English Language – an Obsession

It has been a long time since I have been engaging with this topic on television, radio & Internet. Well, I would say, it should have been ‘English language – a ‘UNIVERSAL obsession’. Obsession is a negative term that means something you cannot do without, something you are fanatical about. But English language cannot be put into the compartment of ‘an obsession’. It is life and blood today for a majority of people; English is not an obsession, it is something indispensable.

The English reigned over India for less than 200 years but English language arrived here much earlier and it seems it is here to stay. English, today, steers India’s commerce, business, science and arts. It is playing an influential role in media too. Around 3 million English newspapers are circulated all over the country. Children from kindergarten are given the opportunity to learn the language through playful activities. A few days ago I read a matrimonial advertisement where a Brahmin family was seeking a highly qualified ‘English speaking’ girl. I wonder why they would want their daughter-in-law to speak English when their vernacular language is most accepted in the community anyway…

We all know Indians have been aping the West for a long time now. We have begun to live the English way in every forte of life. Even the dhabha walas get their menu printed in English. You must have also seen that all kinds of general knowledge books like Britannica and Encyclopedia being written in English and not any other vernacular language. This is because people from all over the world read these books. We get an idea how big a role English plays in connecting people and serves as a common language through which one can interact and learn.

It is a language that is globally spoken. All the seven continents of the world speak English. All universal bodies be it UNICEF, UNESCO etc use this language. It is not about impression; it is about progress, passion of unity with one world having a common language. As a matter of fact, there tens of thousands of Indian employed by the number of BPOs in India today. It is a different world altogether in such organizations where language barriers cease to exist and people become a part of a larger, all – encompassing culture. It is great that this bilingual workforce helps in promoting unanimity and better coordination. It is, above all, about connecting people the world over.

People should be open to change. We have to look ahead and keep pace with the fast changing world. Take any global issue. It is the common language always that facilitates speculation and debate. In order to advance, it is important that we become a part of the global net.

This shows that obsession for anything, whether growth, success or language is never bad unless one dispenses with his identity and integrity.

Sanjay Kataria

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