English language in India

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Court rulings

Lower courts' English rulings not illegal: HC

The Times of India, Jan 29 2016

Merely because a subordinate court delivers its verdict in English, the order cannot be declared as illegal, said Madras HC rejecting the argument that judgments delivered in English, which is not known to the accused, would be void ab initio. “We cannot hold that just because the judicial officer has translated her thought process into English and written the judgment, her entire judgment is void and the detention of the prisoners is illegal,“ ruled a division bench comprising Justice R Sudhakar and Justice P N Prakash.

The case relates to a habeas corpus plea filed on behalf of 17 persons involved in three distinct cases of murder, conspiracy and unlawful assembly in Tiruvallur.It claimed that the sessions court had on December 21, 2015 found them guilty and sentenced them to varying degree of imprisonment. Calling their imprisonment `illegal confinement', their counsel argued that the first additional district and sessions judge also failed to sign on every page of the verdict as required by law.

The division bench, however, dismissed the petition.

On the language issue, the judges pointed out that the trial judge had conducted a full-fledged trial in Tamil and the accused were informed they were being convicted, and were questioned on the sentence. The order was passed thereafter.

How widespread is the knowledge of English in India?

58% Of Rural Teens Can Read Basic English/ 2018

Manash Gohain, Bharat now showing craving for English, January 22, 2018: The Times of India

How widespread is the knowledge of English in India, as in January 2018
From: Manash Gohain, Bharat now showing craving for English, January 22, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

How widespread is the knowledge of English in India, as in January 2018

58% Of Rural Teens Can Read Basic English: Survey

In a marker of the growing appeal of English in India’s countryside, more than 58% of rural teenagers were able to read sentences in the language during a survey of 30,000 children across 24 states.

The survey, for the recently released Annual School Education Report 2017 (ASER 2017), also found that an overwhelming majority (79%) of children who could read English also understood the meaning of the sentences. The ability to read English sentences was found in 53% of 14-year-olds and it increased to 60% among 18-year-olds.

The figures are significant as thesurvey was done among rural teens (aged14 to18), 25% of whom could not still read basic text fluently in their own language. The increasing proficiency in English correlates with growing aspiration among the children surveyed, 60% of whom want to study beyond Class XII. By contrast, just 35% of those who could not read Class II level text fluently wanted to continue studiesbeyond ClassXII.

The age group selected for the survey is also the first batch of the Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, which guarantees elementary schooling to all children in the age group of 6-14 years. The ASER 2017 indicates that a large proportion of 14- to 18-year-olds can at least read simple texts. Based on a sample of nearly 30,000 kids from 26 rural districts, ASER 2017 gives a snapshotof thelivesof these young adults. More than 85% of them are in the formal education system.

Ashok K Ganguly, educationist and former CBSE chairperson, attributed the rise in interest in English in rural schools to growing awareness among parents about the importance of the language. “Parents are realising that their kids have to compete at the national level. Knowledge of English is also need to succeed in professional courses. So parents have started motivating their wards to learn English... which was not the case 10-15 years back,” Ganguly said.

Ganguly felt that language skillswere notbeing given due importance in our schooleducation.He ruedthefact that while prioritising English, local languages were losing out. “If kids are good in the mother tongue they can learn English and other languages better,” he added.

In exploring the language capabilities of the youth, tasks were designed that included both academic or textbook/curricular activity as well as functional day-to-day type of tasks. Different methods were used such as reading and comprehension using an oral one-on-one method as well as the pen-paper format. It was seen that administering a pen-paper testwas not suitable in a household setting and did not engage the youth or the community.

Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International, Delhi, saidthe growing importance of English was not just a perception, but a “fact.”

“The motivation for this is the perception that if you have to progress, go for higher studies and get a good job, you have to be proficient in English.”

1971> 2018

Hemali Chhapia, English gaining strength as link language, reveals study, August 22, 2020: The Times of India

Even as the National Education Policy advocates a three-language formula, recent research from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research shows that though Hindi is the dominant language of India, English as a link language is “gaining strength”, reports Hemali Chhapia.

Changes in the distribution of Indians speaking in their mother tongue suggest that the probability of two individuals from a particular state having the same mother tongue would decline and English will emerge as lingua franca, according to researchers at the institute. Their study concludes that the probability of two Indians being able to converse in a common language has increased from 0.18 in 1971 to 0.23 in 2011 owing to a surge in bilingualism brought on by changes in schooling and inter-state migration.

Kids studying in English doubled to 23% in 10 yrs

The proportion of children studying in English almost doubled from 12% to 23% between 2007-08 and 2017-18. Many states changed the medium of education in government-run schools. This, in turn, increased the probability of a randomly drawn person from a state being able to converse with a random person from the rest of India.

“There has been clear shift in preference of parents since they are enrolling children in English-medium schools. This would suggest that English will emerge as a link language in the coming generations,” said Leena Bhattacharya and S Chandrasekhar in their recently released paper titled, “India’s Search for Link Language and Progress towards Bilingualism”.

Between 1971 and 2011, the proportion of Indians who could speak a scheduled language in addition to their mother tongue increased from 12.2 to 24.8%, says the study. And a comparison of data from 2001 and 2011 indicates that the proportion of bilinguals is the highest in the age group 15-29 years.

However, the probability of a conversation in a common language other than the mother tongue is currently better in the northern states where Hindi is the dominant language, whereas in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the probability has declined between 1971 and 2011 by 11 and 19 percentage points, respectively. Among the southern states, too, there is a decline. “One plausible reason would be the inflow of out-of-state migrants,” says the research.

Spoken English

As in 2011

The percentage of people in India, state-wise, who could speak English as their first, second or third language in 2011
Courtesy: statsofindia.in

See graphic "The percentage of people in India, state-wise, who could speak English as their first, second or third language in 2011"

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