Written: 7th December, 2009
“India is among the countries with the lowest standards of English in the world according to a recent British Council Survey. Knowledge of English is a prerequisite and an imperative necessity for our progress!” he pompously declared.
Faithful Indians, see. They’re always on the lookout of things that can build our country up. And then they will hold these things sacred and ensure that they remain crystalline.
“I’m not surprised. With people like Shobha De speaking in that terrible mix of English and Hindi, and yet they are acclaimed as some of the best Indian writers at present, is it any wonder that we have that low a ranking on the survey?” he bemoaned.
Indians must be first in everything. Or best. Whichever has the more positive connotation. At least that’s what faithful Indians think. First on the list of countries with the lowest HDI. First on the list of most-polluting-nations. First on the list of countries with the most pedestrian accidents, highest incidents of influenza.
English is our redeemer though, at least this Indian thinks.
“And what is worse, is how we have taken the beautiful language (of progress!), and made the most disgusting literal translations of it. Like this ‘What is your good name?’ business! It’s a translation of the Hindi enquiry ‘aapka shubh naam kya hai’. I think that it is insulting to be asked that question. Does it mean that people have ‘bad names’? Or that within closed circles, they are perhaps known by names that are derogatory?”
Is this a generally respectful world view, emphasizing on reverence for foreign culture? Or an insecurity that comes with being coloured? Is he one of those ‘being-Indian-is-a-dead weight’ people or one of those individuals of heightened awareness, who is the face of Brand Globalization?
What seems to be escaping the notice of this Faithful Indian is that adding the descriptive to the noun and the embellishment to the question, is merely the Indian way of being respectful. Since when has respect been a cultural prerogative?
Besides, English is not our language. We understand perfectly what ‘Meggi nodells,’ ‘Mek Roni,’ ‘Strowbary Milkshake,’ ‘feshion,’ ‘Medicel shop’ and ‘Sound Ok Horn’ is, don’t we? And we’re not doing so bad on the progress front either.
Who are we kidding?
“So is it all right to say ‘Good Morning?' What about 'Happy Birthday?'” I asked him.
Of course. Its polite and mannered. It’s the right way to go about things. It’s an ice breaker, and a positive note to start a relationship on. It is acceptable and expected.
“Are you implying then, that you may want to wish the other, a ‘bad morning’? Or that it even matters to the morning, noon or night, if you wish it well or not?!”
And to think, they call Indians superstitious!