Many years ago, a young mother in a small town in northern India told me her dream was to hear her sons abuse in English! I controlled the urge to smile and asked her the reason. She said she had studied in a Hindi-medium school and felt tongue-tied in the presence of those who chatted fluently in English. The mark of fluency, in her view, was the ease with which one hurled invectives in English. That was 15 years ago. The world has changed and fluency in English is taken for granted in the world of work. But English alone will not get one far in the changed world order. There was a time when “foreign language” meant French or Spanish. That era is also swiftly passing. India now contemplates introducing Chinese in its school curriculum. India, however, has wised up to the advantages of learning the language of almost 1.3 billion people rather late in the day. There is an acute shortage of Chinese teachers in the country.
I wonder if the young mother’s dreams have come true and if her sons are English abuse-proficient. Personally, I would consider being proficient in Ch-indi (a mix of Chinese and Hindi) abuse a sign of distinction.
Check out my piece in The Global Times.