OBSESSION

The people of India have a special love for the language of English. With it being one of the official languages of India, people have obsessed over it now for years. It is considered supreme to any other local or regional language, the language of the elites, the language of the educated, the language of the rich, the language of the better, the language of the greater. Why the knowledge of an alien language has been recognised as the mark of standard or class? Why do Indians take pride in celebrating the English language more than any other? Why do the older generations boast about their children being able to speak English so much? Why do Indians being proud about their culture, traditions, ethnicity, customs and festivals are not as proud of their mother tongues as they are of English? These questions pop up every time a non- English speaking person is humiliated or belittled for their poor English speaking skills. But the real question is do we really need this toxicity of humiliating someone just for the sake of a mere language? No, absolutely we do not.

The answers to all these questions go back to the pre independent era. Ever since the British ruled over India they started with the policy of rejecting non-English, non-white, natives so as to establish strong foot of their supremacy. They dented the minds of naive Indians with the theory that only English speaking, white, educated (the western way) people were supreme and had the capability of ruling over others. With decades of humiliation and degradation, the people in pre independent India accepted the superiority of the English language and this made them bound to have inferiority complex about their very own language and mother tongue. The effect was so profound that even after independence, the people educated in English were considered better than those who were equally skilled but not in this supreme language. The Indian population were now interested in educating their children in an English medium school. The liking for the society with English read people enlarged to a level that it lead to the decay and ultimately the end of traditional schools with Indian native languages.

As India’s economy started to grow and new industries and establishments were born, the culture of hiring mostly and after some time only English speaking people grew to an unexpected level. The new businesses wanted English conversing people as they were now associated with better intelligence and know how. When we look back into the history of the relation between English language and the skills or expertise or wisdom we do not find any strong logical evidence to support that. It was merely the supremacy of the language created by the British that Indians starting judging themselves on the basis of the English speaking skills. The interviews were taken only in English language so as to ensure their hold of the language. Students with better grip of this foreign speech were preferred over others. Even this lingo came to be recognised as the symbol of intelligent, sincere and best for any job students.

Society made it very clear with their over likeness towards English that only the privileged, classy, affluent and powerful individuals could afford and were entitled to this learning. This obsession with a foreign tongue was so unhealthy and unwanted that till this day citizens of India have not been able to accept the fact that it is just a language and that the understanding of this speech has nothing to do with intelligence or wisdom. The folks with lesser experience or practice in English are judged too quickly as being the lesser ones. There is a swift shift in people’s attitude after they realize they are conversing with someone with no skills for English language than with the one who is an expert in it. Though with developing nature of the society today, the respect and glory of the local, regional or native language that was lost decades ago is returning back but nevertheless the tilt towards the English language continues, bent enough to stay an obsession.