One day I was reading a newspaper and in one article I read, “We are living in a society in which your skin colour defines your beauty and your fluency in English will describe your intelligence.” While reading this text I smiled and didn’t believe that but this is the reality I got to know about when I was selected to IIT.
Let me start from the very beginning. I am a small town girl. Because of my family’s financial condition, my parents couldn’t afford to get me into an English medium school but they taught me to be a good person. I have always harboured a dream of becoming an army officer, break this stereotype of society and give some meaning to my life so that my parents can proudly say, “She is my daughter.” The only mantra that I used to follow was, “Live for your country and die for your country,” it doesn’t matter in which way.
After my graduation, I left my job and started preparing for CDS, UPSC and AFCAT and in the free time I used to go to my village and teach kids who couldn’t afford to get a good education. One day I got a mail that informed me of my selection to IIT for my postgraduate degree. Everybody in my family was so happy because I became the first person in my family who had cleared the IIT entrance exams. But I was confused: should I go for it or not? This was not what I had planned for my life but somehow I convinced myself that I just wanted to work for people. So I thought that maybe by doing this course I would get to know about many NGOs and if I got selected, I would drop this course.
The factor of language never came my way till I joined IIT. On the very first day of college, I introduced myself and everybody started laughing at me. For the first time in my life I felt humiliated, not because I was wrong but I was speaking in Hindi. I had never imagined such disrespectful behaviour.
A language is an essential part of our life since it’s a way of communication – this is the definition of language we all have heard or learnt. ‘Just a way of communication’ but people are making it a style statement or a parameter to judge an individual’s intelligence. I still remember the day when I had to drop one elective subject just to reduce the burden of my studies. The professor called me into her office to get to know about my problems that I had been facing during the course – that’s what I though. But she called me into her office to make me realise how vulnerable I was. Instead of understanding my problems in English communication, she said, “Nobody is going to talk to you in Hindi so forget that.”
Let me remind you I am talking about a professor of one of the most prestigious colleges in India. How can you expect students to behave like good human beings or good citizens of India if the mentality of the teacher is like that? A teacher needs to understand the fact that around 40% of people in India cite Hindi as their first language and only 0.29% of people had cited English. So if English really tests the intelligence then all these entrance exams for higher education should be conducted for only those 0.29% people. This perception needs to be changed. Ideas and talents do not contain any language. So respect each person. Don’t judge them because of their language.