Sunday, 7 June 2009

9 Years of Hope

By RK Rishikesh Sinha, New Delhi
The 149 Bishnupriya Manipuri teachers were slogging in the decrepit Government schools for complete nine years with one wish that one day their job will be permanent and they will be receiving remuneration to their services. What we will call – is it not a mockery in broad day-light with the lives of 149 teachers and their dependents?

The financial and psychological toll that these teachers had to undergo year after year is beyond one guess and imagination. The child who was in class I in 2001 is now a teenager and is getting ready for the matriculation examination; is it not an irony that the same teacher who had taught this child, his life didn’t move an inch. His life has been brought to a screeching grinding halt.

It not only put a pause to the professional and personal advancement of the person, but it ceases the lives of many people: his wife, children and his old parents. The lives of all the dependents were put on stake.

A simple arithmetic calculates the figure to over 600 people (considering a family is consists of 4 members) whose life has been put to backburner. They haven’t seen growth, what “growth” means to them. They were nowhere in the race of growth. For them growth was a burden. That they knew very well the burden, one day, if not got a support from the government and the civil society, they will perish.

The plight of these teachers who went to teach the Bishnupriya Manipuri language in the primary schools of the states in the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, were abstained from the basic source of their sustenance since 2001.

The message that comes out from this episode is that the survival of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language, spoken by a minority community which has its presence in the three districts of Assam, is indeed in stake and it may, sooner or later if not taken steps, might appear in the list of endangered language of India like the Lepcha language of Sikkim is.

The Government of Assam has failed to support and enrich a language spoken by a minority population in the state. The act of negligence to the development and preservation of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language is contrary to the universal belief that a child ability to absorb facts and information increases when the primary medium of instruction is in its mother tongue.

But this hasn’t been practiced in this case.

How one could expect with the unsympathetic approach of the state government that people will take up the noble profession of teaching? Definitely they will abstain from taking up the teaching profession. This will not only have a cascading affect on the language but it will bring into edge the identity of the whole community. It will create ‘identity-crisis’ amongst the members of the affected community.

Unfortunately this has been taking place in the community. If it is not stemmed there is an imminent danger lurking ahead that a generation will come with out any basic knowledge of their language, culture and custom.

In the same breathe a fact that calls for urgent attention and pondering is: the type of education children of the 149 teachers would have received. These aggrieved teachers couldn’t have thought of giving proper education to them. Alas! The future that is lying ahead for these children is gloomy and uncertain. They can’t even think of standing to the future challenges that they had to face. Forget the condition health of these children.

However, things become more serious when one considers the man-hour loss of these 149 teachers for 9 years. Take this: If a take-home salary of a teacher is meager Rs. 5000 INR per month, in 9 years it amounts to Rs. 8, 04, 60,000 INR! This figure comes considering the revision of the salary didn’t take place in the 9 years. What a great loss for us and for the whole community?

Now with the costs and man-power loss involved in this period, one question that has to be answered urgently: Is it worth carrying the cost for another unimaginable time period? A definite answer has to come very soon.

Else the teachers would again resume their duties with a hollow hope that one day they will start receiving their dues from the government. Things will go on and on.

If you or your relatives have been affected by the non-payment of the dues, do comment.

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