Telugu language policy is an issue in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where Telugu is the first language of 93 percent of the population. Telugu-language advocates note a lack of incentivisation and government support for the language, and press for their linguistic rights for Telugu's greater official recognition and promotion.
Instruction in Telugu as a subject at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels is not compulsory, and the medium of education need not be Telugu at the primary and secondary levels. This policy encourages English-language schools, and educated Telugu people are slowly losing their ability to read and write in Telugu. In some English-language schools, speaking in Telugu by students is punished.
Telugu newspapers and periodicals are more popular than English-language newspapers by a 10:1 ratio. About 10 percent of English-educated people can comfortably read and understand English-language newspapers.
There are nearly 60 Telugu TV channels, covering issues and social needs of Telugus worldwide, and one English-language channel (CVR English) particularly aimed at the Telugu or Andhra Pradesh population. Although there are few national English-language channels in India, many international English channels have a viewership of less than two percent of the Telugu people or the Indian population. Telugu-language versions of channels such as Discovery and National Geographic are available in Andhra Pradesh.
Although the majority of their employees are Telugu, most correspondence from state- and central-government offices and businesses is in English. Telugu software is on the market, but English versions are used by state government offices and educational institutions. Court proceedings in the state are in English.
UNESCO has advised that the Telugu language might die over the next 15 years if the present policy of discouragement continues. The encouragement of English over Telugu has multiplied due to a perception that English-language facility is a key to upward mobility. Despite India's many native languages, English protagonists are able to continue a British education policy after 65 years of independence. For the last 30 years it has been believed that English-medium instruction ensures a bright future for young people, regardless of the quality of education.
Many educated Telugu people began travelling around the world in search of knowledge-based jobs, and have observed that many countries are prospering faster than India by imparting education in their native languages without depending on English. Throughout India, native-language advocates are demanding less reliance on English. An expenditure of less than one day’s gross domestic product (GDP) of Andhra Pradesh could achieve Telugu parity, if the state government is dedicated to Telugu-language development. No country in the world has attained developed status without imparting education in its native language.
The evolution of English as an international language is an example of the English people’s love, dedication and untiring efforts to develop their language. In the United Kingdom, Welsh (a minority language) is encouraged. The legal status of Welsh in the UK (spoken by about 750,000 people) is far better than the status of Telugu in India, where it is spoken by 85 million people.
Gandhi on educational medium
Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi advocated education in the mother tongue of the people. His trauma in being educated in English is typical of India today. Gandhi said:
In 2012 the Andhra Pradesh official-language commission resumed its activities, and was tasked with organizing the fourth World Telugu Conference (WTC) after a 22-year hiatus. The conference was a success, with 5,000 Telugu delegates from all over the world meeting in Tirupati during the last week of December. The WTC was inaugurated by the president of India, and the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh announced that every action needed will be implemented by the government to emphasize Telugu.
Print and visual Telugu media have taken steps to reduce English in Telugu programs, using appropriate alternate Telugu words. The Andhra Cricket Association has translated the National Cricket Academy's (NCA) coaching manuals into Telugu. Former India cricketer M. S. K. Prasad, director of cricket operations for the Andhra Cricket Association, was instrumental in the translation. He enlisted BCCI umpire Surapaneni Rama Krishna, who had translated the MCC Laws of Cricket into Telugu.