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Re: Language issue-(contd)



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> MV has made certain interesting observations. I give my comments on some
> the points made by MV.
> 1. The example of clerk was given to illustrate the 'power' angle of the
> language issue. If that example  is treated as a reason or an alibi for
> everybody to be educated in english medium, then I would suggest once
> again that it is simply impractical to think of educating every child in
> India through english medium, due to sheer absence of facilities,
> absence of teachers, absence of any inclination on part of the majority
> of parents for english mediuem etc.

To provide a choice of vernacular/english language of instruction
does not requrire any extra facilities, teachers can teach in
english, since all teachers training course are in english, if the
teachers do not know english then how can they pass the training
course?  Yes we should leave it to the parents to choose what
medium of instruction their children should learn, it's not fair
for the buearucrates in education department to offer only
vernacular medium education in villages when they send their
own children to english schools. Let the sudents/parents choose
what they want, now we don't have this choice in 1000's of our
villages.

By the way let me ask if the majority parents do not have
inclination why is our universities using english as the
medium of instuction? How do you explan this?

>.  We should note our inability  to
> provide basic primary education and even basic literacy skills to vast
> majority of our people  after 52 years of independence, which should
> have been much easier in the local language.

Isn't this a *conscious* failure of the administration? The
administration didn't fail to establish good english schools 
for their own children ;-)

Since education departments has failed miserably the funds 
should go directly to the village panchayats, let the village
panchayats form a *committee of parents of school going children*,
and this committee should manage the schools, appoint teachers,
decide the medium of instruction, this is what we call 
empowerment isn't it? Why not practice it!

> Apart from all this, there
> is also a question, in the first place,  of why at all one should
> attempt it, as I tried to reason out in my first message. Let me
> reiterate a that if one goes beyond cities and towns, English is almost
> irrelevant to the major chunk of the Indian people. You can go to any
> village to check this out. All their cropping practices, all names of
> various stages of agricultural practices, names of crop diseases or pest
> attacks, names of weeds, names of common plants and trees which are
> useful in village life, the kinds of  fuel, names of instruments which
> the artisans use, the land matters, various nallas and bunds over small
> streams, different types of soil in the village, the folklore and
> history of that area, the  festivals which need to be celebrated, kind
> of discussions that take place in the villages, the arguments , quarrels
> and attempted solutions or debates in the village over different matters
> ----are all in Indian languages. For most of these words, it is
> difficult to find english equivalents readily. If you were to really
> take up teaching everything in english language to everybody, just think
> how you would actually get the teachers in the first place.


All what you say about our villages is also true in our
towns/cities, people in our towns/cites do not celebrate their
festivals in englsih, nor has the culture changed!

So why do the people in our towns/cites send their children to
english medium schools or better still why shouldn't we run all
our schools in cities/towns in vernacular languages? Don't tell
about personal liberties/choice etc if you do, then same is
applicable to people in our villages also.

>We are
> living in times when very few doctors like to work in villages and
> commercialization of education is taking place in small towns.   There
> are already two worlds in India and these two worlds are becoming more
> and more divergent while the talk of globalization goes on.

Today lot of doctors are people from towns/cites, we cannot 
expect them to go and serve in villages. If we have more doctors 
from the villages, then few of them may move to cites but some 
of them will stay back. This is exactly what we want isn't it?

> Can one honestly think of internet-based online learning processes for
> the masses through IT? Even if that is feasible, it could be most
> effective in local language.
> If you have attended any Participatory Rural Appraisal in a village, you
> would notice that as a researcher or an urban person interested in
> village lives, you will first have to do lot of unlearning before really
> having any meaningful interaction with villagers because even the urban
> variant  of indian language won't serve the purpose fully  and many
> words villagers use are rarely used in cities and towns.

This is why we need same language of instruction at our shcool
and university levels, then only people in our villages can
participate, communicate with the administration, which uses
egnlish as the link language. In fact it is the use of english
as a common link language, which holds India together as
a nation.

