The Story of English in India

N. Krishnaswamy and Lalitha Krishnaswamy.
New Delhi: Foundation, 2006. Pp. vii + 227.

Reviewed by Deepti Gupta
Panjab University, Chandigarh, India

In The Story of English in India, Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy offer a panoramic view of the journey of English through the annals of India s history. The survey details all the foreign influences on Indian culture, beginning with the Aryans who came to India around the second millennium B.C. and ending at the globalization phase of contemporary Indian society.

According to the authors, the book s five chapters outline the growth and development of English in India, with a view to redefining the aims and goals of teaching English in post-independence India (p. v). The first chapter, The Exploration and Transportation Phase, traces the various foreign influences on the country up to the year 1830. The beginning of English education in the country is also painstakingly uncovered through the presentation of excerpts from original British government documents. The Consolidation Phase: The Grand Design, the second chapter, is divided into eight sections and traces the growth of English in Education up to the year 1892. It also gives a very detailed account of two extremely important documents of the period: Macaulay s Minute and Wood s Dispatch. The next chapter, The Dissemination Phase, covers the period from 1893 to 1947 and describes the process whereby English became a second language in India. The fourth chapter, The Identity Phase, deals with the emotional struggle that Indian society faced after the departure of the British and continues the documentation of the conflict between the emotional Angrezi Hatao (Remove English) Brigade and the Rational English for Development Group. There is also a useful account of ELT in India up to the year 1990. The concluding chapter, The Globalization Phase, discusses the dynamics of globalization in the context of English in India and gives a useful description of Indian English.

The Story handles a vast array of historical material quite efficiently, but ELT watchers may feel that the book should pay more attention to ELT itself. In places, the authors attempt to address ELT concerns, but the vast canvas somehow defeats that intention. Readers may, especially in the last chapter, wish the discussion were less wide-ranging and more focused on specific issues. Nevertheless, the presentation of excerpts from original documents, the timelines that follow each chapter, and the comments from contemporary writers make this text a worthwhile resource for pedagogues and researchers alike.