Tanay Sukumar, Bijender Sheoran and Saswata De, August 9, 2012
Along with mobile phones to every poor family, the government will also distribute free Chetan Bhagat novels
The government will soon distribute one Chetan Bhagat novel free-of-cost to every family, in a desperate bid to increase literacy rates in India. The Rs-1,200-crore scheme will help the bestselling author reach all towns and villages of the country.
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. The announcement is likely to be made by Prime Minister this Independence Day.
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.
Reportedly, what 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,” a source said.
Critics are not amused. An English professor from Delhi University said: “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 five 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?”