Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friendly only if you know English

Yesterday's DNA reports
Although peons are an integral part of a school, often they are unable to strike camaraderie with the students or parents as they are unable to speak in English.

Now, to set things right, many schools are sending their peons to night schools for English lessons.
(emphasis mine)
This is revolting but there's more:
“A school peon is the first person parents turn to for help. He knows the school inside out. But many a times, peons do not know any other language besides Hindi and their native tongue. Parents also tend to disregard them. English lessons will help them in communicating with students and parents alike,” said Sister Rani Anthony, principal, Villa Theresa School, Peddar Road.
i wonder if the good Sister even knows how decidedly ridiculous "does not know any other language besides Hindi and their native tongue" means. Native tongue indeed.

The problem is not with the poor peons. It is with the nouveau crowd who is ignorant about any Indian language. In fact, it is a fashionable statement to say so.  These are the same set of people brought up on Baa Baa Black Sheep and who then go on to consume large amounts of English media, prefer to speak to each other only in English all the while completely ignorant about their own fantastic linguistic heritage lying in their backyard.

In fact, the above quote should be "it is a real pity that parents do not know any Indian language well. They only know (imperfect) English of the type spoken in American serials and reality shows and just about a smattering of their native tongue. We have now decided to burden the poor peons due to the ignorant parents." 
Another mistake here is to confuse good communication skills with communication in English. If anything, the peons will be left worse-off by forcing them to communicate their thoughts  in an alien language. Why not a course on good communication skills per se?

This story is a great example that demonstrates symptoms of a country in a state of rot. Why else would a country with 100s of languages each with incredible depth of expression look to "set right things" since a poor peon cannot speak in communicate in an alien language? Beats me.

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P.S: Thanks to Sandeep who in his comment below reminds me of Becoming Indian by Pavan K. Varma. Highly Recommended.

1 comment:

Sandeep said...

We are ourselves to be blamed. To be frank, after reading Becoming Indian after you recommended it, I did try to read Premchand in Hindi but just could not... I can't speak in Punjabi, which is quite embarrassing for me, i find it more comfortable to write in English, even though my English is not perfect, my Hindi is even worse; I did my best to learn Sanskrit but just could not get a teacher...

When you go to a restaurant and order food, you are expected to speak in English, even at McDonalds; when you speak to a client, you speak in English, for if you speak in Hindi, that does not leave the right impression. that's our culture and we are ourselves to be blamed for it.