We now try to suggest some solutions to India’s complex language problem. As regards usage of languages, our prescription would be as follows: English should be the medium of instruction in higher education and the medium for official work in central government.
Part one – India’s Language Policy – Challenges
Part Two – India’s Language Policy – A Link Language
English should also remain the medium for inter-governmental communication and inter-regional communication among individuals. English should continue as the medium for inter-state trade and commerce. But the medium of official work in state governments can be the local language and so also the medium of instruction in most of the schools.
Care should be taken to see that language learning should not become much of a burden on students. At present we have accepted the three language formula in schools and a student is required to learn three languages over which he has no choice.
He learns the local language, English and Hindi and all three languages have been pre-determined. This is the type of situation presently faced by a student from non-Hindi-speaking states.
The student is learning three languages; but if he has an inclination to learn a specific language he has to study a fourth language. This illustrates the burden of language study in schools. A student from Kerala may have an inherent inclination to learn Bengali or Urdu or Tamil or Sanskrit or Japanese or Chinese or Russian or Arabic or German.
But if he wants to learn any of these languages it is now not possible to do so in school, since under the three language formula, the three languages he has to learn are already predetermined. If he has to learn a language of his choice he will be learning a fourth language. Is this not a heavy burden on the young student?
The three language policy imposes a severe burden on students as far as language learning is concerned. When we are yet to achieve the goal of universal literacy it is utopian to experiment with a three language policy. Instead we should adopt a language policy where English and one Indian language are taught as compulsory subjects. In addition the student should be given the option to learn a third language of his choice which could be any one of the Indian languages or a foreign language. The student should be freed from the burden of learning three compulsory languages.
The agitation that is going on by civil service aspirants in the country today is based on two issues. The agitators believe that non-English speaking aspirants are discriminated against and the bulk of candidates selected into civil service are from engineering or management background. There is a need to make the Civil Service Exam language neutral.
There is no need to have a special paper or section of certain papers devoted to any specific language whether it be English, Hindi or any other except for the literature optional papers. If a candidate is able to handle general knowledge, science and humanities in the language opted by him he should be considered as having the necessary linguistic skills required of a civil servant.
In India today the most intelligent students go for medicine, engineering, management etc. after plus two stage. Of these, those who go for medicine seldom opt for civil services. The most intelligent students in the country thus become professionals. So it is natural that when a competition is held to select civil servants these professionally qualified candidates secure the top seats. Nothing much can be done about this.