TODAY -

Manipur State integrity : The importance of Tribal languages to strengthen it
- Part 2 -

Ragongning Gangmei *



2) Undue period of years are taken for approval of tribal languages:
There are gross negligence of the State Government in the process of approval of tribal languages for introduction in the education system. To cite an example Liangmai Literature Society had applied for approval of Liangmai language in 1997 and it was approved only in 2012. The State Government took about 14 years - one and a half decade to approve it. Likewise all approved tribal languages took four to five years to go through the process of approval whereas such cases could have be done within 10/20 days time - one month at the longest. The action of the State Government is rather restriction of tribal languages than approval.

3) There is no proper State policy for promotion of tribal languages in the State.

4) The Hill Areas Committee of Manipur Legislative Assembly had adopted a Tribal Language Policy of Manipur on 16-11 -2010 and forwarded it to the Secretariat of the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Manipur for approval of the State Government vide Manipur Assembly Secretariat (HAC)'s Letter No.4/7/2002-LA(HAC) dated 18-11-2010. However, no response from the Secretariat of the Hon'ble Chief Minister. It seems, the same has been kept in the cold storage unattended to. This exhibits the cold attitude the office of the Hon'ble Chief Minister - the head of the State Government himself towards tribal languages in Manipur.

5) The Council of Tribal Languages and Litrerature Societies, Manipur (CLLSM) had submitted several Memoranda to the Hon'ble Chief Minister and saught appointment for interview time and again in this regard. But there was neither interview nor even a word of response from the office of the Hon'ble Chief Minister. This Council had submitted several Memoranda to the Hon'ble Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur, Hon'ble Education Minister, Manipur; Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary(SE) and Principal Secretary (Finance). However, no response from the State Government at all till today.

6) The Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur (CoSEM) is charging more than Rs. 15,000/- being Language Fees and Visiting Fees upon the schools or institutions which offer to introduce tribal language subject. This discouraged the schools or institutions to introduce tribal languages in the State and many tribal students are deprived of the opportunity of learning in their own mother tongues.

All these are the visible facts of State-sponsored linguistic racism in Manipur.

The State Policy of anti-tribal languages and its Negative Impacts in Manipur:

The State Government is ruining the fabric of 'unity in diversity' of the State by adopting anti-tribal languages policy in the State. The language policy of the State Government is creating artificial gap between the linguistically advanced people of the plain and linguistically backward people of the hills because the State Government is promoting Meitelon (Manipuri), Hindi and English only in the State whereas it is totally unconcerned about the tribal languages - the indigenous languages of Manipur.

The unconcerned and adamant attitudes of the State administration towards the tribal languages over the decades had slowly created negative impacts on the goodwill of the tribal people towards the State. It is a resultant of the State sponsored anti-people, anti-State and anti-Manipur integrity language policy. Demands for separate Home Land, Alternative Arrangement, Sixth Schedule, etc. by the hill communities are some visible signs of frustration following utter dissatisfaction with the State administrat in Manipur. Tribal languages are one that had been facing the apathy of Manipur State Government since the inception of the State.

State Initiative to Abolish Tribal Languages as Medium of Instructions

Lately, there is a strong apprehension of the people that the Education Department (Secretariat), Government of Manipur is taking up initiative to abolish tribal languages from being medium of instruction from Classes I to VIII. Tribal languages are approved as medium of instruction for all subjects, NOT only for mother-tongue subjects. There is a strong apprehension that the State Government is retsricting tribal languages only to mother tongue subjects. It is an attempt of the State Government to marginalise the tribal languages in Manipur. It is not far to seek. Fingers are pointing the onus of the State apathy of tribal languages and linguistic racism rooted in the State administration.

Manipur integrity is not weakened by the people, neither by Naga nor Kuki, neither by Meitei nor Meitei Pangal, neither by the people of valley nor of the hills. It is weakened by the short-sightedness policy of the State Government.

By bringing the facts furnished above to the notice of the general public of Manipur who are the ultimate owners of the land of Manipur, it is to humbly suggest that the indigenous languages and cultures of Manipur should be made instrumental to galvanize the fabric of State integrity, to strenghten the emotional integrity of the people and to make a better Manipur for peaceful co-existence of all communities with mutual understanding among each other. Keeping it in view, it is considered absolutely important to promote all the indigenous languages of Manipur. This will make everyone feels the spirit of belongingness to the State, homeliness and love of Manipur. It will generate emotional integrity and unity in the State. Then, no one will demand separate homeland, alternative arrangement, etc.

A humble Suggestion:

To galvanize the fabric of emotional integrity and strenghten the bone of brotherhood among the people of Manipur, it is to strongly suggest that the type of the Indegenous Brothers Meet annually organised by the Fourth World People of Kangleipak should be encouraged and should be held as State Function every year in Manipur. This type of State function will slowly and surely usher in oneness among the people of Manipur.

II

As aforesaid, Manipur is unity in diveristy, a miniature India and a beautiful land of multi-lingual ethnic communities. It is these people and their diversity that make Manipur. The multi-ethnic populace of the state is not a burden but a beautiful challenge today for all us - the people and the State administation - to achieve Manipur integrity. To achieve this beautiful challenge, indegenous languages of Manipur are one advantage to work with. Therefore, I cordially invite you to share the ideas of unity of the indegenous languages of Manipur to usher in unity and integrity in Manipur. To achieve it, first, we need to see (i) What policy the State Government is adopting in the matter of tribal languages in Manipur? and (ii) What our neighbouring States are doing for tribal language groups?

Article 350-A of the Constitution of India is a Constitutional Directive to the States relating to medium of instruction in the mother tongue at the schools to the children belonging to the of linguistic minority groups in the States, Union Territories and local authorities under them within the territory of India.

Article 350-A says-

'It shall be the endeavour of every State and every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education (now secondary stage) to the children belonging to linguistic minority groups."

All the State Government of the north-east are implementing the Article 350-A fairly well in their respective States save Manipur.

The Nagaland State Government is on the top of it.

To be continued ...


* Ragongning Gangmei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on September 23, 2015.


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