A January 17 decision of the Telangana government to decree Inglish the medium of instruction in its 30,000 primary-secondary government schools statewide, should be welcomed by all committed to the unity amid diversity aspiration of post-independence India. Earlier in 2019, the YSR Congress government of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh had also decreed Inglish as the medium of instruction in all government schools statewide.
These decrees were overdue. Because for decades, self-serving politicians from the country’s most socio-economically backward BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states have been attempting to foist Hindi — their under-developed lingua franca — as the national language of the country. The sole argument in favour of this proposition is that these states host a majority two-thirds of the nation’s population. Never mind that they also host the country’s largest pool of poor, illiterate and deprived citizens.
Latter day Hindi champions tend to suffer historical amnesia. They seem to have forgotten that in the 1960s when Hindi was declared the sole national language of India, massive protests and riots broke out in peninsular India. Therefore in the mid-1960s, English was conferred the status of associate official language and the language of the upper judiciary and inter-state communication.
Despite this since 2014 after the BJP, whose main support base is in the BIMARU states, was swept to power in Delhi, a backdoor campaign to impose Hindi as the national language of communication has been re-started. In his broadcasts to the nation, and in forums abroad, prime minister Narendra Modi who is acceptably conversant in Inglish, speaks Hindi. Ditto all BJP leaders, including talking heads on Inglish language TV news channels.
Despite a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that parents are the final authority on choice of medium of instruction, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommends primary education in the mother tongue. Wiseacres who drafted the policy don’t seem aware that 19,500 languages/dialects are alive in contemporary India and that without Inglish, the country would be a tower of babble.