In this article, we shall discuss about how the absurd obsession that Indians have for English language, is responsible for the sheer poverty and lack of development in India and also lack of creativity among majority of Indians and how the eradication of India’s Black economy will help in solving this problem.
This article is about Linguistic slavery of India and Black money.
Let’s begin by a conversation between you and me.
You: So what do you mean by linguistic slavery ? I am an Indian and I am free to use any language I desire. I am not a slave.
Me: Are you sure ?? In which language are you forced to do your BTech or MBA ?
You: Of course, English. But mind it. I am not forced to do that. I voluntarily have decided English as medium of instruction for my education because English is the international language and, come on, I need to develop, India needs to develop. We are a developing country and English is a pre-requisite for development.
Me: You are bluntly wrong. Let me first blast off the myth that English is necessary for development. On the contrary, let me state an empirical truth: “English is a big obstacle in the path of India’s development”.
You: Aan haan ?!! You have taken it too far. Still I am eager to know what you have to say.
Me: Sure, let’s have a glance at the languages used by the developed and developing countries around the world for higher education. Below I give details about some developing countries.
|Country||Language of higher education||Colonizers|
|Rwanda||English and French||England and France|
|Central African Republic||French||France|
We see that the countries which have been using the language of their colonizers for higher education are still developing. This is just an indicative list. Just do some research on this and you will notice that not even a single country that uses a foreign language for higher education is developed except United States. But for United States, English is not a foreign language. A majority of Americans are of British or Scotish origin with English already their native language. In the US, after its so-called independence, only some Spaniards and French people needed to learn English. French and Spanish languages are linguistically close to English and learning English is not a tough task for the French and the Spanish, just as learning Gujarati is not a tough task for a Hindi speaker. So English is really not a foreign language for US. Now let’s talk about the developed countries.
|Country||Language of Higher education|
Again this is only an indicative list. Those countries which have pride over their native languages and use the native language for higher education are some of the most developed countries in the world. Note that Japan and Germany were completely devastated in the second world war and today they are much more developed than us. One reason for this is that they chose to educate their people in the native tongue! We see that only those countries use English, which were once a colony of England.
In any case, it is highly obvious and common sense for me that those countries which use native language for education are bound to be more developed than those that use a foreign language. Let me illustrate why this is obvious, through an example.
If a typical German guy (who knows only German) wants to pursue a career in engineering, all he needs to do is start studying the appropriate subjects (books are available in German). If he wants to pursue a career in graphic designing, he needs to learn an image-editing tool, like Gimp (which is available in German language), if he wants to be a business manager, all he needs to do is undergo an MBA program (in the German language).
Now consider a guy who knows only Tamil, just as the German guy only knew German. In fact, all of us only know our native language before entering the anti-Indian education system created by the British. But if this guy wishes to pursue a career in engineering, he would first need to learn a foreign language (because in India, higher education is available only in English), if he wishes to pursue a career in graphic designing, first he needs to learn a foreign language (because Photoshop is available only in English), if he wishes to become a Business manager, first he needs to learn English (because MBA education is available only in English).
In fact, if any Indian wishes to pursue any career in any field other than manual labor and farming, he/she will be required to learn a foreign language! How unfair! More than 80% of Indians do not know English even after 150 years of forceful doses, hence 80% Indians can’t pursue an advanced career! That means there is a huge supply of manual labor available in India (because 80% people do not know English). Through a simple demand-and-supply analysis, we can infer that this huge supply of labor, which outstrips the demand for labor, reduces the price of labor (wages) of 80% of population (laborers and farmers), condemning them to poverty. This poverty then prevents them from accessing good health-care and quality education. This lack of education and money spent on costly medicines, sustains the poverty further and the majority of my countrymen get trapped in this vicious circle of poverty, diseases and ignorance because of English! The poverty then breeds crime and naxalism..
You: You seem to be making a point. Can you elaborate ?
Me: Of course. Let me show you how the biased attitude of Indians for English is responsible for their poverty. To understand this, you need to first understand a basic fact about an economy. That fact is: You get from the economy, what you give to the economy.
You: How is that ? And how is English related to this ?
