Over the last 60 years, there have been many attempts to promote Hindi, and also regional languages. But all this time English has continued as the language of the elite. It has been assumed that most people who are literate and economically successful know English. The country’s recent economic growth and its success in producing software engineers and running call centres have been closely connected to the abilities of the English-speaking elite.
According to Subraiman, the election of Modi suggests a change of direction. He is not from a wealthy background and had to work his way through university. Although he does speak English, he is much more comfortable in Hindi or his native Gujerati. Meanwhile India’s economic growth has helped to increase literacy. Only half the population could read and write in 1981. By 2001 this was up to 65% and now it is over 73%. This means that many more people in small towns and rural areas can read, and most of them prefer to do so in Hindi or in local languages. So there has been a huge growth in non-English newspapers. Their quality is getting better and they are writing about international issues and business and technology, not just local stories.
Subraiman is not saying that English is no longer important, but that to be successful in India you do not necessarily have to know English any more.