It’s no surprise that education can do wonders to anyone’s future. But it’s a great insight that language can also play a great leveler. Just as the word ‘local’ has positive connotations in the western world, the same ‘local’ need not be a pride-builder in a country like India. Reason: a mindset that hails the ‘imported’ and shuns the ‘regional’. Though India has now gone a big transition, rising like a phoenix and coming up trumps in many areas on the world stage, it also has to go a long way to bridge the gap of haves and have-nots. The majority of the haves live in an ‘imported’ world and the have-nots struggle in a ‘regional’ India.
Does this mean, that a government decides to ban the ‘imported’ to promote the ‘regional’? Bad idea. It means that more effort to raise the ‘regional’ or ‘local’ here to the perception of ‘imported’. But how does this herculean task get accomplished? Or, at least, get started? Will the business class come forward to nudge the political will to push the ‘regional’ forward? Or will the political class keep the ‘regional’ class in the backyards for their political gains? Note, that Indian politics is always measured in promises made, not promises delivered. Because, by the time the first party fails to perform, the voter has no choice but to give the second best time to again fail to perform. The cycle used to continue thus, not any more. The aim for respect is set to change it.
It’s time for the new R: Respect, that is driving India with consolidation of the world tongue, English.
So has something changed in the Indian consciousness? Thankfully, yes! Young, middle class India, hitherto, lazy to vote has started showing interest and started to vote and be part of the transformation. They are the ones also easily affected by the swing in the economy, but would just look the other way till now. The ‘have-everything’ class now openly gives donation to political parties to further their business interests, but at the same time, also participates in the political will to usher in more policies for economic growth. But what happens to the ‘have-nots’? Who will guarantee their growth and future? The vying for respect is geared to change it.
To start with, the have-nots now are more demanding and understand that their growth potential is much bigger than the vote-banks they are. Their children now are exposed to the next generation, thanks to the satellite television penetration in the remotest villages of India. Many would like to step out, march together, take their place in the sun, and a pie of the action. But there is something that still stops them. Their ‘regional’ tag. So the first thing they do is get the ‘imported’ tag, by learning English. Imagine the power when a vegetable vendor’s child talks back to you in English. He doesn’t just know how to talk, he knows how to talk back. The feel of respect can work wonders.
Slowly it dawns to the new world order, that regional languages and mother tongues have not kept pace with the development of English in India. It’s a different story in China, Russia, Japan, Germany and many other countries that have developed their backbone in education and technology on their native language, including computer software. But this is not really India’s fault. It’s just that we are more complex than the European Union, which after so many years, still struggles to consolidate its potential. So even as we speak a multitude of languages, over 25 main and hundreds of other regional languages, we tend to look upon English to co-exist as the language of professional growth. Respect helps the stretch from national to international.
Our social fabric thrives on ‘regionalism’, from get-togethers to marriages based on the language we connect in. But new India is an open canvas which has transformed the ‘imported’ language English for professional growth. Whoever said, when in Rome, be a Roman, needs to see, how Indians have interpreted it successfully, as when aiming for growth, Indians use the language of professionals. So every progressive Indian slowly knows more than one language, and an international Indian knows how to make the ‘imported’ language his or her’s own ‘regional’ mother tongue as well.
Maybe, Darwin’s law of survival of the fittest can now be retaught with an amazing parallel. The survival of the most adaptive professionals and the power of respect is blazing the transformation.