>The point I
> was trying to make was that already the present education system
> alienates large number of children from their families as it does not
> equip the children to do anything meaningful in their lives. If job of
> an artisan is considered, for example, the artisan's child does not
> develop healthy respect for the ancient trade. That is perfectly fine
> and it would break the caste system , if there is social progress and
> the child learns something else better or more useful instead.

I agree with what you say about the present education system,
it does not help the rural artisans to prosper with their trade,
this is because, they don't get the language skills to market
their products in our cities/towns or globally.

An artisan's child will develop healthy respect for the ancient
trade if he/she can prosper with that, for this they need to
market their products to people in our cities/towns as well as
globally, knowing english will definitely help and release them
from the grip of middle men who mercilessly exploit them.
It is this merciless exploitation that is driving many a
traditional artisan to look for alternate employment. Once
the artisans has the communication skills needed to market
their products they will prosper and continue to practice
the crafts, it will even attract more people and generate
more employment.

> But, the
> child in most cases grows up with nothing to substitute, and with the
> education giving no tangible benefit to either the child or to the
> family. OK, everybody need not get a government job, but those villagers
> who study upto class X level generally find it difficult to go back to
> agriculture and do manual work, nor do they find any alternative
> employment easily either in government, private or self-employment.

This is not true, there will be some initial reluctance
because of cultural aspects, our upper class being averse to
doing any manual work, no wonder others also imitate them.
This reluctance of people who complete school education is
just a passing phase, this has happened in our village also.
Today our village has whole lot of people who has completed
class X who do manual work, their wages has increased and
their life style has also improved. The more enterprising
among them has become, plumbers, electricians, fish vendor
(some of them are degree holders) and their life style has
improved tremendously, fish vendor comes on a 50 cc mopped,
the news paper guy comes on a Hero Honda motor cycle and
drops the paper every day!

The son of our black smith joined engineering in reservation
quota, he was a brilliant student had first class in X std
from vernacular high school of the village, but without
reservation he wouldn't have got admission to engineering.
If he had studied in english medium school i am sure
he would have got into engineering without reservation.
He didn't have any problem in working alongside his father
till he got job and left village.

When the black smith died, two enterprising guys from
the village started what they call a "workshop" they use 
better tools than the black smith and do repairs on all 
types of mechanical equipment, and make good living.

This is what i call progress and prosperity, social
mobility. 

Today people of our village, understand the need for
english education, there is one private english school in
our village, and another one in the next village about 3 km
away. All people who can afford enroll their children in these
schools. Rest of them study in the vernacular govt. aided
school (this school started by villagers in the 40's in
60's this very same school had *both vernacular/english*
medium classes that was before the govt. *aid* came. 
Soon after the govt. started funding the school, the 
english medium section of the school was closed by the 
bureaucrats of the education dept. During the period when 
the school had english medium class many students from this
school went for higher studies and reached good positions. 
So why did the education dept. close the english medium 
section, you can esily guess it!)

> The
> need of the hour is to see how  the youth in villages do not flock to
> cities and towns in search of flashy lifestyles and end up in slums, but
> to see how they can work for themselves and for the upliftment of their
> villages in a number of ways. Merely teaching english language as a
> medium of instruction would not address the issue of their livelihoods
> at all. That would alienate the youth further from nation-building and
> make them even more  useless for the society.

This is wrong prception, if the people of the village has
english language communication skills, they can market/find
market for their products all over the country and even globally.
If they can prosper and have better life style in the village
itself they will not migrate to highly polluted cities, and
live in the slums.


> 2. Now, coming to the second point about prosperity and english
> language, I fail to understand how english language will increase
> productivity. Of course education in the broad sense ( i.e. not only
> reading, writing and arithmatic or basic literacy but also of knowing
> one's place in the society, understanding one's rights and enabling how
> to improve one's lot by constant endeavours for acquring new skills and
> team work) is one of the important factors in improving efficiency. But
> it is just one of the factors. Productivity or prosperity are low  due
> to a number of basic  institutional factors.

