(Last Updated on : 14/02/2009)
The sole reason behind English language in India been laid such accentuation lies manifested in the fact that India had once extensively served as a British colony. When the so-called British Empire began its domination upon India, they had indeed scouted for Indian intermediaries who could aid them to administer India more graciously. Reviewing the then Indian scenario, the English rulers turned towards higher caste Indians to work for them. As such, numerous high caste Indians, principally the Brahmans began to work under British imperialism. The British policy was to fashion an Indian class who should think and act like the British, or as it was stated then in Britain, "Indians in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinions and morals and intellect".
Consequently pretty much alarmed with the status of English language in India, the British law-makers started establishing universities based on British models with sole stress on English. As an understandable result, these `high-classed` Indians began to receive their elementary education in their country, finally leaving for Vilayat (Great Britain or England was referred to by this term during pre-independence times in India) for higher education in British universities. Commencing from the early 1600s, English language has had a firm foothold on the Indian subcontinent, when the British East India Company had established settlements in Madras, Kolkata and Bombay, which were subsequently declared as Presidency towns, merging the erstwhile princely states. The historical background of India has in fact never been too distanced from routine usage of English. India has had a prolonged exposure to English than any other country which utilised it as a second language, its idiosyncratic words, idioms, grammar and rhetoric circularising gradually to charm every Indian state, region, its populace, their habits and inherent culture.
In order to secure the spread of freshly-introduced English language in India, the English Christian missionaries began to arrive in India from 1813, a significant move by British administration linked with India and its English counterpart. These Christian missionaries also had erected schools at primary level for Indians, in which the medium and language of instruction was local language. Later on, the missionaries went on to build high schools with English as the language of instruction which accommodated the natives who wanted to study, to possess a sound knowledge of English. British rulers began building their universities in India precisely from 1857, post the historical and fate-deciding Sepoy Mutiny and transferring of power from East India Company to direct annexation under Queen Victoria`s sovereignty. English had thus become the first language in Indian education. The `modern` leaders (also hugely esteemed as the social and reformist men from India, aiming with the view to take India to sublime heights like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda) of the erstwhile era in India also backed English language and claimed it to be the basic key towards accomplishment. Indians who were enlightened in good English, were deemed as the new social class or elite of India. Umpteen new schools were established in which the medium of education was English. According to British laws, the language of instruction at university level was mandated to be English and thus schools that accentuated upon English, were preferred by motivated and go-getting Indians. Even after Indian Independence, English language remained the principal language of communication in India. Officially it was given a status of an `assistant language` and was supposed to terminate officially after fifteen years of India`s independence. However, this very enigmatic yet lucid language still persists as the authoritative language of India.
It is universally and unanimously hypothesized that the widespread study of English language in India was imposed upon Indians by Lord Macaulay with the solitary aim of serving the end of British administration in India. Travelling a substantial journey, from being a language doused in colonialism, English has come a long way as the language that has lent India an edge over countries where English is rendered the status of a `foreign language`. India has since Independence to the contemporary times, become a `resource consortium` of English - a language whose pre-eminence remains unquestionable. English language usage in India plays a cardinal role in the fields of education, administration, business and political relations, judiciary, industry and virtually in umpteen other domains and is therefore a ticket to social mobility, higher education and better job opportunities.
In the gradual and tremendous rising context of English language in India, English literature penned by Indian authors has made its everlasting mark in world literature. So much so has been this writing impact, that Indian English Literature has presently turned into an authentic genre, which does not seem to stop in far future. Among the Indian writers in English, R. K. Narayan chooses to write in English because he himself says, "It is the only language I am really familiar with. It is the only language which is transparent and takes on the hues of the country or region where the story set." R.K. Narayan makes use of popular Tamil and Sanskrit words generously in his novels; for example: bonda; sadhu; rasam; Samadhi; asura and so on. The flexibility and adaptability of English had indeed fascinated him and for this reason he had chosen it as his only medium of story-telling. Besides R.K. Narayan, Indian writers in English language comprise a luminous list of - Amitava Ghosh, Amit Chaudhuri, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy and various other graduating geniuses.
