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Economic Growth


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             Anglophiles in India are on the offensive propagating the idea that English education is a boon of benevolent colonialism that has brought prosperity to the door steps of India. A comparison of the growth experience of native language countries and colonial language countries reveals that countries that followed the linguistic policy of empowering the native languages grew faster than all the Anglophone countries.
                  China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan together contain half (50.13% of global population) of humanity. Except Thailand, all other ten countries had been colonised and has become independent nations after the Second World War. Most had similar level of development in 1950 and a few like Korea and Vietnam witnessed civil wars and political instability in 1960s and early seventies. Renowned Economist Meghnad Desai writes, “In 1950 China and India had per capita incomes of M$439 and M$619 while South Korea and Taiwan had M$770 and M$936. By 1999, the numbers were China –M$3259, India M$1818, South Korea M$13317 and Taiwan M$15720” 

               UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) provides data on various developmental indicators in its website, “hdrstats.undp.org”. Long term economic growth rate from 1975-2005 for the eleven countries reveal that contrary to the claims of Anglophiles, English based higher education and official language policy has lead to lower growth rate in all anglophone countries.               

India was relatively better than China in 1975.Ordinary Indians had a better life than Chinese. By 2005 Indian people were reduced to being twice poorer than the Chinese. While India achieved 3.4 % GDP percapita annual growth rate, Chinese economy grew by 8.4 % Per annum. One fourth of Indians face food shortage and suffer hunger. Indians are three times more likely to go without food than the Chinese.   

           The exclusion of Indian languages from the domains of knowledge and governance has disempowered the poor and made rich richer. It has made crores of people poor, undernourished and rootless despising south Asian heritage and ideals of founding fathers.

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               Indonesia and Pakistan started with similar endowments. Unlike Indonesia, Pakistan never made Urdu the language of science and scholarship. It depends on English and English elite dominate the centres of power. However Indonesia pushed for linguistic reforms and newly developed Bahasa Indonesia was made the language of Higher Education. Despite natural disasters and financial crisis of 1997, Indonesian economy grew by 3.9 % per year and Pakistan could achieve only 2.5 % growth rate.

Bangladesh and Vietnam are monolingual countries with similar agrarian economies and the levels of percapita income of both countries were same in 1980. Contrary to the stated policy, English is the language of power in Bangladesh. It is a mandatory requirement for senior civil servants and professional education is only in English. But Vietnam made Vietnamese as the language of knowledge and intensive efforts were made to reach out to people in their language after the war with United States. By 2005 Vietnam achieved twice the percapita income of Bangladesh with a healthy growth rate of 5.2% per annum compared to 2.0% of Bangladesh.

 The most pathetic case of Anglo centric education policy has been Philippines. Though 99% of the population speak Filipino, English is the language of administration and higher education.  It was one of the richest country in East Asia in 1980.The percapita income of it was higher than that of Thailand. But by 2005 percapita income of Philippines was only half that of Thailand. While Thailand witnessed a growth rate of 4.9 % per annum, using its language for innovation, attracting investment and tourists, Philippines could grow only 0.4% per annum and is reduced to a remittance economy unable to extend opportunities for its own people in their land.

 It would not be surprising that Malaysia that was on par with Korea in 1980 is left far behind with only half the percapita income of Korea by 2005. Koreans have become the dynamic technology developers filing maximum number of patents in Asia by studying everything in Korean. Malay language is the most widely understood language in East Asia after Chinese. But Malaysia is yet to accord the status given to it by Indonesians in higher education.

The transparency International also reveals that English speaking elite in Anglophone countries are also more corrupt. Anglophone countries do not provide public information in the languages of citizens. Democracy is reduced to rule of the English speaking corrupt elite for anglophile elite and to the anglophile elite. India is considered more corrupt than China and the exclusive English using countries such as the Pakistan and Philippines are the most corrupt in Asia. The societies in native language countries are stable and marching ahead.

   Accountability and transparency are related to freedom of information. Higher the intensity of the use of colonial language, more corrupt is the countries. Corruption is not new and is not going to stop with each revealing. People should have the right to know the government in their language.   

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Read Malayalathinde Bhaavi-Bhasha Asoothranavum, Maanava Vikasanavum” (The Future of malayalam - Language Planning and Human Devolopment) in Malayalam written by K. Sethu Raman published by Maathrubhoomi Books for further details and analysis.