Of course, English!

Of course, English!

I am no end happy to learn that the Union Public Service Commission has decided against its earlier move to promote in the competitive...

I am no end happy to learn that the Union Public Service Commission has decided against its earlier move to promote in the competitive examinations English at the expense of Telugu and other regional languages. A My happiness owes not merely to the fact that at school I had studied through the Telugu medium; and since those days there was no three-language formula I had to read only English and Telugu as the main subjects. The real reason for my happiness is a memory. Decades ago, when I stole into journalism if essentially because I was not thought fit for any other profession, my Editor, whom I still regard as my one and the only master and mentor, thought, rightly or wrongly, that I knew enough English to be able to serve an English newspaper. A For the first six months I had taken special care not to disappoint him, more out of the grace of Baba than because of any additional vocabulary I might have gained. I worked for one of the several editions that newspaper had; its Chief Editor was based in Delhi but would go through every edition every day minutely, sending a letter of commendation to editions that had done well on a particular day and a stinker for those who had let mistakes go. Then China attacked India. There was a national outrage because that had put paid to the "Chini-Hindi bhai bhai" slogan. It looked as though every citizen of India wanted to get it off his/her chest. As a result, for more than a month the entire Letters to the Editor column was full only of angry letters from readers demanding to know why India was not retaliating.A Then one day my purgatory began. As usual, the editor had handed me all the letters pertaining only to the war and war effort. I must admit that I had gone through each one of them minutely and made therein the changes I thought necessary. There was, however, one letter which seemed to have been written in poetic language. Either the writer did not know how to express his thoughts in simple, straight language, or was a poet or a Professor.A After I had read his first sentence, I decided that I would not have to work very hard on that letter. There was not a single mistake of any kind. I edited and revised the letter and handed it over to the Editor who had a habit of reading through all material carefully. After he had read this particular letter, the Editor summoned me. The fresh-from-college me had imagined that he wanted to pat me on the back for the way I had handled that letter. Therefore, I was surprised to see that his mien had changed.A "Have you read this letter carefully?" he asked me in a tone that he had never earlier adopted. I said yes. "Will you please read for my edification the last sentence he has written and you have allowed?" I did as I had been bidden but could not detect any mistake. My Editor looked at me sharply and then said: "Please come to my cabin. You can read out the last sentence there." I followed him meek as a lamb. Once in his cabin, he handed me the letter and asked me to read the last sentence aloud. It read: "This is a naked aggression on virgin soil and we must gird up our loins to resist it." The Editor smiled at me benignly and then said: "If you had allowed that sentence to go, you would have had to experience similar aggression!" � M V
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