Lack of development in the North-eastern part of India ― a historical legacy

By: Prapanna Lahiri

India’s northeast, now consisting of 8 (eight) states, Arunachal, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, is a fascinating region of this vast and varied country. Initially the region was known by the sobriquet ‘Land of Seven Sisters’ consisting of seven contiguous states as listed above barring Sikkim which began to be counted within North East India after the state was made part of India in May, 1975. The northeast has in store some real surprises for a visitor to this farthest brink of the country. Obscured from the greater world by ageless forests and formidable mountain range, it is in many ways a land of the greatest unknowns and remains one of the most unexplored regions of Asia. Liberally endowed with nature’s bounty, this region of the northeast boasts of breathtakingly scenic undulating hills and luxuriant green covered plains, hosting a wide variety of rare flora and fauna.

Historical perspective: Delving into the history of the region one comes to know that this is the only region, to come later under British rule, which never formed part of the Mughal Empire save the plains of the erstwhile princely state of Tripura. Assam the major state of the region had the distinction of being ruled by the longest ever running dynasty on Indian soil, the Ahom dynasty that reigned on for almost 600 years successfully resisting attempts at making Mughal inroads into Assam. The Ahom rulers ruled Assam and Manipur from 1228 A.D. till the first Burmese invasion of 1817 followed by two others that continued up to 1826 heralding Burmese rule of Assam and Manipur, a period of severe depredation of the region. The state was finally annexed into British India in 1826 following the First Anglo-Burmese war.

Fissiparous tendencies in the northeast: In a way most of northeast India forming part of Indian Union was accidental. Unlike in other parts of mainland India which were unified culturally and politically even in the pre-colonial era by a kind of homogeneity formed by caste dependent Hindu societal structures and the overall Hindu ethos, the society of the hill people of the multi-ethnic Northeast with their diverse social alignments and tribal identities presented a disjointed cultural milieu. For historical reasons, the cultural hue of the more Sanskritised Assamese community speaking an Indo-Aryan language and that of the Hindu Vaishnavite Meiteis of Manipur were different from the other north-eastern communities which were mostly tribes. With the kind of socio political integration existing in mainland India, the subjugation to colonial rule further unified the society for its emancipation. The situation in Assam was not quite the same, as simmering apprehension of extinction of Assamese nationalism built over centuries encouraged secessionist tendencies later exploited by movements like the ones started by ULFA. In Manipur too, despite existence of a Hindu Viashnavite tradition the Meitei community was suspicious of overall Hindu cultural imperialism.

Colonial Era: Moreover, the advent of the colonial rule in the region did not help the integration process either. The British after gaining control of the area embarked on a policy of isolating the hill people from the main-stream of Indian life by introducing Inner Line Permit system ostensibly to protect their culture and way of life from influence of the plains people. At the same time this inner line system successfully prevented cementing of any relationship between the hills people and the plainsmen in economic, social and cultural fields. Factually speaking, the inner line regulation marked the beginning of the isolation of the Northeast. After independence Nehru spoke of a policy of making the people of this region feel “…they have perfect freedom to lead their own lives and to develop according to their own wishes and genius…” He assured them that India besides being a protecting force shall also be a liberating one, in so far as customs and habits which they are unfamiliar with will not be imposed on them. The first Chief Minister of Assam Gopinath Bordoloi too ensured that special provisions related to the hill areas were included in the sixth schedule of the constitution of independent India. He also took measures for intermixing of the hills and the plains people through socio-cultural activities.

Insurgency: Despite these positive efforts and pronouncements, fissiparous tendencies continued to develop owing to factors ranging from desire for self expression, perception of injustice and discriminations, aspirations of small time politicians, unequal development of states and role of Christian evangelists. Nagas who are fiercely independent people were the first to raise the flag of revolt. This gave birth to South Asia’s longest running guerrilla campaign. The Naga National Council (NNC) formed in 1946 initially demanded autonomy within undivided Assam. But on the eve of Indian independence the NNC under A.Z. Phizo suddenly declared independence for the Nagas choosing a path of conflict with the Indian state. The NNC later split and the breakaway faction, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) emerged as the new spearhead for the rebel movement. Additionally, the demand of the Nagas for ‘Nagalim’ (Greater Nagaland) is a thorn in the solution of the vexed Naga imbroglio. The demand infringes on the territorial integrity of neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal, as Nagas began claiming large areas these states inhabited by their tribes to be made part of the proposed entity of Nagalim.

In neighbouring Manipur too, there were revolutionary movements which opposed Manipur’s merger with India. Particularly, the youth of Manipur resented the way Manipur, a princely state with a constitution and an elected Assembly of its own, was annexed into the Indian Union. Disgruntlement with this merger on allegedly derogatory terms gave birth to several separatist groups that led to a fierce spell of urban and semi–urban guerrilla warfare in the Imphal valley. Insurgency continued for over four decades from the eighties making Manipur even today the most insurgency ridden violent state in India’s northeast.

The demand of the inhabitants of the Mizo district of erstwhile Assam state for a separate entity led by organisations like ‘Mizo Union’ later turned into armed uprising for a sovereign state driven by a more radical outfit the Mizo National Front. The rebellion was suppressed by Military operation in the sixties. Finally the Union Territory of Mizoram was curved out from Assam in 1972 and later given statehood in 1987 after a peace accord with rebels was signed in 1986. Here it is important to mention that the hilly state of Sikkim though included in the northeast has been free from insurgency and its resulting ills.

Immigration: Another important factor that triggered conflict in the northeast is unbridled immigration into the region from densely populated East Bengal (now Bangladesh). This gave rise to fears of minoritization amongst the region’s indigenous ethnic groups. A classic instance this fear emanated from the situation obtaining in Tripura where demography got changed within two decades making Bengalis a powerful majority, enabling them to assume political power. Other North-eastern states going the Tripura way is a fear that haunts minds of the indigenous people.

The role of the Christian Missionaries: Christianity started spreading among the hill population of the region, mainly concentrated in the three Christian majority states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. With British rule establishing itself in the hills of the Northeast, spread of Christianity also took off. British rule did not happen at one go and it took time to consolidate. Likewise, Christianity too spread among hill tribes in phases starting with the tribes of Meghalaya, the Nagas and Mizos in 1830s, 1872 and 1894 respectively. From the arrival of British rule to the onset of insurgency in these areas, the existing religions i.e. Animism among the hill tribes and primarily Hinduism of the plainsmen of the region, failed to foster the desired unity and co-operation among these two types of population. Barring the Meiteis of Manipur who converted to Hinduism in the 18th century under a local ruler, religions and culture of India failed to influence the inhabitants of the northeast. Circumventing of Indian culture among the hill tribes was to an extent instrumental for the lack of brotherly feelings between the people of hills of the region and the rest of the country. What political rule of the British could not deliver to the hill people was delivered much more by the Christian missionaries. They transformed basic lives of the hill folks by improving their community health, hygiene and education. Greatest impact was felt in the field of education by introduction of Roman script in Nagaland and Mizoram, since the Nagas and the Mizos did not have a script of their own. Christianity proved to be a unifying force to bind people together. The flip side to all this was that Christianity moulded the population towards a culture alien to India’s own, by opening their eyes towards western civilization. There were allegations, not without reason though, that Christian missionaries sought to instil a fear in the minds of the tribals that the Hindus of India are out to destroy their age old customs and traditions, obliterate their separate identity and thereby dominate them. By imparting English education in convents and missionary colleges, they tried to allure them towards materialistic western culture and wean them away from the national mainstream, encouraging demands for a separate nationhood. These allegations were bolstered by the fact that the areas where the missionaries carried out their work, insurgency got a boost like in Naga Hills, Mizo Hills, hilly parts of Assam, and Tripura.

Constraints of development of infrastructure and connectivity: The most critical element of the northeast is its connectivity with mainland India. What connects the North-eastern states with mainland India is the chicken’s neck also called the Siliguri Corridor, a narrow stretch of land situated in the state of West Bengal. This slender link-corridor sandwiched between Nepal and Bangladesh is about 21 km wide. Sikkim and Bhutan are to the north of this strategic corridor. The geographical location of the northeast is equally strategic as it borders on four countries, namely, China and Bhutan on its North; Myanmar on its East; and Bangladesh on its South and West.

There are serious challenges for Infrastructure development of the North-eastern Region:

  1. Poor connectivity with the rest of the country is a challenge. Difficult terrain within the region makes maintenance of road connectivity arduous. Development of transportation and communication linkages is lopsided being concentrated in the upper Brahmaputra valley only.
  2. Small and widely dispersed habitations make connectivity and delivery of services difficult.
  3. Railway network is very thin owing to geographical and sometimes, strategic reasons. However, projects are underway for extension of railway tracks to all the state capitals or to points nearest to the state capitals by 2020.
  4. Bilateral arrangement with Bangladesh is yet to be worked out for the proposed Agartala-Kolkata rail link through Akhaura and Dhaka (in Bangladesh) which will shorten the distance by nearly 1100 Km. Similar inland waterway links are also possible through that country but are yet to be implemented.
  5. There are security concerns with India’s international neighbours that hinder extension of telecom and other infrastructure facilities to the International border.

Socio-Political and economic factors of underdevelopment: Besides the prevalence of factors affecting growth of the national economy there are some unique features to this region that have stifled economic well-being of specifically this region. These unique features, primarily related to the long standing socio-political unrest prevailing in this area are: ―

