Mahatma Gandhi’s Thoughts on Medium of Education

“We seem to have come to think that no one can hope to be like Bose unless he knows English. I cannot conceive a grosser superstition than this. No Japanese feels so helpless as we seem to do….

The cancer has so eaten into the society that in many cases the only meaning of education is ‘Knowledge of English’. All these are for me, signs of our slavery and degradation. It is unbearable to me that the vernaculars should be crushed and starved as they have been.”

In the following article written more than 75 years ago, Gandhiji, has expressed his sincere and earnest thoughts on the issue of whether to adopt our own Indian languages or English, our erstwhile rulers’ language, as the medium of education in India. This dilemma was exactly the same as that which was once faced by the Englishmen themselves in their own country. However, just by dint of self esteem and determination, they managed to get over the problem although with a great difficulty.

The world studies the discoveries made by the German, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, Japanese and French scientists, not in the language of the scientist, but in their own native tongues. The Japanese scientists who won Nobel prizes in Quantum Physics and Chemistry hardly knew any English. However, in India, even after 60 years of independence, we are unable to get over our psychological inferiority complex and a sense of slavery towards our erstwhile rulers, their language and their culture. And the result is that a country of India’s size has hardly produced any scientists of world repute, not to speak of any Nobel laureates, in the last 60 years since independence.

Just read Gandhiji’s article given below. Try to understand the deeper meaning of every sentence and see how it is relevant even today, or perhaps more relevant today, than it was 75 years ago.

Amrutmanthan_Mahatma Gandhi’s Thoughts on Medium Of Education_101021

You will be able to appreciate Gandhiji’s viewpoint better if you also read the following articles which provide the historical background to the entire issue of education in English language.

Article in English:

{Lord Macaulay’s Psychology: The Root Cause behind British India’s Baneful Education System} –>

Article in Marathi:

{इंग्रजी भाषेचा विजय (The Triumph of the English Language)} –>

Please do share your thoughts on this very important aspect.

– Amrutyatri Team


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15 thoughts on “Mahatma Gandhi’s Thoughts on Medium of Education

  1. The main reason for ourself surrendering to English is so many numbers of Indian languages. So it is very difficult to decide one common national language. If Hindi is declared national language, southern states don’t accept. If nay other is declared national language some other states may decline to accept it. Besides there are regional conflicts over languages. There is only one way to solve problem of national language. Sanskrut(As pre our way of pronunciation it must be spelled this way and ‘spelling it as'”Sanskrit’ is another example of our mentality)Mother of all Indian languages should be declared as national language. Problem may be solved to some extent.

    • प्रिय श्री० अनिल करंबेळकर यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      संस्कृत भाषा हीच भारतामध्ये पूर्वापार सेतुभाषेचे काम करत होती व तीच राष्ट्रभाषा म्हणून सर्वयोग्य आहे असे आम्हालाही वाटते. डॉ० बाबासाहेब आंबेडकरांनीदेखील हेच मत ठामपणे मांडले होते. पण तत्कालीन राजकारण्यांनी तर्क व सत्यापेक्षा स्वार्थ व राजकारणास अधिक महत्त्व दिल्यामुळे ते शक्य झाले नाही.

      आपल्या सुरुवातीच्या विश्लेषणाबद्दल आम्हाला खालीलप्रमाणे मुद्दे मांडायचे आहेत.

      १. भारताच्या स्वातंत्र्यानंतर आपण १४ भाषा महत्त्वाच्या मानून त्यांचा घटनेच्या आठव्या परिशिष्टात समावेश केला. पण तेव्हा रशियात अशाच १८ मोठ्या भाषा होत्या.

      २. स्विट्झरलंड देशामध्येही एकाहून अधिक महत्त्वाच्या भाषा असल्यामुळे त्या देशाला चार राष्ट्रभाषा आहेत. आपल्या राज्यभाषेप्रमाणे प्रत्येक भागात तेथील स्थानिक भाषा सर्वोच्च मानली जाते.

