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Politics of Development in Postcolonial India

English-Medium Education and Social Fracturing

While education in English has been advocated as a unifying and modernising force, it is also seen as a marker of imperialism and class privilege and a terrain of struggle among elite groups. Ruptures in such a class-divided educational system in turn shape specific debates over development, democracy and social change. Uneven empowerment that an education in English generates also has its fallout in an increasing polarisation, fracturing and violence against caste, gender and religious lines.
class divided system of education has played a central role in moulding the processes and patterns of uneven development and dis/enfranchisement in postcolonial India. In much of urban India, there prevail two systems of education English-medium and vernacular-medium.1 On an individual level, English-medium education has been a ticket to vertical mobility in Indian society. At the societal level, English-medium education has played a critical role in producing what Kothari calls a modernised technomanagerial elite that continues to have disproportionate influence in shaping the discursive terrain of development, and thereby policies and programmes that affect the social fabric of the country. Less visibly, English-medium education widens social fractures in Indian society by creating and reinforcing a social, cultural, economic, and discursive divide between the English-educated and the majority. In this essay, we consider how Englishmedium educational institutions in Indian cities facilitate economic and cultural disenfranchisement by acculturating new members of the expanding middle class and those moving into modern technical and managerial careers. This is not to suggest that vernacular-medium education is either egalitarian or free of a political agenda quite the contrary.2 Rather, our aim here is to highlight the role of Englishmedium education in creating ruptures between the past and the future of upwardly mobile students in terms of their cultural understandings, their ideas about

the nation, and their beliefs about development. We argue that these ruptures, along with a devaluation of vernacular values and perspectives, make it difficult to communicate meaningfully across the class/linguistic divide. We make our argument using what might be called a materially-grounded postmodernist approach. According to Grewal and Caplan (1994:2) postmodernism is critique of modernist agendas as they are manifested in various forms and locations around the world. A materially-grounded postmodernism, then, can highlight the ways that difference is contextually constructed along multiple dimensions at the nexus of processes operating at scales ranging from the global to the body. Such an approach helps us to navigate between theoretical approaches that are homogenising and those that are relativist [Grewal and Caplan 1994:2]. Postmodernist critiques of development such as Escobars have made important contributions to understanding how development institutions give shape to and reproduce discourses and practices that serve the particular interests of the middle and upper classes even as they masquerade as universal. Institutional practices according to Escobar (1995:105) are crucial because they contribute to producing and formalising social relations, divisions of labour, and cultural forms. Thus, for Escobar (1995:105), discourse, political economy and institutional ethnography must be woven together in order to understand how development works. Educational institutions are another site

of construction of particular discourses of nation, citizenship, modernity and development, as is insightfully elucidated by Srivastavas (1998) institutional ethnography of the elite Doon School as a site of elaboration of a particular Indian liberalism and citizenship project. Srivastava (1998:13) illuminates the process through which a wide range of seemingly conflicting positions in the discursive formation of the postcolonised nation state become imbricated and produce an agreement one which is built around the truths of modernity. Advanis (1996) work complements Srivastavas, showing how curriculum, particularly state-produced English textbooks, are another site of the same project. Both explore the bond that unites modernity and the functioning of capital; and the manner in which it marginalises those who are seen to fall outside its ken [Srivastava 1998:168]. Our essay expands upon these studies by investigating how, in postcolonial north India, members of non-westernised, non-elite social groups are initiated into the techno-managerial elite and simultaneously acculturated into global cultural processes through Englishmedium schools. The next section of this paper briefly sketches the role that English-medium education has served in India historically. We subsequently use interviews conducted in the city of Lucknow in the mid-1990s to explore the compulsions of middle class families to send their children to Englishmedium schools and the responses of those students and their neighbours to this


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educational experience. Finally, we reflect on the relationship between English-medium education in north India and widening social cleavages by highlighting the contradictory ways in which such institutions help to create and legitimise the social hierarchies and inequalities associated with the contemporary models of development, even as they open doors for individual advancement and create an advanced techno-managerial workforce.

