Do most second or third generation Indian American children attend special schools for one of their parents’ mother language?
Reflecting on Indian and Indian American attitude toward English and their regional language
A couple of weeks ago, a major (though seemingly contrived) controversy broke out in India over the increased use of the Hindi language on social media. Language is a contentious issue in India, and has been since Article 343 of the Indian Constitution declared “Hindi in the Devanagari script” the official language of India in 1949. English, which was official during the British Raj, has remained co-official with Hindi, despite efforts to phase it out.
English remains entrenched in India and is widely used by India’s elite, bureaucracy, and companies. It is particularly important in its written form, as the official versions of most documents use English. Most pan-Indian written communication as well as many major media outlets use English. However, at the spoken level, English is much less prevalent and Indian languages are more widely used, with Hindi serving as a lingua franca for most of the country except the its northeast and the deep south. It should be noted that English is spoken or understood by about 150 million Indians, or about 10 percent of the population. This means that around 90 percent of Indians do not understand or speak English.
English’s association with the elite and corridors of power and its status as the language of documents and serious literature has led to a craze for English-medium schools across India. Proponents of the English language in India argue that English will serve as the vehicle of India’s economic growth and lead to the empowerment of hundreds of millions of individuals. Nothing, however, could be more incorrect. India’s obsession with English holds back both its economic development and the quality of its education.
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Here is a Quora entry I found:
Let’s face it. The bitter truth (sweet for some) is that English has conquered all the other languages of the world.
Even those countries that were traditionally hostile to English and shielded their people from gaining knowledge of English have started opening out to English and accepting it as a language that one must learn and know to survive and make progress in the world.
Traditional rivals of the English, like the French and the Germans are learning English, while most Englishmen and Americans are not learning German or French. The former realise it is necessary. The latter don’t feel knowing French or German is necessary. The same is true in China. More Chinese people are learning English than English speaking people are learning Chinese.
It is not just Hindi speakers in India who prefer an English Medium education in India.
This is the situation in every state in India. Those who study in regional language schools do so because they could not get admission in English medium schools or could not afford it. Given a choice every parent will like to admit his child into an English medium school.
State Government politicians pay lip service to the regional language and pretend to be in favour of the local languages as medium of instruction at the primary school level but their own children go to English medium schools.They know the standard of education in regional language schools is not up to the mark.
English medium education gives you a status in society that you don’t get when you study in regional languages. The regional language is studied in addition to English not instead of English.
The standard of Education in English medium schools in India is vastly superior to the quality of education in the majority of schools that teach in the local languages.
English medium education facilitates entry into the elite sections of society. You are taken more seriously, when you are dressed in a pant and shirt and speak English rather than in a Dhoti and speak the local language. Those who speak English well do better in job interviews.They find it easier to do well abroad.
Nearly all the people who matter in India speak, read and write English as their first language.
The middle classes know this. Some grudgingly admit it. Others unconvincingly deny it.
Only in politics, arts, religion & culture and during elections are the local languages more important because you need to have mass contact, which is not possible if you speak to the masses in English.
1. ) There is not an iota of doubt that English is the global language when it comes to the professional world. So proficiency in English gives an edge when it comes to career.
2. ) The only language that binds India is English. Especially, it has been very successful in bridging the great South and the North India divide. So today a north Indian can communicate effectively with a south Indian without knowing any south Indian language and vice-versa. And in today’s fast developing India, our kids are not restricted to her or his own state. I have been living and working very comfortably in southern India for 9 years now without knowing any south Indian language.
3. ) Some may disagree but we still have hangover from the British rule. Many parents still think that knowledge of English makes their kids look smarter and more presentable to others.
You don’t have to investigate deep into this to find an answer.
That English is the preferred language of progressive Indians is well established though not all will agree on this. English is nowadays considered as much Indian as Gujarati, Tamil or Telugu, and more importantly it helps to find good jobs all over the world.
Competing languages like Hindi especially is artificially propped up by the central government in India to give advantage to north Indians over south Indians. This makes English unpopular outside the southern states. More over, those unable to acquire even a working knowledge in English wish to pull down others to the same level to make it easy for them to compete in the job market, but seldom succeeds.
Having realized that English is the future of India, Indians prefer English because it a language suited best for communication within the country and at international level as well.
In short we can summarize that Indians prefer English over Hindi because it gives them special position over native language speakers and parents want this advantage for their children.
Because they think that Hindi medium schools will not teach English properly. They know the importance of English, but they don’t know the importance of education in one’s mother tongue, that it is more effective for their children. It is also that English is not taught in a good way in some Hindi medium schools but this is not so in all the Hindi medium schools.