Dr Christopher Rollason: BILINGUAL CULTURE BLOG - ENGLISH/SPANISH - CASTELLANO/INGLÉS

A TEMPLE TO THE GODDESS ENGLISH: DALIT EMANCIPATION AND THE ROLE OF ENGLISH IN INDIA

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 I draw your attention to this interesting article, which should surely stimulate
debate around the global role of English:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/asia/17iht-letter17.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=bitter%20truth&st=cse
 New York Times 16 Feb 2011 / International Herald Tribune 17 Feb 2011 (p. 2)
 
Letter From India
India Faces a Linguistic Truth: English Spoken Here
By MANU JOSEPH
(IHT title: Bitter Truth of Indian English)
 
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Extract:
 
“Accepting that English is the national language would have benefits that far outweigh soothing the emotions of Indian nationalism. It is to emphasize this point that Chandra Bhan Prasad has built a temple to the Goddess English in an impoverished village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

People like Mr. Prasad, who want to liberate the poorest segment of the population, the Dalits, through the extraordinary power of English, view Indian culture and all related sentiments with suspicion. It was that same culture that had once deemed the Dalits “untouchable,” relegating them to the lowest of the low in the caste hierarchy.

In Mr. Prasad’s temple, there is an idol in robes, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Very soon, Mr. Prasad said, he would encourage young Dalit couples to include a ritual in their wedding ceremony in which they would sign the letters A, B, C and D on a piece of a paper. “That would be a promise they make that they will teach their children English,” he said.
He also plans to adopt an Islamic tradition and fix a loudspeaker in the temple from which a recorded voice would chant the English alphabet, from A to Z , every day at 5 a.m. All these are just symbolic gestures, he said, and the best he can do in the absence of genuine political support for making English the national language.”

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Chandra Bhan Prasad is a Dalit campaigner and journalist on “The Pioneer” (Delhi). He is a long-standing defender of English as a means to Dalit emancipation. His site is at: www.chandrabhanprasad.com

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