PC-the Telugus desk

The Telugu World column# 03

 English-Telugu Medium War Unnecessary

Youth who come from villages are handicapped in not being good at English and so suffer in competitive examinations, job interviews and employment, however brilliant they may be or however well they write in Telugu.

This is deplorable and very unfortunate. Equally deplorable is people being unable to read and write in their mother-tongue,  Telugu. And something has to be done about both these problems.

With the new government of Andhra (yes, it is still new – without a capital) deciding on compulsory English medium at all levels, it is feared that knowledge of Telugu may further decline. The government’s decision, purportedly, was to give rural students the benefit enjoyed by their urban counterparts and also to equip Telugu children achieve their universal goal – of going to the USA for study and jobs. In most big cities of the two states, every second house has someone in the US. 

The sincerity of both the proponents and opponents of the move is doubtful. Both are playing with the lives of innocent children and are not interested in working out a via media – of improving the deplorable standard of teaching of English and allowing study in Telugu for those who want to.

A Telugu organization of the USA (yes, only NRIs and Indians in the US would care) started Pathashala Incorporated, an NGO (called ‘non-profit’ there) to teach Telugu not only in America but also in the non-Telugu states of India. Telugu Association of North America (TANA) is a popular, active organization. India does not even have  a national federation of Telugu associations outside Andhra and Telangana. Big states can even have state level federations, with a national confederation. But can the organization keep caste and dirty politics out?

Every city in the country has Andhra Association or Telugu Mahasabha or even many Telugu organizations. Unfortunately, their activities now are only caste politics and group rivalry to “capture” the management of the set-up. As many of them have their own buildings or premises allotted to them at meagre rents by state governments these groups want to capture the management.  If it has its own building they let out parts of it and make money. 

Some decades ago, a young Telugu man who shifted to Maharshtra tried to join one of these organizations.  He was not of the caste which ‘captured’ it, so the secretary or president whom he approached, asked: “Why do you want to join? You can attend screening of Telugu cinemas every week even without joining.” Showing films was the sole activity of the organization. Even today, in many states, that is all the Telugu organizations do, of course other than playing vote-bank politics during elections (for money, obviously). 

I mailed to several Telugu friends in non-Telugu states about a magazine for Telugus settled outside (earlier I wrote about ‘Pravasi’(ప్రవాసి) magazine of Jameshedpur  – then in Bihar, now in Jharkhand) here. I also suggested that Telugu magazines should have a column for ‘pravaasandhrulu’ (to the best of my knowledge none have it now) to cover news about the activities of their organizations I received very poor response to my crowd funding effort and, a friend  replied in Telugu, using an English proverb: “You can take a horse to water, but cannot make it drink.”

He was right… especially when some donkeys pose as horses.


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