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Vibhasha English - Second Edition

Vibhasha English - Second Edition

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Published by peoplesrightsmrg
We have discussed some things about language here. Yet, there is a lot more to be discussed. We believe that you have a lot to say about it too. Vibhasha News Bulletin is a forum to all your ideas in the future.
We have discussed some things about language here. Yet, there is a lot more to be discussed. We believe that you have a lot to say about it too. Vibhasha News Bulletin is a forum to all your ideas in the future.

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Published by: peoplesrightsmrg on Feb 16, 2012
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02/17/2012

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2
Vibhasha | November – December 2011
 
 The ormation o a collectiveo Civil Society Organizations,aimed at promoting languagerights in Sri Lanka, took placerecently. The Centre or PolicyAlternatives, Eastern UnitedWomen’s Organization,Movement or the Deense o Democratic Rights, NationalFisheries Solidarity Movement,People Help Foundation –Mannar, Rural DevelopmentFoundation – Vavuniya,Foundation o Rural EconomicDevelopment – Panama andthe Trincomalee SarvodayaShramadana Movement, act asmembers o this collective. Thus ar, this collectivehas established approximately150 language committees inthe North and East, and haveconducted approximately 600awareness raising programs onlanguage rights. The collective had alsomade preparations to conducta public discussion regardingthe promotion o languagerights in commemoration o the International Human RightsDay which ell on the 10th o December.A special report on thisdiscussion will be published inthe subsequent issue o Vibhasha.
Language rights violated; legal action
against the University Grants Commission
 
A collective ormed or the promotion o language rights
 The Centre or PolicyAlternatives is presently in theprocess o initiating legal actionagainst the University GrantsCommission, as the languagerights o the Tamil citizens o SriLanka have been violated as aresult o many o the coursesconducted by the Institute o Human Resource Advancement(IHRA) o the University o Colombo being available in theSinhala and English mediumsalone.Chapter IV o the SriLankan Constitution sets outthe provisions on language,o which Article 21 covers thelegal ramework regarding themedium o instruction. Theconstitution states thus:21. (1) A person shall beentitled to be educated throughthe medium o either o theNational Languages:Provided that the provisionso this paragraph shall notapply to an institution o highereducation where the medium o instruction is a language otherthan a National Language.(2) Where one NationalLanguage is a medium o instruction or or in any course,department or aculty o anyUniversity directly or indirectlynanced by the State, theother National Languageshall also be made a mediumo instruction or or in suchcourse, department or acultyor students who prior to theiradmission to such University,were educated through themedium o such other NationalLanguage:Provided that compliancewith the preceding provisionso this paragraph shall not beobligatory i such other NationalLanguage is the medium o instruction or or in any likecourse, department or acultyeither at any other campus orbranch o such University or o any other like University.(3) In this Article "University"includes any institution o higher education.According to Article 12(1)and (2) o the Constitutiono the Democratic SocialistRepublic o Sri Lanka, no citizenshould be discriminated againston the grounds o language. The undamental right relatedto language in Article 12(2)provides thus:12(2) No citizen shall bediscriminated against on thegrounds o race, religion,language, caste, sex, politicalopinion, place o birth or anysuch grounds.However, several coursesconducted by the Institute o Human Resource Advancement(IHRA), such as
Diplomain
Drug AbuseManagement Studies
•BachelorofLaborEducation•CerticateCoursein
Counseling Psychologyleading to Diplomaare limited to the Sinhalaand English mediums.Speaking on the issue, Mr.Niran o the Legal Unit o theCentre or Policy Alternativestold the Vibhasha Newsletterthat his investigationsconrmed that no otherUniversity within to theUniversity System o Sri Lankacarried these courses in the Tamil language. He added thatthe Tamil citizens would notace this injustice i, at least,another University in Sri Lankaconducted these courses in Tamil.He urther stated thathe will be taking necessarysteps in the near uture tobring legal action against theUniversity Grants Commission,as several Universities otherthan the University o Colomboconducted a number o courses that are limited to onelanguage.
 
