Speaking English: A Colonial Hangover

It’s been around seventy three years since we claimed independence from the British Empire. Seven long decades is indeed a long time, a very long time that we have, have spent developing our education, agriculture, defence,space research and other industries.

After gaining political independence, we have been striving for economic independence, but what about intellectual independence?

Apart from the wound of massacres like that of the Jallianwala Bagh and famines like the Bengal Famine, colonialism deeply impacted our minds and continues to do so even today.

It’s quite common for our vegetable vendors to sell apples with a sticker announcing USA Apples for as expensive as Rs420 per Kg and earn profits. However , in reality they themselves purchase the very same apples from the local farms for around Rs200 per Kg.

This inferiority complex is not only attributed to our very own produce, our own  commodities but to skin colour as well. Aping the colonial masters, would have been a sycophantic trend a century ago,but it has not left the minds of the people yet, catering to the large market of fairness and skin whitening creams, ointments and lotions in the country.

One of the best example of the colonial hangover is the English Language. According to some, speaking or conversing in English makes one modern and literate. A native who speaks grammatically incorrect English is often mocked and laughed at , while if the same person mumbles while speaking his mother tongue, it is okay.

And then we have the famous Hindi saying, “Angrez chale gye, Angerzi Chord gye”, that literally translates as, ” The British left but English remained here!”

The Irrfan starrer film Hindi Medium focused on the issue of how English surpasses the boundaries of a language to assume that of a status symbol in the country.

The list of how our lives have been affected by two hundred years of slavery goes on and on. Be it being labelled as primitive and backward, if one undergoes Ayurvedic treatment or being laughed at for reading Hindi novels and other literature in native languages, or being looked at with skeptical eyes if you prefer yoga over gym, this list is a  never ending one.

Yoga not only makes one fit physically, but also helps maintain mental balance and mental peace.

Fortunately, things have begun to change. Vernacular literature is being read and appreciated, more and more people are practicing the yogic science of overall well being and even the ancient system of medicine , Ayurveda is attracting crowds huge numbers.

Thus, I would conclude my saying that if the country needs to develop in real terms, we should first begin holding our heads high and be proud, never ashamed of what we have, who we are and what all we represent.

Thank You

Stay Safe


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