I cannot but remember the days in May 2000, when I use to sit at a door step in Giri Nagar, and hordes of parents use do come with a single plea:
"English bolana sikhado" - teach them to speak in English-
How intuitive and right these poor illiterate parents were: last week spirited Garima, a class X topper was denied a place in a 'prestigious' English medium school because she could not speak English properly.. what properly means should be defined by the principal of that school..
Wonder if next time my French friends say: ze book is on ze taboul' I should cross them off my social list and what about the London friends who speak with a cockney lilt!
Almost 60 years after independence, one that was fought against the British, we still judge people by their ability to parrot the queens' tongue!
Garima was lucky - NDTV picked up her story.. there are so many Garimas living under the stranglehold of their inability to converse in English, their self esteem eroded.. there are many whose mother tongue's inflection is so strong that it permeates every language they speak and who can never quite get rid of it... the Japanese and Italians and our own Biharis or Bengalis are good examples of this
There is something terribly wrong in our land, now added to your social or religious background is added the ability to master the language of the erstwhile coloniser.
So now perhaps some smart alec will come up with a reservation for those who cannot speak English well..
Why can't we accept the child who speaks English with her or his Indian accent, just as we accept the inversion of l's and r's by our friends from the Far East..
One of the most difficult tasks at pwhy has been to get our kids to shed their self-consciousness and put in active use the huge knowledge of English that lies hidden in their brain.. one understands why when one reads Garima's story..
But there is another aspect to her story, one that I highlighted earlier with reference to the Mumbai old couple: the role of the media as an agent of change... a single story on the silver screen gets people to shed their cynicism and inaction and do something, be it redressing a tort or reaching out to another..
So maybe that is the road to tread..
PS: Kudos to Garima who has decided to remain in her old school, the one that helped her top and kudos to her parents who have stood by her.