  1. Economic activities got concentrated in select pockets. This resulted in vast areas remaining inaccessible and backward even to this day.
  2. Revenue from tea and oil made urban centres prosperous while the rural hinterland being overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture remained poor.
  3. Lack of infrastructure has impeded industrialisation while industrialisation could not materialise owing to poor infrastructure. It is a vicious circle.
  4. Widespread and prolonged socio-political conflict situation resulted in economic destruction and social disorganisation.
  5. Steady flow of central funds into the hands of the local elite including local political leadership has indirectly discouraged local initiatives to raise funds for economic rejuvenation of the region.
  6. Inadequate economic infrastructure like transportation, communications and market accessibility stood in the way of industrialisation, even in the small scale sector.
  7. Insurgency, in more ways than one, has become the easiest, sustainable less risky and expanding industry of the entire northeast barring Sikkim.
  8. Large quantities of development funds landed in the kitty of the insurgents as they cornered most of the contracts and supply orders.
  9. Primitive farming like slash and burn (jhum cultivation) is still being practised in the hilly areas of the region. Single cropping pattern in the plains failed to produce enough food grain for even for local consumption.
  10. Elected representatives of the people are not responsible and accountable to the electorates but are answerable to the insurgents, who manage their winning.
  11. Food stuff and essential supplies from government are siphoned off by the insurgents and the poor people suffer.
  12. Despite business summits very few investors are willing to invest in the given disturbed scenario and employment opportunities for the youth are not created.
  13. Businesses and enterprises fail because of frequent extortions by insurgents.
  14. There is heavy exodus of students from this region for education in other parts of India resulting in big outflow of funds.

Considering all the above aspects of insurgency in the region the truth that comes out is ― insurgency as a consequence of poor developmental performance of local and central governance has now become the cause of the economic backwardness of the region. To break this vicious cycle of violence and to provide a semblance of good governance in the region, it is worth considering the prescription given in a research essay ‘Rethinking Delhi’s Northeast India Policy’ written by a research associate, Bethany Lacina of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. It says “Only concerted efforts to establish the rule of law, a system of accountability and faith in the formal institutions of governance can break the cycle of violence.” This is of utmost importance as it concerns the destiny of the GenNext of Northeast India and the security of the Nation. The true potential of the northeast may be fully realised if it becomes the eastern gateway for meaningful implementation of the Government of India’s “Look East policy’ that envisages efforts to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia and China.

Reference:

  1. http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/EconomicPotentialofNortheastIndiaAnAssetorThreat_shivanandah_120511
  2. https://www.idsa-india.org/an-apr-5.01.htm
  3. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/16882/9/09_chapter%203.pdf
  4. https://www.examrace.com/Study-Material/General-Studies/Economics/Challenges-to-Infrastructure-Development-in-North-East-Region.html

ACCIDENTS

By Amandeep Kaur

INTRODUCTION
Accidents are the main cause of injury and even death in children. People only relate accidents to traffic accident or accidents in outdoor activities. However, as a matter of fact, the place where people regard as the safest place – “home” … hides many “hazards”. The main cause of home accident is general negligence of safety at home. This pamphlet aims at providing some measures in preventing home accident, first aid measures and how to call for help.

Household injuries are one of the top reasons behind the fact that kids under age of 3 visit the Emergency, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.

Supervision is the best way to prevent injuries, in the home and out, but even the most watchful parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day.

DEFINITION

In general an unplanned, unexpected, and undesigned (not purposefully caused) event which occurs suddenly and causes injury or loss, a decrease in value of the resources, or an increase in liabilities. As a technical term ‘accident’ does not have a clearly defined legal meaning.

 Ways of accidents of children at home

  1. Fall
  2. Chocking
  3. Burn/scald
  4. Poisoning
  5. Cuts
  6. Drowning

A detailed discussion on these are as follows:

a) FALL OR FALLING OBJECTS

 Cause:

Unstable gait of the toddler, presence of objects on floor, lack of supervision, curiosity of the children etc. When children start to move around on their own, there is an increased danger of them pulling objects down on top of themselves.

Prevention:

  • Keep floors free of toys and obstructions.
  • Exercise close supervision when toddler learns to walk.
  • Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces.
  • Check constantly floor surface for wear and tear.
  • Keep floor dry.
  • Always ensure bed-rail of the baby cot is raised when the baby is in the cot.
  • Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair.
  • Windows and doors must be locked to avoid misadventure by children.
  • Avoid placing “step-stones” such as a chair next to a window.
  • Take extra care to avoid side-turning of a baby chair.
  • Being conscious of your kids health means making sure any trailing electrical leads, table cloth edges and dish towels are out of reach in order to help prevent accidents happening.

First Aid:

  1. Don’t panic. Call for help if necessary.
  2. Check the level of consciousness of the infant/child.
  3. Examine the child if airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  4. If breathing and circulation are normal, check for any other injuries on the body.
  5. If bleeding occurs, ensure there is no foreign body in the wound. Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding by covering clean gauze on it and add pressure on the gauze by your hand. Elevate the injured limb.
  6. If deformity is seen on the injured part, do not move it and call for help immediately.

b) CHOKING

Cause:

Accidental swallowing of foreign body, strangulation, covering of head by blankets, accidental suffocation by pillow while baby sleeps in a prone position, near-drowning etc.

Prevention:

  • Choose toys proportionately with the age of children. Avoid toys with detachable small parts.
  • Ensure small objects are kept out of reach of children.
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach of children.
  • Strings and plastic bags should be kept out of reach of children.
  • Foldable furniture should be properly placed and locked. Instruct children not to play with them.
  • Instruct children not to play while eating.
  • Never let children use milk bottle by themselves without adult’s supervision.
  • Never use pillow for baby under one year of age. Do not use large and heavy blanket. Never let the blanket cover the face of children during sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping with baby on the same bed.
  • Never leave children alone in a bath tub or basin filled with water.
  • Bucket filled with water must be covered and keep children away from it.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. Remove the cause from the patient.
  2. Call for help immediately.
  3. Perform CPR if necessary.

c)  BURN/SCALD

Cause:

Scald by hot water, burn by fire, touch on hot objects such as cooking utensils, etc.

