The National Education Policy 2020 has revived an old debate on medium of instruction, especially in primary schools: What role should English have in our education system?
But like all ex-colonies, this question is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
It is worth noting though, that there are actually very few public proponents of English as the medium of instruction for primary school children. The only exceptions are perhaps some Dalit public intellectuals. In contrast, there are many individuals and organisations that speak for and demand vernacular, officially recognised state languages or mother tongues, to be recognised as the medium of instruction at the primary school level. This is especially so in schools supported or run by state governments.
In this situation with so many mother tongue lovers and supporters, it is as though there is the ghost of the English language that mysteriously works its powers and succeeds in not just becoming the language of instruction in high and low income private schools and institutes of learning, but also the language of power and privilege against which the majority of the communities in India have to perpetually fight.
There is no denying that English owes its position as the language of power to colonialism. But it is also true that many of those who speak for the mother tongue are comfortable in English, making them integral to that power structure. So, we need to ask ourselves honestly who these proponents of vernacular medium are.
Do they send their own kids to non-English medium schools? What opportunities do they promise for those who are...