Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Economics of Language Policy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Michele Gazzola and Bengt-Arne Wickström

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034708

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034708.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 28 February 2021

Linguistic Diversity in India’s Polity and Economy

Linguistic Diversity in India’s Polity and Economy

(p.469) 15 Linguistic Diversity in India’s Polity and Economy
The Economics of Language Policy

Selma K. Sonntag

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the linguistic dimension of the tension between India’s democratic politics and its liberalized economy. I argue that there is a divergence between languages used in the polity and languages used in the economy. In the polity, characterized by a semblance of empowerment through the electoral participation of the weaker sections of society, vernacular languages predominate. In contrast, the language of the economy in India, particularly since economic liberalization in 1991, tends to be English. It is in the economy that India’s class and caste chasm manifests itself linguistically: between the English-speaking elite and the vernacular-speaking masses. While the noted Indian economist, Deepak Nayyar, warns of an impending clash between the democratically empowered masses and the economically privileged elite, I suggest that in terms of language use India’s robust democracy may well trump market forces. And while linguists have warned that English as the language of the globalized marketplace can have dire consequences for linguistic diversity, I argue that India’s linguistic diversity, at least in terms of its major regional languages, remains impressive. In the case of India, I conclude, the spread of the language of globalization, English, as the language of the economy, is mediated by the languages used in India’s vibrant democracy.

Keywords:   India, Languages, Economy, Democracy, Diversity

MIT Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.