Indias English-Medium Schools: Modernity vs Social Fracturing

A sketch of the history of Englishmedium education in India will demonstrate that such education has always been political. Todays English-speaking elite and the social fractures created by English education have their beginnings in colonial times [Kumar 1991]. In her study of English education in colonial India, Viswanathan (1989:167) emphasises the importance of studying curriculum, not as a receptacle of texts, but as an activity and as a vehicle for acquiring and exercising power.3 She argues that colonial education in India was always geared towards furthering colonial rule. In the early 19th century the British introduced English literary study to the Indian curriculum as a way of inculcating English morals without directly placing European religion in conflict with Indian religions [Viswanathan 1989]. By the late 1850s, there was a shift in emphasis to using English as a branch of practical, rather than moral, study and a corresponding emphasis on the rhetoric of social stratification and division of labour [Viswanathan 1989: 142-43]. The moral motive, which brought English literature into the Indian curriculum in the first place to reinforce notions of social duty, obligation, and service to the state, is disengaged from English studies as a result of British apprehensions that their Indian subjects were being encouraged to rise above their stations in the name of selfimprovement and so challenge the authority of the ruling power. The humanistic idea of education was revised to one that sought to confirm individuals in the social class into which they were born [Viswanathan 1989: 143-44]. From an 1854 dispatch on education evolved an educational scheme that set out to create a middle class serving as an agency of imperialist economy and administration and, through it, to initiate social change

through a process of differentiation [Viswanathan 1989:146]. It is worth noting, however, that this curricular change did not prevent the growth of a nationalist movement imbued with some of the ideals that the British had hoped to short circuit. The process of social differentiation through the medium of English has continued unabated after independence. First, the dual system of education prevailing in India is class divided, with Englishmedium schools being accessible primarily to families with more resources. For example, Shukla (1996:1349) observed that (p)rivatisation and separate schools for the well-off are being resorted to in increasing measure, with the English/nonEnglish distinction tending to coincide with the private/public management dichotomy. A divided system leading to an even more divided society appears inevitable. Second, English serves as the language of expertise and management in post-colonial India. Dasgupta (1993) notes that politicians, whether from the left, right, or centre have helped in preserving the role of English as a language that intentionally or unintentionally perpetuates the centrist development discourse and agendas.
(O)ur national consensus on letting experts run the development process has led us all to surrender our discourse to English as the language of expertise, and has eclipsed the serious national discourses which nonetheless continue to take place at the regional level, in the regional languages, in accordance with dialogic conventions which are deep-rooted in the history of Indian discourse which our official theories have remained incapable of taking cognisance of, because our standard conception of development has forced us to surrender not only our freedom but even the language of our thought to the workaholic frenzy that passes for modernity [Dasgupta 1993:219].

munication with Richa Nagar, February 14) between the English-speaking elites and the non-English-speaking majority. English-medium educational institutions help to construct this divide by providing not only linguistic skills but also a set of value laden technical and managerial tools that are presented as value neutral. They also inculcate particular values, world-views, and ideologies of modernisation and development that, in turn, tend to legitimate and increase the economic gaps between rich and poor [Srivastava 1998]. In a multilingual, multicultural postcolonial society such as Indias, the widening of this discursive divide between the modern elite classes and the marginalised masses brings into question the compatibility between the institutions of the liberal-democratic state governed through representative democracy and the political and economic processes engendered by the current phase of globalisation [P Jha, Personal Communication with David Faust, March 8, Kothari 1993]. In order to understand how families select English-medium education and its effects, the next section uses interviews to explore the experiences of middle class women and men from Lucknow.

