Monday, April 22, 2024

Selective CAA protests


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The notice for the implementation of CAA is a welcome step by the Government of India which will ensure justice to several people settled in India and who were persecuted in neighbouring countries based on their religion. However, as usual in Meghalaya several organizations are against the CAA. What I understand is their protest is due to the reason that people who will be granted citizenship are migrated Hindus settled in Meghalaya. Can the various organisations please answer if they will also protest granting of citizenship under CAA to Khasi/Jaintia/Garo Christians migrated from Bangladesh and settled in Meghalaya? The answer is NO, as they are their own people following the same religion. So, it ultimately comes to someone’s identity and religion and the Hindus are seen as outsiders and it does not matter if they are persecuted as India does not belong to them.
Where has this state come to? Only ethnicity and religion is paramount in this state. Non-tribals are hated and are seen as outsiders, though it is because of non-tribals in India that people in Meghalaya can eat food three times a day and enjoy many other benefits. People here are reluctant to change their mindset and are dreaming of making this state like no other.
Yours etc.,
Donald Swer

IED attack: Intelligence in the backseat?

National security issues are myriad from cyber warfare, space warfare to the threat of a dirty bomb but the Improvised Explosive Device(IED) has always been a preferred weapon of choice for high profile terror organizations such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Al Qaeda in Iraq, and Al-Shabaab. These IEDs, which can be crafted using home-made or military grade explosives, are cheap and simple to manufacture. In Meghalaya, small to medium intensity explosions have always indicated the lack of vigilant intelligence among security services, whether it be HUMINT or SIGINT. Are we at war with domestic enemies not foreign anymore? Porous borders and the crisis of unemployment adds to the problem setting a fuse for the disadvantaged in spreading terror and mayhem. The State is currently overburdened with the drug crisis and attacks like these may give way to a virulent form of narco-terrorism. What is needed is a fusion of different government agencies such as police and army to create a counter-IED public awareness campaign, regulate and monitor the flow of precursors like fertilizers along borders. In ‘Painting the Sand’- One Man’s fight against the Taliban Bomb Makers of Helmand by Kim Hughes the writer recounts that the search and defusing of explosives is a battle of wits.
Yours etc.,
Christopher Gatphoh,

Beyond the mother tongue

India, with its rich cultural diversity, has 22 Scheduled Languages and 19,500 other active languages, each with its own unique cultural value. This multilingual culture is central to India’s education system and resonates in classrooms where students navigate learning and studying, often in two different languages. Embracing multilingualism in education fosters inclusivity, offering profound learning experiences for all.
Scholar David Graddol expands the essence of multilingualism beyond language learning. He sees it as a cognitive asset, empowering individuals to thrive in a globally interconnected world and highlights its role in enhancing cognitive flexibility, creativity, and problem-solving, emphasising how multilingualism cultivates critical skills. Research consistently illustrates its cognitive benefits, showing that proficient multilinguals have better memory, attention, multitasking abilities, and skills such as critical thinking and decision-making.
Due to its perceived economic value, the demand for English language is expanding in India. Future of English: Global Perspectives, a recent research publication, stresses that while English will continue to be a global lingua franca; in India, the focus will rightly be on local languages as a medium of instruction, especially at primary level, and English will be taught as a subject. The introduction of English, taught as a subject alongside the child’s mother tongue, can enable children to learn and grasp the language better.
This is also reflected in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which acknowledges the importance of local languages and their role in providing a more holistic and effective learning experience, especially in the early years. The NEP has placed multilingualism at the heart of its vision for inclusive education by advocating for a multilingual curriculum that incorporates mother tongue instruction, English, and other foreign languages.
This is a direct response to the growing recognition of the importance of language in education. Language is not merely a means of communication; it is a tool for thought and a lens through which we perceive and understand the world around us. By promoting multilingualism, the NEP seeks to empower students to develop a deeper understanding of diverse cultures, foster a stronger appreciation of their linguistic heritage, and acquire the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly globalised world.
While its benefits are profound, the implementation of a multilingual approach in Indian classrooms is not without its challenges. The sheer diversity of languages spoken across the country, coupled with the varying levels of proficiency among students, poses a significant hurdle. Furthermore, balancing the use of languages in classrooms and ensuring standardisation of teaching across linguistic variations present challenges that demand innovative solutions.
To effectively implement a multilingual approach in Indian classrooms, several strategies can be adopted:
Research: There is little evidence in terms of longitudinal research available that can inform robust strategies to implement multilingual practices in a highly multilingual country like India. There is a significant opportunity for sector experts, educators, linguists to collaborate with government and policymakers to enable such research. This can also contribute to the development of effective policies that support multilingual education initiatives.
Teaching material: The creation of quality resources such as textbooks, supplementary material and digital resources tailored to the specific linguistic needs is crucial to support effective instruction.
Teacher training: Training programmes — whether pre- or in-service — should emphasise multilingual pedagogy and equip teachers with the necessary skills such as developing proficiency in multiple languages including English, understanding the principles of multilingual instruction, and employing effective teaching strategies.
Assessment: Developing standardised assessment tools that evaluate students’ proficiency across multiple languages to ensure fairness and equity is important.
Community engagement: Involving parents and the wider community in supporting multilingual education initiatives can foster a supportive learning environment and promote linguistic diversity.
Embracing multilingualism is not merely an educational endeavour; it is a commitment to inclusivity and diversity. By empowering students with the linguistic tools to navigate their multilingual world, India’s education system can foster a generation of individuals who are not only academically proficient but also culturally enriched and globally competent.
Yours etc.,
Vijay Garg,
Via email


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