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Kings of the Queen’s language

india Updated: Dec 14, 2007 03:03 IST
Kiran Wadhwa
Kiran Wadhwa
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Had Anil Pal ever met or heard of Dr Pravin Shingare, he would probably have been working hard to fulfil his father’s dream. The 18-year-old aspiring doctor from Uttar Pradesh committed suicide because he couldn’t cope with English in college.

Like Anil, Dr Shingare too struggled with the Queen’s language. “I hail from Khamgaon, a small village,” said Dr Shingare. “I spent my life at a Marathi school as my father could not afford (to send me to) an English-medium school. In medical college, I was faced with thick medical textbooks by foreign authors,” said the JJ Hospital Dean.

But the 53-year-old bought a learn-English-quick book and always had a Bernard Shaw novel with his anatomy textbooks. Shingare is one of the many personalities to have successfully mastered English at a later stage in life to pursue their careers.

“After studying for years in a different language, grasping English can get difficult for an average student,” said senior criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, who studied at the Urdu-medium Anjumuni Islam School. “It must have made Pal feel insecure.”

Memon himself took two years to grasp the language and spent hours studying grammar through his BA.

For the Marathi-medium schooled Uttam Khobragade, mastering English became a goal after he decided to take the Indian Administrative Services exams. “There was no electricity where I studied and I had to work on a field during the summers. But I knew English was very important to succeed, so I never gave up.” The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking General Manager today has two English books to his credit.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who went to a Marathi-medium school in Jalgaon, taught himself English while studying in law college.