Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was recently awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Civil Law by the Oxford University. In his acceptance speech, he spoke in glowing terms about the legacies of the Raj and the blossoming Indo-British partnership.
Here is an excerpt.
Of all the legacies of the Raj, none is more important than the English language and the modern school system. That is, if you leave out cricket! Of course, people here may not recognise the language we speak, but let me assure you that it is English. In indigenising English, as so many people have done in so many nations across the world, we have made the language our own. Our choice of prepositions may not always be the Queen's English; we might occasionally split the infinitive; and we may drop an article here and add an extra one there. I am sure everyone will agree however, that English has been enriched by Indian creativity as well and we have given you R K Narayan and Salaman Rushdie. Today, English in India is seen as just another Indian language.
We have given the world R K Narayan and Salman Rushdie, as the Prime Minister rightly pointed out. But what do we do with our Venkiah Naidu and the BJP? We would love to give them to someone... anyone. When it comes to slaying with the jaw bone Venkiah Naidu has no equal. A few reporters caught him at the airport for a sound bite on the issues the BJP plans to raise in the next Parliament session. I was cuing the tape in the office but not really paying attention till he said that one of the issues would be the the PM's speech at Oxford. He said, "What does the Prime Minister mean by praising the British? We want an explanation on this!"
This gripe came out in exactly the sort of english the Prime Minister was referring to - an english entirely our own. In fact, now so much our own, that Venkiah Naidu has forgotten why and how he came to be speaking it in the first place. The BJP flounders again.