Writing in 1946 about the way we speak English, Forster was able to detect a trend that has, 50 years later, become an undeniable fact. We speak it increasingly badly. "English," he writes, "though more widely spoken than on my last visit, is worse spoken, more mistakes are made in it, and the pronunciation has deteriorated.... The explanation, I think, is that Indians at the schools and universities are now learning their English from other Indians, instead of from English teachers as in the past.... So it’s not surprising that their English is poor. They learn it from Indians and practice it on Indians."
Forster’s perspicacity is equally striking when he comments on the way we write. "Indians have a marked capacity for worship or denunciation," he comments, "but not much critical sense, as criticism is understood in the West." For those of you who habitually read book reviews, this should come as no surprise!