Costs of Upward Mobility Middle Class Experiences

To gain a deeper understanding of how people experience the politics of education in their everyday lives, we interviewed 20 men and women in the city of Lucknow. Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is a medium sized city with a population of just over two million. Although the size of the English-speaking elite here is considerably smaller than in cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, Lucknow is one of the few cities in the Hindi belt from where a significant number of middle class urbanites educated in the English-medium get recruited into the elite class. The middle class is an important group for this study because of the particular social position it occupies in relation to the politics of education and development. The particular choices and constraints they face with respect to English and vernacular-medium education makes the members of the middle class deeply cognisant of the manner in which economic advancement and social prestige are intimately connected with acquisition of English-medium education. English-medium education is widely seen by this group as the primary means to gain

Dasgupta does not go far enough in recognising the fact that, while the development discourse has no doubt brought together an international cadre of Englishtrained, like-minded elites, there is also a significant, English-trained, scientificallyskilled counter-elite that is having a degree of success in problematising the politics (and economics and ecology) of development both domestically and internationally. Yet, what is important to recover from Dasguptas comments is the suggestion that there are not only significant class and linguistic divides, but also a discursive divide (P Jha, Personal Com-

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upward mobility, yet for this group it is often either just within or just out of reach and it, therefore, requires sacrifices. School fees are costly for many middle class families and there can be other hurdles to admission, such as selection interviews or required donations. And it is the experiences of first-generation English-medium school attendance and the rifts created at the level of the individual student, the household, and the neighbourhood that can provide insights into the broader social ruptures facilitated by the dual educational system. The following analysis is based on interviews with middle class women and men of various ages, who were either educated in the Hindi-medium or who constituted the first generation of Englishmedium school-goers in their families, and sometimes in their neighbourhoods. Their narratives highlight how members of the middle class, differentiated variously by their backgrounds, aspirations, and genders, view and experience the dual system of education, the uneven social marginalisation and empowerment embedded in this structure, and the ruptures created by English-medium education. As in other parts of India, the best Englishmedium schools in Lucknow are privately owned and managed, and the costs associated with them are increasing rapidly as is the demand for these schools, especially in the face of steadily worsening quality of Hindi-medium government schools [Kumar 1996:61]. Selection interviews for well known English-medium schools are frequently conducted in English with both parents and children, and parents who are not fluent in English feel that their chances of getting their children admitted are much worse in this selection process. Furthermore, gaining admission to such schools can also require costly donations. For example, a news story from Lucknow indicated that in the mid-1990s, donations ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 were required to gain admission to top Englishmedium schools [Team 1996:1]. Nonetheless, parents educated in the Hindi-medium often feel compelled to educate their children in English-medium schools. This is not only because such education provides an entry ticket into the elite class but, perhaps more importantly, because of the discrimination and humiliation they increasingly suffer in their own lives for not knowing English, or for not knowing it well enough in specific contexts. English has come to prevail in

more and more social spaces, and those educated in Hindi-medium schools often feel peripheralised. A 35-year old lower middle class man who does not speak English but is educating his two daughters in English-medium schools, pointed out that:
Children who are educated in Englishmedium schools enjoy a higher social status in every way...There are more job opportunities for the English speakers...If you are interviewing in English, the job is guaranteed...I know that accepting the superiority of English is like following the herd mentality, but my wife and I want to educate our daughters in English-medium schools so that they dont suffer the same disadvantages that we did. It is even hard to find a suitable match for your daughters these days if they are not educated in the English medium.4

A 53-year old woman who has been teaching Hindi in a well known primary school of Lucknow since 1972, expressed how her reasons for educating her three children in English-medium schools were closely connected with the hurt and discrimination that she herself suffered for not knowing English:
I still remember the pain I felt when I went to my [eight-year old] daughters school and she didnt let me come inside her class because she was afraid that her classmates would laugh at her because I did not know English. If I had been educated in English, I wouldnt get insulted like that...With English-medium education, I would have got a promotion and a much higher salary in my school. I have a Masters degree in Hindi and a teachers training diploma and I have been teaching for 20 years in that school. Yet, 18 or 20-year old women who have been educated in the English medium, join straight after college and start from a salary thats at least twice as high as mine. And on top of that when parents come to see me in school I am always worried about my English. Since the last five years, the management has made it compulsory for school children to speak in English at all times except during the Hindi class. And if the teacher cant show off her English, the parents think she is worthless.5

