Saturday, February 18, 2012


Pause for a minute. Take a deep breath.

Let’s go back 312 years. In the year 1700, if gross domestic product (GDP) was measured in the way it’s measured now, India would have taken the pole position of an economic powerhouse in a canter. Due to variety of reasons, India missed the industrial revolution gravy train. Oh, wait a minute, we didn’t miss the train. We were in the unreserved compartment of the train which contributed economic wealth and prosperity to the British Empire and our bogie got disconnected from the train when the engine had used up our resources. Further, as travelers in the unreserved compartment, we put our individual differences on display which just made it very easy for them to rewrite our Vedic educational system.

It so happens that the Vedic scholars were the first ones to master English when the language was introduced to ‘civilize’ India. Please do not be seduced by the ‘civilization’ efforts of the British. British Empire had no option but to make us go through their education system so that we conform to their methods as quickly as possible and start contributing to their objectives. In India, we had someone by the name Valangaiman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri who was known for his mastery over English language and even Englishmen regarded him very highly. With historians like Romila Thapar writing our NCERT history books, Srinivasa Sastri isn't mentioned anywhere. Luckily, in the world we live in, Wikipedia is not authored by Indian historians.

Due to the presence of numerous languages in India, spoken English has different regional accents. On a personal note, language is a medium to convey thoughts and as long as that is done effectively, I basically don’t care about the musical quality of the accent. India is probably the only country in the world where one Indian has a rather condescending tone while describing a fellow Indian’s accent. I am ok with harmless fun, but we don’t have to downgrade each other for wearing an accent. I don’t think there is anything like “superior” or “inferior” accent. I have people in my family who revel in their mastery over the language but make fun of other accents. When are we going to stop sizing each other up on trivial things like accents? An accent must not be divisive. Let’s be proud that we have contributed numerous words to the English language. Let’s be proud that we have the largest and the youngest English speaking population in the world. In a few years, we would have changed the language so much that very soon it will be “Inglish” and not “English”.

As most of us know, Germans speak English with a German accent, French – whatever little English they speak, they speak with a French accent (and they are very proud of the way they are, they are not looking for validation from anyone)…as for Americans, I love them. They speak ‘American’ with a vocabulary of 1,000 English words. A New Yorker certainly isn’t berating a Californian.

For the sake of "Inglish" let's save Indians from Indians :)