Wednesday, June 8, 2011

English: A Necessity or an Option

IIT Bombay has decided to test students in English before they take admission into the esteemed institute. So, apart from the the grueling competition in Maths, Physics and Chemistry tests, students will have to face another ordeal before they get admission into the most coveted engineering college of the country. I find that a very good move as the medium of instruction at IITs is english. So, in order to understand and appreciate what is going on in the classroom, a student must be proficient in English. However, the good thing is those who are not able to pass the English test won't be denied admission to the college but they will have to undergo a bridge course. This would be an intensive preparatory course where students would be taught the basics of English apart from Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

However, in this process, a student would lose a semester and would be able to start his regular engineering studies only after a semester. This might make a few students reluctant in joining IIT Bombay and they might head towards other IITs but still, the overall profile of the students joining IITB would become better. Hope other IITs also follow this American system.

However, a few of us might argue on the fact that this move is not necessary as students who are not so good in English also manage to do all the courses without much difficulty, and hence this would lead to wastage of a semester for a few students. But if we look at the larger perspective, English has become a necessity these days. One needs to be internet savvy and unfortunately, we work in English on internet in our country. It is the language of our corporate conversation and research work, which students have to join after they obtain the engineering degree. So, one needs to have a basic level of understanding and fluency in English. Also, I have noticed that those who are good in English read a lot on internet or through books and/or journals (this might not be true always). And this gives them a lot of information about the world, or the things which happen in the world.

And there are some people, who in the name of patriotism, talk about removing English from our lives and adopting Hindi and other regional languages. I find that ridiculous. When the world is getting flat and we are moving towards more connectivity, removing (in stead of propagating) a common language from among us sounds like talking about going back to the medieval ages. When the biggest competitor of our country (China) is making English compulsory in their schools, we are making the way easier for them this way, I guess.

I am all for preserving our culture, our traditions, and everything we need to in order to have a separate identity but at the same time, having a separate identity doesn't mean keeping the developments and the other people at arms distance. That way we will not reach anywhere! We should, rather, look at countries like Japan and Korea for understanding that technical advancements can be done even without doing away with our cultural strength.

But for that we need to open our eyes and look at the things in a broader light, instead of clinging to our past and shunning everything happening around us!