Agra moving to English via Hinglish

March 11th, 2008 - 9:34 am ICT by admin  

(Letter from Agra)
By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, March 11 (IANS) People are queuing up to enrol their children in English medium schools and Hinglish tabloids are flying off the newsstands in the city of the Taj as society here - like in much of India’s cities - undergoes a transition from having a minority of English speakers to a large number of those keen on learning the world’s most spoken language. Uttar Pradesh’s basic education department last week sent a proposal to the state cabinet to make teaching of English compulsory in all government schools from Class 1 onwards to ensure that they are at par with students of privately run institutions where English is the favoured medium of instruction.

“It is amazing how the wind has changed in favour of an alien language which everyone was opposing till the other day. Now everyone seems to be for English,” said former socialist leader Vinay Paliwal.

Samajwadi Party leader Subhash Jain gives free English tuitions to poor students twice a day as he feels it will open the doors to better job opportunities for them.

“A decade ago only a small group of people in Agra fluently spoke English. But now the scenario has changed completely. An increasing number of young boys and girls are enrolling for English classes. Parents no longer want their kids to be handicapped on the linguistic front,” said Meera, a schoolteacher.

As a result, dozens of establishments promising to make people fluent in English have mushroomed in and around Agra. Institutes for personality development and airhostess training, which are attracting students from small towns and villages across the state, also have modules on communication skills with special emphasis on English.

“Surprisingly, the students are getting picked up by big companies. Some even find sales jobs in new malls,” said Mahesh Dhakar, a culture critic.

According to social scientist Rajeshwar Prasad, former director of the Social Science Institute of the Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, the trend here is towards bilingualism.

“Most educated Indians today seem comfortable with both English and their mother tongue. Thus we have Hinglish, Pinglish, Binglish or Timlish,” he said, referring to the local variations of the English language that has a liberal sprinkling of local words in the daily lexicon.

At a national convention on Hindi teaching that was held here March 9, participants favoured the mixing of Hindi with English - known as Hinglish - for the first time.

“They felt this would help increase the acceptance of Hindi globally,” said Namvar Singh, a Hindi author and literary critic who participated in the convention.

The Hindi media in Agra has taken the Hinglish route and tabloids like I-Next, Compact and DLA, which are mainly in Hindi but liberally use English terms, have become very popular. The city now also has a local English daily called DLA-AM.

“Not just the contents and title, even the language and presentation is heavily English oriented,” notes educationist V.P. Singh who feels the “IT savvy generation nurtured by globalisation is taking to English like fish to water”.

Undoubtedly, the craze for learning English is rapidly increasing here and no one wants to be left out of the race to get better jobs and global opportunities.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at brijkhandelwal@hotmail.com)

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