English as link language must

English as link language must

In Tamil Nadu, where language is an extremely sensitive issue and an old slogan, “English ever, Hindi never,” still holds resonance, the draft...

In Tamil Nadu, where language is an extremely sensitive issue and an old slogan, "English ever, Hindi never," still holds resonance, the draft national policy on education has incensed political parties by calling for the adoption of a three-language formula in schools - Hindi, English and the local mother tongue in non-Hindi states.

Some leaders in the state have gone so far as to invoke the threat of the infamous 1965 anti-Hindi agitation when Tamil Nadu and parts of South India had burned, while politicians were playing the fiddle.

The agitations involved several mass protests and riots in Tamil Nadu concerning the official status of Hindi in the state.

There are some issues about which India needs to make up its mind once and for all. The English language is one such. The most important demerit of English is that it is a foreign language.

On the other hand, the merits of having English as the link language are many. It is already playing the role of a national link language. Secondly, it is neutral as between different regions in the country as no State shall be in a disadvantageous position when English is used as the link language.

Thirdly, English is a highly developed language and very rich in science, social science, and general literature. Fourthly, the bulk of academic research done in India has been published in English and the availability of textbooks is also the maximum in the English language.

More importantly, under the Official Languages Act, 1963, it is mandatory for central government ministries/departments to use Hindi along with English in files, documents and all official correspondences.

Mr. Narendra Modi's love for Hindi could see the rule being enforced, much to the inconvenience and displeasure of those who are not proficient in Hindi.

J S Acharya, Hyderabad

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