Monday, November 7, 2011

One World, One (Giant) Language

As posted on

Take a risk. Use your imagination. Transform your world.

Try to say this in any Indian language. I challenge you. You will fall short. Short on comparable, easily accessible vocabulary, short on that easy feel of flow and short on memories of when you last heard something like it said. English is the language of progress and possibility. English is the language of technology. English is the language of change.

To be progressive, therefore, one of the most powerful things we can do in this country is make English mandatory curriculum in every school, and then in the next generation just switch to English as the sole medium of instruction. One world. One language.

OK, I hear the critics. Some of our languages are so beautiful. So much of our culture will be lost. Then quick, start translating. English is one of the fastest growing languages in human history. According to the Global Language Monitor, the number of English speakers has grown from 250 million in 1960 to some 1.53 billion today. In China alone there are apparently now 250 million English speakers. In India, 100 million.

Cigarettes and Swans

As posted on

In my last post, I mused about who actually knows what something is worth? Beyond survival, ‘value’ is simply collective perception, a construct of our collective mind. So what do we mean when we talk of ‘value’? What is our mind ‘valuing’ and for what purpose? For an entrepreneur this is a fundamentally important question. On a very simple level you could claim to be creating value so long as someone sees it as valuable enough to pay money for it. However, there are people willing to pay money for all sorts of destructive things like drugs and cigarettes and exorbitant amounts of money for completely worthless things like crystal swans. Of course that is my value judgement I’m imposing on it. I have friends that would argue me down that the drugs help their creative process and the cigarette smoking calms them and helps them be more productive. And as for silly looking crystal swans – some people derive happiness from having them perched on a shelf in their house. However, on the other hand, if you ask a large room full of people to name products that are of fundamental value to society, they will disproportionately name a few – two wheelers, mobile phones and internet access are ones that come up frequently.