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         "They are unable to get even clerical posts. It is easy to say things. How do we survive in the world?"                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                     A three-judge bench of 

Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan,

Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan 

    While Crime No 85/09 of Thalapuzha police station in Wynad district in Kerala provoked introspection, the observation of the Supreme Court of India that students who received education in the Indian language media are unable to get even clerical jobs precipitated the writing of the book. The government figures released by National University for Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) in 2008 reveals that 94 % of 13.169 crore children in primary school are studying in Indian language medium schools. The highest conscience keepers of our country have acknowledged that these children have no future in the present set up. The most affected by linguistic discrimination are the rural masses and urban poor. It is a manmade disaster.


             I wrote in my MA thesis titled “People’s Planning” in 1997 that, “It is true that all developed countries and Latin American countries educate their doctors and engineers in their respective languages. But English learning is also encouraged for acquiring and exchanging ideas around the globe...But there is wide difference between what is going on in India and in those countries. Without English one can become a Scientist, Doctor or any other professional in small countries as well. But in India without English one cannot even become a clerk... The costs are numerous. Millions of students are made to feel like fools in their own land by their own people”. It was only a two page write up on education. But this book is a chance to remind in detail the horrendous impact of the elite capture of decision making institutions and policy implementation machinery in India. The pronouncement of the Justices of Supreme Court of India echoes the plight of crores of children.

              In India, a Bengali professor would teach science in English to Bengali students who in turn rely on notes and guides that help in rote memory. A Tamil lawyer would argue in English to Honourable Tamil Judge in the presence of Tamil witnesses which is hardly understood by both victims and accused. A Malayali chief minister would be humiliated by placing most of the files and reports in English by a Malayali chief secretary. A Marathi girl has to show proficiency in spoken English to get a job in a Multi National Company at Mumbai. A Hindi speaking rural boy has to prove his English knowledge to get a central government job to serve people in Hindi heartland. Hardworking Punjabi truck driver would be given pamphlets on traffic safety in English in Punjab. The colonial bureaucracy and inept academics have reduced south Asia as the “race of imitators”.

              The book is not about love for languages. It is about Justice and development. The book does not care whether Indian languages will survive or not. It is least worried about the development of language. But it is concerned about economic development. It does not harbour any notion of Tamil pride or Malayalam pride. But it seeks to know whether Indian use of so called global language has solved the problem of poverty, empowered the weak, improved productivity and helped Indians to reduce hunger. It makes a comparative study of native language countries that employ local languages in professional education and recruitment to public sector employment opportunities and colonial language countries such as India that use colonial language in higher education and government in achieving Human development. In the native language countries the language of elite and masses are same.

         The book is not sentimental about the linguistic aesthetics of any language. But it is curious about whether Ilayaraja’s music or Rahman score would be more melodious if sung for English lyrics than in Tamil, whether Malayalis can laugh better if Mohan Lal and Jagathy Sreekumar speak in English than in Malayalam, whether a young Dravidian girl would be loved better when a Telugu boy writes poems in English than in Telugu, or whether Indian English accent would become more acceptable global accent than American English.

              It is officially heretic to take on the embedded belief that everything is good in India and the only menaces are Naxalites, linguistic chauvinists, regionalists and Muslim fanatics. Multiplexes are multiplying to watch fantastic Hindi movies about Indian NRIs, TV serials taken in centralized AC sets show ladies bedecked with flashy cloths and ornaments, IT companies in metros recruit English speaking Indians to serve offshore markets, lucrative IPL has become one of the most watched club sport, statistics show that India has become the fastest growing economy and number of Indian billionaires is increasing in the rich men list. So life is good and getting better in India. It is uncomfortable to differ and show that the real India is ignored and betrayed. The book stresses that the heroes and heroines shoot for duet in a foreign location as India is too dirty, the majority of population watches glossy serials about feudal Rajahs in the one room tenements of slums in cities, while a few lakh get employed in ICT sector crores from villages and urban ghettos are declared unemployable, India has no honourable place in the world of sport and players of the national game struck play for their salaries, and not many children in India are born healthy and have good education.

               The book argues that sources of growth such as human capital formation and technology cannot be delinked from access to knowledge in the languages of people. Literacy rate becomes meaningless when the languages of literacy do not support them in gaining access to knowledge and earn livelihood.

                For a police officer writing this book is like investigating in to the case of massive and subtle fraud committed by the elite on crores of children and poor people of south Asia. As soon as one seeks to know the logic of testing communication skill in English for selecting IAS and IPS officers, bank employees, military officers etc who invariably have to communicate in Indian languages on field, incurring huge cost for training crores of children to become competent in English than opting for making available knowledge in Indian languages at a fraction of the cost of former, and debarring Indian languages in professional education that built great monuments of yester years, one cannot but pity the ill-fated Indian children.

              The book is written on the firm belief that transforming Indian languages in to medium of knowledge is important to extend opportunities to identify the potential scientists, sportsmen, artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders from the villages of the subcontinent. It cannot happen without administrative decentralisation and establishing premier higher education institutes in Indian languages. Only time will tell whether democracy can empower vast majority of ordinary people to become fortunate as rest of the world to get employment opportunities and gain knowledge in their every day speech to create a “Nation of Innovators” contributing to humanity.

Read Malayalathinde Bhaavi-Bhasha Asoothranavum, Maanava Vikasanavumin Malayalam written by K. Sethu Raman published by Maathrubhoomi Books for further details and analysis. (English and Hindi translations would be released soon and is planned in other Indian languages