Me: Yes. To understand why it is so, let’s first define poverty as the inability of the people to obtain even the threshold amount of goods and services required for a dignified and creative living. Examples of such goods and services are food, cloths, shelter, education, health-care etc. Then you need to understand the concept of circular flow of income. Put simply, the notion of circular flow of income states that Those who produce goods and services in an economy are collectively the same people who consume those goods and services. In other words, the goods and services required to live a prosperous life are not produced by some Allah sitting on 7th sky or some God sitting on 4th sky or some Vishnu sitting in Vaikuntha Loka, but by the same people who need those goods and services.
Circular flow of income, goods and services. Those who wish to consume goods and services are the same people who produce them either as laborers or entrepreneurs! In a nutshell, consumers are themselves the producers!
Let’s now granulate this principle to a micro-level and try applying it to an individual. In an economy, an individual provides goods and services. In exchange, he gets money equal in amount to the price of those goods and services (determined by their supply and demand). The individual then exchanges that money with some other goods and services that he finds necessary for a dignified living. Here, money is only a medium of exchange. The role of money is this whole process is akin to the role of the dummy variable x in the following pseudo-code. In this code, the two variables, a and b exchange their values.
=> a=3; b=5; //a contains 3, b contains 5
=> int x; //define a dummy variable x
=> x=a; //put a‘s value into x
=> a=b; //put b‘s value into a
=> b=x; //put x‘s value into b
=> kill x; //free the memory taken by x
In this code, a and b have exchanged their values and x only acted as a dummy variable and a medium of exchange. Because x has no relevant value, it can be killed at the end of the program. The role of money in an economy is analogous to the role of x in this program. The only difference is that x holds binary values while money holds economic value! Here is a sample economic program.
=> gshah=consultancy; vegetable vendor=vegetables
//gshah(that’s me) can provide consultancy services and vegetable vendor can provide vegetables
=> print money; //RBI creates a dummy good called money
=> money=gshah; //gshah provides consultancy to the economy and gets money in return
=> gshah=vegetable vendor; //vegetable vendor provides vegetables to gshah and gets that money in return
=> vegetable vendor=money; //vegetable vendor provides that money to the economy and gets consultancy services (not necessarily from gshah) to improve his business
=> kill money; //money came from the economy and went back to the economy
In this economic program, gshah exchanged the consultancy services he can provide, with the vegetables which is a basic necessity for a dignified living. Money came from the economy and went back to the economy. All that effectively happened was the exchange of consultancy services with the vegetables. The greater the value (price) of consultancy services, the greater the money that gshah receives and hence greater will be the amount of vegetables that gshah can acquire in exchange for that money.
But suppose that gshah was not capable enough to provide consultancy and could provide only manual labor (because he does not know English). Since the value (price) of manual labor is much less than that of consultancy, this time gshah receives much less money from the economy in return for manual labor. With this little money, gshah could buy much less vegetables and possibly could not satisfy his hunger with them and hence can’t have a dignified living. That is, gshah is poor.
From this it is clear that, greater the value of goods and services an individual provides to the economy, greater the money he gets in return and greater the amount of goods and services he can buy from that money! This establishes the basic rule of economics that You get from the economy what you give to economy.
Because 80% Indians do not know English, in the current political and economic system, all they can give to the economy is manual labor and farming services. This causes a huge supply of manual labor and farming, compared to their demand. This drastically reduces the price of manual labor and farming and thus 80% Indians get little money from the economy in return for manual labor and farming. With this little money, they can get only limited amount of goods and services necessary for a dignified living, and hence they become poor! From our rule, because 80% Indians give little to the economy, they get little from the economy and hence they are poor!
This analysis is not a mere speculation of mine. Here is some eye-opening data.
