English Studies: A Personal Journey
I joined the University of Delhi as a student in 1974, having quit a course in Engineering, hoping to hone my writing skills in an English department. I was as naive and misguided as many students who decades later would join BA Honours courses in English hoping to learn the language! Creative writing was not a component of the BA English Honours degree then or now, nor was it then or now the course in which to learn to speak or write except incidentally or accidentally. The college I joined in the University of Delhi (DU) was a top ranking one but the 1970s was simply not the best decade for English studies in India. The 1960s had seen anti-English agitations in large parts of orth India to remove English as the Associate Official Language of India, to make Hindi the sole official language and perhaps the ational Language. This was matched by anti-Hindi agitations in South India, mainly in Tamil country. Soon, the after-effects of the revolutionary Naxalite movement and the enervating Emergency had made all liberal education seem meaningless. It seemed that to have tertiary education in English was perpetuating (and creating further) two Indias - one with access to power and one without, one of elites and one of disenfranchised masses. Nobody believed this more than English teachers themselves.
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