In K’taka, aspirations are rising and govt school education changing

English, Kannada, Education, English medium schools, HD Kumaraswamy, Karnataka, Bengaluru, IT, Affluence, Class, Teachers, the federal, english news website
Students at Municipal Elementary School, Domlur, Bengaluru. Photo: Prabhu Mallikarjunan

Nearly four decades ago, Arjun Singh went for his first job interview. A village bumpkin, Singh had cleared his intermediate (Class 12) exams and was looking for a job in the city of dreams Mumbai. When the interviewer asked him about his qualifications, Singh proudly said he was a village topper. The manager then asked if he spoke any English since it would be essential for working in the big city.

Any villager however talented would have been flustered, but Singh didn’t bat an eyelid. “You see sir,” he said, “I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, because English is a very funny language.”

For those who still don’t recall the incident, it was 1982. Singh was actually Amitabh Bachchan. The movie was Namak Halaal. And Bachchan’s dialogue went on to become the standard joke for India's obsession with the colonial language.

However, what is not funny is that even decades later English proficiency remains the most important job skill in real life. Sampath Kumar, a migrant labourer from Tamil Nadu who works in Bengaluru, knows it well. That is precisely why he wanted his seven-year-old son Damodaran to study in a private school as there were no English-medium government schools in Karnataka until last year.

To continue reading this article...

You have to be a Premium Subscriber

Start your subscription with a free trial

Enjoy unlimited Eighth column, archives and games on
The Federal.com and The Federal APP and many more features.
You will also be supporting ethical and unbiased journalism.
After trial subscription plans start from Rs. 99
Get breaking news and latest updates from India
and around the world on thefederal.com
FOLLOW US: