A Perspective on Students in India Using Their English Language Skills to Get Top Jobs
English is the language of business, of science. The worldwide use of English has been the consequence of the British domination of the days gone by and the influence of the USA in the modern world. The deep roots of English in India, of course, were put forth by the 200 or so years of British rule in India.
In India, its popularity and usage has increased exponentially even after independence. In this diverse country of around 18 official languages, English also plays the role of lingua franca alongside the national language Hindi. The growth of English in India has been fueled by the better employment opportunities available if one is proficient in English. For those with an English medium school education the advantage begins in college, where the medium of instruction is English.
Students from a vernacular educational background find that overcoming the disadvantage of language is time-consuming and affects their scores, if not throughout, at least in their initial college years. There have even been cases of multitudes of students from not-so-affluent homes dropping out from college, unable to overcome the hurdles of studying in a language completely alien to them. This also throws light on the standard of English being taught as a second language in vernacular schools in India. The teaching just equips them with, at the best, basic reading skills.
There have been agitations against the growing importance of English and the decline of Indian languages. There have even been suggestions to make vernacular education mandatory in India, but none of these have been anything more than a flash in the pan, as they were merely politically motivated vote-bank shams. What was indeed laughable was that the children of the very leaders who had instigated these movements were being educated in swanky English-medium schools. Today, even the poorer sections send their progeny to private English medium schools; that seem to have mushroomed at every nook and corner, eschewing Government run vernacular schools if they can afford it.
One of the prime reasons for our domination of the IT industry has been the fact that the medium of instruction for graduate studies and professional courses is English. It has enabled us to take advantage of the technological advances of the digital age and become the base for the IT operations of clients across the world. Another new age industry whose birth has totally been based on the availability of large number of English speakers is BPO.Continued on the next page