if you look at the top 20 countries measured on innovation index by bloomberg, barring singapore, every country on the list has one thing in common - medium of instruction in schools is the same as the national language..in germany, its deutsche, sweden its swedish etc..
There is existing literature around mother tongue and creativity/innovation. Experts feel that thrusting a foreign language other than mother tongue on a child has an impact on the thinking ability - ability to think independently and fresh.
Was suddenly hit by this thought during a sales conference 2 weeks ago. When an Indian speaks there is so much of examination done on the nature or quality of English spoken as though its a crime and often being mocked at, complaints about lack of imagination or creativity while delivering the content. But it suddenly struck to me that maybe it consumes a lot of bandwidth on English speaking Asians say Indian or Pakistani to force English in to the original thought process and thereby producing a lag in the delivery or a lapse in so called expected quality of English.
To discount, there were many boring presentations delivered by English and the Americans there, but I felt that, 'wow..how easy it should be for such people to come and present in their mother tongue or hold a lecture in a mother tongue'. 'Imagine how easy it would be for us to deliver to a gathering a lecture in Tamil or Telugu (for me).'
The English native world doesn't understand that we make painful efforts as part of acquisition of a foreign language let alone English. If I ask a majority of English as mother tongue individuals on how many other languages do they know? My belief is that there will not be many who can tell the number to beyond 1.
Ask a (middle-class to upper class) individual from subcontinent say India/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka or Pakistan for that matter - on the number of languages they have acquired. well...native language + so called official language + English.
So we are staring at bare minimum 2 to 3 languages. and the broad expectation is to be really fluent in either 2 of the 3 to have survival. The reason I have narrowed this sample to the section of society is on Maslov's theory. People below middle class are worried about survival and higher order thinking around innovation or being creative might be a stretch.
Now if a child's mind in growing stages is occupied in acquisition of languages, is there bandwidth left in the mind to think free, be independent and be ingenious? While sitting through a 'mokkai' ppt from an English colleague of mine (with lot of grammar mistakes!!), my mind revolved on this..Thought it was Eureka moment and then realized that there are many people who thought about this earlier....haha..
Might be a crude assumption - may be there was a lot of independent thinking prevalent before the East India Company began colonization - path breaking discoveries, flourishing art and literature - could be because, people demonstrated their skill in its original form unadulterated with conversion to foreign thought. Thiruvalluvar didn't had to force his mind to write in Hindi.
And for that matter, even Tagore won his Nobel for his work in native language that was translated. Not that Nobel is a benchmark, but that work was so strong and original that it got translated and is being read across all languages till date. Mirza Ghalib didnt pen his poems in a foreign language, Frost or Keats wrote in their mother tongue, Srinivasan Ramanujam went beyond language and described his genius in numbers! But this is something that I am pondering on.
If SN Bose, JC Bose or Homi Bhabha made a strong contribution to science beyond their native language of thinking, then they should deserve greater recognition than what they currently receive.
PS: I am not being racist or fanatically nationalistic. I am questioning the on going assumptions and expectations being thrust upon by the so called developed society on the so called under developed societies.