Reassessing the importance of English teaching

Apropos of your editorial “A welcome decision” (Oct 24), English has undoubtedly come to be recognised as a world phenomenon today. India is the largest country to use English as an official language. The use of English in India which started as a politico-historical accident seems to have now become an economic-academic reality. Several educational commissions have pointed out the need for English as a language of opportunity and development. English is the only means of preventing our isolation from the world and we will act unwisely if we allow ourselves to be enveloped in the folds of a dark curtain of ignorance.

Language is a system for the expression of meaning, for interaction and communication. For teaching English to the young learners, we really need competent teachers who are well versed in the principles of pedagogy, psychology and linguistic skills. After all, the student is not a bench-bound listener, but is taking part in the formulation and may play an active role in it. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”.

English is a window on the world, but in the absence of a clear statement of aims and objectives, both at the lower and higher level, teaching of English will be left erratic, arbitrary and wayward. A clear understanding of the aims and objectives of teaching English in India is for a clear assessment of the value and importance of English for our students vis-a-vis their academic and professional careers.

The acquisition of the language skills in English will continue to be needed by all those seeking higher prospects and opportunities in various spheres of life for many years to come. There should be special emphasis on the English language skills rather than a study of literature. For the lower level, “skill based” courses with a distinct emphasis on reading comprehension and at the higher level comes with greater emphasis on written and spoken English. For using English as a “library language”, skill of reading should be developed. India without English would be less well-off economically, less well-integrated nationally and less important internationally.

ANIL BHATIA, Dept. of English D.N.College, Hisar


Vajpayee on PoK

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a public meeting the other day told Pakistan to vacate the Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK) which is over one-third of the entire territory of Kashmir. However, I am afraid, Pakistan will not give up as it has been occupying it for past 55 years, illegally though. In this case, however, the occupation was done after the dispute was taken to the United Nations which said that both sides should continue to occupy the areas they had before the dispute was referred to the UN.

Apparently, India is afraid of following a bold policy as that would antagonise world powers, particularly after a weakened Russia. So there is no possibility of regaining the POK. Instead, Pakistan is bent upon getting the territory with India even though it has been acceded to India by a voice vote by the Kashmir Assembly.

V.S. MAHAJAN, Chandigarh

Octroi check

We, an old couple, were on our way to Patiala from Chandigarh by car. We were stopped 4.5 km outside Banur by some persons posing themselves as octroi officials for the simple reason that we were carrying five sofa cushions for our personal use. They told us that since we did not obtain “Rahadari”, we should pay them Rs 330 which we resisted. Stopping an old couple outside the town is unfair and unwarranted. The authorities concerned should investigate and prevent incidents of this kind.


Correct spellings

Some Muslim names are based on very difficult Arabic and Persian words with the result that their spellings are not correctly mentioned by the reporters, who are not closely acquainted with these languages.

In the news item “Pak delegation arrives”, names of two members are mentioned as Kamrunjama Kehra and Julfkar Ali. The correct spellings of their names are Qamaruzzuman Kehra and Zulfaqar Ali. “Qamaruzzuman” means the moon of the time. “Zulfaqar” was the name of the sword of the fourth orthodox Caliph, Hazrat Ali. It was given to him by Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) as one of the spoils of the Battle of Badr.



The news item “Congress plans rally in ex-CM’s memory” (Oct 20) is factually wrong as neither the senior Congress leader Mr Jagdish Nehra nor Chowdhary Dalbir Singh has ever been the Chief Minister of Haryana.


Bridge cries for attention

The road bridge on the National Highway near Kalka is popular for wrong reasons. A number of fatal accidents have been reported on this bridge. Many trucks with apple cartons have rolled down, killing helpless people. Why this bridge has not been dismantled so far is not known. Even the Press is silent about it.

Beware! Never use this bridge when any truck, loaded or unloaded, is crossing this bridge while proceeding to Kalka from Parwanoo. The scientific “point of equilibrium” doesn’t apply to this bridge. The authorities concerned have no licence kill the road users.

The Himachal Pradesh government never fails to collect the heavy toll tax at this bridge. Why not close down this bridge completely or for God’s sake, close at least 50 per cent of the bridge (upper portion) so that loaded trucks do not fall on the traffic using the lower portion of the bridge. It is better to wait and face traffic jams rather than lose our lives.

Alternatively, divide the bridge with wide separators. The lower part of the bridge can be used by the uphill traffic and the upper part by the down traffic (proceeding towards Kalka). The upper portion should be levelled first. Further, the road on both sides of the bridge is another test for the drivers and needs immediate repair. Similarly, on the same highway, the portion from Malah Road to HMT Gate has been patched up, giving clear evidence of bad workmanship.



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