Imphal: Council of Tribal Languages and Literature Societies Manipur (CTLLSM) as urged Manipur Governor, La Ganesan “to cause necessary directives to the state government of Manipur so that justice due to the linguistic minorities is delivered and Articles 29(1), 46, 350-A are effectively implemented”.
CTLLSM is a unified body of all the 35 tribal linguistic minorities of Manipur.
In a memorandum submitted to the Governor, the council stated that there are provisions in the Constitution of India, especially Articles 29(1), 46, 350-A, etc. to safeguard the linguistic minorities in India.
According to CTLLSM, the Commission for Linguistic Minorities (now the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, Government of India, Ministry of Minority Affairs) had formulated and adopted a scheme called the Safeguards for Linguistic Minorities which is the conversion of the Constitutional safeguards into practical steps, especially of the Constitution Provisions referred to above. The scheme of Safeguards for Linguistic Minorities has been implemented all over the Country including most of the States of the North-East, it added. “However, unfortunately, the scheme of Safeguards for Linguistic Minorities is not implemented in Manipur till date. Since 2009, we have been bringing this issue to the state government on several occasions. But till date nothing has been done in this regard in the State of Manipur. This has deprived the linguistic minorities of the state the opportunities and privileges of the mother tongue education under the scheme,” the council mentioned in its memorandum to the Governor.
CTLLSM then pointed out that there is no fund for tribal languages in the state budgets of Manipur. According to the council, there are 35 recognised Scheduled Tribes in Manipur of which 18 languages have been approved by the Government of Manipur for introduction into school education. It also said that approval of a language for introduction in the education system is supposed to entail fund allocation in the Plan and Non-Plan with both recurring and non-recurring expenditures for continuation of the mother tongue education. “However, it is unfortunate that funds were not earmarked for tribal language(s) education in the state budgets of Manipur. The tribal languages after approval/recognition are left alone only to the respective literature societies,” it alleged. “Still there are 17 unrecognised/unapproved languages of 17 recognised Scheduled Tribes. They are upcoming tribal languages. They also need funds for investigation of their native sounds and devising a truly useful writing system for their respective native languages,” the council mentioned in its memorandum. According to CTLLSM, till today, the tribal linguistic minorities cannot find a place of pride and honour in the state as their languages are ignored and sidelined in the state budgets.
CTLLSM then stated that there are no state’s plans and policies for tribal languages in Manipur. “Being aggrieved, the Council of Tribal Languages & Literature Societies, Manipur – (CTLLSM) was compelled to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case in the High Court of Manipur (PIL No.28 of 2019). The said PIL was disposed with the direction to the Respondents to consider the representations of the CTLLSM and to consider for the introduction of ‘Manipur State Policy of Tribal Languages'”, the council said. Further, liberty was given to the Petitioner to approach the High Court again if the grievances are not addressed. Accordingly, vide Order No. 12(HC)/67/2019-SE(S) dated 30.11.2021 issued by the Commissioner of Education (S), Government of Manipur stating that the representations of the Petitioners have been considered and introduction of “Manipur State Policy of Tribal Languages” cannot be acceded at the moment. The Manipur State Policy of Tribal Languages is an official Bill adopted by the Hill Areas Committee of the Legislative Assembly, Manipur, CTLLSM added.
The council also alleged that the “apathy” of the state toward tribal languages is clearly evident from the responses they submitted in the PIL No. 28 of 2019.
It then said that eligibility criteria for recognition of tribal languages is unconstitutional and rather a strategy to suppress smaller tribes.
The council said that the eligibility criteria as enforced by the Department of Education(S) and the Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation, Government of Manipur for recognition/approval of tribal languages is unconstitutional.
CTLLSM then said that the schemes of Safeguards for Linguistic Minorities have been, since a long time back, implemented all over the country including the Northeast states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura.
As such are the reasons, CTLLSM demanded in the memorandum to the Governor to set up a separate Language Directorate exclusively for tribal languages in Manipur. It also demanded to constitute a State level Board of Textbooks Printing (as done in other States – Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, etc.) and allocation of fund for printing textbooks to the Board of Textbook Printing. It further demanded to appoint 1(one) Language Officer (Common for all languages), 18 (eighteen) Assistant Language and 18 (eighteen) Language Assistants as staff of the Board of Textbooks Printing. The council also demanded to appoint adequate teachers to teach mother tongues classes at (i) Junior High Schools, (ii) High Schools, (iii) Higher Secondary schools including Higher Secondary Schools in Greater Imphal areas and (v) colleges and as wherever is needed. The council further demanded to provide Annual Administrative Grants for the Literature Societies of the 18 approved languages @ Rs.2.0 lakhs each per annum. CTLLSM also demanded to provide an Annual Outright Grant for the 17 unapproved tribal languages at Rs.1 lakh each per annum for holding seminars, consultations, awareness programmes, etc. as foundation works for devising truly useful writing systems of their respective native languages. The council also demanded to appoint a Nodal Officer preferably amongst the Tribal community of Manipur and also to urgently appoint State machineries at State level, district levels to take care of the languages of the linguistic minority groups and to look after the issues pertaining to them. It further demanded to establish an academy of tribal languages to give academic guidance, training, seminars, etc. in the streams of languages, culture, custom and traditions to the linguistic minority groups and to tap the resources and expertises of the eminent scholars and also to outsource partners.
“With the facts and circumstances furnished above, Council of Tribal Languages & Literature Societies, Manipur, earnestly prays your honourable goodself to kindly cause a directive to the state government to take up necessary action in the matter at an early date so that justice due to the linguistic minorities are delivered and the promise of the Nation to them fulfilled from the end of your good offices,” the memorandum concluded.