      ३. महाराष्ट्र हे भारतातील एक राज्य असले तरी लोकसंख्या व क्षेत्रफळ या दृष्टीने युरोपातील बहुतेक देश त्याहून लहान आहेत हे लक्षात घेतले पाहिजे. तरीही युरोपातील प्रत्येक देश आपापल्या भाषेतच राज्यकारभार, न्यायव्यवस्था, संसदव्यवस्था चालवतो. भारतातही प्रत्येक राज्याने मुख्यतः आपापल्या भाषेत राज्यकारभार करावा. केवळ आंतरराज्यीय दळणवळणासाठी सेतुभाषा (संस्कृत किंवा हिंदी) वापरावी. इंग्रजी भाषा देशातील ७-८% टक्के लोकांनाही येत नाही. मूठभर उच्चभ्रू, शहरी, इंग्रजीशिक्षित लोकांसाठी इंग्रजीचे महत्त्व वाढवण्यात अर्थ नाही.


      – अमृतयात्री गट

  2. Mahatma Gandhi was perfectly right. Education has to be in one’s mother tongue at least till a certain high level where studies are no more available in the particular regional language. In Maharashtra, studies upto higher secondary must be in Marathi. Side by side, knowledge of English and some other optional Indian or foreign language should be acquired.
    The present policy of starting with English, totally ignoring Marathi is harmful to the development of the student as a ‘thinking’ man or woman. They just become machines.
    Yeshwant Karnik.

    • प्रिय श्री० यशवंत कर्णिक यांसी,

      सप्रेम नमस्कार.

      आपले मत आम्हाला पटते. या संदर्भात भारतात आधुनिक शिक्षणाचा पाया घालणार्‍या लॉर्ड मेकॉलेच्या खालील वाक्याची आठवण झाली. इंग्लंडच्या संसदेतील आपल्या भाषणात तो म्हणाला होता –

      “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”

      जिज्ञासू वाचक यासंबंधातील संपूर्ण लेख खालील दुव्यावर वाचू शकतात.

      Lord Macaulay’s Psychology: The Root Cause behind British India’s Baneful Education System –}


      – अमृतयात्री गट

      • प्रिय श्री० राजीव देसाई यांसी,

        सप्रेम नमस्कार.

        आपला गैरसमज झाला असावा असे वाटते. श्री० यशवंत कर्णिकांनी आपली मते महाराष्ट्राच्याच संदर्भात मांडली आहेत. म्हणून त्यांनी मराठीचा उल्लेख केला आहे. प्रत्येक राज्यात संबंधित स्थानिक भाषेला सर्वोच्च प्राधान्य मिळायलाच हवे. “इतर राज्यांतही मराठी भाषेतूनच शिक्षण द्या” असे श्री० कर्णिक नक्कीच म्हणू इच्छित नसावेत.


        The Supreme Court too has consistently delivered judgments in support of the local language along the lines of the Constitution of India as well as the various statutes formulated in that respect.

        In a writ petition filed against the decision of the Government of Karnataka of making the Kannada language compulsory in the schools, the Supreme Court, while supporting the State Government, has noted: “Whether one may like it or not, linguistic states in this country have come to stay. The purpose and object of these linguistic states is to provide with greater facility, the development of the people of that area educationally, socially and culturally, in the language of that region.”

        While rejecting the writ petition filed against the decision of the Government of Maharashtra of making study of the Marathi language compulsory for the standards V to X in the schools, the Supreme Court observed: “Ipso facto it is not possible to accept the proposition that the people living in a particular state cannot be asked to study the regional language. While living in a different state, it is only appropriate for the linguistic minority to learn the regional language. In our view, the resistance to learn the regional language will lead to alienation from the main stream of life, resulting in linguistic fragmentation within the state, which is an anathema to national integration.” It is the misfortune of the people of Maharashtra that in spite of winning this case in the Supreme Court, the rulers of the state have totally failed so far as implementation of the decision is concerned.


        In both the above judgements, the honourable court has given reference of Gandhiji’s principles. The above excerpt has been taken from the article –}–-misinformation-or-disinformation/


        – अमृतयात्री गट

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