It has been almost two centuries that English education was introduced in India and since then it has been playing an important role in our national life, not to mention our educational system. Most people believe that the then British rulers needed some cheap native clerks who could work in their offices much like what Lord Macaulay called “a class of people, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect”. But I personally don’t hold this view. Even ardent patriots like Raja Ram Mohan Roy expressed that learning English would help Indians to understand the philosophical and scientific advancement of the west. Later on English became a national link language and made Indians united in their struggle for independence. It has also improved our languages and literatures to a great extent.
But after independence, the role and importance of English in our educational system as well as national life was seriously questioned by many. According to some of our leaders, English was a symbol and instrument of colonial exploitation. Hence, it should be done away with completely from our systems. In the end, wise senses prevailed and English was kept initially for 15 years as an Associate Official Language for inter-state communications and communications between the states and the centre so as to give time to the learning of Hindi. Jawaharlal Nehru opined that “If you push out English, does Hindi fully take its place? I hope it will. But I wish to avoid the danger of one unifying factor being pushed out without another unifying factor fully taking its place. In that event there will be a gap, a hiatus. The creation of any such gap or hiatus must be avoided at all costs. It is very vital to do so in the interest of the unity of our country. It is this that leads me to the conclusion that English is likely to have an important place in the foreseeable future”.
And how rightly so! As a visionary leader that he was,