Vibhasha 
November December 2011 A publication o the Centre or Policy Alternatives Volume II Issue II
 
3
Vibhasha | November – December 2011
As a result o complaintsreceived, regarding the lack o railway trac inormation inall three languages, Sri LankaRailways has taken steps to enableannouncements at all railwaystations, in all three languages inthe near uture.
Language battle at the railway station;
 
Announcements in all three languages commence
Cadre o 350 capable o working in Tamil join the Police
Addressing a public discussion held in Colombo to commemorateHuman Rights Day, the Minister o National Languages and SocialIntegration Vasudeva Nanayakkara stated, that the government hastaken steps to enroll 350 persons capable o working in the Tamillanguage, as Police Constables to work in the North and East areas,with the intention o providing a solution to problems aced by Tamilcitizens o these areas in seeking Police assistance in their mothertongue. The Minister added that this measure was taken as a rst step,and will be expanded on in the uture. The Minister voiced these opinions while addressing a PublicDiscussion on the Promotion o Language Rights in Sri Lanka, heldon the 12th o December at the Mahaweli Centre, organized by theCivil Society Organization Collective ormed to promote languagerights in Sri Lanka.
Complaints made to fve organizationsrequesting language rights in the marketplace
 The Centre or Policy Alternatives has lodged complaints with 5organizations, regarding usage and other essential inormation relatedto medication sold in the local market, not being made available tothe consumer in the ocial languages o this country.As we had highlighted in the lead story o the previous issue o Vibhasha, the basic inormation related to the majority o medicinalproducts available in this country, is provided solely in the Englishlanguage. As emphasized therein, this violates not only thelanguage rights o the citizens o this country, but also their rights asconsumers.As such, with the intention o seeking redress against this problem,the Centre or Policy Alternatives has submitted complaints to theOcial Languages Commission, as well as the Consumer ProtectionAuthority. In addition, complaints have also been made by the Centreor Policy Alternatives, to the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Authority Technical Advisory Committee (CDDATAC), the Presidential Initiativeor a Trilingual Sri Lanka, and the Drug Regulatory Authority o SriLanka.
Numerous complaintsregarding this issue had beenreceived by several organizationsincluding the Ocial LanguagesCommission in the recent past. The Centre or Policy Alternatives,has also lodged a complaintwith the Ocial LanguagesCommission, regardingannouncements at a number o railway stations, including theAnuradhapura railway station,being made only in the Sinhalalanguage.According to a statementmade by the Sri Lanka RailwaysDirector Planning Mr. VijayaSamarasinghe in the recentpast, except or at key stations,announcements were not beingmade in all three languages at themajority o railway stations. Citingpersonnel related problems as thereason; he added that the sta will be provided the necessarytraining and employed in the task in the uture.In keeping, the necessary sta training commenced recentlyunder the initiative o the OcialLanguages Commission. As atpresent, 50 persons engagedin announcement activities atrailway stations, have received thistraining.While the rst groupcomprising 25 persons receivedtheir training on the 28th and29th o November, the secondgroup received their training onthe 6th and 7th o December. The resource contribution orthis training conducted under theinitiative o the Ocial LanguagesCommission was made by theInstitute o Human ResourceAdvancement o the University o Colombo.Railway tracannouncements at all stations areexpected to be made in all threelanguages in the near uture.
 