Prosprity will come with english education, since it provides
the communication skills, required to interact with the 
administrtaion which uses english as a link language.

English is also link  language for business communication in India
and globally, communication skills in this language will enable
people of our village to find market for their products/services
globally. Can't you see this happening in our IT industry, the same
is possible for many of our traditional crafts, beautiful handmade
products our villagers make, has excellent market but now middle
men are strangulating these crafts, money is not reaching the
villagers, so people are forced to look for other jobs, and many
of these crafts are dying even though they have good market
in India and abroad just because the people of the village
do not have the communication skills to access the markets.
Yes the govt. is running many handicraft promotion boards,
you know the results insn't it?

>Due to constraints of
> space, I am analyzing just one of them here.  Right from
> pre-independence days, it was realized that one of the very basic and
> important things that ought to be done after independence is 'land
> reforms', because that would promote actual cultivator's stakes on the
> land and the farmer can access institutional support like credit etc and
> develop land, thereby increasing agricultural productivity. ('Land
> reforms' is a broad phrase used to mean abolition of intermediary rights
> like zamindaris, jagirdaris, etc, bringing the farmer directly in touch
> with the government, declaration of ceilings, distribution of ceiling
> surplus lands to landless people, checking absentee landlordism by
> safeguarding interests of tenants or share-croppers, updating land
> records, protection of tribal lands etc.) Not only India, but many of
> the post-colonial countries took this up as one of the priority areas
> for promotion of agriculture growth apart from equity considerations.
> Following is an estimate of percentage of land redistributed as a
> proportion of total agricultural land in various countries. (Source:
> Introduction by SR Sankaran for the book titled 'Land Reforms in India'
> edited by BN Yugandhar and Gopal Iyer, Volume 3: Sage publications,
> 1996)
> China--43%; Taiwan--37%; South Korea-- 32%; Japan--33% and can you guess
> the figurefor India? It is 1.25% in India! The reason  'land reforms'
> still remains an unfinished agenda from the point of view of the poor
> and landless in rural India is not due to lack of english language but
> lack of political will, lack of any attempts towards empowerment, large
> number of loopholes in law, excessive and mischievous litigation, fraud,
> misrepresentation etc etc. This is one clear example how a policy known
> to be important and proclaimed as important was not implemented
> sincerely.

I agree with you, land reforms are important, why not start
another thread on this?


>Why do we ignore basic institutional factors and say, 'Hey,
> kid! concentrate on learning physics in english language!', when what
> the person in the village requires is a basic security over the land
> which he has been tilling over generations but for which no record of
> right exists and he can be thrown out at will?  How does one say
> prosperity comes by merely learning academic matters in english
> language, when what is required at a bais level is a whole new paradigm
> of empowerment through participation of people? If what you mean is
> development of skills which are required in day to day lives of the
> villagers, I am all with it and that can be certainly done most
> efficiently in local indian language.

Why is govt running eglish medium schools for govt. and public
sector employees?  why not change those schools to vernacular
medium?

> 3. Regarding Gandhiji's exposure to English education, we may quote the
> father of the Nation himself, who said,  " Let winds of various cultures
> freely pass through all  windows of my house. But I refuse to be blown
> off by any."

Without his english education can we imagine Gandhiji doing what
he did?  Why close our villagers window to english medium education,
and open it wide in our towns/cities?