The above testimonies point out, in subtle but forceful ways, the symbolic and material power that comes from Englishmedium education, and the manner in which those who do not speak English experience social marginalisation and disenfranchisement. The material dimension of this disenfranchisement is evident

in the lack of well-paid jobs for those educated in the vernacular medium. The symbolic dimension [Bourdieu 1990] of this disenfranchisement is apparent in the greater prominence and recognition that English speakers enjoy in public life, and in the humiliation and peripheralisation suffered by those educated in the vernacular medium.Those educated in the Englishmedium often use derogatory labels, such as vernacs or Hindi Medium Type (HMT) (derived from the popular acronym for the company, Hindustan Machine Tools) to mock those educated in the vernacular medium.6 English education, along with the changes in attitude, lifestyles, mannerisms, and aspirations that it brings, becomes a form of cultural capital that brings higher economic and cultural status for those who have access to English education and disenfranchises those who cannot gain access to it. It is their keen familiarity with the benefits bestowed by an Englishmedium education and with the economic marginalisation and social indignity suffered by those who cannot speak fluent English, that compels middle class families to enrol their children in Englishmedium schools. The recognised role of English-medium schools is to give their students access to social prestige and well paid jobs. These schools, however, also engender a process of social fracturing which alienates students, particularly those who come from vernacular backgrounds, from their own families. This alienation is often gendered, class-based, and generational; mothers, aunts, grandparents, and members of lower castes and classes become more distanced for the students, who increasingly come to identify with the culture of the English speakers.7 This social fracturing begins through the construction of different spaces that create rifts in their lives. The geographic fracture is between the Englishmedium school the space of modernity, and home and neighbourhood the spaces of tradition. A 25-year old recalled the sense of alienation she experienced when she was first admitted to an Englishmedium school, while at the same time pointing out the irony of the material privileges that such education brought for her.
(F)or me (that school) was a prison. Nothing could provide a more shocking contrast to my home and familial relationships, my neighbourhood, the kids I played with, and the people who I was attached to. As soon as I started going there, I lost my voice.


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I had to translate my feelings and experiences in order to communicate, and I could not do that...Going to that school at the age of nine meant loss of selfexpression for me. Yet, ironically, when I grew up, it gave me choices that I could have never dreamed of had I not been educated in that school.8

ests because five years ago, I wasnt accepted by my upper class classmates. I was afraid of them. But now I am accepted and admired by the same people.9

teenaged neighbours are educated in English-medium schools, summed it up well when he remarked:
English-medium students never talk to Hindi-medium students as equals. They talk to us as if they rule us...When I was a kid, I used to think that children who spoke English were cleverer than us. But now I know that it doesnt matter if we are smarter or better students. It is only those with English education who will always be considered superior to us, and who will become big and famous in the future.11

The references to the loss of voice and self-expression that the narrator makes in above quotation symbolise the cost of upward mobility for those who come from vernacular backgrounds. The above testimony also vividly illustrates Kumars argument that when children whose only competence is in their mother tongue meet children studying in English-medium schools (they) face public evidence of their crucial handicap, namely, the lack of English language skills. The evidence induces the inevitable desire to stay silent rather than reveal ones handicap. In symbolic terms, the desire translates into loss of ones voice [Kumar 1996:71-72]. For some, this process of alienation occurs not in childhood but at a later stage when they enter professional institutions to become the experts of the technomanagerial culture. A 23-year old engineer expressed that his admission to an Englishmedium engineering school (Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi) alienated him from his family and neighbours, but provided him with a cultural capital that aided his entry into the elite class:
When I first joined my engineering school at 17, I was a misfit. I was not into boozing or smoking or body building or English music and films. I didnt eat out in expensive places...So...everyone [in my hostel thought] I was stingy and boring. Soon enough, I had to learn to drink and smoke, I had to learn to love Heavy Metal, and I had to learn to enjoy eating out and spending money. Before going to that school, my reading interests were diverse...I read a lot of Hindi fiction and Hindi magazines. In the technology institute, people read computer journals and stuff about automation and production. I did not even understand that stuff but I felt pressured to look at them. I started reading English books and English fiction there. All my Hindi reading was left behind. There my philosophy was: In Rome, do as Romans do. But even when I left that school, those changes stayed with me. And now due to my professional field [it is hard for me to return] to my old interests even though my new life alienates me from my family and neighbours. I have continued to move in the direction of my new inter-

