There are no organic English speaking and writing intellectuals from the agrarian Shudra communities. The double standards of the Brahmin, Bania elite must be fought with the same weapon that they control the lower castes with: first with Sanskrit and now English.
I appeal to all the Shudra/OBC/SC/STs to celebrate the Indian English Day on 5 October, 2018 as we have no significant place in the world of English even after 200 years of English education in India. We need to own the language as ours and learn it with vengeance. We have never been allowed to learn any Pan Indian or global language for millennia. Even now, the conspiracy of English educated Brahmin/Bania intellectuals is to deny this language of power and glamour to us.
English teaching for the Indian Brahmin children started in the year 1817 on 5 October, which coincided with my birthday, much later in 1952. I was born in a shepherd family which had no right to education in any language. However, I went to Telugu medium school in the early sixties and learned the English language I speak and write on my own with an undaunted struggle. I then realized this language has the power to liberate education starved SC/ST/OBC/Shudras for centuries.
The Indian Christians taught English only to Brahmins and Banias but not to the Shudra/OBC/SC/STs for a long time. Now scores of world-class English medium private schools, colleges and universities are coming up with the tacit support of the ruling Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Even now the best Christian and Non-Christian private schools only teach Brahmin, Bania, Kayastha and Khatris as they have economic resources at their command. As a result, Delhi is being ruled by these four castes, no matter who is the Prime Minister of the country. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, though non-English speaking Banias, rule politics. All the top industrialists, politicians, bureaucrats, economists, media men, women, educationists, mainly coming from those four castes with good command over English rule India.
The complete control of the RSS over central power structures has not changed the power position of the Bania, Brahmin English class of India. The English speaking and writing intellectuals (most of them are BJP spokespersons on English TV channels) cannot win elections, hence get into Rajya Sabha as Arun Jaitley, (earlier Arun Shourie did), Nirmala Sitharaman, Prakash Javadekar, Ravishankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, Swapan Dasgupta, Rakesh Sinha, GVL Narsimha Rao did and so on. They became rulers and policy makers. Hardly any Shudra/OBC/SC/STs exist in this crop of rulers.
During the Congress regime, Manmohan Singh, Jairam Ramesh, Abhishek Singhvi, Manish Tiwari, Janardhan Dwivedi and so on, used the same channel of entry to get power. This caste- class that controls the nerve centre of the nation is in every major national political party.
The present English speaking and writing intellectuals, who rule India through Rajya Sabha, are strong RSS army men and women. Hence it now says the “RSS is not opposed to the English language” and wants the English education to remain in the private sector but not in the state sector.
It is fully supporting the establishment of private schools, colleges and universities by the top 20 monopoly companies—including Reliance, Adani, Vedanta, Lakshmi Mittal, Bharti group, Azim Premji and so on. They are establishing rich private English medium schools and colleges and universities in which no SC/ST/OBC/Shudra from rural areas can get in.
Even though a section of Jats, Gujjars, Patels, Marathas that are fighting for reservation could afford it because of their hold on the agrarian economy, they never realized its importance. They were or are mad linguistic chauvinists of their regional language. This is what the Brahmin, Bania English educated elite want so that the power of English could remain in their hands.
The Shudra agrarian castes have never understood the link between English education and Delhi’s power. After four years of RSS/BJP rule, they seem to have realized that the Brahmin, Bania forces have become more powerful than ever before. Hence many are asking for reservation but the English educated forces in the top judicial system will not allow that to happen. It is this English educated class that interprets the constitution, mostly in the favour of its own self.
The ST/SC/OBC/Shudra children and youth can never get into these institutions as they could not enter the best Catholic schools and colleges like St. Stephen’s of Delhi or St. Xavier’s of Mumbai for several decades. Now they cannot get into the rich private universities because they lack that kind of elite English and money.
The lower caste, community children have only one way to get the English medium education. They have to force the state governments of all states to make all government schools teach in English medium. For that, these castes and communities must overcome the hatred and fear of English education and fight for that language medium in government schools.
All the major public and private schools, colleges and universities run in English medium where the presence of Shudras like Marathas, Patels, Gujjars, Jats, Kammas, Reddys, Lingayats are marginal, leave alone that BC/SC/STs. Unless these castes take the initiative, the Government sector will not change the language policy in the provinces.
The very same English educated Brahmin, Bania intellectuals injected anti-English culture into the psyche of lower castes. They also injected a fear that no first-generation school going children can learn English, as it is a foreign language. They never let the examples like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or this author, who not only learned but mastered English without even going to the Christian or Non-Christian English medium schools within one generational learning of reading and writing. They do not let them realize that English is the easiest language that the children from the productive castes and communities could learn.
The higher Shudras like Marathas, Patels, Jats, Gujjars and so on, realized, of late, that their position in the Delhi power structure, in the national and international markets, is very poor because of lack of English education and reservations. Their feudal estates, the landed properties, no longer allow them to control the power structures of Delhi or the massive capitalist industries and markets, both in India and abroad.
They are slowly realizing about the link between bureaucratic power and globalized English language-controlled market system. Their feudal estates are shifting into the hands of monopoly industrialists in the form of special economic zones. The old Shudra feudals have now become rich farmers without understanding modern markets and the new Mall Economy. They are just sellers of produce in that market.
In one of my recent interactions with one of the richest Private English Medium Universities, The Ashoka University Haryana, among the alumnae who have undergone high-end leadership training course, there was not a single Jat or Gujjar, or Patel. They were all Brahmin, Banias with sympathy for poor and lower castes. There are no organic English speaking and writing intellectuals from the agrarian Shudra communities. They need motivation for English medium education.
Each year, the Shudra/OBC/SC/ST exclusion from the main market of India is increasing. Top industries, both hardware and software, is run by the Banias and Brahmins who have international standard English education that is acquired both in foreign and Indian schools, colleges and universities. All ideological forces, the right, left and liberal Brahmin, Banias are comfortable with the present private English medium education and regional language ghettoized in government sector education.
The Shudra/OBC/SC/STs must break this monopoly of the caste/community elite. The lower caste forces must begin to celebrate English language education as Indian. The double standards of the Brahmin, Bania elite must be fought with the same weapon that they control the lower castes with: first with Sanskrit and now English. Therefore, the new slogan “Bahujan Bache English Pado, Brahmin Bache Sanskrit Pado,” makes sense.
The youth from all the Shudra/OBC/SC/ST communities should not remain in the regional language trap and in the grip of the propaganda that English is a foreign language. English has become a very powerful Indian language that controls the power, industry and communication structures of India. It has survived here more than two hundred years. Hence, we must own it, learn it and rule the nation through it.
Therefore, celebrate the birth of that language on 5th October to motivate ourselves.
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is the Chairman, T-MASS and political theorist. He is the Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.