Bangalore: "I fumble for words"

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Nov 1 12:33:21 UTC 2006


How does the chief minister of a state decide to introduce English in
Kannada-medium schools? By citing his own example of not being fluent in
the language.

When Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy trod on the controversial path to
introduce English from Class 1 in government schools, his struggle with
the language as he went about day-to-day administration led to the
historic cabinet decision. " Despite knowing basic English, I find it
difficult to construct sentences, when I speak to people. I fumble for
words while making presentations. I have realised that not being fluent in
English is the biggest handicap in today's competitive world. I do not
want future generations to suffer like me," the CM told The Times of

The state's faulty language policy has prevented rural graduates from
enjoying the benefits of the IT boom. "Many graduates from rural areas who
come to me to seek jobs in IT companies are brilliant and have indepth
professional knowledge in the subject of their specialisation. However,
even if I recommend their names, they fail to get through the interviews
because they are unable to communicate their knowledge well to the
corporate sector," he said. Admitting that it was a challenge to take the
historic decision and that he was committed to implement it, Kumaraswamy
has succeeded where his predecessors failed. Several CMs who initiated the
move to introduce English took the proposal to the cabinet for approval
but failed to get it cleared due to stiff opposition.

"I don't think English will be implemented at the cost of Kannada," he
said. Though Kumaraswamy refuses to be drawn into a controversy over
opposition to the government's decision, from Kannada activists and
litteratuers, his justification is backed by scientific thinking. "It is
universal knowledge that children grasp languages faster than adults. So,
it is only appropriate that we introduce English from the primary school
level itself. We cannot afford to sit back in a highly competitive world.
I want to take Karnataka forward. Lack of English knowledge must not come
in the way," the CM affirmed.


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