First of all, English as a medium of instruction was introduced in India by Lord William Bentick in the 19th century when he was the Governor-General of India. Although the object of the Britishers in introducing English in India was quite selfish there is no doubt that the western system of education contributed greatly towards the advancement of India. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a famous Indian religious and social reformer, was a great supporter of the English language. Raja Rammohan Roy was the first Indian who was optimistic about the future of English.
Nobody can deny the great part which the English language has played in the national life of our country. During the struggle for independence and national movement, all our great leaders like Dada Bhai Nauroji. G. K. Gokhale, Govind Ranade, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Moti Lal Nehru, and Jawahar Lal Nehru were English educated. The Britishers introduced the English language in India to produce a class of clerks ‘Babus’ whom they could employ on cheaper rates. But there is no doubt that the knowledge of English language enabled our leaders to cross swords with the foreign rulers in the legislature and on the public platform in their own language.
Thus during the freedom struggle, the English language played a very significant role as a link language among the different sections of the Indian society belonging to different regions and provinces. India has also become quite conversant with the advancement made by western civilization, science and culture through the English language only.
In fact, English is now no more the language of the English people only. It has become an international language. It is a language which is understood in most countries of the world. Even those countries which had never any connection with England or the English people are also now learning English very fact. In this regard, India is placed in a very fortunate position, as most of the educated people here know English well. Japan, China, Thailand and countries of the Middle East are now making all-out efforts to learn the English language.
English is one of the working languages of the U.N.O. The English knowing Indians have a very high scope of getting jobs in the U.N.O’S offices and Agencies. As a matter of fact, there are more Indians employed in the United Nations Organisation and in its Agencies than their share. This is all due to the advantage of knowing the English language which they possess. All advanced knowledge regarding science, technology, medicine, space research, nuclear field etc. is enshrined in the English language. Thus the English knowing Indians are better equipped than people of many other countries in reaping the fruits of this vast knowledge.
In this way, we see that English has a very important role to play in the national and international affairs of our country. It is also a very important link for forging the national unity in India between the Northern and Southern States. India is optimistic about the future of English.
Of course, from time to time controversy is raised in India regarding the continued use of the English language by the supporters of the Hindi language. They want that with the ouster of English rule from India, the English language should also be thrown out from our country. But they forget that language is not the monopoly of any nation. A language is the common ownership of all the people who use it. In reality, English also belongs to the same Indo-European language family to which Sanskrit and Hindi belong. Then where is the need for all this controversy? English has been in use in India for the last nearly 150 years and it is not so easy to discard it by a single stroke of the pen.
Hindi is our National language and nobody can challenge its claim as such. But till sufficient books are published in this language in science, medical and other technical subjects, English must continue as the medium of instruction in these subjects. Today thousands of foreign students are coming to India for higher learning because English is the medium of instruction here.
In reality, all the opposition to the continued use of the English language is only politically motivated. There is no real clash of interests between English and Hindi. They both can prosper and live together in harmony without harming each other. We can only hope that there will be no conflict between Indians over the future of English.