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  English Language and Indian Development

               The book written by K.Sethu raman, Superintendent of Police, Malappuram is an investigation in to the construction of a linguistic hierarchy based on the colonial legacy of linguistic imperialism in post independence India, and its ramifications in the field of education, planning and administration.  The author draws from his rich experience as a civil service officer and his training as a researcher and academician.

The book is divided in to six parts discussing the various aspects of the problem under heads like Linguistic Hierarchy, Linguistic Imperialism, Deconstruction of Myths, Costs of Linguistic discrimination, Lessons from transitions from transition and Reform efforts in India.

            The first part of the book argues that Indian Languages are excluded from the domains of  knowledge and power as a continuation of colonial legacy. The second part discusses the foundations on which the ruling elite have built the neo colonialism. Contrary to the stated language policy and advice of international educationalists, mother tongue education is neglected. There is a pronounced bias towards the English educated in the selection process to All India Civil Services, and public Sector Enterprises.

             The third part of the books points out that the official language policy is also flawed which favours English to Indian Languages. A comparison is made to the language policy in European Union countries where multi - lingual language policy is in vogue and lessons are drawn from the progressive language policy that was in practice during the reign of Emperor Asoka in ancient India. The author challenges the argument that English acts as a unifying factor in a multi-lingual India. The book argues that cross-cultural interaction should be promoted through Indian languages and people should be allowed to decide on the link language they want to use. The author also stresses the need for an auxiliary language for South Asia in Roman script. There should be an earnest attempt to promote all Indian Languages. He sees the elitism in Civil services as a barrier to such moves.

 The fourth part studies the impact of English based higher education and administration on development. A comparative study in the post colonial context is made between the once–colonized developing countries and newly emerged Industrial nations. While countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Malaysia followed the colonial language route, countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea followed the native language policy. The author argues that such countries showed more inclination towards modernization and development.

           The fifth part of the book scans the language scenario in various parts of the world with a special focus on South Asia. The author argues that Puerto Rico even when being a territory of USA, has implemented the mother tongue – first policy. The example of Quebec province in Canada is also pointed out. The author charts recent efforts in shifting the focus towards mother tongue. Introduction of native languages as medium of professional education is a great booster in this regard. The book also treats the concerns of education and development in Kerala in the light of recent trends. The case study of Kerala Vs Catalonia in the implementation of language policy provided in the book can act as an eye-opener to many.

           The sixth and last part of the book deals with the issues in English learning in India and discusses its role as a library language. The last chapter of the book summarizes the findings of the study and explores the scope for change.

  The book is a well-researched one and posits some interesting problems regarding the implementation of a clear-cut official language policy. It also points out the need for democratization of technical and professional education by making mother tongue its medium. It shows how language elitism can perpetuate cultural and political elitism which will be detrimental to the democratic ethos of the country. By putting forward genuine and valid reasons, the author argues for a fundamental shift in our attitude towards language which eventually relates to human development.

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.