English is sometimes described as the world’s first global lingua franca, spoken by an estimated 370 million people as their native language and many more as a second language.

But in a country which has 22 constitutionally recognised languages, how important is it for the population to learn English? That is the question debated by schools across India.

..the debaters portray English as either the smouldering dog-end of colonialism or the passport to economic growth, as evidenced by the IT and service industry explosion.

But there are unexpected angles.

One team highlights the need for English to liberate Dalits – the Indian underclasses, formerly “untouchables” who can use English to vault over the social barriers of the officially banned caste system.

The pressure on rural teachers not equipped to teach English to a sufficient standard is highlighted.

The disastrous attempt to enforce Hindi as the national language of India in 1965 is cited as a reason why English could be the language of Indian unity. (Source: BBC)

There are many angles to this debate, and we could see it repeated around the globe as English continues to spread.