A set of technical skills and the ability to speak English are, therefore, not the only pre-requisite of becoming a part of the techno-managerial elite. To truly become a part of the elite, one has to adopt a new set of cultural values (including English reading, western music, and expensive restaurants) and give up the old habits that intimately connected that person to her/his familial and neighbourhood environment. While some feel suffocated by the necessity of making this choice (see Sujatas testimony above), others accept it as a change they must undergo to become a part of a privileged social strata (e g, Prachetas testimony). Thus, while English-medium education may provide a bridge across the class divide, one must often discard ones inherited cultural baggage to cross it successfully. The majority of the people who are educated in the vernacular medium inhabit the other side of the social divide. They feel that a huge social and cultural gulf divides them from the English-speaking elite. A 37-year old, lower middle class man who was educated in the Hindimedium, commented:
An English speaker always wants to show himself off as separate from us, the common people. And in doing so, he distances himself from the traditions, customs, and values of his society. Those educated in English-medium schools have a hard time understanding basic things that I learn naturally from my social context. This is because they are alienated from the culture of common people. Their world is totally different from ours.10

Furthermore, this social, cultural, economic and political fragmentation leads to increasingly unequal access to resources and power in a period of growing transnational networks among the elite. Under the liberalising trade regime, the elite see their futures as tied to the global economy and increasingly detached from the future of the common people. In fact, some of the people we interviewed in 1995-96 linked a steadily increasing dominance of English with the restructuring of the global and national economies, and the globalisation of culture in which the Englishspeaking national elite benefit from transnational capitalism while the ordinary people are left out. This sentiment resonates with GPDs (1996) view of elites as a cultural compradore who speak English to do business with multinationals and speak the vernacular to mesmerise the unsuspecting masses. For example, a 57year old middle class man who was educated in the Hindi-medium, remarked:
Western thinking and consumerist behaviour is increasingly dominating our middle class youth...The lure of the materialist culture and the dominance of the corporate culture are the main reasons why everyone wants to go to the US. The increasing preoccupation with English is connected to this lure of the US....MNCs and industrialists are benefiting greatly from the promotion and growth of English in this country. Management has suddenly become a big profession in India because corporations and industries want to capture markets here...and hundreds of management schools have sprung up. But every qualifying test, every special training programme and every competitive exam is in English. To get two jobs, 200 Indians are forced to study English...The propagation of electronics and computers have also led to the worshipping of English. ...Last year, there was a hike in the cost of newsprint so prices of Hindi newspapers doubled. But the English newspapers cost

The point made above about separation and distance between us and the English speakers is an important one. This, combined with contrasting sets of values and priorities and significantly different ways of constructing the world constitutes the discursive divide between the elite and the common people. What makes this divide problematic, however, is not so much that it exists but the fact that it translates into unequal access to power, authority and social status. The cultural capital delivered by English education is recognised from a very early stage, particularly by those who do not have access to it. A 16-year old Hindi-medium college student from a lower middle class background, several of whose

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half as much as the Hindi newspapers because English newspapers are full of advertisements of industries, firms, business pages, jobs, and matrimonial advertisements. Hindi newspapers get none of these advertisements. As a result, ...middle class people like myself who would rather read the Hindi newspaper, are being forced to buy the English newspaper...The promotion of English in recent years has a lot to do with the demise of the public sector and the celebration of the private sector in India...[and] the rise of the MNCs. The alliance between the new culture and the new money is disconnecting the common person from the popular media, and it is breaking the back of the common person...What will people educated in Hindi-medium do? They will die of starvation!12

