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Importance of English Language in Higher Education

Guest Author’s Profile:-Showick Thorpe is a renowned author of several
competitive examination titles. His General Knowledge titles The Pearson
General Knowledge Manual and The Pearson Concise General Knowledge Manual are
best-sellers.

Article:- Importance
of English Language in Higher Education

Many writers across world agree that English is the
‘queen of languages’. Shri C. Rajgopalachari once wrote “English language is
the greatest gift of Goddess Saraswati to India”. The United Nations
Organization (UNO) has given English the status of an official language. It is
not just because it is one of the most widely spoken languages, but also
because the use of English has made the social and economic exchange between
people of different communities and culturespractically possible. It is well
recognized that English-speaking persons can be traced in all the continents of
the world and is the reason for its importance in the compulsory education of
many countries across the globe. It is not only used in public and private
offices but also in education institutions, media, sports and business. If it
were not for English, we would not have seen India’s heading large corporate or
occupying key positions in organizations across the globe.

India is a country with diverse regions and people
with diverse languages are its citizens. People are so attached, and naturally
so, with their local languages, that they sometimes end up treating people
speaking other languages as foreigners or strangers.As India was a British Colony,
English became an official language of India, for all diplomatic and
administrative conveniences, and thereby came to be widely used in both spoken
and literary contexts. But the reason that English remained an official
language after 1947 is attributed to the fact that as a language it played an
important role in unifying regions with different people under one flag and
constitution. So, English could be rightly termed as the Lingua Franca of
India. In a country where Individual mother tongues number several hundred, and
where over 30 languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers,
English is one common language that  is
used by people from diverse backgrounds in India as an acceptable vehicular languagewith
high levels of adoption over decades.

Historically, since its introduction to India,
English as a language has played an important role in media and education. A
large number of books are published in English in India. India is the third
largest English book producing country after the United States and the U.K.
Indians writers and poets such as Tara Dutta, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Sarojini
Naidu, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy have contributed to the rich literary
tradition of India. Mahatma Gandhi had said,“English is a language of international
commerce, it is the language of diplomacy and it contains many a rich literary
treasure; it gives us an introduction to western thought and culture.”

English is the chief language in the Indian
education system today. All the prestigious schools and colleges use English as
their medium of instruction.Today, careers in the field of science and
technology, business and commerce require a good knowledge of English. Most of
the works in the field of space, nuclear technology, medicine etc. are
available only in English. The vocabulary and terminology used in these are
available in English. Therefore, English has become a passport of getting a
good job not only in India but also abroad in almost all fields. With the
growing importance of computers in every field, the English language has
received a further boost. The Radhakrishna University Education Commission
recommended that “English is a language which is rich in literature—humanistic,
scientific and technical. If under sentimental urges we give up English, we
would cut ourselves off from the living stream of ever-growing knowledge.”

Interestingly, apart from the schooling and
organized education systems prevalent in India, the competitive examination
scenario also reflects importance of English. Most of the general tests, both
the admissions-tests and the job-related tests, have a complete section on
English language. They are designed to test the candidate’s power of
expression, flair in English, comprehension skills, sound vocabulary as well as
correct use of language. English constitutes a major portion of almost all
competitive examinations.

English has taken deep roots in India. It is no more
a typical English spoken in England or in the United States but has acquired an
Indian character.Indians have achieved a great proficiency in it and
haveIndianized it. Such evolution is not limited to the urban population base,
but it is happening across the semi-urban and rural India as well. Due to this
proficiency, the mass of English-speaking Indians that are versed not just
linguistically but have knowledge of diverse industries is increasing, thereby
galvanizing presence of many MNCs especially the BPOs/KPOs to setup their base
in India.In reciprocation, several words from Indian languages have officially
been added to the English dictionaries over the years!

English is an international language. It is the
window to the world. It has become a ‘must have’ to remain in touch with the
outside world. It is a language of opportunity. With the advent of
Telecommunication Industry and the Information Technology Enabled Services
(ITeS) Industry, alongwith the big role Indians have played in the development
of computers and software industry globally, the opportunities are galore for
the English speaking Indians.F.G. French observes that it is only through this
language that we have “distilled essence of modern knowledge in all fields of
human activity. Anyone who can read English can keep in touch with the world
without leaving his own house.”

Sensing the importance of Englishto be not only
national but international the Government of India, along with the State
Governments, have been taking measures to introduce this language at the grass
root level. Recently, there has been a thrust towards running government
schoolsespecially providing instructions in English as a medium. Many models
schools have been established for this purpose. They feel that to able to grasp
education at higher levels, children should be acquainted with it as early as
possible.Sensing the importance of English language and its undeniable role in
nation-building Jawaharlal Nehru had said “we know it a good deal and we have
people who can teach it.” With the ever evolving demands of the competitive
world, if India and Indians are to become a commendable force in 21st century,
we understand his saying holds strong even today.

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