Thursday April 19, 2018
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‘India can’t progress without promoting Indian languages’

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By Sapan Kapoor and Riya Yadav

Sankrant Sanu – an entrepreneur, writer and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon – seems to be a man on a mission to secure justice for the Indian languages, hopping from one place to another, delivering lectures in schools and universities, educating the youth about the pressing need to create equal opportunities for those who wish to study in their mother tongue.

He has a reason to do so.

“Throughout the world no country has been able to progress without developing its own languages,” Sanu, an IIT alumnus, tells NewsGram in an interview, adding that English was the main reason behind India’s backwardness.

“English is the reason behind our backwardness.”

sanuSanu learnt this from his experiences of travelling to as many as 25 countries and observing their education systems at close quarters.

He says people wrongly assume that English is the way for India to progress, for his experience suggests otherwise. Sanu recalls his sojourn in the Israeli port city of Haifa while working for Microsoft and handling a team of software developers.

“At first I was flabbergasted to learn that within Microsoft development centre they used Hebrew for all operations. Besides, their number one engineering college used Hebrew, which was much higher ranked than our IITs. Later, in Russia while on the search for talents, their programmers spoke no English during interviews.

“We had interpreters for this purpose and I hired them not because of their English but because they were excellent programmers… I thereafter travelled to 25 countries to see how people were promoting their own languages unlike India which seemed to be obsessed with English and, as a result, it is one of the major reasons of our underdevelopment,” Sanu, attired in his staple kurta, says.

Moreover, while travelling through Indian villages, he took some IQ test papers with him. His intent and assumptions were that he would find bright children in Indian villages and the results thereof surprised him. In his sample of over 100 students, both in rural and urban schools, he found that rural children surpassed the urban ones by a good margin. However, the fact of the matter was that a large number of these students would usually drop out after class 8, as most of the competitive exams were in English.

“Learning English is no duck soup, as it’s a very tough language and takes years of painful labour and patience to become proficient. Therefore, a student could be a math genius but just because of his poor English, he would be deprived of all the opportunities he deserves. Nothing could be more atrocious than this,” Sanu opines.

Colonial hangover

So, why are we so obsessed with English? The answer is ‘colonial hangover’.  Even after our so-called independence, we have somehow kept our slave mentality intact. We have this great Indian inferiority complex. Those who speak Indian languages are seen as inferior beings and are discriminated against. According to a study, Sanu shares that only 10 per cent Indians know English; rest of 90 per cent literate Indians study in Indian languages.

“English is there because the state favors it and discriminates against Indian languages.”

“English is the medium of instruction in IITs and IIMs. Isn’t it? It is a pity that while a child in South Korea can become a doctor after studying in Korean, a boy in a Tamil Nadu hamlet cannot become one after studying in Tamil. Studies show that children learn the best in their mother tongue. Original creative thinking cannot happen in a foreign language. The education system has become so divorced from reality… BPO is not innovation, it’s coolie work,” Sanu laments.

The way forward

“We need a revolution and have to create a mass movement like India Against Corruption. Nayi kranti laani hogi, bhasha ki kranti jiske bina desh unnat nahi ban sakta (A new revolution is the need of the hour, the revolution of language sans which the country cannot develop). It is a matter of great regret that when the world is promoting their own languages, India is rooting for English.”

Therefore, Sanu has come up with a Bhasha Niti or Language Policy for a new India.

One of the proposals of the Bhasha Niti is to follow the European Union model. The EU has 24 equally supported languages. If someone writes a letter in any of the 24 languages, they would get a reply in that language. This is how a central government should function, he suggests.

Sanu shares an example in this regard. He spoke about a person who wrote to the PMO in Hindi a few days ago and got the reply in English. As a result, he wrote back to them questioning their response. Shouldn’t the PMO support all the languages?

“We need to put pressure on the government to change India’s language policy and create equal opportunities for those who wish to study in Indian languages. It’s a myth that the world is running after English. Even the MNCs work and adapt to local languages. For instance, for a small language like Turkish, Microsoft localises but not for Indian languages.

“It is because of our slave mentality. Why should the job interviews be conducted in English? One of my policy suggestions is that the candidate should be able to choose the language he wishes to give his interview in. IITs can have their curricula in local languages, same goes with IIMs and other government institutes as well.”

Sanu says, for this to happen, the court system should support Indian languages as well. It is a travesty of justice that in the Supreme Court people can only practice in English.

How can people have justice in a country where they cannot represent to a court in their own languages? You have people coming from the rural background and they do not understand what the lawyer is saying to the court.

“For heaven’s sake, they cannot even correct the lawyer if he says something wrong. In this manner, we are denying justice to people and holding the country back. We are creating nothing but a generation of cripples who neither know their own languages nor are they proficient in English.”

Sanu also has a subtle message for PM Modi.

“Unless Skill India means imparting skills to Indians in their own languages, it would not yield any positive results.”

He believes technology can help solve the language issue to a great extent. For instance, his guide, Professor Sangal, has come up with a software that can translate languages while keeping Sanskrit as its base.

