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Skip English, focus on Indigenous Languages for India’s Development

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By Harshmeet Singh

“A common perception in India is that Indians need English to succeed. But is it the other way around in reality?”

The sky high vision and aim of becoming a world power that we carry with respect to our nation, are based on an extremely shaky education system which considers mimicking western theories the best way to impart knowledge.

With such a rich culture which is renowned worldwide, you would imagine that Indian students of social studies and humanities would carry with them enviable knowledge of Indian traditions, language and vedic sciences. But unfortunately, all our education system offers to them is western ideas and western thoughts.

Our Anglophonic education system is majorly responsible for a continuing colonized mindset that regards English as a mark of superiority. As the African and Asian nations tread the path of development, their share in the global GDP will see a surge in the coming decades. The economic influence of the English-speaking nations is set to dip in the near future.

With Spanish giving a tough competition to English in the US, English is looking for an emerging economic power that would save its status as the global language. In order to rope in Indian audience and viewers, a number of US and UK news channels have now started covering news from the Indian perspective.

India adopted a three-language for its education system in 1960s, when the Indian economy looked up to US and UK. With English taking the center-stage in this policy, the regional languages started losing ground. Despite vast changes in the economy and India’s global standing, we never thought of re-visiting our language policy for education to save our indigenous languages.

English

Some of the most renowned scientists in the world have taken birth in non-English speaking nations, thereby ruling out the perception that English is necessary for professional success in the field of Science and Mathematics. Though knowledge of English, like any other language, is certainly a handy skill to have, it is a myth that English is ‘necessary’ for professional success.

There are innumerable examples to break this myth. The onus of breaking this myth for the Indian youth lies with the Government which needs to ensure that there are ample employment opportunities for those who chose to give English a miss, and rather concentrated on other skills.

The first step in this regard would be ensuring that there is high quality educational material in indigenous languages for the students at all levels. The UGC initiated Bharatvani project is a major step in this regard. Proposed to be developed as the largest language portal in the world, the Bharatvani project aims at delivering knowledge in almost all Indian languages, with the help of multimedia formats. It plans to aggregate multimedia content from the government, writers and other non-governmental organizations and put it on a common platform. UGC also plans to rope in publication houses and different universities to make it a success.

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UGC lists 23 ‘bogus’ Indian universities, state govts taken a back over their existence

Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of unapproved universities, will be asked to expedite action

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universities
Courtesy: Pixabay.com

New Delhi, March 22, 2017: The Indian higher education regulator has listed 23 ‘bogus’ universities. They are not approved to grant degrees or diplomas. But, most state governments contemplated why these names were on the list since the institutes either don’t exist or have shut down.

Numerous institutes come up without meeting the requirements and offer degrees. That results to cheating, the UGC stated, asking the state governments to initiate action.

But the fake list has surged a controversy. Bihar’s higher education council (SHEC) vice chairman Kameshwar Jha accused the UGC of tarnishing the state’s image by putting on the list Maithili University or Vishwavidyalaya, Darbhanga.

He stated that from two decades, no such university prevailed in the state, and including the name of a non-existent institution on the list is correspondent of maligning the state.

“When the institution was declared illegal over two decades ago, I don’t see any point in mentioning it on the fake list year after year. It only earns Bihar a bad name,” he said.

Bihar is already struggling to redeem its image post incidents of mass cheating, especially after it got engulfed last year in a massive exam fraud that was exposed when its class 12 toppers failed to answer rudimentary questions during a media interaction.

Officials in Uttar Pradesh, another state notoriously known for high instances of education frauds, have stated that six universities were on the fake list that don’t exist but were offering degrees. They admitted that no in-depth investigation was done on the UGC alert.

The only fraudulent university in Maharashtra — Raja Arabic University in Nagpur — is a residential madarsa or Islamic seminary.

“We run a residential madarsa with 240 students,” said Maulana Mehmood Rizvi Khan, who heads the institute. He had apologised to the UGC for ‘claiming’ the seminary as a university.

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Similarly, St John University in Kerala has been functioning for the past 15 years in Kishannattamk, a place that does not exist.

“We have no idea about this. And nobody has registered any compliant,” said an education ministry official. The UGC had sent reminders about this university.

Of the two bogus institutes on alternative medicine in West Bengal, one is running with a different name and the other is functioning.

The Indian Institute of Alternative Medicine has apparently altered into the Indian Board for Alternative Medicine after its name was mentioned on the UGC’s 2009 list. The state government has not taken any action for its closure.

“We received a notice from the UGC last year, but before we could reply our name was on the list,” stated Jayanto Bhattarcharji, founder of the Institute of Alternate Medicine and Research, which is on the list.

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The institute was affiliated to the Kolkata-based Alternative Medical Council, he stated.

The Union human resource development ministry aims to send reminders to all states to submit a report on actions taken against bogus universities and technical institutions.

Mahendra Nath Pandey, junior HRD minister, said: “We have been sending letters to the states as fake institutes are jeopardizing the careers of innocent students.”

Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of unapproved universities, will be asked to expedite action.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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Debate over Tibet’s freedom lands Young Tibetans in dilemma

Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in

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Dalai Lama. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
– by Ranjuaery Dhadwal 

August 24, 2016:
If Tibet gets independence today, will the new English speaking generation prefer to go to their own country? The question that haunts the older generation.
Especially the generation which came to India with or after Dalai Lama. The generation, which was born in Tibet and fled to India or other parts of the world are worried that the  Tibetan language is only left in few phrases in younger generation’s memory. Now the trend is that more and more Tibetans want their children to remain in India because it has more cultural proximity with Tibet.
Indian Government has opened up Central schools in almost all the Tibetan settlements in India, where Tibetan Language is taught. It’s been more than 60 years since the first wave of Tibetans fled Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh following a failed uprising against Chinese Communist Party rule and the subsequent brutal military crackdown.

Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Roughly 85,000 people who first fled Tibet mainly clustered around a central core, built around Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama; in the mountains of India, Nepal, and Bhutan- next to their homeland. Now after three decades, new chapter for Tibetans living outside has emerged. As the prospects of returning to Tibet is diminishing, more and more Tibetans are adopting refugee life in South Asia for the West. Tibetan Government in Exile’s lobbying has arranged for large-scale resettlement programs that bring in hundreds of immigrants every day.

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Dalai Lama says that intermarriage for Tibetans was inevitable but Tibetan language and culture is important and needs to be preserved. Some of them have married Western and Indian women and are having half-Tibetan children. Most of the young Tibetan women too prefer to marry western or Indian people for a settled life.

In an interview Dalai Lama said that had he adopted the path of violence for Tibet’s independence, the Tibetan race would have extinct, rather he is approaching the middle way path for Tibet. Within the community, Tibetan Youth Congress is demanding total independence from China.

The present scenario is that Children born in India or in west are not aware of their culture or traditions. They are basically Americanized or Indianized. Most of them are into higher studies instead of joining the freedom struggle. One of the youngsters in Dharmashala has got his MBA from the University of Oregon, in entrepreneurship. He will decide whether or not to go back to Tibet once it gets independence. At present, he wants to start his own venture. He said, even if they go back to Tibet, they have to start from scratch. Though they show their love for Tibet but there is a disconnect between knowing what you are and actively feeling that way.

Mixed-race Tibetans that came or are coming to India or going to other parts of the world are grappling with issues that how they will fit into the Tibetan cause- how to preserve a sense of connection to a far-flung homeland and how to handle the perception that they are contributing to the community that still feels like it must fight to preserve itself. There is clearly an existencial crisis among these people. They are living in a era when a community, which was recognized for its cultural preservation (even though Beijing has destroyed many of the hallmarks of its culture) these people are struggling to know what exactly constitutes authentic Tibetan-ness.

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Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in. Most of them only say that they have come to learn English. Some of mixed-race Tibetans has struggled to find their footing as well.

Tibetan welfare officer says, Young Tibetans would grow too concerned with money and they would give up on the goal of e returning to the Tibet. The Tibetan government continues to lobby Western governments to take in more of those currently living in South Asian settlements. Tashi  Phuntsok, says that he has been urging Tibetan families to keep up the language with their children and make sure they remember where they came from.

Ex Tibetan Youth Congress President Tseten Norbu says, that it should be the main object of the Youth Congress. This is the only organization which has proximity with young Tibetans. He further mentions that, since the Himchal Government has given voting rights to the Tibetans born here or are half Tibetan, hope of returning to Tibet of this generation is diminishing.

– Ranjuaery is a freelance contributer and can be contacted at ranjuaery@gmail.com

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Shot in an Afghan firefight, 6 year-old Ameera is saved by American troops

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

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Toys and gifts for Ameera fill her hospital room. Image Source: npr.org

The hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield does not many trauma cases these days expect one. In a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, a 6 year-old was shot. The gun battle resulted in death of her father, a Taliban fighter along with her mother and some siblings.

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

It can be easily said that she represents the way Afghan war continues to play out since many U.S. troops have limited their role to just “advising and assisting” indigenous troops. Violence continues in Afghanistan and it has killed more children last year than any since record keeping began. The UN said many people were killed or got wounded in the 2015.

Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org
Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org

Dr. Chance Henderson, a a Texas-born orthopedic surgeon who has been treating her said if Ameera had gone to Afghan clinic “she’d definitely have had an amputation- and rightly so. That is the best way to save her life if you don’t have the means available to do what we have done in 12 or 20 surgeries.”

Ameera is being treated at an American hospital because she was shot in a firefight that involved their troops, so she has been receiving American care.

Dr Henderson also said, saving her would not save her from the danger posed by the wound but also from the danger of going back to live in Afghanistan without it.

“Her outlook on life as a single amputee that does not have a family is much different than it would be for us in the States,” he said. “Her future would be grim, and probably her life span would be short.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org

Air Force 1st Lt. Serena Matson remembered Ameera’s “nonstop crying” when she came in. Matson said, “She is little. She does not know us. We are not familiar-looking, and there are just a lot of people in and out of the room. She was just scared. ‘Who are these strange people? They don’t look like me. Where is my family?’ “

After many days of treatment, the staff member made her feel more comfortable. She got many toys, crayons and movies starring Mickey Mouse.

Even the staff member’s became fond of her, now Matson in her free time does Ameera’s hair, learning few Pashto words and teaching her little English.

Even though Ameera came through from the biggest challenge of her life , the doctor said that chances of saving her leg is still bleak and everything depends upon how the leg heals over the time.

“My daughter- that’s the first thing she asks me,” Henderson said. “‘How’s the leg doing, Dad?’ I do not want to give her bad news.”

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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