Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 4 : 2 February 2004

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.

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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai

On the Internet, Who Is Dominating Whom? Many Things Cannot Be Said Openly! English Returns to Bengal!


Union Minister for Human Resource Development (Education) cautioned in Mysore against English language acquiring a monopoly over the Internet and computer media, and felt that it might stifle the development and growth of Indian languages. How come mega Indian software corporations making millions and millions of dollars around the world have not shown any tangible interest in developing Indian languages? How come it is always the political leaders who are more concerned with the development of Indian languages, and not the educated public? Why is it that we (including the political leaders of India) always continue to put English down, but send our children to English medium schools? What is needed is not putting down English but getting involved in developing and using Indian languages and taking advantage of the widespread interest in English for the benefit of Indian languages. In fact, Indian languages, at least major ones among them, have a much better representation over the Internet, but with dedication, we can achieve still better representation. The fact of the matter is that we have been losing our interest in Indian languages since independence despite prolonged wars waged between Indian languages!


Bengal was the most important seat of power during the British rule. Lord Macaulay wrote his Minute in Bengal! Nationalism helped foster a love for Indian languages in Bengal, even as Bengalis took to English education with great interest during the British rule. Now English returns to Bengal! News agencies reported that in West Bengal, English will be taught from class I as a compulsory subject.

West Bengal State School Education Minister Kanti Biswas said that English would be taught from the next academic session, starting from May, from class one as a compulsory subject. Who would have expected the Marxists to take this step? The Left Front government abolished teaching English in primary level since 1977. Was it a popular decision then? Did it affect the economic prospects of Bengalis? Well, this seems to be general impression at present among the common people. However, the Minister offered an interesting explanation: "When the Front came to power the situation was different and their aim was to achieve universal education. However, with just a few lakh students now out of school, the government could afford English education." But a former principal of Presidency College is reported to have said, "The decision to introduce English again from the primary level was a welcome gesture but lakhs of students have in the meantime suffered badly as they missed English training and eventually became extraordinarily backward".

The minister said, "Knowledge of English is a must to make a career in today's competitive world and we don't want our students to lag behind their counterparts in other states."


Former Chief Election Commissioner T. N. Seshan, known for his strong views and language, it appears, has realized that many things which might be true cannot be spoken in explicit terms! This was his reaction to J. M. Lyngdoh's recent description of politicians as 'cancer.' Seshan said, "In life, many things which are absolutely true cannot always be stated in explicit terms and this (Lyngdoh's remarks) is perhaps one of them". J. M. Lyngdoh is retiring from his position as Chief Election Commissioner early February. One of the important inherent characteristics of human language is the ability we have to use language for prevarication. Our civilization is dependent on imagination which is very close to prevarication. We can lie deliberately using a human language. Imagine, if we did not have the capacity and an adequate medium to "lie", inventions, art, and literature would not be possible at all. Is this morally or ethically correct to prevaricate? There are many ways in which we can tell some harsh truth eloquently. Read Seshan carefully. Does he not say the same thing Lyngdoh said about Indian politicians! And why is it that Seshan will not be criticized?!


PTI reported that "threatened with extinction due to lack of patronage." Although the report said that the folk dances seek re-emergence through government support, a day is not far off when these will become academic subjects, and not an integral part of our life. Standardization introduced by our classics such as Natya Sastra has somewhat preserved the classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, and its variants. However, folk forms have always been treated with little respect by the elitists. Politicization of folk dances has helped their survival to some extent. The culture-based foreign policy started by Rajiv Gandhi helped restore some interest in them. But like the dialects that face extinction the folk forms, especially those practiced in smaller communities, face extinction, or a slow death. Again dependence on government support alone will not help.


M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Bethany College of Missions
6820 Auto Club Road, Suite C
Bloomington, MN 55438, USA