status of sociality as an externality which nobody takes into account in determining his or her behaviour in an atomistic, individualistic context [Marglin 1990:21]. At a personal level, students of Englishmedium schools experience the discursive divide and loss of sociality most painfully as alienation within the vernacular spaces of family and the neighbourhood. At a broader scale, the social values, beliefs, and practices that are basic to the culture of the common people become unimportant in the eyes of English-speaking elite who do not recognise their meaning or significance. It is this process of social distancing that makes the common people what Banuri (1990:46) refers to as a blocked majority:
[T]he effect of legitimation provided by modernising theories as well as by supportive institutions (the school, the media, the state) can be seen to have created a blocked majority in the third world countries, whose values and ideas are being rejected by its children as being irrelevant for the problems facing them.

We quote Pratap at length because his testimony vividly illustrates Kumars (1996:71) concern that dependence on an Indian language has become a symbol of deprival under the circumstances created by the ascendance of English in a neocolonial context. As English increasingly becomes the language of social advantage and exciting economic opportunities, those educated in state-run vernacular schools face a chronically unfair compulsion to participate in the mainstream market economy from a weak position [Kumar 1996:71].

Reflections Questions for the Future

Foregoing discussions have shown some of the reasons why middle class people who are not of English-speaking background feel compelled to send their children to English-medium schools, and how those students feel forced to give up their cultural values in exchange for the anticipated benefits of a higher socio-economic status. The incorporation of the middle class youth into an English-speaking elite is accompanied by increasing alienation from the lives, experiences, and values of the common people. In this way, a discursive divide between those who are English educated and those who are not, is reinforced. This discursive divide threatens the very foundation of the community the web of social interaction and relationships which Appadurai calls sociality [Marglin 1990:21]. Maintaining this sociality becomes increasingly difficult, not only due to political, economic, and social trends towards increasing commodification and consumerism; but also because of the

Thus, English-medium education in India plays a central role in shaping the discourses around modern social institutional structure and existing class inequalities, while also widening and deepening social gulfs between the privileged elite and the common people to an unprecedented degree. The role of English and Englishmedium education has been a perennial subject of political debate in postcolonial India, but market forces and globalisation are having their own impacts on linguistic diversity. In the interest of efficiency, globalisation processes produce pressure for the homogenisation of language, and in multilingual India, market forces, the mass media and the state are supporting the creation and spread of a few common languages at the expense of the majority of regional languages and dialects [Mohan 1995]. Shukla (1996:1349) sees English gradually but inevitably asserting its dominance internationally in southern Asia, even as spheres of autonomy are preserved, primarily by Chinese and Japanese. In light of these conditions how do we think about a progressive politics of language? On the one hand, English has been advocated as a unifying and modernising force in India and an international link to the latest ideas and technologies. On the other hand, it is seen as a marker of imperialism and class privilege and a terrain of struggle among elite groups [Sheth 1999,

Sontag 1996 (a and b)]. Sontag makes an instructive contrast between the linguistic politics of Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh and Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar. She suggests that because of their class and caste background, both need a political strategy that validates common speech, thus Mulayam Singh Yadav introduced policies to banish English in UP, an approach that can be coopted by traditional Hindi-speaking elites. By contrast Laloo Prasad Yadav sought to reintroduce compulsory English in Bihars schools and thereby hijack English, making it available to the masses as a boon to employability [Sontag 1996b]. Sontags formulation highlights the divide between elitesponsored Sanskritised Hindi and the vernaculars, and the fact that English does not have to be the sole preserve of elites. This recalls Sheths (1990) argument that a progressive language politics should emphasise universal high quality training in English as a second language while phasing out English-medium education. There is a need to further explore the contradictory impulses and political possibilities created at the intersection of the class-divided educational system with the current round of globalisation in the context of postcolonial India. On the one hand we need to explore more fully how the ruptures created by this education shape the specific debates over development, democracy and social change. For example, a growing amnesia about the poor [Kothari 1993] means that the social and


