Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Why Are Indians Obsessed With English?




Is fluency in English the epitome of a cultured and educated Indian? Why is someone with colloquial accent looked down upon here? I know it is rather ironic talking about the ghastly preference given to English in India considering I am writing in English but I hope it somehow helps in reinstating the point I am trying to make.

Language is just a medium through which we communicate, express our thoughts and emotions. It's not a scale to measure your intelligence or define who you are. With over 20 languages and hundreds of dialect, the only reason we use English as a language for government, business and education is because we need some common ground. Of course it helps us broaden our horizon,  helps us gather more information and for many practical purposes it is essential especially if you are an internet savvy person. But that's all there is to that, at the end of the day it's just a language like Hindi, Tamil, French or Spanish.

I have never seen such an obsessive attachment towards a foreign language in any other parts of the world. Why should one be ashamed if they can't speak in English? More and more parents insist on talking to kids only in English. Half the people are sending their kids to expensive public schools so that they get "proper accent". I have nothing against it, it's commendable that one excels in a language. But I find it extremely annoying when the same kids come back home and look down upon their grandparents or other members of the family who can't talk like them. And you can't really blame the kids, it's the society which has poisoned everyone into believing the same. And we are the society, each one of us.

I think it's ignorance and lack of exposure which makes it seems that speaking in English is an absolute necessity in life if you are to be respected. Across the globe, people talk in their native language and are quite proud about it too. It's your problem if you are in France and can't talk French or that you are working in Germany and can't converse in German with the clients, they are not going to be apologetic that they don't know English. In fact, many a times they will insist to talk in their language even if they know English. Then why only Indians feel a need to please everyone else?

I am glad that I am fluent in English and that I can communicate with a larger audience but I feel ashamed that I can't talk in Kannada even though I have been living in Bangalore for more than a decade. Learning any new language can come handy and some people are better at picking a language than others but it's unfair to judge a person on just that basis.

Often when non-English speaking foreigners come to India and talk slowly in broken English with heavy accent, it's just considered sexy but if the same thing an Indian does he's been laughed at. Which makes them more insecure and they end up getting buried more and more inside their cocoon. At workplace often I have seen capable, hard working people get walked over just because they are not good at "communication". Even at family gatherings many a times, women who are not so fluent in English find themselves isolated because they find it hard to cope up with younger generation rambling away in a language alien to them.

Why is a language creating a barrier instead of breaking them? Why can't we help each other in learning and understanding? We should encourage others to learn English but simultaneously put an effort to learn local languages. Never look down upon people based on language and more importantly never look down upon our native languages. Afterall when you understand another culture or language, it doesn't mean that you have to lose your own.










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