By Arnab Mitra
Kolkata: “English to speak, English to eat, English to think, English to play, English to sleep”–adapting the western culture as an indicator of social status is the way our society has ‘progressed’ since independence. Most of the offices in India have done away with the vernacular as a medium of communication, and in the process, consciously pushed for English as the preferred (and the only) mode of official communication. This meant, to get in to those places, our workforce needs to fulfill this ‘basic requirement’ for better work opportunities.
Historian and Indian culture laureate Niladri Sengupta told NewsGram, “The acceptance of English language and culture cannot be restricted as it is an international communicative language. But I do not like the way modern Indians try to become more ‘modern’ by absorbing a juxtaposed language which can be termed ‘Hinglish’, ‘Benglish’ or some other pseudonym. But I don’t think this affects the culture too much as the Indian culture has reached a state global acceptance. The younger generation is passionate enough about their culture, but when it comes to language, I fear there is no option rather than being English educated.”
To gauge the views of the younger generation on the matter, NewsGram spoke to a few university students from Kolkata.
Vishmayo Bhattacharya, a second year International Relations student from Jadavpur University said, “English has a huge market compared to the other languages in the world, so being English educated is very common today as we are living in a global community. But I do think we are living in a juxtaposed society where we are not true to any single language.”
Avinandam Biswas, JU second year BCom student said that he wasn’t concerned with the Indian language and culture, “What will the people do learning knowing about Bengali language or literature? Did Rabindranath or Sarat Chandra give us food? As for culture, I enjoy Diwali or Durga Puja way more than Christmas.”
“A situation will come within the next 10 years where people will hardly relate to great Indians like Gandhi, Netaji or Gautam Buddha. European and American stalwarts have taken hold of our minds through virtual mediums like cyber games, cartoon channels and especially by the great Zuckerberg and his associates,” said JU student Wilson Bishwavarma, warning of changing times.
Another JU student, Shivangi Jaiswal, asserted the importance of globalization with relevance to language and culture, “We are now entering a phase of global social media language and I do think that the Indian culture is accepted globally. The November 11 Diwali celebrations this year will see the world light candles with India on the occasion.”
Speaking on this generation’s fascination with English, former finance minister of West Bengal Ashok Mitra said, “I doubt the younger generation even learns the English language properly. What they are learning can be better described as a khichdi (an Indian dish consisting of a rice-lentil mishmash) language. It is not possible to express your views while forgetting your mother tongue. The CPI(M) government had made a huge mistake in abolishing the English language from primary education at that time.”
The situation in Bangladesh however, is quite different from that of our nation. “There is a wide acceptance of Bengali language in Bangladesh. We respect the language as our mother, and the younger generation prefers to speak in Bangla rather than English. Adopting a foreign language and culture has never been a matter of social status in our country,” said Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner Zokey Ahad.
The epidermis of the Indian society is under a huge threat as nascent Indians will turn into puppets in the hands of foreigners if such a situation continues. If we don’t give proper respect and value to our language and culture, a time will come when we are bound to become culturally ‘dependent’ on interlopers.