Along with mobile phones to every poor family, the government will also distribute free Chetan Bhagat novels
The government believes that this scheme may actually work, mainly because a survey indicates that it is because of Chetan Bhagat’s novels, that most engineering students today think they are well-versed in English [and hence, are able to write “English (US) and English (UK)” in their Facebook languages list]. The announcement is likely to be made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this August 15. Yesterday, we heard that he will announce a scheme of distributing free mobile phones to poor families.
The Chetan Bhagat scheme (“Education 2020 Yojana”) is expected to give basic English education to readers who have been unable to move beyond the English alphabet and some basic words. A PMO insider said that other books like English for Nursery Kids, Learn English in 30 Days, and Rapidex English Tutor were also considered, before they settled down with Chetan Bhagat’s novels. Apparently, the thing that worked in Bhagat’s favour was that his books would look more interesting to the readers. “The reader will have IIT dreams from a very early stage, and this will help us create engineers out of even just-literate people,” or so we got to know.
Many Gram Panchayats have shown interest in this scheme. We asked the Sarpanch of the Hindi-speaking village of Ka-Kha-Ga, about what he knows about Chetan Bhagat. The Sarpanch gave a very intelligent example of his sense of humour when he identified Bhagat as an “adwitiya angrezi upanyaaskaar” (unparalleled English novelist). He said in Hindi, “I have heard that he has made urban students more English-literate, so he will be able to help us as well.”
There were cynical views as well. An English professor from Delhi University asked, “What after people have mastered all the 370 words used repetitively in the CB novels?—each word being of length up to but not exceeding 5 letters! Is that level of education sufficient to, say, compose a 140-character-pun on Twitter? If not, what is the use of such education?”
Rumours are that this was one of the genius plans of our very own HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, after his earlier equally out-of-the-box escapades with 2G loss and Aakash tablet. “I decided that illiteracy in India is because of just one reason—lack of a good reading reference book. Chetan Bhagat’s books are ideal. They are simple enough for anyone with the knowledge of 26 letters of English, and are complex enough to enable anyone to start speaking fluent English.”
Obviously the fact that the uneducated can’t read, has not featured anywhere in these grandiose plans to remove illiteracy. With as much forethought to every action/scheme as swatting an irritating fly, the Indian Government looks to be taking the correct route to long-term prosperity and advancement in all fields and every strata of the society. Obviously, their meaning of long-term (read “forever”) is supplied out of the HRD minister’s favourite dictionary.
Meanwhile, the author himself remains silent while close to a billion copies of his books are about to be circulated. It has been heard that as it is for a national cause, his royalties have been halved. A spokesperson for Mr. Bhagat was heard saying, “He (Bhagat) does not respect people who don’t respect literature.”