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economic transformations favoured by elites (who, themselves are heterogeneous and struggling for power and wealth) may be incompatible with the needs of the poor, even as the poor are excluded from discussions of nation and development. Protests against elite projects are increasingly likely to be treated as law enforcement problems and met with repression, rather than with negotiation as was more often the case in colonial and early postcolonial India [Kothari 1993;Viswanathan 1989]. Another manifestation of this uneven empowerment and disenfranchisement is the increasing polarisation, fracturing and violence along religious, caste, ethnic and gender lines [Kothari 1993:144]. This situation, furthermore, increases the strains between the formally democratic political institution and the elitist economic machinery.13 On the other hand, we need to map out more clearly some of the counter-impulses and political possibilities potentially opened up (even if paradoxically) within the push by transnational capital to create a class of functionaries (and consumers) in its own image. Among the elements of this project is to better understand the development of the counter-elite and the spaces opened up for this counter elite to mediate a coalition between marginalised social groups and the urban middle class as well as international social movements, NGOs or other progressive elements of an emerging international civil society.14 Conversations about democracy, development, and the nation in India are incomplete without a serious consideration of the manner in which politics of education and language determine whose voice is heard, by whom, and on whose terms. EPW

[Both authors have contributed equally to this paper. We had several discussions with Prabhakara Jha between 1994 and 1996, which were critical in the conceptualisation of this project. We are grateful to him, and to Krishna Kumar, Abdi Samatar, Jim Glassman and Rakesh Chandra for their insightful comments, suggestions, and encouragement.] 1 We recognise that there is a range of Englishmedium educational institutions. Here, however, we are concerned with the upper-tier of English-medium schools in Indian cities, where not only are all subjects taught in English, but extra-curricular activities are also conducted in English. As Kumar (1996:66) points out, the message conveyed by this practice is that the students of these schools will absorb English in their whole personality. Some schools go to the extent of insisting that

peer-group interaction among children also takes place in English. Any tendency children might show to use their mother tongue [or first language] is expressly curbed, often by means of punishment [Kumar 1996:66]. By contrast, the medium of instruction in vernacular schools is usually one of the 13 constitutionally recognised state languages of India. English in these schools is taught as one of the subjects. Vernacular-medium schools are often state-run while the majority of English-medium schools are privately owned and managed. 2 See, for example Kumar (1991), Kumar (1993), Kumar (1994). 3 See also Advani (1996). 4 Nagars interview with Amit, July 15, 1995 (Lucknow). 5 Nagars interview with Poornima, July 18, 1995 (Lucknow). 6 Nagars interviews with Kiran, July 15, 1995; Shalini May 29, 1996 (Lucknow). 7 Nagars interviews with Sujata, July 2, 1995; Rohit, July 5, 1995; Sudha,July 5, 1995; Pratap, July 15, 1995; Ramesh, July 15, 1995; Pracheta, July 18, 1995; Poornima, July 18, 1995; Alok, July 20, 1995; Vishal, July 20, 1995 (Lucknow). 8 Nagars interview with Sujata, July 2, 1995 (Lucknow). 9 Nagars interview with Pracheta, July 18, 1995 (Lucknow). 10 Nagars interview with Ramesh, July 15, 1995 (Lucknow). 11 Nagars interview with Rohit, July 5, 1995 (Lucknow). 12 Nagars interview with Pratap, July 15, 1995 (Lucknow). 13 Although India is a democracy, political leaders who are not members of the English-speaking elite are derided as ignorant, corrupt buffoons by the elite. For example, comical portrayals of political leaders such as Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Phoolan Devi who come from lower-caste and non-elite backgrounds, are common in the homes of English-speaking elite, and often also in English media coverage. At the same time, the dispossessed majority, if they vote, may increasingly vote for leaders who are not part of the English-speaking techno-managerial elite classes, and who favour policies that are not in the interest of these elites. These elites see neither such politicians nor the people they represent as legitimate or as having any standing to critique elite projects. 14 Arundhati Roys intervention in the struggles around the Narmada Valley projects would be an interesting example to explore in this context.

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Economic and Political Weekly

July 28, 2001