> 4. I think we should dispassionately try to note that middle class and
> upper middle class honestly  constitute a small fraction of the
> population. I am not saying that they should be ignored or sacrifised.
> But, whether people can live harmoniously and work together for a better
> society by a series of 'win-win' situations or whether they have to
> fight against one another depends on how we all address the basic
> issues.  In these days of internet and globalization, let us  not forget
> the fact that majority of people simply stand excluded in most of the
> public services because of this urban-rural divide on one side and
> rich-poor divide on the other. It is one thing to say that middle class
> or upper middle class will have a marginal advantage if they learn
> english better, as it could enable them to go for GRE better, as sarra
> pointed out. I wish such people well, who want to migrate in search of
> better incomes. But it is an altogether different thing to say the same
> about the vast number of masses. After all, not all these people can
> migrate to USA by succeeding in GRE, not because of their infereior
> level of education or intelligence, but because of the limits which
> those countries have on how much immigration they would permit. Let us
> not pretend that livelihoods of poor people are same as those of the
> middleclass. The kind of value which parents of a middleclass child
> attach to education, and how much care and attention they devote to
> homework of the child, for example, are totally different from the kind
> of things that happen in a poor household, with problems of poverty,
> ill-health, lack of sanitation , alcoholism, wife-beating, etc leading
> to overall lack of environment that is conducive to learning at home.
> The goal of equality of course exists but the reality of existence of
> inequalities cannot be wished away on the ground that everybody is
> equal. That is the reason why I would say that the question "do you send
> your child to english medium school or is it to indian language school?"
> is  misplaced, as this kind of choice is available only for the
> middleclass and upper middle class, whereas large chunks of population
> are simply denied any such choice by sheer force of history and
> accumulated results of deprivation over generations, which led to
> poverty. The question does not make any sense to a poor tribal villager
> as it has no practical relevance for them whatsoever. It is like asking
> any of us, " When you live  on the planet Mars, would you be liking
> earth TV channel or would you be watching only Mars TV?"

Win-Win situation will come only when we use the same language
for instruction at our school and universities. The present
situation is  Lose-Lose situation for urban and rural people,
you have mentioned that the urban-rural economic disparity is
increasing this means trouble for both the sides.

Fact is urban people cannot prosper if they live and work
in India unless the rural people has the buying power to 
buy the products/services urban people offer.
There are short cuts! absolute corruption! business men
producing sub-standard products, bureaucrats taking bribes
it is all same corruption/cheating/exploitation at all
levels.  There are other short cuts, go abroad and work,
like people working in US, gulf countries etc. 

Take the case of IT industry, if India need to benefit, 
the software our IT people develop should be useable by 
our rural population also, and this software should help 
them to increase their productivity like it is doing for 
people/companies in other countries. Can our people
use computers without the knowledge of english? 
Now suppose our people has buying power and english 
knowledge to use computers it will create a vibrant 
IT industry, which will produce globally competitive 
software/hardware products, otherwise euphoria will 
last only a short while, many other nations will easily 
overtake us and we will be left behind. This will 
adversely affect the middle/upper class people more than 
the people in our villages!

The same situation exists in all other Industries, where
predominantly urban people work, whether it is electronics 
products, consumer durable, automobiles. If the Indian 
industry need to produce globally competitive products, 
they should have volumes to support innovation/R&D 
this is possible only with adequate buying power of our 
rural people, it is *foolish* to think that we can produce 
globally competitive products if our own people cannot buy 
those products. Henry Ford understood this very well and 
raised the wages of his factory workers so that they can 
afford the cars they make. When will our upper/middle class 
people, bureaucrats, education experts, politicians, business 
men, venture capitalists understand this simple reality? 

> 5. Regarding suggestion to encourage venture capitalists to come forward
> to develop good english medium schools, let us not delude ourselves:
> there is simply no profit in going to villages for teaching poor
> villagers' children as they cannot pay any user charges. When there is
> no profit, no venture capitalist will ever care to venture. Of course
> individuals with good charity motives can help, as they have all along
> been doing, within their limitations, on a small scale in a few
> villages.

If investment is made to setup english medium schools in our
villages, it will become a profitable venture in about 20
years, but if the business group/venture capitalist has also
invested in other areas like consumer products, consumer durable, 
technology products etc. they can reap the profits in about
10 years. If i am a venture capitalist i will simultaneously
invest in english school education in our villages and other 
fields otherwise my investment in other fields will not produce 
the expected results!

MV








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