Prevention:

  • For adults, never hold a hot drink/food and a child at the same time.
  • Ensure milk, congee or other food stuff is at a reasonable temperature before feeding.
  • Ensure proper fence or door is installed at the entrance of kitchen. Such must be closed at all times. Instruct children not to go into kitchen.
  • While cooking, pay extra attention to the stove fire and the cooking utensil. Turn the pan handle away from the front, and close to the wall.
  • When running a bath for a child, always test water temperature beforehand.
  • All hot objects including an iron or containers with hot matter must not be placed near the margin of a table. Avoid using tablecloth. Matches and lighters should be placed out of reach of children.
  • Instruct children not to wander around when adults are preparing for a meal.
  • Install proper cover to sockets.
  • Warn children to never play with fire.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. If necessary, call for help.
  2. Examine the child if airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  3. If breathing and circulation are normal, check for the burn or scald injures on the body.
  4. Rinse the injury site with tap water for about 10 minutes. If the child feels chilled, stop rinsing.
  5. Cover the injury site with sterile gauze. Dress with bandages.
  6. Never apply toothpaste, soy sauce or other ointments on the injured sites.
  7. Do not puncture any blister.
  8. Do not tear off any burned clothing that sticks on the injured site.

d) POISONING

Cause:

Food poisoning, accidental swallowing of drugs, detergents, insecticides, etc.

Prevention:

  • Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in an isolated, locked cabinet.
  • Always store chemicals in their original containers with appropriate labels.
  • Never tell children drugs are “sweets” as this may give a wrong idea to children.
  • Ensure toys and dining utensils bought; meet the international standard, e.g. colouring materials being non-toxic etc.

First Aid:

  1. Do not panic. Call for help immediately.
  2. Examine the child if the airway is clear (e.g. can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal (observe colour of the face, depth and rate of breathing).
  3. Start CPR if necessary. Be cautious not to contact any chemicals.
  4. If the child is unconscious but the airway is clear, breathing & circulation are normal, place in a lateral position.
  5. Bring along with any vomits and remains of drugs taken when seeking medical treatment.

e)  CUTS

Any cut means that there will be some blood, and this can be one of the most difficult things involved in first aid for children.

Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and apply an antiseptic to the area. Assessing the situation is important, but (generally speaking) if the blood stops following pressure, it is likely to be a minor cut that will not need stitches.

 f)  DROWNING

Young children can drown in very shallow water, so should be supervised at all times when near it. This includes ornamental garden ponds, water features and even baths.

 CALLING FOR HELP

  1. If necessary, call for ambulance service.
  2. Do not panic.
  3. Tell the call-taker how the injury happens and which part of the patient’s body is injured.
  4. Tell the call-taker if the child is conscious.
  5. Clearly tell the call-taker the address where the accident happens, the route leading to this address, and your contact telephone number.
  6. Do not hang up the phone until the call-taker had no further question. Do not rush.

CONCLUSION

Accident cannot be completely avoided, but its occurrence can be prevented. To prevent accident to children, adults should pay more attention to home safety. They should also clear any hidden “hazards” at home and teach children about safety. If accidents happen, stay calm and call for help immediately.

 

Essence of learning a foreign language including English

By: P. Lahiri

Language can be defined as a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, and/ or written symbols. From this definition of language it is clear that the term language does not exclude symbols, gestures or motions, as excluding these would mean denying the language of the deaf community. Human beings use language to express their inner thoughts and emotions, to comprehend complex and abstract thought, to learn to communicate with others, to fulfil human wants and needs as well as to establish social rules and maintain culture. “Language is an extremely important way of interacting with the people around us. We use language to let others know how we feel, what we need, and to ask questions. Language is the light of the mind” – said John Stuart Mill. Human beings have this unique capability of expressing infinite ideas (sentences) with a limited set of symbols (speech, sounds and words). No other species known to date is capable of this art though limited vocalisations by the chimpanzee or some birds are a kind meaningful communication within their species. In fact, language is a cognition that truly makes us humans.

Language Acquisition: Now the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language and then to produce and use words and sentences to communicate is called Language acquisition. Researchers have categorised language acquisition into two phases – first-language acquisition and second-language acquisition. First-language acquisition is a universal process regardless of the home language. Human infants listen to the sounds around them, begin to imitate them, and eventually start producing words of the language the family speaks. Second-language acquisition presupposes knowledge in a first language and comprises the stages an individual goes through as he or she learns the elements of a new language, such as vocabulary, phonological components, grammatical structures and writing systems. The most common instance of second-language acquisition is when a child who speaks a native language other than a foreign language goes to school for the first time and is exposed to people and peers speaking another language. Children find it much easier picking up that second language. This is not to suggest that for others at a later age learning a second language would be that much difficult; but obviously it will need a lot more practice, time and dedication.

