The Y.S.Jaganmohan Reddy Government recently issued orders for implementation of English medium in Government schools from the academic year 2020-21. It said that from next academic year from class 1 to 6th all Government schools will teach in English medium with one subject compulsory in Telugu. The orders are issued almost seven months in advance before the academic year starts. This is not a hurried step nor is it not known to the people of the state. This was one of the key Navaratnas (nine diamonds) of his election manifesto. If he does not implement his election manifesto that would be a problem and we should find fault with Y.S.Jagan’s Government. The people have voted him to power to make English as the main language of instruction in Government schools.
Why is Chandrababu Naidu, the opposition leader, opposing the educational reform and why is he deploying his pro-private English medium educational squads on to the roads in the name of Matrubhasha Pariraskshana(Protection of mother tongue)? What is the mother tongue of his grandson, whose mother and father studied in private English medium schools that do not even teach one subject in Telugu compulsorily? Devanshu’s mother and father studied in America adopting an American accent as well. Why did not Chandrababu send them to world class Telugu teaching centre in Telugu Desham?
Is mother’s language a fixed entity or is it likely to change as the mother of child learns new languages and speaks to children in different languages? Is language an instrument of sentiment or it is an instrument of development of a person, family, region and nation? If English is anti-national or anti-Indian or anti-Telugu mother why did the founding fathers retain that language and why it survived only among the elite who rule the nation and the states? Why the young generation rulers of India are English medium educated people? Should not the village poor and lower castes join that English educated brand new Indian club of rulers?
If one goes by the editorial of Eanadu on November, 9, 2019 there is a move to instigate an anti-English medium agitations in A.P. If the rural lower caste children of poor study in English medium in their villages the Telugu language dies, why it did not die in all the houses and colonies of the rich whose children studied and studying only in English medium private schools? How could they become the rulers of the states and the nation by studying only in English medium? From Jagan Mohan Reddy to Akhilesh Yadav to Rahul Gnadhi toNirmala Sitaraman to Nara Lokesh to K.T.Rama Rao to Sanchin Pilot to Jyotiraditya Scindia to Aditya Takrey, all are English medium educated leaders. Should not the rural poor and lower caste youth aspire to emerge like them? If not in Government school where could they study English medium? Y.S.Jagan wants the poor children learn English like him. What is wrong with his policy?
The argument that by introducing English medium in Government schools of Andhra Pradesh by the Y.S.Jagan Government is destroying the first linguistic state, namely Andhra Pradesh, is quite ironical. According to Eanadu that even the beneficiaries of English medium education in Government schools, who live in remote villages and Tribal areas should oppose, this decision. This is very emotive and sentimentalist and provocative argument.
Ramojirao’s younger son, Suman, who unfortunately passed away very early in his life, was my student in Nizam college and studied his B.A. He was from English medium school education background. His Telugu was not so good but he was good speaker in English. I used to appreciate his sincere and serious learning approach. He used to come to discuss international relations subject with me personally as I used to teach that subject to his class. A moot question is :why Ramojirao, who was running such a big Telugu media industry has put his son in English medium school? Why did he not put him in a school thought taught him his mother tongue? What is wrong if the rural poor mothers’ children study in English medium in Government schools in their own villages? How does Telugu disappear from poor’s houses when it did not disappear in Banjara Hills, Jubily Hills and Film cities?
Ramojirao is also running an English medium public school in his wife’s name called Rama Devi public school at Abdullapurmet, Hyderabad for several years. How did or does this school serve the first Telugu linguistic united Andhra Pradesh? Can Ramojirao allow a survey to be conducted into the school education background of the main anchors who run his entertainment channels? It is easily perceivable when they slip into English speaking that most of them come from English medium school education background. Let there be a survey in the film industry that Ramojirao is fully associated with. All the young heroes and heroines are English medium educated yet they make Telugu films.
All this shows that there is a conspiracy against the poor Dalit/OBC/Adivasi children learning equal range of English with all these forces that Ramojirao and Chandrababu’s family networks associated with. The language deceptivity as against the lower caste/poor is not just contemporary. This skillful deceptitvity is historical.
In ancient and medieval times before the Persian language became a ruling language Sanskrit was the ruling language of India. The teaching of Sanskrit was in the hands of private Gurukulas. The Shudras and Dalits had no right to study Sanskrit in those Gurukulas or outside. After the Persian became the ruling language in urban areas the Muslim elite and rich upper castes could learn Persian but not the village poor. From mid-nineteenth century English became the ruling language. English as a teaching language started in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1817 with the initiative of William Carey a British cobbler, who came as a missionary to India.
The first English educated Shudra was Mahatma Jotirao Phule apart from Gopala Krishna Gokhale and Balagangadhara Tilak, in Bombay Province. That is where the lower caste liberation started with English education.
After 1947 in spite of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s insistence to recognize English as national language and must be taught in Government schools the Nehru Government relegated English teaching to private school education and the regional languages were adopted as teaching languages in the Government schools. This policy denied equal rights in the education system and language played a key role in that denial of ruling class language to the poor and lower castes.
The A.P. Government initiated a process to bring school education in Government and private sectors to a level playing field. If the opposition leader and the media network around him oppose this, the rural lower caste and poor masses will see through this game. Naidu and his anti-English education supporters to the poor must be aware that if their game ends with this issue of poor’s most decisive empowerment project, they will never be in the play ground again.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is Political theorist, Social Activist and Author