Austin Bay

Use of English was supposed to cease in 1965, but non-Hindi speaking regions objected; pro-English riots broke out in Tamil Nadu. Indians value their polyglot heritage, but they are also practical. English continues to serve as an official language for government and business, which makes it India's de facto common language. A Tamil speaking software entrepreneur in Bangalore uses English to communicate with his Marathi-speaking Mumbai business partner.

Cameron's passage to India comes at a historically ironic moment. Feb. 10, 2013, was the 250th anniversary of the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years War. If this war is obscure, its long-term effects aren't. It was perhaps the first genuine global war. Combat occurred on every continent except Antarctica. Ticked off Cajuns and angry Indian nationalists ought to study up on the conflict. Here's why. In North America, we call the Seven Years War the French and Indian War. The French lost Quebec, and the British took Canada. After 1763, the Cajuns fled their maritime Canadian homes for Louisiana.

The Seven Years War also left Britain the leading power in India. For better and worse, Great Britain's victory in the Seven Years War gave it Canada and India as colonies. The British left their social, political, legal and linguistic marks on both. Like the U.S., both are 21st century powerhouses. It appears being a former British colony has a long-term upside. Cameron certainly hopes 21st century Indians draw that conclusion.

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Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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