Learning a second language is as exciting as it is beneficial at all ages. The benefits are practical, intellectual as well as based on aspirations. In this age of globalisation fluency in a second language opens up a world of opportunities. Nelson Mandela, the great revolutionary and later the President of South Africa aptly said If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language – that goes to his heart.” Also in this regard, the quote of the Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, is as significant – “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

Some of the more important benefits of learning a second language are: Better job prospects, satisfying travel experience, exposure to new cultures, clearer understanding of the world, greater insight into the first language, improved memory function and a profound sense of achievement.

While teaching a foreign language following points have to be factored in:

  • language spoken at home
  • quantum of opportunity to practice the second language
  • internal motivation of the learner
  • reason that the second language is needed (e.g., learning for school purposes, to converse with a friend or for work)

The oldest and the traditional method of teaching a foreign language had been the grammar–translation method also called the classical method which was historically employed for teaching the two classical European languages, Greek and Latin. Under this method, in what is called grammar–translation classes, students are made to learn grammatical rules which they apply in translating sentences from the native language to the target language that is sought to be taught. This method envisages reading a particular text in the source language and writing or reproducing it in the target language mainly paying attention to the form of the sentences. By focusing only on reading and writing, this method undermines speaking and listening. In the Grammar–translation classes, usually conducted in the native language of the students, two things are achieved namely they start learning grammar rules i.e. memorising by repetition and then apply the grammar rules deductively to translate a text of native language into the target language helping the students to further their general intellectual development. Despite the fact that this method of learning a foreign language originated in medieval times it remains to this day, for whatever reasons, the most popular method of learning a foreign language in high school. The likely reason could be that progress in learning foreign language could easily be evaluated by making students take these translation tests.

Notwithstanding the popularity of this method in foreign language instruction, this method has been the single most dominant reason for making learners to hate learning a foreign language. No wonder the method has miserably failed to make people achieve fluency in a foreign language. This shortcoming has sparked a debate as to how important it is to learn grammar in learning a language. While not minimising the importance of learning language grammar, many successful language learners agree that prioritising on learning of grammar is not the best path to tread, in learning a language. Nevertheless, this is not to suggest that one has no need to learn grammar. The only point to emphasise here is that learning grammar can be put off till such time one gets reasonable communicative proficiency in the language much as a child learns a language by listening to others speak it. The fear of grammatical error may create a mental block in learning a language. Grammar really makes sense only if a learner has been exposed to the language for a while. But in the final analysis, if one wants to master a language grammar has to be learnt, some day or the other.

The best course for one to learn a foreign language is to adopt a top down approach which means the learner looks at the big picture first before trying to figure out the details of the rules that were applied in framing of sentences. However, many language teachers would argue that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to leaning a foreign language. Some method may just work well for a learner while some others would find it not the best way to learn a language. When a particular method followed in a language class does not quite work for a learner, he/ she could even develop an aversion to continue in that class. This is because we all learn differently, there being some quick learners and some taking more time to get to grips with a new language.

Learning to converse in a new language beyond childhood can appear very difficult, but the learner can make it easier by not creating more barriers that will hinder progress of the learning curve. To make the learning process much smoother and enjoyable the most workable strategy for the learner would be to stop trying to translate ideas and thoughts from the native language to the target language. After obtaining a basic grasp of vocabulary in the target language, the learner should stop thinking in his/ her native language, trying to translate everything in mind, as this slows down progress and limits the real focus of learning.

One very effective way to learn a foreign language is to read and listen to dialogues in that language for a considerable period of time. This will enable the learner to understand how the language practically works without taking recourse to lengthy grammatical explanations and without memorising endless grammatical rules. Short explanations of the grammatical concepts may be provided after the learner gets to see the concepts actually used in conversations. Reading or listening to practical dialogues containing commonplace words and phrases comes very handy in learning a language. Learning the usages of these words and phrases in actual conversations is more practical because it helps the language-learner to learn the words in their exact context as opposed to memorising long vocabulary lists. Understanding correct usages of words and phrases in proper context helps in retention of vocabulary, in assimilation of the learned concepts and in accelerating conversational fluency in the language. This method of learning a language even prompts the learner to think in the target language as soon as possible. When the learner starts thinking in that language to the extent of saying line by line in the head, the learning process can be said to be nearing culmination.

Importance of learning English as a foreign language:  The English language is one of the most widely spoken and understood languages and is often reckoned as the most influential language in the world. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Well over 67 countries have English as their official or native language, more than any other language in the world. It is one of the official languages of most of the countries of the British Commonwealth besides the USA. The international business community often uses English to communicate. While it is not easy to approximate the exact number of English language speakers in the world, some estimate puts it at around 1.5 billion people who speak English as a first or second language, one of the highest numbers for any language. One needs to be proficient in English language for pursuing education in countries like the UK and the USA. There are several globally recognised examinations for international students to measure their English language ability. 55% of all websites are in English. The bulk of electronic communication is in English; being able to read and write e-mails is of immense advantage.  Some of the world’s best films, TV shows and music are in English. Therefore, learning English will help one for a better understanding of other cultures.

Learning practical English: Learning English at a later age can be quite difficult. Therefore, following propositions the learners may find useful by not creating more barriers in their path of learning.

