Why is English one of the official languages of India?

By: | Post date: 2016-11-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

Writing this so that lots of other people can correct me. And because I keep passing on Mehrdad’s A2As. 🙂

English is neither the official language of UK, US or Australia.

Indeed. The notion of an official language seems to have been ignored in the Anglosphere, simply because they took it as given that the language of the King was the language of government and the public sphere. They did not have any white minorities to take seriously as rivals, and they ignored any non-white minorities.

The exception of course is Canada—hence Official bilingualism in Canada. German was huge in the US back in the day, though the claims that it narrowly missed out on the vote to become an official language are exaggerations: German Almost Became Official Language.

So much for the white Dominions. What about India?

During the Indian Raj, of course, English was an official language, being the colonialists’ language. So why was it kept after 1950?

Languages with official status in India – Wikipedia

During the British Raj, English was used for purposes at the federal level. The Indian constitution adopted in 1950 envisaged that Hindi would be gradually phased in to replace English over a fifteen-year period, but gave Parliament the power to, by law, provide for the continued use of English even thereafter. Plans to make Hindi the sole official language of the Republic met with resistance in some parts of the country. Hindi continues to be used today, in combination with other (at the central level and in some states) State official languages at the state level.

So, it was envisaged that English would be phased out gradually. It hasn’t been, partly because Hindi is not the only indigenous language, and there is resistance from the states. And partly, I assume, because the Indian intelligentsia and middle class are pretty happy about being part of the Anglosphere—as a means to an end.

Let’s get some actual Indians answering this, shall we?

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