cultural growth. India certainly has the right to survive and to be strong in the modern world. So I think India’s decision makers’ fundamental challenge is to handle this duality successfully (or find India’s native organizer if possible and successfully).

    My grasp of Indian history and culture is superficial, so the above comment could be a total miss of the point. If so, please forgive me.

  52. Vikram permalink
    July 7, 2008 12:51 pm

    Vivek, I absolutely agree with you. My own take on this is that the origins of this intolerance (atleast as far as religion are concerned) are rooted deeply in the memories of partition, an insidious campaign for political power (by the BJP) and Islamic extremism. The threat posed by English pales in comparison to this. Even in the area of language, thrusting Hindi down the throats of all Indians seems to be one of the agendas of the RSS.

    Guqin, you said: “I think the fundamental issue is that originally India isn’t supposed to be unified, which is decided by the nature of Indian civilization.” I would say more like, India WASNT unified (certainly transience was the norm, empire the aberration, quite the opposite to China I think), and that decided the nature of Indian civilization. Now, why India wasnt unified is another issue.

    Let me give you the name of an even more damaging line than the McMahon, its called the Radcliffe Line, it might have sealed the sub-continent’s fate forever. It almost did exactly the same thing that you mentioned, it combined the Islamic population into one state but divided centuries of cultural co-mingling.

    “So I think India’s decision makers’ fundamental challenge is to handle this duality successfully” Actually we have had both successes and failures in this respect. Indian states were originally NOT organized on the basis of language, but after a struggle by the people (esp. in the South) the 1956 States Re-organization Act was passed, which made India into an effective multi-lingual federation. Today there is little contradiction between being a Gujarati and Indian or a Tamil and an Indian. This coupled with the multi-party system has provided us with very effective federalism when it comes to language, something that was missing in our Constitution.

    We have failed miserably with regards to religion. The major armed uprisings in India, have been in states with non-Hindu majorities, Punjab and Kashmir. Punjab was placated only after much brutality and thankfully, political concessions in the early 90s. Today, we have a Sikh Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said abt Kashmir, the aforementioned intolerance that has crept into India has brought Hindu-Muslim relations to an all-time low across the country, so you can imagine the situation there. So, if we can overcome this fascist monster thats brewing in our country than we would have met the challenge of duality, otherwise no amount of economic growth can save this accidental but great nation.

    Nita, sorry abt the long post.

  53. Guqin permalink
    July 7, 2008 1:22 pm


    Thanks for all the informations ( It is very complex for a Chinese like myself to comprehend. An eye-opening experience!).

    I wasn’t confident of my view and was a bit worried that it might be improper, but your response just let me know that my speculation at least made some sense and touched some reality. Thanks.

    China before 221BC wasn’t unified in the later sense. There was a central emperor (Zhou dynasty emperor) watching over a galaxy of small kingdoms which had their own scripts, cultures, armies etc. And before the Zhou dynasty, there was no central emperor (I believe). The grand unification came with the growth of the Qin kingdom into the Qin dynasty, and the coming dynasty (Han) re-enforced this existence. The cost was vast cultural loss across the empire with the distinctions of former member kingdoms. EVerybody today knows that China is vast and rich culture, but they don’t know that China used to be a much richer culture! Since this idea of Grand Unification is based on Confucianism (though “modified from the old sage’s idea), one can say that Confucius is actually one of the few individuals who have done the greatest damages to China’s culture: the biggest irony in Chinese history perhaps.

  54. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 8, 2008 12:47 am

    I don’t think that pushing Hindi down the throat of everyone was a specifically RSS agenda ( I am no RSS-ite ). Much befeore winning independance, Hindi was recognised as a link language especially in North India despite the fact that it was not taught in the Non-Hindi speaking regions of the North India. As I have said in a previous post, the prevailing concept of a Nation state included having one language in one nation. That was impossible in India and hence Himdi was sought to act like such a language even by the Congress. We are wiser today and more confident that we have developed our own model of a nation state where having one language is not essential. Anyway, I am confident that the essence of our culture will servive as it has over ages. There are always periods of waxing & waning. I don’t deny the existance of a growing intolerance. But I feel that is temporary. The soul of our nation will express itself and defeat such forces. That optimism is based on facts of our history.

