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Monday, March 9, 2009

India's diversity - is an asset

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I read this story a long time ago in a newspaper article but I don't remember the exact source and hence I am not mentioning the source here.

Since the 90's, India has made rapid advances particularly in the ITES sector. The ITES sector has increasingly become the preferred employer of a large number of youth while India has become the preferred destination for ITES. Much of this credit is given to our command over the English Language, thanks to our British colonial past. India is perhaps the biggest English speaking community outside the West. The obvious question arises, why is it that other British Colonies have been unable to emulate the success of India's ITES sector. To add to it, our neighboring Sri Lanka(also a former British colony) has a very high literacy rate of 80%. Bangladesh too has its own advantages. It has one of lowest wages in the world. So why is it that it was only India that succeeded.

All countries of South Asia - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh(East Pakistan) and Sri Lanka were British colonies and became independent roughly at the same time. But things changed soon after independence. In all other countries - the nationalist forces prevailed. These forces considered English to be as an alien and therefore decided to throw out the language. Their education system was based on local languages and English was just kept as a means to keep contact with the rest of the world. So it was Singhalese in Sri Lanka, Urdu in Pakistan and Bengali in Bangladesh.

So how did India escape from these forces. Or is it that somehow, the Indian politicians got it correct this time. The answer to both these questions is no. Such nationalist forces were in place in India as well. Hindi was declared as the official language but English was supposed to be continued till 1965 beyond which Hindi would replace as the official language.

Here came our rich diversity to our rescue. Becoming official language meant that all official work would be conducted in Hindi. This directly meant that it would be difficult for a large number of people, particularly those south of the Vindhyas to seek Govt. jobs. There were hardly any jobs in private sector in the 50's or 60's. Widespread protests occurred in states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka, Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh. As a result of which Parliament enacted the Official Languages Act, 1963 provided for the continued use of English for official purposes along with Hindi, even after 1965. So, it was our rich diversity that saved the day.

Diversity surely forces to examine each and every aspect before arriving at any decision. Unfortunately this also means that often it may take years before taking a decision, something that communist China can do instantly.

I have found the source article from where I read this story. Here is the original article.


  1. I would still like each and every aspect to be examined than have a communist govt. ...

  2. Lovely..I never thought about it..I knew the facts like India gets a lot of outsourced jobs because of the English advantage, which even China does not offer, but yeah I never thought about the reasons why English prevailed in India as a medium of communication.
    Learnt something new today.