The English left, but not English!

It was on 14th September, in the year 1917, Mahatma Gandhi gave a speech at Marina beach, the location – Marina beach was a part of Madras Presidency.  However, Telugu was the dominant language then, although Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada were official languages along with Telugu.  Gandhi ji was originally travelling from Ranchi to Pune when he took a detour to Madras.  He gave the speech in English in the august public gathering as most of the South Indians did not understand the most and widely spoken language of India – Hindi.  The other nationalist leaders who were present at that time were Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Subramania Bharati.

The Aftermath of the meeting, Subramania Bharati, who was lovingly called as ‘Bharathiyar’ by Tamils, wrote a letter to Gandhiji and he highly appreciated the speech on ‘Quit India Movement’.  He also mentioned his disappointment to Gandhi that he had used the English language to deliver the speech on ‘QIM’ for the purpose of removing Britishers from India.  He also mentioned that he would have felt happy, had Gandhiji used Gujarati as his mother tongue or even Hindi, the most spoken language of India.  Incidentally, the letter was in English.

In a reply to Bharati, Gandhiji narrated that even Bharati wrote the letter to him in English.  “Had it been Tamil I would have been much happier and what went wrong in using English in the meeting”, he added further.  To this Bharati gave another befitting reply to Gandhi. Where he said that “I love my mother tongue and when I want to say impolitely to any, I can’t use my own mother tongue since I love very much, hence English is a correct language for that”.  That was the love and affection he had with the mother tongue.  He not only had a love with Tamil, but also with all other mother land languages.  Once he mentioned in his one of the poems that he wanted to hear songs in Telugu as the sweetest language of his choice.

What made one to learn another language? In other words, what made one to give importance to other language?  Is it interest? Is it love affair? Is it career or business? Or is it education?  All these are possible in any nation or any nationals, as far as learning is concerned.  In India, it is absolutely different. English is spoken here not for any above purpose, but a matter of pride, dignity, self-esteem.  In no other country where English is not a native language, you would find like this.  This is India’s way… is it great or brat for this country?

The fact is English may not be the most spoken language in the world, but it is the official language in a large number of countries, including India.  There might be 2 billion people using this language.

English, as on date, remains the dominant business language and it has become almost a necessity for people speak English if they are to enter a global workforce.

Many of the world’s top films, books and music are produced in English.

The impact-full fact is, most of the content produced on the internet is in English.

Does it mean one to learn English by compulsion? NO…..  Certainly not!

The very purpose of language is just and only just to communicate with any common public.  If the purpose serves that much, one succeeds enough.  Why does one communicate with others, only for pleasure?  Does a common man in need of that sort of pleasure?  Who cares!

Unfortunately, most of the Indians, probably of yesteryear generation, still linger on this pleasure.  Is it some kind of slavery mind on which they are hanging on?  Do we need to speak a language only for the matter of pride?  If so, why not our own mother tongues?  Can’t we afford to use our Indian languages to express our views?  Do we need to depend on the other’s mother tongue?

Do we need to make a fun on people who cannot speak or write English correctly?  We never felt bad or ashamed when one speaks his/her mother tongue wrongly, then why English is elevated to some illusionary supreme stage?  Unfortunately, the yesteryear generation still feels pride of English knowledge.

The matter of fact, Indian languages are much richer than English, however in the recent past, English was respected more preferred language, just because we were ruled by the British and our slavery has not gone until last generation.  It is still witnessed that some of the yesteryear people voluntarily say that British rule was far better than the present.  This is slavery indeed.

According to data from the 2005 by India Human Development Survey shows that a survey of households reported that among men 72 percent do not speak English, 28 percent speak at least some English, and 5 percent are fluent. Among women, the corresponding proportions were 83 percent, 17 percent, and 3 percent.


This is the fact of English in India.  Why does one feel proud of speaking English then?  After all it is another infiltrated language in India.

Let’s make foreign languages, especially, English as only communicative purpose, not to feel pride of speaking.

By Balaji Canchi Sistla

Hyderabad on 11-5-15 @ 15.10 pm



  1. suresh Canchi sistla

    Most of people in india may feel proud of speaking English whether it is correct or not , but English knowledge is must for higher studies. Nobody can deny this.


    • balaji690

      Dear Suresh ji

      While I accept that unfortunately English is must for higher studies in India, be it known that so many of Asian countries, including Russia and China do not depend on English alone for higher studies. Our higher education system made to force the aspirants of higher studies to study their education in English which is really pathetic, indeed. People like you and me have no option but to continue since career of one remains the matter of survival in this country. However, a few like me, make yell here and there, so as to at least a few generations later, this would come true. Would you agree?


      • suresh Canchi sistla

        Ecven Chinese and japanese are started to learn English even though they prefered prevousely their mother languages for studies. Now they realized they cannot compete with the world without English because the only language in the world updates rapidly in science,engineering and medical fields.


  2. balaji690

    Namaste Suresh JI
    Although you are partially right, let me feed you some more inputs on this. Learning is different from studying, which you also know, I believe.
    If you see the websites of these countries, the courses offering languages are of their native languages only, however, additionally English language is given as an option. Interestingly, more than 85% of students of these country students select their mother tongue only. One question I want to put before you and I seek your honest reply. Which language do you prefer to express your feelings in case of emergency or in a mood of romance? I want an honest reply.


    • jayashri

      good one Balaji. i am happy to note that Telugu was dominant language in 1917. could you please show some evidence for the same to share this article with my other Telugu friends.


      • balaji690

        Thanks JS. Please find below the reference collected from Wikipedia.

        Before the arrival of the English

        1. The discovery of dolmens from this portion of the subcontinent shows inhabitation as early as the Stone Age. The first prominent rulers of the northern part of the future Presidency were The Telugu Satavahana dynasty (230 BC – AD 102). Following the decline of the Satavahanas of Andhra and the Cholas in Tamil Nadu, the country was conquered by a little known race of people called the Kalabhras. The country recovered under the subsequent Pallava dynasty and its civilisation attained a peak under the later Cholas and the Pandyas. Following the conquest of Madurai by Malik Kafur in 1311, there was a brief lull when both culture and civilization began to deteriorate. The Tamil and Telugu territories recovered under the Vijayanagar Empire, founded in 1336. Following the empire’s demise, the country was split amongst numerous sultans, polygars and European trading companies. Between 1685 and 1947, a number of kings ruled the areas that became part of the Madras Presidency.

        2. The Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Odia, Tulu and English languages were all spoken in the Madras Presidency. Tamil was spoken in the southern districts of the Presidency from a few miles north of Madras city as far west as the Nilgiri hills and Western Ghats. Telugu was spoken in the districts to the north of Madras city and to the east of Bellary and Anantapur districts. (which means until present Chengalpattu, kanchipuram etc. covering entire present Madras City and beyond)


        Hope this would serve the purpose! Thanks for reading and commenting my article. How about other articles?


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