  1. Refrain from translating: It is advisable to stop thinking in one’s own language and trying to translate everything into English because it grossly slows down learning progress and limits the focus. It is better to proceed with the already acquired vocabulary for creating the expression in English.
  2. Getting over fears of mistakes: Fear about how others may react to one’s speech is a great barrier in the way of conversing. Mistakes are natural for learners and mistakes are a great learning experience to quickly get better.
  3. Avoiding negative thinking: Negative thoughts about perceived difficulties in conversing and harping about mistakes committed earlier hinder progress in learning. Positive thinking boosts confidence in conversation.
  4. Shaking off nervousness: Grabbing every opportunity to speak will go a long way in getting over nervousness.
  5. Refrain from taking it personally: It is desirable to avoid feeling too conscious about accent and pronunciation as it leads to apprehension about others not understanding one’s accent.
  6. Going beyond the classroom: It is imperative not to confine to English conversation within the classroom itself and to grab every opportunity to converse in English even outside in informal surroundings.
  7. Keeping up the effort: Not to give up till one is more confident in conversation should be the motto.
  8. Refraining from comparing oneself to more fluent English speakers: Not everyone has the same pace of learning since opportunities and surroundings vary from person to person.
  9. Not to be apologetic about not being perfect: Perfection comes with time with more and more practice.
  10. Avoiding outdated methods of learning: Not to adopt the Grammar Translation method for leaning that inhibits the process of learning, is the way forward.
  11. Not spending more time in studies: It is advisable to spend more time in application of principles of grammar or rules of language rather than studying about the rules and getting them by heart.
  12. Keeping up effort at reading more texts: Wider reading habits sharpen the knowledge about usages in composition of sentences and refine language skills. This also improves writing skills.

Communications skills help develop intelligence and knowledge which is the key to prosperity and growth in developing and advanced industrial societies, in an increasingly interdependent world. In this context acquiring capability to converse and communicate in widely spoken foreign languages like English becomes indispensable. One more thing is worth remembering in the matter of learning another language; one has to distinguish between nuances of spoken language and the written one.  Speaking the “written version” of the language will make one sound foreign and unnatural. On the other hand, if the speaker sounds natural when speaking, the audience will be honestly impressed and will feel closer to the speaker.

Reference:

http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/languageterm.htm

http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/benefitsoflearningalanguage.htm

https://voxy.com/blog/index.php/2011/04/inspirational-quotes-for-language-learners/

http://languagedevelopment.tripod.com/id2.html

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/language-learning-tips/70729-defining-second-language-acquisition/

http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/language-acquisition-overview

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/philosophy/significance-of-language-in-human-affairs-philosophy-essay.php

http://www.lingholic.com/important-grammar-language-learning/

DISCIPLINE

Shreya Bhattacharjee

shreyabhattacharjee@rediffmail.com

Presently I am a student preparing for various exams of life. At this phase there is this one quote that I have been hearing from a very young age which I am sure even a lot many of my readers must have heard and that is “Discipline leads to success”.

Now this sometimes makes me wonder as to what discipline in itself means. According to my observation majority of the people tend to confuse discipline with good habits. In an attempt to be more elaborate, it is often considered that if a child greets his elders and respects them, then the child must be well disciplined. People need to realize that though there is a very thin line of difference between the two words “discipline” and “good habits” but the difference needs to be considered.

By the word “discipline” all I mean is a very high form of self awareness to realize what is good for me and what is not. This self awareness obviously comes from maturity and experience. Being disciplined is not being exactly spiritual but is much closer to it. Spirituality in this context can be associated as having attained a state of absolute inner peace which is not always attained in case of discipline. One needs to understand that getting up early in the morning is a good habit, but the motivation which pushes you out of your bed despite of your intense desire to fall asleep again is what is known as being disciplined. This might not always lead to a sense of inner peace (momentarily) as mentioned above. Becoming disciplined is a state of mind which can only be achieved by gradually training of our mind.

To be disciplined is being harsh on oneself which is a primary reason as to why it gets even tougher to maintain this decision as time passes by. But please do not consider the fact that discipline leads to depression. Initially the act of self control might be a bit depressing but as soon as you start watching yourself getting more successful than your previous lifestyle used to provide you automatically you start accepting discipline in a positive way.

One of the major motivations among the people to be disciplined is the thirst to achieve a complete state of perfection. People want to look equally good, equally beautiful, be equally well mannered and equally rich and successful. Perfection in itself is a state which requires infinitesimal improvements providing which is impossible for human beings. Nothing in this universe is absolutely perfect and nor are we. Expecting oneself to become absolutely perfect often leaves a person with dissatisfaction, confusion and grudges. With the help of discipline we can try to achieve a state a bit closer to perfection.

According to me one of the most basic and the sole reason behind indiscipline is lack of interest. Usually when we are assigned a task which we are not interested in but due to some reason we are forced to do it, we have a tendency to get distracted by the pettiest of the things around us. In such cases we get attracted to the highly luring, distractive bad habits which promise us with temporary, momentary pleasures instead of focusing on our long term, permanent pleasures.

I do personally feel that creating interest in a distasteful matter. It is rather difficult compared to being disciplined and using self control as your weapon against all distractions and boredoms. So here I have laid down a few effective points of everyday use which can help to get more disciplined.

