PASS THE BUCK

Good morning! Oh! Yes, there are people all over who suffer from foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and then when their verbosity (wordiness, using too many words) on inane (silly) issues leads to a crisis, they backpedal (backtrack) or else pass the buck to others. Well! Words, like arrows, cannot be put back into the quiver (a container of arrows) and; therefore, it is imperative one uses words wisely.

In the above paragraph, I have used two idioms:

Foot in the mouth: to say something that should have been avoided, to say something that causes embarrassment

Example:

His friends are always weary with him around, obviously, for he suffers from foot-in-the-mouth syndrome.

He knew she hated being asked about her age and still he asked her, “What’s your age, miss?” Really, the guy always puts his foot in his mouth.

To pass the buck to others: to pass on the responsibility or the blame (usually one’s own) on others.

Example:

I don’t want to work with him. If something goes wrong with the project, he’ll pass on the buck to me.

Don’t pass the buck to her, accept your own mistakes.

And this is for you, Ms Koshy and your students — about English in India. The information that I give you here is very basic and does not get into the minutiae (smallest detail).

During the British rule over India, all the government-related work was done in English. Also, the British needed someone to continuously translate the local languages into English for them. For this, people with the knowledge of English were required and the only ones who fit the bill were the British themselves — the ones who had educated themselves in the Indian languages.

However, this was an expensive business as it required the pen pushers (clerks, people who do documentation and writing) to be brought in from England. So, to combat (fight) this problem, initially, the British started depending upon the elite or the rich Indians — ‘the brown skinned Sahibs’, who received higher education in Vilayat (England in the pre-independence era was referred to as ‘Vilayat’ by the Indians) and helped the British to rule.

Later, to make this chore easier, to cut down the costs and also to further embed the British culture and supremacy, Thomas Babington Macaulay (the first British Law Member of the Governor General’s Council, it was Macaulay who convinced the Governor General to adopt English as the medium of instruction in higher education- in his ‘Minute on Education’, in which he argued for the necessity of learning English in India) introduced English education in India. With time, Christian missionaries came in and set up English schools and, thus, English became an integral part of the Indian education and official system…

Nope! It’s not over yet. There is more to the advent and growth of English in India, which we’ll talk about in the next few articles.

Bye for now. Keep smiling…

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