In India, where more than eighteen different state languages coexist, English suffices as the essential connection between people speaking umpteen mother tongues. Thus, more than two hundred and fifty years later, when the very first British trader had stepped onto Indian soil, the number of Indians who aspire to learn and make use of English is still escalating steadily. Just like the final icing on the cake, the impact of English language in India is not only continuing to enlarge, but also increasing in leaps and bounds. The number of English newspapers, journals and magazine has also been on the increase for a long time. In fact, Indian English is a distinguished dialect of English, just like British Received Pronunciation or Australian English, or Standard American. To some extent, the strict British dialectical English has today taken a backseat. Indian English possesses a motley of distinctive pronunciations, some idiosyncratic syntaxes and a significant amount of lexical variation.
Officially and according to Constitutional law makers, English language in India is lent the status of a subsidiary language after Hindi, but is, in effect, the most important language used in the country. After Hindi, it is the most extensively spoken language in India and probably the most read and written language too. Truly, in almost every sphere of life, English language has turned out to be the `identity representation` each and every next day. In this Indian English context, the missionary schools that were first started by British missionary workers, have today spread their wings to fly high towards supreme reputation. As such, the Christian missionary schools emphasise on English to be considered as the first language, which helps a student to graduate towards better educational standards in colleges and universities. However, this very trend of English language in India is wholly dedicated towards making this `foreign` language out-and-out Indianised. For most of these students, English is mandatory as the first language and it becomes easier for them to communicate in international levels.
Just like the American or Australian population, or even the Britishers who possess their exclusive English words and phrases, Indians also have their own unique concept of English. Indians and the Indian English language that is utilised by nationalised news sections in newspapers have been deduced from Indian languages, especially from Hindi. Other than this, there sometimes arises a dilemma with the Indian accent, which is at times difficult for non-Indians to comprehend. There also exist some Indian pronunciations that do not exist in non-Indian languages. During the British ascendancy in India, they also had encountered problems with that and they induced some changes in Indian words to make pronunciation easier. English language in India, since then, started to make its still-continuing impact upon the country`s burgeoning population, who, alternatively, started using these modified words and made them part of their vocabulary. Two illustrations of such changed words are curry and sari.
Leaving aside the commercialisation and globalisation of English language as it is treated in India, the language also serves for solemn administrational purposes. India has two national languages for federal and central purposes, comprising Hindi and English. Hindi is the national, official and basic linking language of India. English is esteemed as an associating official language. The Indian Constitution also officially approves twenty-two regional languages for official purposes.
Scores of distinctly dissimilar regional languages are spoken in India, which further share umpteen characteristics such as grammatical structure and vocabulary.
In India, English language fundamentally serves two functions. Firstly, it furnishes with a linguistic tool for the administrative coherence of the country, making people who speak different languages to become unified and united. Secondly, it acts as a language of more panoptic communication, encompassing an enormous variety of people, embracing a vast area. It intersects with localised languages in particular spheres of influence and in public domains.
On a more general term, English language in India is utilised amongst Indians as a `link` language and also serves as the first language for umpteen well-versed citizens. It also serves as the second language for several who speak more than one language in India. English language is that bond that helps bind the many slices of the society together. Also, English is a linguistic bridge between the major countries of the world and India.
English occupies special national status in India; it possesses a special place in the parliament, judiciary, broadcasting, journalism and in the education system.
The significance of the ability to speak or write English has increased significantly of late, due to its becoming the de facto standard. Learning English language in India has become well-accepted for business, commercial and cultural reasons and particularly for internet communications throughout the world. English is a language that is deemed a benchmark not because it has been accredited by any `standard` organisation, but because it is extensively employed by many information and technology industries and recognised as being standard. The `call-centre` phenomenon has aided in stimulating an immense expansion of internet-associated activity, grounding the future of India as a `cyber-technological super-power`. Modern communications, videos, journals and newspapers on the internet make use of English and have made `knowing English` indispensable.
Maintaining a positive attitude to English as a national language is fundamental to the consolidation of populace in Indian society. There would practically appear to be no discrepancy within the community about the authority of English language skills in India. By making thorough usage of English, one can gradually become a citizen of the world almost effortlessly. English also plays a prevalent role in the media. It has endlessly been used as a medium for inter-state communication and broadcasting both before and since India`s Independence. India is, without any doubt, devoted to English as a national language. The impact of English is not only continuing but increasing towards a secured next day.