Indian Education System: Anglicizing education at the cost of indigenous languages



By Prachi Mishra

In 1835, Lord Macaulay introduced anglicized education system in India. He had nothing but a strong contempt for the Indian history and civilization which is quite evident in his Minute on Indian Education of 1835. He wrote in this notorious piece:

“It is, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England”

At present the British might not be physically present in India to indoctrinate their ideology, however, the British dyed education system of the country continues to expose the students to Western ideology. In most of the ‘good schools’, preference is given to English rather than Hindi or any other local language.

Maria Wirth, a well- known blogger, recently raised a very significant question that why even after almost 68 years of independence, English dominates the education system in India. She writes:

“Why would a free India want to continue with English as the preferred language at the expense of Indian languages and at the expense of Sanskrit which is the basis of those languages and is praised the world over? In which country the upper classes do not to speak in their mother tongue?”

It won’t be erroneous to say that the treatment the Indian regional languages receive is despicable when compared to the treatment given to the foreign languages, especially English. Most of the educational institutes today, especially the international schools, use exclusively English for imparting education.

The children studying in these schools learn about Pythagoras, Galileo and Newton, without even hearing about Panini, Aryabhatta, or Bhaskar.

Children thus educated develop an elitist attitude and scorn upon those who do not have the competence to either speak or write in the language.

Learning a foreign language for educating yourselves is not wrong; however, the problem ensues when the Western influence dominates over the Indian. Even Maria Wirth, says the same:

“Nobody says that children should not learn English. But why demand from teenagers fluency to write essays, understand thick textbooks and the question papers in their exams? They need to learn the basics, like students in other countries do. Why burden them so young with tomes in an alien language? This happens in no developed country, only in a few former colonies, including India.”

And it’s not only in the Indian education sector that English predominates but also the official work in majority of public or private sectors is done primarily in this language.

The problem is that we often link the knowledge of foreign languages with modernity, and justify our betrayal towards Indian languages by arguing that by adopting new languages, we are getting modernized and developed.

English language is perceived as a language offering hope and a better- life, which has changed its status from a foreign language to a compulsory second language in school and college education.

However countries like China and South Korea have proved that development can be attained even while sticking to the mother-tongue. These countries have developed and modernized much faster and better without switching their medium of instruction to English.

It is not that we should completely ban English and stop learning or using it. However the same privilege should be given to our own regional languages, as we give to English. The need of the hour is to provide equal access to all the Indian languages in various public and private sectors.

It’s not that our country can’t develop with the aid of our regional languages. What we need now is a proper infrastructure that would promote their usage in everyday life, the lack of which has caused English to become superior above the native languages.