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