  1. REMOVE TEMPTATIONS:

This goes with the famous old saying “out of sight, out of mind”. For example if you are on a quest to achieve fitness, then keeping a bar of chocolate in your room would make life really, really difficult for you to achieve your fitness goals. Hence, the best ways to achieve your goals and continue with your act of self control is to keep your distractions as much as possible out of our sight.

  1. CREATE A RIGHT MOMENT:

By what is written above, I mean to highlight on a very common habit of people to procrastinate. People often have a tendency to give excuses like “I’m not ready to overtake this challenge now” or “this is not the right moment”. Sarcastically speaking I don’t think that for a student to get motivated and start working hard for his/ her upcoming exams, he/ she needs to wait for some astronomically predicted auspicious moment. I just want to make my readers get one thing clear that you are just one small decision away from a totally different life, a life that you dream of always and that decision is to act now. Be disciplined, have high self control, remove all your distractions and start working right now.

  1. REWARD YOURSELF:

The act of self control and being disciplined overtime becomes too much punishing and also demoralizing. So to keep yourself motivated plan out an award for yourself. For example if you are on a fitness challenge and are maintaining a strict diet chart then you can give yourself your favorite ice cream treats on Sundays. This would not only keep you motivated but also give you the energy to work hard. It will help you to look forward to your next award. But I would also like to mention that you should keep a proper balance between your award and your working schedules. Your award however luring it may be, must not interfere under any circumstances with your working schedule.

  1. FORGIVE AND FORGET:

Instituting a new way of thinking will not always go according to your plan. You will have ups and downs, fabulous success and flat out failures. The key is to keep moving forward. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. It is easy to get wrapped up in guilt, anger or frustrations but these emotions will not help you build self discipline. Instead, use the hiccups in your plans as learning experience for the future. Forgive yourself, and get back in the saddle. The longer you are off your game, the harder it is to keep going in a positive direction.

Being disciplined is difficult but believe me this is one sole habit which has given birth to all the successful legends known to your knowledge. The equation is simple, more disciplined you are more successful you become.

Indo-Pakistan: Conflict, Root Cause and Resolution

By: P. Lahiri

To correctly understand the nature of India-Pakistan conflict one has to look back to the 8th century when a petty Arab warlord and mercenary briefly conquered parts of Sindh and Multan. Thereafter, over thirteen centuries Mohammedan conquests of the Sub-continent through Afghanistan probably left a trail of the bloodiest saga of atrocities in world history,

The Two Nation Theory: The demise of the Islamic political order in the sub-continent in the 17th century upon consolidation of British rule, made its Muslim population remain communally surcharged. Some educated Muslim thinkers, not ideologically homogenous, tried to assume leadership of the community to revive the lost Islamic glory. Some of them sought to push Muslims back into medieval era of rule by Sharia (Islamic canonical law). Others like Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan and Sir Mohammad Iqbal (popularly known as Allama Iqbal) who were modernist reformers, stressed on modern education among the Muslims as a means to regain their political domination over Hindus. Sir Sayed founded the Aligarh Muslim University where the first idea of Pakistan germinated. Allama Iqbal, initially a great exponent of Indian nationalism advocating a strong united India, later narrowed his viewpoint to a communal interpretation of Muslim nationalism so much so that he first articulated the “Two Nation Theory” in his presidential address to Allahabad session of the Muslim League in 1930 sowing the seeds of Muslim separatism. Thus Iqbal became the political ideologue for Pakistan movement though it was one Mr. Rahmat Ali who coined the word ‘Pak-i-stan’, (Pak meaning purity and Stan meaning place) to propose a south-Asian federation for Muslims consisting of Punjab, NWFP, Sindh, Balochistan and Kashmir and raised the slogan “Now or Never” in 1933 to force the issue. Finally, it was left to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the English educated, scotch drinking, bright lawyer to take the movement forward. Allama Iqbal explained in a letter to Jinnah his vision of a separate Muslim state. In Jinnah the Muslims found an elite face to match Nehru of the Indian National Congress. Iqbal the ideologue died in 1938 but after successfully converting Jinnah the politician from an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity to a communal Muslim leader. In justifying the two nation theory Jinnah emphasised that Muslims and Hindus were two different nations from every definition. They owned different religious philosophies, literatures and social customs, not ready to either intermarry or inter-dine together. Their civilisations are different deriving their inspiration from different sources of history, epics, heroes and episodes. For Jinnah, the Congress became “Gandhi Hindu Congress.” He accused Congress Ministries formed in different provinces after the elections under the 1935 Government of India Act, of interference with Muslim religious rites, undermining the economy of the Muslims and promoting Hindi at the expense of Urdu. Constructing an impossibility of coexistence of the Hindus and Muslims under a Congress regime, he warned such an eventuality would mean degradation of the dignity of the Muslims. This communal propaganda created a fear complex in Muslim minds about Hindu domination in British India and times thereafter, making them search for a vent for their political frustrations. This was the period when freedom movement under Indian National Congress (INC) was getting momentum. With the British engaged in the Second World War India pushed hard for independence with INC spearheading the Quit India movement and the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose launching the military campaign from East Asia.

