According to the framework of NCERT (2005),
“English in India today is a symbol of people’s aspirations for quality in education and fuller participation in national and international life … The level of introduction of English has now become a matter of political response to people’s aspirations, rendering almost irrelevant an academic debate on the merits of a very early introduction.”
Role and Position of English as a Second Language in India
The national language policy for school education, the three-language formula recommended by the National Commission on Education 1964–1966, was incorporated into the national education policies of 1968 and 1986.
The language policy in Indian education is still something that is in progress. The three-language formula was introduced as a policy to safeguard national and regional interests. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) also raised some serious concerns about language such as the number of languages that need to be taught, the role of Hindi and English, the teaching of Sanskrit, and more. In 1961, the Conference of Chief Ministers simplified the three-language formula and approved the following:
1. The regional language must be used when it is different from the mother tongue.
2. Hindi must be used in Hindi-speaking areas and other Indian languages in non-Hindi-speaking areas.
3. English or some other common European language can be used.
Using the three-language formula has been seen as a convenient strategy to incorporate all the significant languages in education.
According to Graddol (2010),
“Throughout India, there is an extraordinary belief, among almost all castes and classes, in both rural and urban areas, in the transformative power of English. English is seen not just as a useful skill, but as a symbol of a better life, a pathway out of poverty and oppression.”
He further added,
“The challenges of providing universal access to English are signiﬁcant, and many are bound to feel frustrated at the speed of progress. But we cannot ignore the way that the English language has emerged as a powerful agent for change in India.”