Monday, April 13, 2009

The Samajwadi Party Manifesto: A joke or opportunity

I haven't been able to read the Samajwadi Party's manifesto. Whatever I could gather is from reading about it on various news websites. What I gather from there, is that they are against use of English language, machines and computers. With an after thought, Mulayam Singh added that the party will push for use of regional language in education, administration and judiciary.

It is nice to know if they are going to seriously try to do that. We need to promote use of regional languages in education atleast at primary level. Even administrative and government activities should make use of functional regional language. I mean, if words need to be borrowed from English, do that, but write those in regional script. We tend to idealise the West in everything. Even there, their primary and secondary education is in the native language. Germans, French, Italians, Spaniards, they all take their primary education in their native language. Towards the east, Japanese and Koreans to learn their elementary science in their native language. Nothing has stopped them from becoming scientific and engineering superpowers. The Japanese cars and electronics, German engineering and efficiency, Italian designs, Korean electronics are admired world over, even as they fumble with their English language.

Some other parts of the manifesto (e.g. avoiding mechanisation, removing computers) are objectionable, but this one is surely worth giving a try.

As I said, I have not read the manifesto and I wrote this article based on what was available in the media. Now, Indian media is definitely not famous for its neutral reporting!
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  2. @future mantra,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. Instead of just tossing out SP's manifesto as a gimmick, atleast this point should receive consideration.

  3. I don't think it deserves even consideration. The reason for our IT "revolution" is presence of english speaking population. Cancel that and we have zilch. Native languages are important for building a national identity but not at the cost of our competitiveness. If mulayam yadav was so interested in removing english perhaps his sons should not have been studying there. Excuse my opportunistic plugging but you might enjoy reading

  4. @sachin,

    What is "Indian" about the IT revolution? We develop lost-cost solutions for the west and far-east. Germany has Volkswagen, Siemens, and many such world class companies, Japan has Toyota, Sony, Honda, etc., Italy has Fiat, a huge fashion industry, France has Dassault, Mirage, etc. There are certainly many more companies that I can't list here. What have we got? After 60 years of independence, we have only Tata Nano to boast about. Amul, the milk utility that has awed everybody is a venture of regional language speaking Gujarati entrepreneurs. They didn't require English for their success.

    I don't think you have clearly understood what I've said. We need to promote use of regional languages as workplace language and medium of instruction. Yes, Germans, Italians and Japanese have to write their computer codes using a syntax that is essentially English, so can we.

  5. ok whats that accounts for max imports from india. now remove that factor because of non english speaking majority and you would know what i mean. regional language is important no doubt but not at expense of being global and loosing the economic sense. also important to note is that its a specious sounding poll gimmick. if ever mulayam singh yadav was serious about it, he would not let his sons have what he despises. its simply that english speaking could lead to can of worms. educated people demand more tangible benefits and not just some samaan for their vote. And thats my point

  6. @sachin,

    the current is important. what is also more important is how do you see yourself in the future? developing products and rendering services to the west? or something that is our very own and which can force itself on the world.

    remember, Tata's Nano isn't because of our English speaking abilities, it is because of the conviction and other abilities associated with R&D. An Italian design firm grabbed the contract to design the Nano, despite their English being horrible. So, while English has given us our today, do we intend to stay that way, or do we want to change? Change always faces resistance, but then it has to come about.

  7. Nano because we know Hindi ? Italians got the design because they know italian ? Immaterial !! Whats more important is to drive innovation. Whats even more important is to educate masses. Now instead of making frivolous comments on removing english if SP talks about grass root improvements,it would be more worthwhile. We have some edge, lets not lose it for nationalistic pride. We have to grow from here. Not go back and grow a new branch. Going up the chain by becoming manufactures might be a goal but it wont happen because we know hindi. It might not happen if we dont know english.

  8. No, Nano because English didn't matter in its development. Italians getting the project, not because of Italian language, but again, English speaking is not necessary to grab the job. We market ourselves to external people as the world's largest English speaking crowd. Won't help us for long.

    OK, let me get this straight. We should stop tom-tomming our English speaking abilities. They won't get us too far. What is needed is education at grass-roots, which is best given in your mother tongue, not a language that is not natural to you.

    The way Mulayam Singh puts it, is also wrong. Promoting regional language doesn't come about by banning English medium schools. It comes by giving good infrastructure in regional language and encouraging people to use it. We look at the English-speaking crowd as 'achievers', while they are necessarily not. This should stop.

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  10. Are we talking about the mode of communication here?? Coz English or regional language is one of the languages to communicate. Shouldnt our focus be on WHAT we are communicating???

  11. bingo !! more important than anything is improving what we communicate. English/regional language all the same. No need to go back removing English. build on what we have instead of making frivolous comments as politicians make.

  12. No we are talking of regional language as an educating medium. Let it be functional. By functional, I mean, there is probably no need to call a computer as संगणक all the time, but learning in regional languages helps.

    And I am not talking about removing English language, but about promoting regional languages in primary and secondary education as well as daily administrative activities.

  13. granted thats a good thing. regional languages should be promoted. IT should be brought in regional languages. vocational training should be in that also. local libraries should have regional language translations. english should not be removed however. its a key to higher education and jobs which india currently has. to deny rural people those is not a good thing

  14. I think every body should get a choice. If I wish to use English or Hindi, I must be allowed to.

    As far as removing computers and all is concerned, I have comments that cannot be posted... :-|