  55. Vikram permalink
    July 8, 2008 5:30 am

    @ Guqin : You are welcome. These issues faced by India are also faced by many other countries in the third-world, especially in Africa, where Western Imperialism has done its worst damage. I look forward to more insights into Chinese history from your side too.

    @Nishith: I share your optimism. But it is our duty to fight this extremism, through blogs, other media and our day to day actions. I am confident that India will endure, after all ‘Truth Alone Triumphs’.

  56. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 8, 2008 7:02 am


    //thrusting Hindi down the throats of all Indians seems to be one of the agendas of the RSS.//

    This is a common belief held by those who do think that hindi IS being thrust down the throats of all Indians. My personal observation is that Hindi imperialists cut across political ideological lines. If you consider the last 120 years or so, people like Madan Mohan Malviya, Purshottamdas Tandon, Seth Govind Das (to name just three names off the top of my head) were by no means Sanghis (though 3M does occasionally come across as one). Nor, in our own times, are people lime Mulayam Singh. But there is no denying that they were/are all Hindi imperialists.

    Gandhi’s advocacy of Hindi as the uniting language for a very diverse India was very seductive during the struggle for independence, and bought by most people, even from the south. What no one then could foresee was the way the Hindi imperialists would seek to cash in on this to serve their own selfish interests. Gandhi died in less than two years after independence. Nehru, the only north Indian of his times to recognise and genuinely believe in the cultural plurality of India. Rajagopalachari was the first to recognise the Hindi imperialists’ game.

    As you can see, nowhere in the above is there a single RSS type. In fact the intellectual roots of the RSS — warts and all — lie almost entirely in Maharashtra. Advocacy of Hindi was part of its agenda, but not of Hindi Imperialism. That is a more recent phenomenon, when the RSS leadership passed into the hands of Hindi speaking people.
    BTW as an aside to the above, you may find the following post (and the comments on it) amusing:

  57. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 16, 2008 3:49 pm

    Vivek has only supported what I said that pushing Hindi down everyone’s throat is not a specific RSS agenda. I don’t see any evil designs behind it (though some may no doubt have such motives), rather it is the result of some prevailing and vague notions of what a nation-state should be like. But even if Hindi-imperialism is believed to exist, we can solve the problems arising out of that. Pardon me for repeating that in the 60 years of post-indepenence national life, we have successfully created our own model of a nation-state where having one language is not a criteria. In a country like India, people staying in different areas will work out their own link language. No language needs to be imposed under that pretext. I am very optimistic that the younger generation cutting across various spheres of life like the politics-education-literature etc. will see the wisdom and rectify the errors. It may be a long drawn-out process no doubt, but that would be a hundred times better than seeking solution by some violent agitation. Undoubtably a generation will keep on suffering the injustice till the problem is solved – the way the previous generations have – but the ultimate solution will leave no harsh feeling. While I make this statement, I am aware of the fact that this view may not find favour with many. But that is what democracy is all about.

  58. Ravi permalink
    July 16, 2008 8:00 pm

    The figures of the increase in students enrolling ofr English Medium Schools show how crazy people in Andhra Pradesh to learn English and mak it a part of their life 🙂

  59. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 16, 2008 8:42 pm


    //Undoubtably a generation will keep on suffering the injustice till the problem is solved – the way the previous generations have…//

    THAT is what makes my blood boil. Three successive generations have already suffered; many more may; it is time to reverse the injustice by making the imperialists suffer.

  60. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 17, 2008 7:08 pm

    Dear Vivek,
    That was indeed a very informal address : Nishithbhai – and I must say I liked it. I agree with u that we must remove the injustice. But I wonder if we would achieve that by causing suffering to anyone. Rather it would saw the seeds of vengence. Justice for all is what we would do well to work for. But I would like to know what is it that u envisage as a means of making the imperialist suffer.

  61. October 1, 2008 1:36 am

    Hi Nita,

    Thats a very nice self sustaining post I should say!!! I feel that English becoming a part of Indian communication is inevitable at this stage and I being a south Indian did not know Hindi (could write and read easily but speaking OMG!!)…Ironically, I started to learn to speak Hindi after I came to UK 8 months back….I have posted a post abt my experiences in UK … personal take on this is here –

  62. cultavix permalink
    January 6, 2009 6:08 pm

    is it true that 80% of indians speak english ????

