At the railway station he speaks the pan-India lingua-franca, Hindustani
His language of work is Kachhi, the code of the spice trade
In the evening he watches a film in Hindi or in English
Listens to a cricket match commentry on the radio in English
India has a population of over a billion people(1,027,015,247 as per the Census of India 2001), 1652 Mother Tongues (1961 Census), 67 educational languages and an area of 3,287,590 SQ KM. India is a multilingual giant.
Languages of India
-Language families: Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and Sino-Tibetan.
Indo-Aryan and Dravidian cover over 97% of the population
Grierson - 179 languages to 544 dialects - Linguistic Survey of India (1888 and 1927)
1951 census - 845 languages including dialects
More than 10,000 speakers each speak 60 of these
1961 census -1652 mother tongues corresponding to 193 classified languages
Classified languages belong to four language families:
Austric (20), Dravidian (20), Indo-Aryan (54) and Tibeto-Burman (98)
1971, 1981, and 1991 Census - distribution of household population is presented along with the Schedule VIII languages and other major languages
Chapter III: Language of the Supreme Court, High Courts etc. (Art. 348-49)
Art. 348: The language of the Supreme Court and the High Court shall be English until the Parliament by law otherwise provides
Bills, authoritative texts of Acts, Byelaws, Rules, and Regulations etc shall also be in English
States in addition may use their official language/languages for this purpose but English text/texts will be authoritative
Art 349: No change in the language of Bills, Acts, Rules, Bye-Laws etc can be contemplated for 15 years and after that period the President must be satisfied of the need for a change
Chapter IV: Special Directives (Articles 350-351)
Art. 350 provides for every person to submit a representation for the redress of any grievance to any officer of authority of the Union or a State in any of the languages used in the Union or the State, as the case may be
Article 350A: Every State and every local authority is directed to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.
Art 350B: A special officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed by the President who is to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report to the President upon these matters at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament, and sent to the Governments of the States concerned.
Art 351: Govt. to promote the spread of Hindi language in such a way that ‘it may serve as a medium of expression for the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating … the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in other languages of India … and by drawing… for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages’.
Some other provisions
Art. 120 in Part V and Art. 210 in Part VI of the Constitution vest powers in the presiding officers of the Union and State legislatures to use their discretion for allowing any member to speak in his mother tongue if he is unable to speak in the recognized official language or languages.
VIII Schedule today has a total of 22 languages in the list of ‘scheduled languages’ In 1949 these were 14 languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu
In 2004 Dogri, Maithili, Rajasthani and Santhali were added.
The languages of the Eighth Schedule are more concerned with Art. 345 and 351. The former empowers a State government to adopt one or more languages or Hindi for official use in the State.
A demand for the inclusion of English in the Eighth Schedule was made in a meeting of the CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education) in early August 2004. One of the issues widely reported was the discussion on the “inclusion of English in the list of modern Indian languages” (The Times of India August 12, 2004, p.2)
Languages in Education
The Three Language Formula was first devised for school education by the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1956, subsequently modified by the Conference of Chief Ministers in 1961, and formalized by the (Kothari) Education Commission (1964-6) (see Aggarwal 1993: 175-193)
Based on the following three factors:
(a) recognition of the right of ethnic minorities to get educational instruction through their MT,
(b) promotion of state official language as a major regional language for bringing the different ethnic groups of the region into the socio-cultural mainstream,
(c) development of pan-Indian official language of the Union for the integration of the country as a polity.
The Three Language Formula
Recognizes the following languages:
The first language to be studied must be mother tongue or the regional standard.
The second language : In Hindi speaking states will be some other modern Indian language (MIL) or English, and, in non-Hindi speaking states will be Hindi or English.
The third language in Hindi speaking states will be English or an MIL not studied as second language, and in non-Hindi speaking states English or Hindi not studied as the second language.
Implications: Teaching of the first language commenced from class I, the teaching of the second language was recommended from Class VI or a bit earlier from class III, or at a convenient stage depending upon the resources of a state. The third language was also recommended to be taught from Class VI (Gargesh 2002: 191-203)
Presently - an increasing trend to begin teaching of English as a subject from Class I, e.g. Delhi, Haryana and Bihar have begun to teach English as an additional subject from Class I from the year 2000, 2002 and 2003 respectively.
