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Getting the words right

When the joint entrance exam to the IIMs is held in November this year, the exam paper might be in Hindi and other regional languages apart from the English version.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 00:10 IST
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When the joint entrance exam to the IIMs is held in November this year, the exam paper might be in Hindi and other regional languages apart from the English version. This is because the IIM faculty is keen to introduce test papers in various Indian languages to make it possible for students from non-English medium backgrounds to apply. Now does that qualify as affirmative action, albeit in the wrong direction, or does it smack of political posturing?

The proposal seems to be confusing the issue of equal opportunity yet again. In casteing, sorry, casting their net wide, the IIMs don’t achieve success in meeting the ‘equality’ parameter. After all, no mention is made of course material in other languages. Across the world, even in linguistically ‘chauvinist’ countries like France and Japan, there is widespread acceptance that English is the language of international business and science education. English is India’s only common language. Politically correct considerations can’t hijack that reality. Intellectual Kancha Ilaiah rightly argues for expanding the teaching of English to government schools to ensure that it does not remain the exclusive preserve of the upper-castes.

Of course, the real reason might just be that the IIM faculty is tiring of the increasingly poor English language skills demonstrated even by the ‘convent-educated’. But they should realise that the Hinglish-speaking Gen Next is perfectly happy with a khichdi language — and not in favour of any one language, though rigour in any language or skill is worth its weight in gold.

First Published: May 02, 2006 00:10 IST