As of 2010, agricultural output of India is 16% of its GDP, but agricultural sector employs more than half of the population. That means, more than half of population provides only 16% of national goods and services to the economy and hence consequently (and as our rule also predicts) earn only 16% of national income! In other words, more than half of the people are poor!And let’s not talk of the unorganized labor sector, for that will give an even more gloomy picture. One of the major reasons for India’s poverty is that the British-designed education system has created a barrier which filters out those who do not know a foreign language called English, and condemns these filtered out people to low paying jobs! This also means that more than 80% Indians can’t contribute to innovations in India’s biochemical industry, research and development, opto-electronic industry, semi-conductor industry and metallurgical industry. In fact, 80% Indians can’t contribute to any sector of India’s economy that requires even slightest education! In such a scenario, how will India produce world class entrepreneurs, scientists and Nobel laureates ?? It simply can’t. English is not a helper in development, rather, it is a big obstacle in development and economic prosperity. No wonder, India’s GDP was 27% of world GDP before the British brought English and today it is just around 5% ! That is, India was developed without English and is now developing with English! India has faced enormous amount of economic loss in the 65 years after independence, simply because of English! Interestingly, our spineless, myopic and corrupt leaders who studied economics from Harvard can’t see this simple phenomenon. And a so-called illiterate Baba Ramdev who studied from a gurukul, can see!
In US, everyone produces goods and services and everyone consumes those produced goods and services. In Japan, everyone produces goods and services and everyone consumes those goods and services. The problem with India is that only those who know English produce a majority of goods and services and hence also consume the majority of goods and services. Thus in the current political, economic and education system that is largely borrowed from the British, English language has become a passport to economic prosperity!
India has huge supply of manual labor, because majority do not know English!
You: You make a lot of sense. I agree that English has caused immense amount of economic loss to India, but there is no solution to this problem. We did not make any discoveries in Science and Mathematics. Hence, Indian languages are not as developed as English. They are not suitable for studying Science. We have to use English. There is no other way.
Me: This is a stupid myth. Indian languages are much more advanced than English. The gem among Indian languages is Sanskrit and it has infinite vocabulary. When English can borrow more than 90% of it’s vocabulary from other languages (like Latin, Greek, French, Dutch etc), then why can’t modern Indian languages take their vocabulary from Sanskrit ?? Most of them are anyways derived from Sanskrit. In fact, Indian languages (both north and south Indian) have 25% (urdu) to 70% (bengali) vocabulary directly taken from Sanskrit, then why can’t they borrow more words from the endless ocean called Sanskrit ? Lack of vocabulary is not a problem. English (powered by words from other languages) has less vocabulary than Hindi (powered by words from Sanskrit). Moreover, our ancestors have made great number of discoveries in Mathematics and Science. Algebra, Calculus, Number theory, Trigonometry, Geometry, Astronomy, Linguistics, Phonetics, Economics, Medecine and Surgery have all originated in India! The decimal number system that the world uses today was invented by our ancestors! In fact, whatever mathematics we are taught till 12th standard in English, be it Binomial Theorem or Matrix algebra or Integral calculus, has actually been invented by our ancestors in Sanskrit. 2300 years ago, when विष्णुगुप्त शर्मा(chANakya) was teaching economics to the students at the university of Takshashila, the British did not even exist. Probably, they were uncivilized forest dwellers then. More than 2000 years ago when gArgI was debating with yAjnavalkya on political matters, in the court of king Janaka, the European philosophers thought that women do not have souls and are objects of sex. Moreover, we do not even know what other knowledge our ancestors had, because large portion of their knowledge must have been destroyed when the barbaric invaders burnt the libraries of Nalanda and Takshashila! Just as there can be no scientific and philosophical development in Afghanistan today because of constant political turmoil, there has been little scientific and philosophical development in India in the last 1000 years, because of the political turmoil caused by a series of invaders who were attracted towards India’s vibrant economy for their selfish economic ends. And because the British were the last among that series, they are alteast partly responsible for the lack of scientific development in India and Indian languages.
Many discoveries of quantum mechanics were made in German (remember Aufbau Principle ?), many advances in chemical engineering were made in Russian. Large portion of Science and Maths that is taught to us today in English is actually translated into English and not discovered in English! How stupid of us that we study science and maths by translating them in a foreign language called English but do not attempt to translate these subjects in Indian languages! And in the process we also make the country poor!
I remember, while studying for IIT JEE, one of the books I used was Problems in Physics by Erodov. The original book was in Russian. But we Indians are such big duffers that instead of translating the book from Russian to Tamil, Bangali and Hindi, we translated it from one foreign language (Russian) to another foreign language (English) and then learnt that foreign language to study Physics. How foolish!