    No, not at all true, considering that 40% of our country is illiterate.. even many literate people are comfortable just with Hindi and/or their mother tongue, mostly the latter. A very large percentage of educated Indians though do understand English and speak it to some extent, if not fluently. I would say not more than 10% speak good English, and I am probably being generous here because what constitutes good English is also subject to debate! But in terms of numbers, we are huge. – Nita.

  63. vasudev permalink
    February 10, 2009 10:54 pm

    why not chinese?

  64. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 10, 2009 11:21 pm


    For that matter, why not Ahirani? Bilali? Kurukh? Kodava Takk?

    At least they are Indian languages.

  65. vasudev permalink
    February 11, 2009 10:10 am

    vivek…although true but i had a different thought in mind.
    today english is being learnt by all simply because english can give them jobs.
    tomorrow jobs can dictate the language you want to learn.
    and the future of jobs lies in china.
    so why not learn chinese?

  66. January 30, 2010 4:46 pm

    English is an international language so most of the peoples in india prefers communication in English is very good to move throught the world if necessary. Thats why they are giving importance to English nothing more than that. Throught the world one common languagae should be there that is English.

  67. Kumar permalink
    September 12, 2010 4:15 pm

    English helps overcome the language barrier in our country and as stated in the article it also serves as a global link. It is also useful in jobs, easier to learn(compared to Hindi and Tamil) and has a vast vocabulary. Little by little we should encourage more people to learn English. The state and central governments should help people in rural areas learn English. If everyone in India knows one common language we can communicate with each other freely and create a lot of unity among us.

  68. July 26, 2011 10:07 pm

    Hindi is a foreign language to many states in India. But then in the census, everyone formally educated person does say that he knows Hindi. I also would do it, but then I do not know Hindi and I do not want to know it.

    All Indian languages can be dangerously feudal. They create social, administrative, communal problems. Moreover, Indian languages are not fit in jurisprudence. For, the issue of equaliy before the law doesnt work in Indian languages.

    See: and

  69. February 11, 2012 10:44 pm

    India is most poor and backward country in the world only because of English education system. There is no any developed country in the world which has English education system except those countries whose mother tongue itself is English. Only those countries have developed and prospered in the world that are learning everything in their own languages, the countries that learn from foreign languages are all most poor and backward countries of the world and will remain backward forever. This is worldwide accepted truth. In Africa 21 countries are learning in French, 18 countries in English 5 are in Portuguese, 2 in Spanish, all these countries are most backward in the world. If English is benefited us then, Why 45 percent of world’s poor (less than 1$ per day) and 40 percent of the world’s illiterates are Indians? Why only those countries have developed and prospered that is learning in their own languages? There is a growing gap between India and Bharath. India ranks 138 in PCI and 128 in human development. What is India’s contribution to the world? Yoga,Zero,Ayurveda….we could mention only ancient contribution. What is present contribution? BIG ZERO. Present India can give only moon light to the world and never can give sunlight to the world. We have to develop all types HIGHER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION IN OUR LANGUAGES to become a developed nation. 70 percent of the people are living in rural areas, overall more than 80 percent of the people in this country are learning in their own language up to 10th std. British slaves are denying the fundamental rights to learn all courses in Indian languages. Only 11 percent of the pupils enroll for higher education out of all those who enroll for primary education. According to industry experts, 80 percent of the graduates are not employable (because they lack English communication) English speaking Indians never agree with me, if I ask this matter to any Chinese, Korean Japanese, German or French person they would definitely support my view. There is a need of revolution from the people of the soil like Anna to change this system. There is no one Indian University or Educational institute coming under the top 200 educational institutes of the world. Only those Universities and institutes are coming under top 200 which are providing education in that countries own language. Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc.Universities are coming under top 200.Indian Universities never come under that category until we provide all types of education in Indian languages. If Hindi is reastrabhash then why Hindi people are also learning in English?


  1. Vadakku Vazhkirathu, Therku Thaeikirathu (North lives and South languishes) « Ruminations of a Sourashtrian
  2. Top 20 Languages of the World | Topics of the world
  3. Top 20 Spoken Languages of the World | PocketCultures
  4. Why Not More Government English Medium Schools in India? – Domenic Marbaniang

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