The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) has written to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), raising a complaint against the non-inclusion of Schedule Tribes (ST) languages of Manipur in the ‘test of specified opted local language’ in the recruitment of junior associates (Customer Support and Sales) of State Bank of India (SBI) that was advertised on April 27.
“The inclusion of only Meitei/Manipuri languages in the said test in case of Manipur tantamount to imposition of dominant general category Meitei/ Manipuri language on the tribal people and thereby, systematically discriminating substantial numbers of potential candidates belonging to ST communities,” ATSUM stated in a letter addressed to the chairman NCST Harsh Chouhan on Saturday.
ATSUM appealed to the NCST to ensure that either each of recognised ST languages of Manipur are included in the tests or to exempt the scheduled tribe candidates from the purview of the ‘test of specified opted local language’ so as to facilitate a judicious and fair recruitment process.
The letter stated that mandating the ST candidates to produce a 10/12 standard certificate of studying Meitei/Manipuri language or conducting Meitei/Manipuri language proficiency test is unfair.
ATSUM stated that the local language referred and opted in the recruitment is the language of the Meitei community, belonging to the general category and it excludes the language of the 34 recognised STs.
The letter added that a test of specified opted local language was incorporated in the selection procedure of the recruitment wherein it was stated that “Those who qualify for selection and produce 10th or 12th standard mark sheet/ certificate evidence having studied the specified opted local language will not be subjected to any Language test.”
The selection procedure includes that “In case of others (qualified for selection), a specified opted local language test will be conducted after provisional selection but before joining. Candidates not found proficient in specified opted local language would be disqualified," the letter added.
ATSUM stated that Manipur being a diverse state has 34 STs recognised under the Constitution (Schedule Tribes) orders, 1950 (PART III. Rules and orders the constitution) Part X, Manipur.
The STs constitute 34.2 per cent of the total population of the Manipur state according to the 2001 census. The ST community speaks their own different languages, and that most of the languages of the recognised STs are incorporated as a Major Indian Language (MIL) as a part of standard curriculum in the schools and educational institutions, the letter added.
Further, ATSUM stated that the tribal people normally opt to study their own language (MIL) or Additional English in lieu of Meitei/Manipuri language in Class 10 and Class 12 standards.
Most of the scheduled tribe communities are not proficient with the Meitei/Manipuri languages and most of the Meitei/ Manipuri community are not well versed with the scheduled tribe languages, it stated.
ATSUM stated that the complaint has been made to enable the ST communities of Manipur to also avail the provision of equal employment opportunity as mandated by article 16 of Indian Constitution.