4
Vibhasha | November – December 2011
It seems that a new discourseon an old subject is emergent withinthe country at present. However, theskeptics that question the sincerityand meaningulness o this discourse,and renewed interest in the languagerights in Sri Lanka, are also not inshortage. This skepticism is also notunounded. The numerous harsh anddisappointing experiences o the pastorm the basis or this doubt.I one were to list out allthe problems aced by Sri Lankathroughout her history, theaorementioned language rightswould top the list.It is also no secret that thisproblem, which intensied in theyears ollowing independence, wasa key actor that resulted in thecountry eventually plummeting into adreaded war zone.Even in those early days, itis not that there were no leaderswho understood the gravity o theproblem and attempted to set thecountry on the right track. Some evenput their lives on the line in theireorts. However, the victors werethose who overpowered these eortswith their own attempts to intensiythe problem. In the end, the country’sinheritance was the 30 year unendingfames o war.Now the fames have died andthe war has ended. And pledges o never letting a repetition occur arebeing made.It is within such a backdrop thatthe present discourse on languagerights in Sri Lanka is unolding.Numerous workshops, conerencesand lectures are at present beingconducted to raise awareness onlanguage rights amongst the citizenryo this country.At rst glance, this seems apositive development. Various issuesthat were suppressed during the lastthirty years by the terrorizing warenvironment are yet again beingbrought up or discussion as a result.However, key amongst the questionsraised, is that which asks how helpulthis discourse will be in providingsolutions to the problems people atthe grassroots level ace in their dailylives.
While such doubt and dismayounded in past experience may be justifed, we must understand thatan increase in public interest is stepone o any process o resolution. Inthis light, we must be able to viewthis renewed interest with positivity.
 The media’s ability to draw publicas well as policy makers’ attention toproblems related to language rights,is also due or special consideration.While our past experiences withthe media have been less thansatisactory, not all hope should belost. It is the media that is responsibleor bringing the problems related tolanguage rights aced by the averageperson, to the attention o societyat large. Journalists, as well as thevarious pressure groups working onlanguage rights should understandthis ability that the media possesses,and work towards using it or societalprogress.What is meant here is not the useo media to create media circuses, butrather the use o media as a platormthrough which to bring society’sattention to real problems related tolanguage rights, and seek solutionsor the same.However, this responsibilityshould also not be underestimated asone that can be ullled by the mediaalone. What the media has at presentis a journey that is merged with theparallel social activism related tolanguage rights. When examined incomparison to the past, one could saythat the situation today is somewhatpositive, as neither the various socialorces working on language rights,nor the media, seem to be aced withthe kind o direct adverse pressuresthey were aced with a ew decadesago. The main obstacle today isthe inadequate dedication andenthusiasm seen on the part o responsible parties. The articlepublished on page 16 o this issue o Vibhasha can be cited as one simpleexample o this. The article speaks o a problemrelated to a government sponsoredbillboard displayed in proximity to theColombo Town Hall. As the billboardwas not displayed with sensitivityto language rights in Sri Lanka, theChairman o the Ocial LanguagesCommission was aced with theneed to rectiy this problem. As such,while the Chairman contacted therelevant responsible parties o theMinistry o Health several monthsago, inorming them o the error, nochange whatsoever is seen on thebillboard as yet. The Minister o NationalLanguages and Social IntegrationVasudeva Nanayakkara presentedanother example o a language rightsviolation rom the recent past. A largenumber o Sinhala as well as Tamilspeaking persons visit the ColomboNational Museum on a daily basis. Themajority o them are students romar fung areas o the country. There isnot a single Tamil speaking employeeat the National Museum to providethem with inormation related tothe exhibits. Having understood thegravity o this problem, the Ministerhas over the last ew months beenpressuring the Museum authoritiesto hire two Tamil speaking sta members. However his eorts haveyielded no results thus ar.
Bothincidentsdonotbodewell
or the dream o a uture Sri Lankawith established language rights.What they indicate is the same oldcountry that is insensitive to languagerights. One might cite the problemo inecient administration that weall ace oten in this country as thereason or this. Another might say “the
lawsexistbutarenotenforced”.But
what the country is in need o todayare not excuses, but solutions to theproblem.Mr. S.G Punchihewa in hispublication ‘Language and Humanity’,points out administrative shortall isnothing new by citing the ollowingrepresentation made by the AllCeylon Tamil Congress at the SoulburyCommission Evidence Hearings.“Discrimination against theCeylon Tamils arises not so much romlegislative as rom administrativeor executive acts o commission oromission.”I this allegation made by theACTC at a time beore independence,is still valid or the present day, whatdoes it say o the independence wehave achieved?On the other hand, proo thatadministration is not a problem whenthe need exists, is aplenty. This act has been proven timeand again both in the case o thewar as well as through subsequentpost war “urban development” and“accelerated development” projects.As such, this administrativepassivity should not be allowedvalidity as a reason with regards toproblems o language rights alone.
Becauselanguagerightsissues,
and related arising problems,are second to none amongst theproblems aced by this country.
An “accelerated” plan towin language rights as well

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