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Is English Language Causing a Dichotomy between Economic Growth and Inclusive Growth in India?



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Bedi, Jaskiran Kaur 


India's colonial legacy and linguistic diversity has given English language a prominent role in the country. This research, through a historical analysis, first understands the factors behind the persistent prevalence of the language in India. The reasons go beyond colonial legacy and globalisation, and enters the domain of economics. Particularly, India’s reliance on the service sector plays a role in accrediting the language with a superior status.

Having entered the economic arena, the research, using India Human Development Survey Round 2, conceptualises and quantifies the impact of English language on economic indicators including wage rates and GDP. The results reflect a significantly positive relationship between the language and income. A fluent English speaker earns 34 percent more than a non-English speaker. Furthermore, the empirical results highlight that the response of growth to investment in a state is greater the higher the number of English speakers. The substantiation of the importance of language’s perpetuation from service-based growth is further embedded by the fact that there exists a positive and statistically significant relationship between the number of fluent English speakers in a state and the growth rate of the Gross State Domestic Product of services.

The thesis further investigates the relationship between the language and the inclusivity of growth. The results highlight that the likelihood of fluent English speakers moving out of the ‘deprived’ income strata by earning INR 1.5 lakh or more annually is 33 percentage points higher than that of non-English speakers. The research thus, empirically proves that though English is helping economic growth, it is simultaneously hindering development in terms of inclusivity, hence paving way for a dichotomy that policy makers need to resolve.

Finally, the research aims to suggest a solution to the dichotomy through an analysis of the education system in India. Particularly, using primary data collection in Delhi, Chandigarh and Shimla, the research evaluates the pedagogy of English Language, and its impact on the learning levels. It highlights that the pedagogy of the language within the CBSE framework requires editions to lead to an inclusive learning of the language.





Fennell, Shailaja


English Language, India, Economic Growth, Inclusive Growth


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge