Saturday, December 05, 2009

Is English about to replace Hindi as India's major language?

Dinesh Kumar, a migrant from Vaishali district in Bihar, is an electrician in Delhi. Though making ends meet is a challenge, he is not willing to send his two children to a Hindi medium government school where education is free.

The school fees and related expenditure exceed Rs 2,000 per month and form a quarter of the roughly Rs 8,000 that Kumar earns each month. But he is happy to foot the expense. "I want my kids to study in an English medium school. If they don't know English, what future will they have?" asks Kumar. It is such reasoning that helps explain the huge increase in enrolment in English medium schools, making it now the second largest medium of instruction in schools across the country.

According to estimates, just over 10 per cent of the Indian population speaks English. But, it is a growing number and the rate of growth outpaces most vernacular languages. The big exception is Hindi, which, of course, is in a different league with 41 per cent of the country's population speaking in that tongue. More...

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