Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s announcement on Friday that priority will be given to those candidates knowing multiple local dialects during job recruitment is a point to ponder upon.
Normally, while filling forms for any job, candidates are told to tick the languages known, as in languages they can speak, write or read. Perhaps, it helped the recruiters in knowing what languages the candidates are fluent in but did it really help in selection of candidates for the required jobs?
Affirmative in many ways for, knowing or fluent in other languages, apart from one’s own mother tongue, have been vital in communicating and passing on the messages. But again, is it more important than job-related skills such as computer skills, communication skills (even if one does not speak beyond English or Hindi, for instance) and work experiences?
One cannot deny the importance of knowing other languages apart from their own, for it can save one’s life when it matters too. And for that very reason, the Government of Manipur launched the "Two months local language training programme of seven languages" under the Department of Language Planning and Implementation at MSFDS in Imphal East.
The chief minister also rightly pointed out that language barrier divides people and stressed the need to learn different local dialects in order to maintain unity and oneness among the different ethnic groups of Manipur. However, what really caught the attention was when he announced that priority will be given to those with knowledge of other languages and dialects during job recruitment.
Now, to know other languages would definitely mean being able to understand and speak so that communication is better and the message is passed on clearly. However, picking up a language is never easy – it is a gift for some who can easily pick up any language and speak it well while some will take eternity to learn a new language.
So, what happens when a well-qualified candidate with the right skills for the jobs is not fluent in other languages?
Will he be disqualified just because he has lesser knowledge of other languages than candidates with good knowledge of other languages but are not as qualified as him/her? And when one talks about having ‘knowledge’ of other languages, it would probably mean being able to at least understand and speak, even if just for minor communication.
The government coming up with the "Two months local language training programme of seven languages" is a welcome step and should be appreciated. However, job priority for candidates with knowledge of other languages could be a little complicated and the government needs to come up with a good guideline for the same.
(The views expressed are personal)