Science and Technology has nothing to do with language. Any language is as good as any other. But if that is the case, then why use English – a foreign language ??
You: Ok! You make sense again. But Information Technology which is so much the part of good life today is not possible without English.
You: Ok! so English is not required for science and technology, development, computing, internet etc. In fact, according to you, English is not required for anything. Agreed. But, we still can’t afford not using English. Today, it forms a vital interface for India to communicate with rest of the world. We will be isolated from the world if we stop using English. Afterall, English is an international language!
Me: If English is international, so let it be international. Why make it intra-national ?? Why make English compulsory for MBA, BTech, MTech, MBBS etc ?? Those who need to speak to foreigners will take it as an optional subject and those who do not need it will not take it up. Why make it compulsory for even the basic requirements of life ?? When 95% people do not need to speak to foreigners then why are 100% people being forced to learn English ?? In spite of English being international, the Japanese do not educate their kids in English, and they are more developed than us! In France and Japan, for instance, MBA is done in French and Japanese languages, respectively. French and Japanese companies operate in French and Japanese languages, respectively. Not using English is not preventing them from being some of the most competent firms in the world. Language is never a barrier. But if that is the case, then why has English been made compulsory for MBA in India ?
Actually, to be honest with you, English is NOT an international language. That’s be..
You: You have been making sense so far, but I beg to disagree with your last sentence that “English is NOT an international language”.
Me: Let me explain you why I am saying so, then you will beg to agree.
You: Aah han ?!! Go ahead. Open your cards.
Me: I do not think that English is an international language because
1) UN does not define English as an international language. For UN, English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese and Arabic are all equal. There is no international government, nor an international Parliament to make international laws and democratically decide which language should be international. The rule in international politics is simple “जिसकी लाठी उसकी भैस ॥” (For the uninitiated, that means One who has power, is influential.) Today the laathi belongs to US and hence the bhains also belongs to US, hence the domination of English. Note that the laathi previously belonged to England, before that Turkey, before that Arabia and before that India. Since laathi will not belong to US in future, the bhains also wont belong to it in future, hence English won’t dominate the world in future (don’t know when but such time definitely will come).
2) a) If we go by number of speakers, Spanish and Chinese beat English. Spanish is more international than English.
b) If we go by number of countries with official status then English tops the list but Arabic, French and Spanish follow behind. French is an official language in 30 countries, English in 58 countries, Spanish in 20 countries, Arabic in 22 countries.
c) If we go by the land area on which a language is spoken, then Russian and English have approximately equal land area, followed by French and Spanish.
Since there is no clear criterion to define what constitutes an international language, calling English an international language is not recommended. Hence we see that UN has adopted 6 languages and not English alone.
3) I think that a language which is being called international should be an official language in atleast 75% of the world nations. English misses this criterion by miles. There are 200 nations in the world and I could call English international when atleast 150 countries in the world had English as an official language, which is not the case.
Arabic became an international language in just 100 years!
4) The answer to the question Which language is international ? is very volatile. A glaring example is that of Arabic. Before 7th century, Arabic was spoken by nomads of the Arabian desert and no where else. In just 100 years from then, it became the language of Science, Art, Literature, Politics, Religion and Philosophy in the nations spanning from modern Portugal to Afghanistan! Similarly, English, which was once spoken only by the barbarians of the island of UK, spread to its current proportions in 400 years. Historians hypothesize that there was a language (which they call Proto Indo European) that was once spoken all over modern Europe, Middle-East and Indian Sub-Continent. That language does not exist today. Probably, this language was none other than our Vedic Sanskrit. The point I am trying to drive home is that within a few centuries (or may be even decades, remember the expansion of Arabic?), English won’t remain the international language even if you consider it to be international today. Then why not prepare our nation (and languages) till then to dominate the world once an appropriate opportunity comes ?
