We have in India got bogged down by the bogey of English language in a big way. Students and job seekers are made to feel inferior if they are not from an English medium school. Parents have joined the bandwagon to make their wards proficient in English. They have resorted to speaking English at home, sacrificing the need for children to be equally proficient in their respective mother tongue.
The dominance of English in the digitalization process and improved communication facility across world over is worrying many people today due to their lack of proficiency in the language.
People forget that language has never been a barrier in human progress, evolution and development. History is a mute testimony to this truth. Can we imagine what the various explorers and invaders would have achieved, if language had been accepted as an obstacle to progress?
We use the phrase ‘it is all Greek’ when the subject is not clear. Wikipedia states that this phrase could be a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin “Graecum est; non legitur”- meaning “it is Greek, it cannot be read”.
Taking it forward literally:
- Would Alexander, the Great Greek emperor, who invaded India well before Christ was born, have succeeded if he had succumbed to language barriers?
- Would Asoka, India’s greatest emperor ever, been able to propagate Buddhism, probably the first new international religion, to various parts of the world, transgressing language barrier if it was not possible?
- The Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British came to India using the sea route in search of trade. They knew very well that language would be a barrier but overcame it.
- Language did not deter the Mongols, Afghans, and Turks from coming to India to use land route and conquer.
Everyone will hence have to appreciate that language was not and will never be a barrier to progress. People should also remember that major economic powers of today like Japan, Germany, France and China still conduct their affairs in their own languages and hold their heads high. Lack of English has not impeded their growth or reduced their importance in the world order.
The British introduced English to us. Being the rulers they found it convenient to ask Indians to learn the language than them learning different Indian languages. Even the courts an essential part of governance started their deliberations in English.
We as Indians should be proud of the fact that our forefathers did not allow this to be a deterrent. They faced the uphill task of learning the law and the language by going to England and used that as a tool in the freedom struggle.
We have heard of Indian actors wanting to act in Hollywood films in English. It was a pleasant change when it was reported that Vidu Vinod Chopra a Hindi film director of repute, famous for his Munnabhai hits, has successfully directed and released an English film titled Broken Horses a few weeks back. In an interview to Times of India he has mentioned that his medium of instruction till eighth standard was Hindi and not English.
Fear of any language and English in particular will get us nowhere. The message that language can be mastered has to be inculcated amongst all people irrespective of their medium of education. Parents, society elders, friends and teachers are the people who can carry this message successfully and help people to overcome the fear of the English language.
So go ahead, be bold try to become proficient in new languages be it English, French, Chinese or one of the many beautiful languages from our own country. Remember to communicate in them as much as possible because being fluent in more languages will only be beneficial to us in the long run.