We read and devoured English poets and dramatists with an affection which was devoid of any alien feeling of English being a language imported from elsewhere in the world. Calcutta’s intellectual and artistic life was buzzing with plays, literary discussions, café’s, writer’s workshops and individuals passionate about English literature. Bhattacharyya 2016
n interesting article published by Kaustav Bhattacharyya in Sunday Guardian Live explores Anglo-Indian education and English learning, discussing the influence of Shakespeare and the British Council. Bhattacharyya paints a picture of the buzzing intellectual and artistic life in Calcutta.
The debating societies, café’s, plays, writing workshops and public speaking events contributed to this intellectual and artistic buzz. A critical piece of this scene was a passion for English literature; furthermore, a love for the English language:
what really fueled the love of English language with our intellect and imagination were Shakespeare and British Council – two of the most iconic forces shaping our encounter with the language. Bhattacharyya 2016
Anglo-Indian schools taught Shakespeare as a central part of the English language and literature curriculum. The mastery of Shakespeare became an important part of learning and knowledge of English.
Bhattacharyya highlights another important aspect of learning English language and literature: The British Council.
[This] embodied the finest, best and refined aspects of English language and literature. Bhattacharyya 2016
In the iconic British Council buildings, one could watch BBC films and dramas, including the Shakespearean plays learned at school, with the support of passionate staff, eager to guide through the collections.
The mastery of Shakespeare, intertwined with the British Council and the eclectic Anglo-Indian education system, contributed to an enhanced learning experience, as Bhattacharyya explains:
I feel the way one learnt the language in schools like St. Thomas School with its long tradition of Anglo-Indian education system was to make bold yet nuanced statements and expressing your thoughts which might question prevailing conventions and norms. Bhattacharyya 2016
Read the full article here