By- Paritosh Chakma
"In the 41st Report of the Commissioner Linguistic Minorties,the government of Mizoram has in fact admitted that “knowledge of Mizo is a pre requisite for recruitment”. The Commissioner in his remark rightly observed that “In such a case there s no chance for linguistic minorities to get Government jobs." The Commissioner stated that this must change. This is precisely what I have been trying to convey too."
One of the important safeguards guaranteed to the linguistic minorities in India is “No insistence upon knowledge of State’s Official Language at the time of recruitment. " For other safeguards for linguistic minorities, see http://www.nclm.nic.in/index1.asp?linkid=126
This and many other safeguards for linguistic minorities have been willfully and brazenly violated in the state of Mizoram.
In one of my previous posts “Outright discrimination against Chakmas in Mizoram (Discrimination on the basis of language), I have highlighted the discrimination being done against Chakmas, a linguistic minority in Mizoram, in employment. Various Recruitment Rules in the state have set the requirement for the candidates to study Mizo subject to be eligible for government jobs. I have also named several Recruitment Rules of various departments which have set this discriminatory pre-requisite.
I have also pointed out that Mizo subject is not being taught in schools in Chakma inhabited villages and no Mizo language teachers have been appointed in these schools (both in Chakma Autonomous District Council areas and other Chakma areas outside the CADC). In such circumstances, Chakmas are at disadvantage in matters of employment considering the Recruitment Rules. Also, several Chakma students go outside the state of Mizoram for their schooling and return after graduation to find that they are not eligible for jobs under the state government. This is discrimination.
Many argue that it is compulsory for all residents of Mizoram to learn to speak the Mizo language in order to serve the public better, as Mizo is the official state language.
I reiterate that I have no different opinion on this (that even Chakmas must know to speak Mizo to be able to better communicate with the public who they will serve as state employees). But my complaint is against the requirement to study Mizo subject up to Middle School level which the Chakmas do not study and the state government does not facilitate such learning in the Chakma village schools. As a result, many Chakmas who speak good Mizo (which they acquire afterwards, say during college life) are not eligible for jobs. That is because they can learn the Mizo language but cannot legally add Mizo subject in their Class VII pass certificate.
The reports of the National Commissioner Linguistic Minorities (http://www.nclm.nic.in/), a constitutional body set up under Article 350B of the Constitution, on the conditions of linguistic minorities in Mizoram are disturbing. (The duty of the Commissioner Linguistic Minorities is to “investigate all matters relating to safeguards provided for the linguistic minorities and report to the President at such intervals as may be fixed”.)
I have also seen the latest reports (including 41st and 43rd reports) of the Commissioner Linguistic Minorities. The findings are startling.
In the 41st Report, the government of Mizoram has in fact admitted that “knowledge of Mizo is a pre requisite for recruitment”. The Commissioner in his remark rightly observed that “In such a case there s no chance for linguistic minorities to get Government jobs." The Commissioner stated that this must change. This is precisely what I have been trying to convey too.
There is no “independent body” for monitoring the safeguards for the linguistic minority in Mizoram.
The state government failed to submit replies to the questionnaire for the 42nd Report on time “despite a number of reminders at different levels”. (Commissioner Linguistic Minorities , 42nd Report July 2003 to June 2004)
In 43rd Report , the Commissioner Linguistic Minorities stated “
“It is stated that for recruitment to the services, the knowledge of Mizo up to upper primary standard is necessary. But in the visit to the Nepali school, it was found that Mizo was not taught there up to upper primary standard. Since they can then pursue higher studies through English medium, those desirous of joining the services are at a disadvantage. This condition should either be relaxed for such candidates or a general rule be made that knowledge of Mizo is not compulsory at the time of recruitment. Since Mizo is the Official language, the knowledge of Mizo must be acquired with a stipulated period after joining service.” (Forty Third Report 2004 - 05)
The same must hold true in the case of the Chakmas. No Mizo is being taught in the schools in Chakma dominated areas (including in the areas falling outside the Chakma ADC).
Another important observation made in the 43rd Report was that Tribal Research Institute, Aizawl “is not working on any language other than Mizo and is not producing any books in them. Being the Institute for all the residents of Mizoram, it should also be working for these languages. At least the folklore of the these tribes can be published in their own language. This would not require the services of the linguists but more in depth study of the folk lore of the local people would be necessary. It would, of course, be much better if there are linguists and introductory books for learning the languages are prepared and printed. TRI can also than prepare the books in Lai and Mara.”
The National Commissioner Linguistic Minorities found several inconsistencies in the replies of the Mizoram government on linguistic minorities. Even the number of speakers of different languages did not tally.
As per the 41st Report, Mizo was spoken by 75.11 % and the minority languages are –
Curiously, the Chakma (who are are the second largest tribal ethnic group in the state) and Reang linguistic groups, did not figure in the list.
As per the 43rd Report, the number of persons speaking different languages in Mizoram are as follows:
Language .........Persons .........Percentage
Mizo ....................7,73,058 ................87.7
Chakma ..............71,085 ................... 8.0
Hindi ..................31,988 ....................3.6
Bengali ................9,774 .....................1.1
This time, linguistic groups such as Hmar, Lai, Mara, Reang, Nepali etc were not included or data not provided. Interestingly, Mizo shot up from 75.11% (as reported in the 41st Report 2002-2003) to 87.7% in 43rd Report 2004 – 05 while Bengali was reduced from 8.57% to 1.1%. Certainly, there are inconsistencies there. Chakma at 8% is the largest minority langauge. Yet, it often does not find mention in state government official records.
Employment is not only a source of income generation which provides economic stability but also a means of providing empowerment to the people. Due to negligible representation of the Chakmas in the state machinary - accentuated by the discrimination they face on the basis of various Recruitment Rules, the Chakmas are less empowered to deal with their problems.
The state's linguistic minorities must not be discriminated on the basis of language and other considerations. The Mizoram government must implement the recommendation of the Commissioner Linguistic Minorities in his 41st report that "Mizo should not be essential for entry into services though it can be stipulated that it will have to be learnt in the prescribed period and before the end of probation period”. The Forty Third Report 2004 - 05 of Commissioner Linguistic Minorities suggested that knowledge of Mizo should not be made compulsory at the time of recruitment but "the knowledge of Mizo must be acquired with a stipulated period after joining service". It implies that the discriminatory Recruitment Rules must be scrapped to remove the language hurdle for linguistic minorities in state employments.
We are talking. But is the government of Mizoram listening?