The English language is shattering India's caste system
We can tell illegals till the cows come home that learning English is the real path to assimilation and upward mobility and all we hear is that diversity is "strength" or maybe that we have yanqui imperialista racist prejudices.
But over in India, we are seeing that idea coming to life.
Quartz has a long and utterly fascinating piece by Sajith Pai, titled "India has a new caste for native English speakers only,' describing how English is not only a great skill to have in the global economy, and a path upward in a big striving country such as India, something we all recognize here, too, it's positively trashing India's dreadful caste system and creating a new class of people who speak almost exclusively English, by choice. Pai writes:
Unlike Anglo-Indians, the original English-speaking community in India, who were Christians, Indo-Anglians comprise all religions, though Hindus dominate. Indo-Anglians are also a highly urban lot; concentrated in the top seven large cities of India (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Kolkata) with a smattering across the smaller towns in the hills and in Goa.
Within these cities, they are clustered in certain pockets: Gurgaon, and parts of south Delhi, south Bombay and Western Suburbs from Bandra to Andheri, Indiranagar, Koramangala and gated communities in Bangalore’s outer ring road—Sarjapur, Koregaon Park—Kalyaninagar, Gachibowli and HiTech City etc. They fall well within the top 1% of India economically and have a consumption basket that is comparable to their middle-class counterparts abroad. Their kids go to International schools and have ‘first-world yoga names’ such as Aryan, Kabir, Kyra, Shanaya, Tia etc 2.
After all, it might be great to be born into one of the upper classes in India, but you sure don't want to be born into one of the lower ones, such as the Dalit, who are otherwise known as 'untouchables.' Those unlucky people are in another culture, but what seems evident to us is that they are largely not even given the dignity of being considered human in India's broader society. Untouchablee? What kind of a label is that? Who'd want to go through life with that stamped on his or her forehead? As you can imagine, they don't have much money - at all - and little path upward.
Well, until now.
These days, people of all classes in India are becoming English speakers and losing not only their own native languages - and in India, there are over 100 separate languages, with 24 of them major - they are losing their caste status along with it, too. Someone who becomes what the author calls an 'Indo-Anglian' for want of a better term, can marry anyone else within that subgroup, no fussing about family background, as is done with the carefully calculated arranged marriages ordinarily done in India, never mind if the two people can stand each other, although divorce is very rare in India.
It sounds amazingly modern - people marrying for love, ignoring class backgrounds, and starting their own supercaste - that of free people who don't look to class backgrounds, just personal character and talent and hardworkingness as the measure of virtue.
The writer, Pai, notes that it's a small group, only 400,000, which I guess in a nation of 1 billion, is a nothingburger, but Pai notes it's a very fast-growing group. With an instant path out of the lower classes, how could anyone with intelligence and ambition not take it? Word is getting around about the new way out as India grows economically. And in an interesting coda, Pai notes that the poorest of the poor, such as the Dalits, often do have English language skills, due to all the Western do-gooders who put them in English-language schools out of pity for them.
This, interestingly, parallels how America became a unified, and strong nation. Immigrants from all over came to the states and cut ties with their homelands. They learned English, changed their names to English-sounding equivalents [such as Showalter from Schoenwalter] changed their language to English, not just to advance but to be able to communicate their French- and Italian- and Russian-speaking neighbors, who also gave up their native tongues to speak in one language, and became Americans.
With this going on now in India, it's little wonder that India is now so friendly to President Trump, whose political philosophy recognizes this phenomena much more than the 'diversity is strength' mantra. If a nation is to be strong and unified, and upward mobility is to be assured, the common element of language is about the best force to make it happen.