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SOCIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF ELT IN INDIA

ABSTRACT The paper wants to argue that why English continues to enjoy sociological significance in India despite political freedom from British rule. New demands are emerging from the grassroots levels – the Dalits and the villagers – with their expectations conditioned by socio economic forces. ELT is facing challenges of providing quality education because of a vicious cycle of seemingly unavoidable problems. The paper tries to find a way out that might bring a change of the conditions. ARTICLE Despite political freedom from the British imperialism, English in India, more than ever, continues to enjoy sociological significance. Thomas Babington Macaulay‟s Minutes on Indian Education presents his confidence that introducing English-language schools would „civilize‟ India. He emphasized that as the European languages civilized Russia, therefore, he says, “I cannot doubt that they will do for Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar”(Macaulay). Macaulay in India is now spurned by the intelligentsia, because of his Eurocentric notion of language and culture. It is needless to say that English is the practically working channel of communication between the varied linguistic compositions in the country. Even needless to say that it is the global lingua franca. That

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The political party of the ruling government believed that the mother tongue should be given more emphasis. The same government now. like West Bengal. Because of mammoth population of India that small percentage is quite a large number of people who migrate out across the world and achieve extraordinary heights. and the strange way out was by uprooting English from the primary curriculum. However. Some of the states in India. English is the language of higher education in India. Though there is much hype of English in India.English in the Indian context is a form of cultural capitalism at its purest. these institutions continue to function just as para-academic bodies. The dire situation is overshadowed by the condition that at the pinnacle we have a very small percentage of world class excellence. The second part of my paper is about the authentic institutions. it is a matter that causes anxiety as well. This disguises ninety five percent or may be even higher of those who lag behind in oblivion. has resumed English teaching from the first year of school in the primary level after decades of castrating English from the primary level. without English medium root at the school level. by which I mean the educational institutions in India on which the academic stake holders count upon. one ends up with absolutely not good enough English. not out of any 2 . cannot be but emphasised. However. Reforms are taking place and it is being reflected in the education policies.

it is possibly the worst place to start. as we go further. Compared to the CEFR or other framework. Contemporary discourses in newspapers and articles tell us that India has not engaged itself seriously with the idea of multilingual education. finance and the corporate world. the proficiency will probably be much lower than what is actually desired.sudden epiphany. The global market is opening up newer scopes in India. There is no doubt that India needs to start delivering quality English language right at the beginning of primary education. Therefore there is a need for getting people up to the terms of the CEFR before they leave school. but by pressure from the grass root proletariats have taken recourse to English. But if we consider the situation in India. but there is hardly anyone near the mark. Now the situation will be more complicated. where there is real need of educated people who can work in several languages with competency. This implies that Indian education policies in its practice tend to undermine the need of multilingual education. Globalization has obviously brought new opportunities to those who know English. English is not just the language of higher education. This is obviously in the voice based industries like international call centers and BPO agencies. We can get them to that by starting very early. The professionals working in these sectors have a quality of English that is often somewhat workable in the international scenario. it is also the language of business. In 3 .

There are demands that at present cannot be readily met with. But can a language really deliver all those? English in India does certainly give geographical mobility.our first few years of certain government schools. We need teachers who know English. particularly those belonging to the rural areas. But when people look forward to the voice based industry and think it to be the site of attaining economic mobility. But here lies another catch: if we teach a primary school teacher good English. geographic mobility and the only agent to achieve social justice. the result will be disastrous. We can hardly provide quality English education in the first and second standards in government schools in most of the parts in India. is the language of communication among the linguistically divided state. people of rural areas and Dalits. of whatsoever standard. If we try doing it rapidly or assume that the job is done in terms of educational progress. It is a long journey to go on. they are perhaps 4 . They are one of the major sects in the society who believe that English is the source of economic mobility. who have enthusiasm and can work. s/he can earn a lot more money elsewhere in the economic system than in rural primary schools. want English. because English. the teachers who are teaching are coming through a completely different training. Next we would like to probe into the matter that why people at the grass root level. The educational background of the teachers reveals that they never learnt English.

the Dalits want to cohere themselves – who are distributed among people speaking multiple languages – using English as a tool. devoid of English education. However. We cannot argue English to be a liberal language but it does not carry the caste specific positioning which is integral part of their imprisonment. about the way the caste system is reproduced through the very vocabulary of the discourse of their own language. it is probably not to overemphasize to say that English can act as a tool for social and political justice allowing individuals and groups to overcome caste barrier.over expecting. It appears that many of them feels uncomfortable in the way they are imprisoned in their own languages. for a new goddess. The English goddess is modeled on the Statue of Liberty. „goddess of English Language‟(Pandey). Recently BBC on 14th February 2011 aired a news that the Dalit community is constructing a temple. In the same way as the independence movement relied on English. It is an emerging sector and hardly there is any study that tells us that it can be the backbone of India‟s economy. Prasad believes such initiative will motivate the Dalits to encourage their children to learn 5 . English education allowed cohering people of various linguistic groups in a national platform to fight for independence. Dalits were left out. in Banka village of Uttar Pradesh with the flagship of a noted Dalit writer Chandra Bhan Prasad. So to escape from it they feel it necessary to escape out of the bondage of language.

The discrimination is extended to education too with the school system dominated by the higher castes. but the problem is that we don‟t know what we actually know.(Documentation) It is essential to take measure in teacher development through orientation programs that will make teachers sensitive enough that will prevent them from indulging into caste apartheid. Slavoj Zizek in the modus operandi of any ideology in the subconscious. a Dalit woman from Bisakhedi village of Dewas district in Uttar Pradesh reports that “Dalit children are made to sit separately during meal time”. “The fundamental level of ideology. Dalit children are often made to sit and eat separately their midday meal.English. When on one hand such desperate attempts are seen on the part of the oppressed to come up in life. is not an illusion 6 . nor is the problem with what we don‟t. For instance. however. To put it in other words this is what Marx defines as ideology in its most elementary form in Capital encapsuled in one phrase. “They do not know but they are doing it”. I want to make a strong point here that ideologies govern our attitudes in the society and any social institution like „school‟. Meera. The problem is neither with what we know. says. which in turn will transform their lives and make them job worthy and help them gain social and economic mobility. on the other hand their efforts are being counter fired by caste based discriminations. Even today in many rural schools.

np: np: 24 Apr. 1835. BBC News Banka village. 2011 Pandey. Web. Geeta. 30 Apr. Web. 14 Feb. WORKS CITED “Discrimination in MP schools alive and kicking”. 1989.London:Verso Books. 30 Apr. This is one of the major roles which English departments of higher academic institutions have to play because it is this language in India to which the marginalized stake holders have high expectations. Print. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Žižek. 2011. Web. 2 Feb. 2011. Slavoi. Macaulay. Uttarpradesh. Only then education can be meaningful and schools will become sites of social inclusion. BBC South Asia. “An English goddess for India‟s down-trodden”. Action Aid International. Necessary emphasis should be given to subaltern and Dalit literature in the English major curriculum in the institutes of higher education „culturing‟ future teachers and as well as those in service through teacher-training programs. 2006?. 30 Apr. Minutes. 2011. 2011.masking the real state of things but that of an unconscious fantasy structuring our social reality itself”(Zizek 30) Ideology can be changed through a psychological training which is commonly known as education. 7 . Thomas Babington.

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