Sankrant has been actively involved in writing, consulting and social projects. His writings have appeared in various publications in India, USA and UK. Sanu’s book the English Language Myth or Angreji Bhasha Ka Bhram Jaal has received many accolades.

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  • aspirenetwork

    I somewhat disagree to the point of view here. India is a multilingual country and not like Russia or Korea. It becomes very hard if the medical science also becomes in regional languages as the states can’t afford to make such study materials limited to their own languages.

    The ministries are struggling to integrate basic amenities and doing this will add to their chaos. Learning English hasn’t been effective due to inability to practice it. Using technology in learning a language will be much more effective than just a classroom training.

  • aspirenetwork

    I somewhat disagree to the point of view here. India is a multilingual country and not like Russia or Korea. It becomes very hard if the medical science also becomes in regional languages as the states can’t afford to make such study materials limited to their own languages.

    The ministries are struggling to integrate basic amenities and doing this will add to their chaos. Learning English hasn’t been effective due to inability to practice it. Using technology in learning a language will be much more effective than just a classroom training.

Next Story

Shoot The Rapist At The Sight

 And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation

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This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night.
India is plagued with a disease called Rape. Wikimedia Commons

Salil Gewali

  • India is plagued with a disease called Rape
  • There are no rigorous punishments for rape
  • Rapists openly commit crimes without anny fear

Why the clamour only for the rigorous punishment for rape and other sadistic crimes which have their roots in the mental-degeneration? Apart from the toughest punishment to the perpetrators, let’s go deeper to analyze what could be the possible  “causes”  that push men to commit rape. Why so much mental degeneration that certain individuals can stoop to the gutter being to their status, their position and social values? Well, how to address those issues is certainly a challenge. And that “challenge” certainly calls for a serious brain-storming and a serious self-assessment vise-a vise the environment in which we all are living.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

True, in the physical world we are highly convinced brag about that healthy environment is a must for our healthy living. Even kids know these days that we can’t breathe well if our surroundings are filled with high levels of  “toxicity”. We have well studied through our academic textbooks that people invite the environmental disaster if they keep on allowing excessive emission of CO2, CO, methane and other dangerous gases into the atmosphere. We have fully acknowledged that each tall and black chimney of the industries and the nozzles of the motor vehicles are here only to mar the beauty of this planet? What kind of damages the toxic gases are doing to our ecosystem are not at all tough job to analyze with modern appliances. Again, a lot amount of books have been published to create the awareness, to inform us about the scientifically tested measures to resolve the environmental concerns.

However, do we have the same amount of literature that pinpoint the “causes” which contribute to turning “males into perverts”? Who else is emitting the “toxic substances” that overpower the inborn sensitivity of the deviant? What are the properties of toxic filth that is polluting the mind-scape of the society? Now we have Donald Trump, the president of the USA, whom many prefer call him a pervert. At this rate, the number perverts are increasing and they have become dangerously ubiquitous. And, all those perverts have brought nightmares to the ill-fated females. We often stage candle march in protest against the rape, but remain blind to the glaring “causes”. Should we still fiddle about and be appreciative of the society that shameless covers itself with the vulgarity — the “toxicity” that might numb the sanity of males? Watch out, dear friends, those perverts have begun to see even “baby girls” as objects of lust!

Please note:  what our sages said:  “What you see that you think, what you think that you do and what you do that become !!!!”

Also Read: Eat Grapes To Ward Off Depression

Again, I would like to draw another similarity with what prompt big people to “rape”/violate the harmony of the Mother Earth. The case is very regularly brought out by the conscious citizens across the country. A senior journalist Patricia Mukhim of Meghalaya has pointedly driven home recently how the “greed for money” has corrupted many leaders who are trying hard to justify the senseless exploitation of the “body” of Mother Earth. Many big shots of big companies struggle to convince the politicians to tweak the laws to grant the permission to perpetually “rape” the country.

In my mind, both are infected with common syndromes! While the one type is interested in the body of the females, the other type has a fetish for the rocky body of the “Mother Earth”. And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation.

The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.
The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.

Let’s assess the issues from another angle, given the advancement of medical science. Till some years back malaria, dengue, cholera, HIV, smallpox were life-taking diseases. But the medical science has pretty successfully eradicated or contained them all. The scientists have correctly identified the causes of those dangerous diseases and recommended the remedial measures. No doubt, that is a very productive achievement. However, why have the modern studies practically failed to “identify the causes”  of the pandemic rise of the horrendous instances of rapes and criminality associated with them? Is it not a strong slap in the face of the modern civilization considering we have not yet spelt out the causes and the characteristic symptoms the  “toxic emitters” who turn decent males into sadists? How long will we endure the depravity which has already strangulated the decency of the society? Should we still wait to work out the tough laws? Should we still hitch to explore for the “causes” and remedial measures? I guess the time is ripe that each morally conscious individual be allowed a shotgun to shoot the “perversion and depravity” of any kind at sight!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.