Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Government of India: Listen to the heartbeats of 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram

By Paritosh Chakma

It is painful to see how Hindi teachers recruited under Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) have been forced to go on “indefinite hunger strike” in the heart of Aizawl, capital city of Mizoram demanding immediate release of their pending 10 months' salaries and regularization of their jobs which have effectively expired today (28th February 2017). A total of 1305 Hindi CSS teachers recruited under “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs”, under which Central government pays the salaries, are uncertain about their future. Their jobs are hanging in balance because the scheme’s guidelines state that after the Plan year (currently, 12th Five Year Plan, 2012-17) the responsibility of maintenance of these Hindi teachers “shall rest upon the concerned State Governments/UT Administrations. They will be required to discharge this responsibility out of their own resources in their budget.”

Mizoram Hindi teachers staging indefinite hunger strike at Aizawl

While the State government of Mizoram has been so far non-committal to regularize their services, the Central government has not released salaries to them for ten months now! To make the matter worst, the Central government apparently has appointed recently a private institution Awadh Research Foundation based in Lucknow to evaluate the need of the scheme in Mizoram and any further decision will be based on the recommendations of this research institute.

Since 22 February, the Mizoram Hindi Teachers Association members have been forced to resort to “Pen Down Strike”, which included boycott of classes and annual exam, and took to the streets of Aizawl demanding just decisions from the governments, i.e. to regularize/extend their services, and payment of their salaries. Left with no other option, they launched indefinite hunger strike in front of the Chief Minister’s office cum residence from yesterday.

It is unclear as to why the Ministry of Human Resources Development has not released their salaries, as no official statement in this regard has been issued by the Ministry. It is also not clear as to why the evaluation of the scheme was not done much earlier, say in 2016, which could have avoided the situation of uncertainty and chaos as we are seeing today.

However, the answer may be found in the fact that it is not the CSS Hindi teachers alone who have not been paid for months. Almost 2,200 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) teachers (which is also a Centrally Sponsored Scheme) across Mizoram have not been paid their monthly salaries since August 2016, as per a report by The Frontier Despatch, a local English weekly, dated 19th January 2017. These teachers who are able-bodied men and women employed by the Government are forced to rely on parents and relatives even for pocket money, not to mention for basic necessities and, in some cases,  for their ill children’s medicines. (Read, What it’s like to be an SSA teacher, The Frontier Despatch, 19 January 2017 )

It painfully appears that the government - both Centre and State - has been neglecting our teachers, which is not a healthy sign in our society.

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

There is no doubt that the teaching of Hindi in the schools and colleges is extremely important for a North Eastern state like Mizoram where Hindi is little understood by the people. Hindi can ensure better communications between ethnic communities, ensure social progress, national integration and boost tourism in the state. Hindi can be a tool for empowerment to the population of the state by eradicating feeling of alienation from the mainstream, which is strong among the people of Mizoram, and help the ethnic communities linguistically when they are living outside the state (particularly North India, Hindi belt) for education, jobs and businesses etc and within the state.

Therefore, the Central government must continue the “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs” in Mizoram and extend the employment of these 1305 Hindi teachers without lose of time.

And, the healing process should start immediately by paying their salaries due for 10 months. The government of India, if truly a people's government, must listen to the heartbeats of these 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram.

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