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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. 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.

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.