Civil Service Training
VIAS in partnership with Samkalp New Delhi
"THOUGHTS BECOME THINGS"
How come Indians know English so well that it's almost like their mother tongue?
Indian nationalist, diplomat and statesman, V.K. Krishna Menon had once famously responded to British novelist Brigid Brophy when he expressed surprise at Menon's English, with the retort: "My English is better than yours. You merely picked it up. I learnt it."
Let us go back to the 19th century when the East India Company had established a firm control over the Indian Subcontinent. India was then, like today, one of the most linguistically diverse regions in the world and that posed a lot of administration issues to the English. By mid 1830s, the Anglicists had an upper-hand in formulating education policies in India and pushing their agenda of imparting what they called ‘useful knowledge’ through a common medium. Thomas Babington Macaulay, a politician, proposed English language as a medium of instruction and thus, to use a cliché, sowed the seeds of English language in the Indian education system. His ‘Minute on Indian Education’ of 1835, a topic of huge controversy, detailed the introduction of English language in existing schools and colleges.
Subsequently, new colleges and schools were established across major provinces like Madras,Calcutta, Bombay etc, modeled after University of London and used English as a medium of instruction to educate millions of Indians. The British gained a lot from this as they could then hire Indians to serve in the administration. The push to impart education in English language continued well into the next century and by 1947, the year of Indian Independence, it was the only functional language of the country.
Today, Hindi and English both serve as the official languages of India. However, majority of of the official work like parliament proceedings, justice system, inter-state communication makes use of English language. Same goes for the education system. Though every Indian state has a power to recognize regional language as the official language, and many states, in fact, have non-English official languages, education across all states is mostly offered in dual-languages, regional language being one and English being the other.
It comes as no surprise then, that a nation having English language so deeply rooted into its ethos have a huge number of its citizens well-versed in the English language.
Most common English language and grammatical errors made by people from India