English Medium as a Social Capital and the Post-Colonial Dream

The language of the Lords has had and continues to have an iron clasp on the post-colonial nation and their dreams.

In Pakistan, intelligence is a measure of how proficient in English you are. The language has close ties with the ideas of perceived status, class and value. It is a rather curious case despite our national language being Urdu, English has a superiority that is unmatched. Perhaps in some ways this is the regurgitation of age-old biases, associating English with the success of the British Empire we wish to follow the same path. Or perhaps it is a carefully constructed belief monitoring ranks and hierarchies within our society. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Class is meticulously cut through like a piece of fabric for different shapes and sizes. It is a pre-prepared destiny handed out to individuals that are taught to believe otherwise. Everything in the system aligns with the purpose of making the rich, richer and poor, poorer. Simultaneously creating a false sense of meritocracy to give the hopeless entangled in a wild goose chase while keeping the means of production away from them. The end is the same for all the less privileged. They accept the same worn-out clothes already woven out for them. In this game of ‘fair play’ language is a significant tool. The voices that scream for justice and truth often are often lost in translation as they strike the air-conditioned, Aitchison-purified spaces of the bureaucracy. Simply because they are not fully familiar with the language of the masses.

And why should they be?

Their fate was composed at their births. They were born with silver spoons in their mouths. It was pre-determined that the elite schools would be studying English medium syllabus with modern techniques of learning. And it is not as if there is no meritocracy at all. If you could squish together more rupay and savings, a private school might try to replicate the same for you. There you could put the utmost effort in striping the child off of any Urdu medium tendencies and until they make it till the end, teach them to fake it. However, if you are unsuccessful in doing that and God forbid let them study in the public sector it is the end of the post-colonial dream.

What is the Post-Colonial dream?

It is a sad yet amusing collective aspiration of our people. The independence we toiled to achieve is symbolic but within our minds we are still enslaved and have an empty nostalgia for the good old days. We want to travel back in time to when Angrez was our Raja except that we wish to be one of them. We wish to imitate their manners and embrace their culture. In truth our affinity for the British is like that of an abused victim of Stockholm Syndrome. The British took a lot from us but the most significant of it all was our identities and our memories. Which is the principle reason behind why we cannot embrace and cherish our own language(s).
The post-colonial dream is the one where you would one day be part of the exclusive club, the IT group of the high-school cafeteria if you may or a social class that seems within your reach but just as you chase it, the inflation rises even more. You still believe you would one day fit in with the upper-circles. You would be a part of something grand when you have a breakthrough but it always falls short. And so you wish you had studied in a private school. You wish you were an English medium.

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