From this it can be concluded that calling English international is not recommended. And even if we do so, there is no point in making English compulsory in education. English can very well be treated as an optional subject taught only to the level that a person may be able to do basic communication in English. But today we treat English with utmost respect and neglect our languages. Treating English with respect is acceptable, but neglecting our own languages can’t be accepted. Today, we bother if we are spelling English words correctly (which anyways have no logic), we bother whether ‘tortoise’ is the correct pronounciation or is it ‘tortis’. We have made such an education system where a person who learns a foreign language becomes an Engineer and a person who learns Hindi or Marathi becomes a chaparaasi. We also bother whether ‘would’ forms the correct usage in a sentence or ‘could’. We are so much particular and choosy about such silly things which were anyways developed from someone’s whims and fancies and have no logical framework behind them. It is this attitude towards English and our languages that annoys me the most. I don’t wish to end English. All I want is an exchange of attitudes that we have for English and Indian Languages.
Not even a single country which was NOT a colony of the British, makes English a pre-requisite for higher education! Indians use English, not because it is helpful in development, but because India was once a colony of British. There is no other reason. But should that be the reason why we promote English at the expense of our languages ??
You: Your concerns and gestures are genuine. I agree now that English should not be a bottleneck for higher education. But how do we achive that ? I mean, India has atleast 22 languages and the education system has to be in one language. For example, there has to be a single medium of instruction at IIT Bombay. For, the students taking up higher education at IIT Bombay come from different states and have different native tongues. We are forced to have a common language there and that language has to be English and not Hindi, as Tamils would oppose education in Hindi. Hindi and Tamil anyways belong to separate language families and are not related, so Hindi does not even have the familiarity advantage with Tamils.
Me: You are right. But the linguistic diversity of India is actually not a problem. But before understanding why it is not a problem, let me show you some new perspectives about India.
You: Hmmm. I am interested to know. Go on.
The land area of original India is greater than that of European Union!
Me: Do you know why is India called a sub-continent ? That’s because it is really a continent! Let’s talk of land area of India. Rajasthan is of the size of Japan, Kerela is of the size of Israel, Andhra Pradesh is atleast twice the size of Greece, Madhya Pradesh can accommodate atleast 2 Netherlands and 3 Belgiums! In fact, the land-area of Republic of India is 76% of the land area of European Union. And if we talk of the undivided India (अखण्ड भारत) – those regions which were once a part of Vedic culture and had Sanskrit as their lingua franca viz. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives and Republic of India – the land area of undivided India is 15% greater than that of European Union! Republic of India is really not a single country but a union of 20 countries! Saying that India is diverse is like saying that European Union is diverse. Of course, a group of 20 countries is bound to be diverse!
You: You are talking interesting facts. But if India is really so huge, why does it appear so small on a map ??
Me: Genuine question. The small appearance of India on a map is actually a geometrical illusion. Because Earth is actually a sphere, but a map is a plane, the regions close to equator appear smaller on a map than they actually are and the regions farther from the equator appear expanded than they actually are! Hence, India looks smaller and Russia and Europe look bigger on a map!
You: Amazing! So how does this answer my concern that We cannot do without English because India is linguistically diverse ?
Me: To understand that, let’s first compare India and Japan. Below I give that comparison.
|Cultivable land||12% (imports rice and wheat)||57% (grains rot in rains because of lack of infrastructure and corruption)|
|Above surface natural resources||Not many natural resources. Volcanos and earthquakes keep destroying infrastructure. Completely destroyed in world war 2 by atom bombs. No fast flowing rivers or mountains to generate electricity, little flat agricultural land, no forests.||Has huge mountains, fast flowing rivers, perrenial rivers, large agricultural land, more than 15% forests, also has rain forests. No volcanos. Small desert only. India has much more above land natural resources than Japan.|
|Major Industries||Electronics, Automobiles, Robotics, semiconductor, optoelectronics, biochemistry||No RnD, No electronics industry, small auto mobiles industry, we export our natural resources like coal, iron ore to Japan, they sell back finished products.|
|Imports/Exports||Imports raw materials from other countries like India. Exports electronics and automobiles.||Exports raw materials, software and pharmaceuticals. Imports finished goods of electronics, automobiles etc.|
|Land Area||Slightly greater than Rajasthan||20 times bigger than Japan|
Japan which has much less natural resources than India, more catastrophes like volcanos and earthquakes than India and which is 20 times smaller than India has GDP approximately equal to that of India. (And Japan does NOT use English in any field or sector of economy!)
|GDP||$4.395 trillion||$4.457 trillion|
|GDP per capita||$33,805||$3,693|