HYDERABAD, Nov 24: The Sindhi Language Authority is not following its charter, allegations of violations of rules in appointments in the SLA are common, and it seems to be focusing only on publication of books. No efforts are being made to ensure the use of Sindhi, made mandatory by law, in government offices.
The SLA, set up under the Teaching, Promotion and Use of Sindhi Language Act 1972, and the Teaching, Promotion and Use of Sindhi Language (Amendment) Act, 1990 for progressive use of Sindhi, was to achieve the objective of making necessary arrangements for teaching, promotion and use of Sindhi as the provincial language and to maintain/reinforce the status of the language at all levels in official and semi-official records.
It has no linguist and no laboratory to develop the language. However, it has a studio, built at a cost of Rs20 million, to record interviews or voices of folk wisdom experts. An SLA employee said, on the condition of anonymity, that it could be done by renting a studio or using the studio of Radio Pakistan.
Former SLA chairman Qadir Junejo supported the idea of setting up a laboratory for proper pronunciation and preserving dialects.
Another former chairman, Dr Ghulam Ali Allana, recalled that he wrote letters to government departments and organisations to adopt Sindhi as the official language. He got positive response, but it needed motivation and mobilisation, he said.
Mr Junejo said orders alone would not make a difference until practical measures were taken for the use of Sindhi in offices. The SLA only wrote letters to government and private schools asking them to ensure teaching Sindhi.
SLA chairman Dr Fahmida Hussain said the SLA lacked the authority to implement compulsory Sindhi teaching in private schools as it was the education department’s job.
Language centres to teach Sindhi to non-Sindhi speakers had failed as only the centre situated in the Phuleli area was functional.
The SLA has launched a programme of ‘Sindhi Bol Chal’ on radio, which is a weak medium in today’s world.
Research on different aspects is a basic tool for development and promotion of a language. No such tool is used by the SLA.
An important function of the SLA is to ensure correct usage of the Sindh language in the print and electronic media. Some major papers are monitored by a clerk. A weekly review is sent to the papers concerned.
Ishaq Samejo, a professor of Sindhi, said it was insufficient to point out wrong words but motivation, mobilisation, training and education of media practitioners was a must. He said no monitoring of TV channels was being done, which was vital to promote/correct the usage of the language.
Dr Hussain said she took care of finances and they were in surplus. She takes pride in the publication of the first encyclopaedia and a number of dictionaries in Sindhi. A Sindhi-English and vice versa dictionary is available online. Software of accountancy and library science are developed in Sindhi.
A project of Rs9.8 million was approved in the annual development programme for the encyclopaedia and children literature.
The present board of governors revised a scheme and published five volumes. This scheme has no permanent board to edit, compile, add or extend contents of the encyclopaedia.
Mr Allana said the SLA had no planning in place. As a result, every head of the SLA carried out work as they wished. Some published books, others held seminars whereas none worked on language-related issues.The SLA, headed by a grade 22 officer, equivalent to chief secretary, and has a secretary of grade 19, two directors of grade 18, and six officers of grade 16.
Yousuf Sindhi, a former general secretary of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat, said the SLA did not need so many officers. “When the SLA was formed, then chief minister Jam Sadiq Ali appointed Dr N.A. Baloch as its chairman and due to his literary stature, he was given grade 22. Since then the practice has been followed,” he said.
According to Mr Yousuf, the SLA lacked service rules and terms of appointment and promotion. Occasionally, section officers or other officers headed it as secretary. There was no qualification or criteria defined for secretary. Without service rules over 40 employees remained unconfirmed for 15 years until the incumbent chairman got them confirmed. Over 50 are still unconfirmed.
Until 2000, the chairman appointed and the board approved recruitment. Then a committee was constituted but practically the previous practice continued.
Yousuf Sindhi alleged that the project directors of the Sindhiana Encyclopaedia and Dictionary boards had no relevant qualification. He deplored that researchers were also not appointed on merit.
Recruited employees have no qualification in related disciplines. This is evident in sales, library, production, publication, research, and information technology. The sanctioned budget is spent on salaries and facilities while development work is carried out under schemes approved by the government.
There are complaints of misuse of vehicles. They are in the use of the chairman and secretary with unlimited fuel sealing.It has an annual budget of Rs35 million, of which over Rs30 million is spent on salaries, fuel, utility bills and other routine expenses, leaving little for actual work. SLA secretary Taj Joyo agreed that somewhat that was the situation.
The nomination of a board is a matter of discretion. People related to language and literature are to be named as BoG members, but the constitution authorised the chief minister to appoint anyone in that capacity. So two such ‘anyones’, Lal Bux Mangi and Nazar Gaho, have been made BoG members without any literary or academic backgrounds.
The SLA has published around 194 books on literature, language, dictionaries, science and children and has a bookshop, Qaleech Kitab Ghar, on the premises of its head office. It lacks a marketing network and strategy. Books are rarely available at the bookshop.
Two cases against the SLA are pending in court. One is filed by writer Naz Sanai regarding injudicious prize awards on books and the other by publisher Sindhika regarding awarding a contract for printing books.
Yousuf Sindhi is critical of the SLA’s working. He said director of the encyclopaedia Usman Memon and director of the dictionary board Aamir Siyal both lacked necessary qualification to hold the offices. The SLA secretary had appointed his close friends as editors. Four books by Atta Mohammed Bhanbhro were rejected as he had refused to get an award from the culture minister, he added.
Four institutions — Sindhi Adabi Board, Sindhology, Sindhi Language Authority and Bhitshah Cultural Centre — worked the same way. Sometimes they published books on the same topics.
When we have the Daudpota Library and Sindh Museum, related work should be shifted there.
Dr Hussain admits overlapping in work in different institutions which could be avoided. Dr Allana said formal coordination among these institutions was a must to avoid overlapping.
General secretary of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat Dr Mushtaq Phul opposed the ‘army of favourites’ which, he said, was without merit, required qualification and experience. He complained that books of favourites were being published and even for editing and compilation work was assigned to favourites, causing harm to the language and discouraging merit. He demanded reorganisation of the SLA with representation of dedicated experts of language and literature.