The 1967 Official Language Amendment Act has ensured the continuation of English and this has affected the domain of education
Language for higher education
Debates regarding the medium of instruction in education in India since independence:
1. Education Commission (1948):
“… English has become so much a part of our national habit … English cannot continue to occupy the place of state language as in the past”
2. Kunzru Committee (1955):
(a) Change in the medium of instruction at the university stage should not be hastened;
(c) English should be retained as a properly studied second language in our universities
3. The Education Commission (1964-66):
(a) Concerted effort needed for Hindi/regional languages as the media of instruction;
(b) The medium of examination should be the same as the medium of instruction;
(c) English should be studied and taught as a library language;
(d) No student should be allowed to graduate unless he is proficient in English;
(e) The universities should offer special courses in remedial English and English for Special Purposes.
4. National Integration Council (1962): observed that:
Need to make regional languages as media of instruction at the university stage.
5. The Working Group of the University Grants Commission (1978):
(a) English has the advantage in publications and reference materials over RLs
(b) Employment prospects of students educated through English medium are better
(c) The shift from RLs to English in universities (instruction) ia a problem
(d) English continues to be the status symbol in society
Language for higher education
English in higher education was viewed as India’s window to ‘the world’s technical and scientific information and knowledge’
The Report of the Committee for review of National Policy on Education 1986 notes that “the regional languages are already in use as media of education at the primary and secondary stages. Urgent steps should now be taken to adopt them as media of education at the university stage” (Ramamurti: 1990: 250)
It also mentions that the Education Commission of 1964-66 “had called for a changeover to the regional language media over a ten-year time frame;” but that “progress in this regard has not been uniform or satisfactory” (Ramamurti 1990: 265)
The Ministry’s document Programme of Action (1992: 178-179) acknowledges that “university teachers having received education through English find it difficult to teach through Indian languages,” and that “Indian language-medium courses are generally not popular amongst the students because of lack of professional comparability and poor employment potential.”
It is true that the higher we move in education and the more we aspire for professional excellence the only medium left at the top is English.
De facto language use in society
English is used throughout the length and breadth of the country
Number of speakers of English in India: Between 30-50 million (estimate basis 3-5% as per Kachru 1986: 54) to about 200 million (estimate basis 20% as per Encyclopedia Britannica 2002: 796 and Crystal 2003: 50)
Careers in business and commerce, government positions of high rank (regardless of stated policy), and science and technology (attracting many of the brightest) continue to require fluency in English
Attitude towards English
Some studies related to attitudes towards English
Abbi, Gupta and Gargesh (2000):
English is overwhelmingly sought as a medium of education but not as a mother tongue.
Agnihotri and Khanna (1997: 74) “more than 90% informants want some amount of English to be used, in teaching at all levels of education”
One of the major reasons for learning English is the ‘instrumental function’ that “it is also seen as a means for enhancing social mobility and individual personality (ibid: 85)
77% of the informants believe that progress in science and technology will be hampered without English” (ibid: 90)
Attitude towards English speaking Indians: More than 60% informants considered them to be sensitive to Indian culture and they also perceived them to be progressive and honest.
There is strong parental encouragement for the study of English. The extent of positive attitudes towards English indicates that English is here to stay for quite some time as a valuable tool.
Major language for obtaining information
Narendra Kumar, President of the Federation of Indian Publishers says that ‘a sizeable portion of this clientele [higher education] is the reader of English books’ (1998:41).
Of the about 3000 ‘active’ publishers in India about 1/3 publish in English and the rest are shared by 21 other languages (Kumar 1998: 44)
Newspapers: Published in India in about a 100 languages
Amongst the multi edition dailies, The Times of India edited simultaneously from seven cities has the largest total circulation of 1,695,945 copies followed by Malayala Manorama (eight editions) with a circulation of 1,132,813 copies, Dainik Jagran (12 editions) in Hindi is third with a circulation of 1,122,544 copies (Press in India 2000: 21).
Radio: A total time of 12 hrs 20 minutes is devoted to news in the Home Service out of which 2 hours 25 minutes are taken up by 21 news broadcasts in English while Hindi takes up 2 hours and 30 minutes for 20 news broadcasts. The remaining languages get between 10 to 40 minutes each.
TV:In the National Network News in English gets six slots in a day which totals a 100 programs in the English medium. The educational programs too have a high percentage of programs in English.
Abbi, Gupta and Gargesh (2000) – more of English is used in India when the aim is to provide information.