More states are shedding their anglophobia and diluting the populist vernacular supremacy stance to embrace English these days.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi best exemplifies the growing fondness for the language in the country. Modi could not stop railing at the English media after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
But four years hence, he is all for the Queen’s language and wants to empower Gujarati youth with fluency in English. A new project, Society for Creation of Opportunity through Proficiency in English, will impart spoken English skills to nearly 5 lakh Gujarati youths over four years.
The Hindi belt is also not oblivious to the advantages of the international language of business and opportunity.
Rajasthan is teaching English in its one-lakh schools, as is Madhya Pradesh. And although English is not compulsory in Uttar Pradesh, Joint Director, Education, UP, Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh says as a guardian jhe knows “it is very important to know English in today’s world”. English in
Uttarakhand, a state carved out of UP, is compulsory in all the government run primary schools.
But as Modi says, these states do not want to “bow down to English”. They only “want to speak in the language the world speaks”.
So Haryana has decreed its children must know English, after Gurgaon became the outsourcing and call centre hub of North India. Punjab is not far behind, with the language made compulsory till class VII and optional till class XII.
The states are also sparing a thought for training. Rajasthan has tied up with the American embassy for trainers to provide grounding for its teachers.
Orissa has roped in Infosys and others to train its teachers to prepare students for a career in call centres and the outsourcing industry. The state has a
4-month course on “Communication Skill and Analytical Skill Development” for 300 teachers of 60 general colleges.
Punjab has regular seminars and training camps for English teachers to make their teaching more effective.
Leading in innovative methods, tribal-dominated Chattisgarh is using radio to teach English. Not lagging behind, Jharkhand has both Hindi and English instruction in its 1,200 secondary and 170 senior secondary schools.
West Bengal had taken English off its school curriculum in 1980. But now it is taught to about 80 lakh children in 68,000 primary schools and Shishu Shiksha kendras, from Class I itself.
Traditionally, the south has always welcomed English. Karnataka too is no different. Its government wants to focus more on English but is, ironically, pressurisng private English medium schools to switch to the Kannada medium. Reason: these schools got permission for Kannada medium.
(With inputs from Rathin Das in Ahmedabad, Navneet Sharma, Hillary Victor in Chandigarh, Nandini Guha in Kolkata, KS Tomar in Jaipur, Soumyajit Patnaik in Bhubaneshwar, Ashok Das in Hyderabad, Ejaj Kaiser in Raipur and Pankaj Jaiswal in Lucknow)