But then, unnoticed by most, the entire sub-continent was pushed by a silent communal hate campaign onto a bed of gunpowder of communal violence making it a recipe for an impending disaster. Hindu-Muslim acrimony reached a flashpoint. On the fateful day of August 16th, 1946 labelled by Muslims as the “Direct Action Day,” a protest rally pre-planned by the Muslim League to exhibit the intensity of Muslim feelings, both to the British and the Congress, was turned into a communal conflagration claiming the lives of 4000 Hindus and Sikhs on the streets of Calcutta city (also known as ‘Great Calcutta Killings’). This was followed by a series of gruesome mass murders, rapes, abductions and forced conversions of Hindus to Muslim, looting and arson of Hindu properties, perpetrated by the Muslim community in October 1946, lasting over a week, in the district of Noakhali in the then Bengal province. The Bengali Hindus forcefully converted into Islam were compelled to write statements that they did so of their own volition. This method of ethnic cleansing resulted in mass migration of Hindus from districts of Muslim majority East Bengal (later christened East Pakistan) to West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. This was when Gandhi’s peace mission failed and Congress Party leadership and the British Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten had been compelled to acquiesce to the Partition of India into two dominions India and Pakistan.

Indo Pakistan Conflict:

  1. The fundamental basis of the India-Pakistan conflict lies in the Islamic doctrine which divides all of Humanity into two nations that transcend all man-made boundaries of countries. The doctrine says that all Muslims in the world are deemed to be part of one single nation calleddar-ul-islam (Nation of Islam), a nation where they can practise Islam as ruling sect. Contrarily, all non-Muslims belong to dar-ul-harb (Nation-of-War) which may also include Muslim majority lands where Muslims cannot rule as per Islamic laws based on Quranic principles. Hence is the need for strife or war to bring them to be ruled under Islamic laws. It is incumbent upon Pakistan to fight God’s holy war against India (dar-ul-harb).
  2. The India-Pakistan relation is a victim of an identity crisis for Pakistan. Educated Pakistanis are still trying to figure out where its history started. If assumed that it started in August 1947 there is very little to fall back upon for this geographical area that is Pakistan today. The ancient history of the region prior to this was largely of a Hindu-Buddhist civilisation that Pakistan must deny while constructing its different identity. This crisis of identity drives most Pakistanis to believe that history began from 712 AD when Mohammad bin Qasim, a petty Arab general of the Ummayad dynasty of Syria conquered Sindh. To construct an Arab lineage, an ordinary Pakistani had to endure the indoctrination that this Arab conqueror was the true founder of Pakistan conveniently ignoring the historical fact that the Ummayad Dynasty, that Bin Qasim belonged to, was the same dynasty which had in it the sworn enemy and murderer of ImamHussain the descendent of Mohammad (founder of Islam). Writings of most Nationalist Pakistani historians deliberately focussed on their glorious Mughal and Arab ancestry besides the two-nation theory. This explains why the character of Bin Qasim remained in oblivion during the medieval period only to be revived after twelve centuries as a national icon in response to communalism which emerged in 1924. Pakistan recognised Muhammad Bin Qasim as a conqueror hero because he converted Sindh to Islam. However, Charles Napier, the British Army commander who also invaded Sindh in 1843 and modernised it without converting it to Christianity has no other identity than that of an invader. Interestingly, the favourite fiction among all sub-continental Muslims more particularly those of Pakistan is to trace their lineage to a great general or a saint of Arab origin. Despite most Pakistanis being the progeny of the converts they loved to believe that their ancestors had arrived in Sindh with the army under Mohammad bin Qasim. Sadly enough though, their ancestors had converted to a faith professing human equality the Arabs in reality discriminated against the converts as “Hindis.”
  3. Pakistan refuses to accept the irrelevance proved twice of the two nation theory which said – Muslims of the subcontinent being a different nation could not be part of pluralistic India where they could live in harmony with Hindus. First time it was proved irrelevant, was when a numerically vast Muslim population decided to stay back in partitioned India. Later East Pakistan, the majority province that supported the creation of Pakistan based on the two-nation theory, separated itself in 1971, proving that the theory was less potent than the language spoken by the populace. The apologists of the theory, however, try to save face saying Bangladesh decided to remain an Islamic country after secession though the overriding reason for secession was persecution of the local population on the basis of their language and culture.
  4. Finally Pakistan calls the Kashmir dispute with India as the core unsolved issue. It fought three wars with India in 1948, 1965 and in 1999 to annex Kashmir from Indian control. Both India and Pakistan laid claim to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, then under a Hindu Ruler Hari Singh who remained indecisive about the future of the state. Pakistan pushed Pashtun tribal fighters backed by its regular forces in October 1947 into Kashmir and almost overran the Dogra forces of the Kashmiri Ruler, coming within miles of capturing the capital Srinagar. This is when the ruler turned for help from India which demanded accession to India as pre-condition for help. The ruler signed the Instrument of Accession and Indian Army managed to push back the invading Pakistan backed tribal forces. The lingering conflict made Prime Minister Nehru approach the United Nations which brokered a cease-fire leaving Pakistan in control of 37% of the erstwhile princely state. The UN resolution asks for holding a plebiscite in the state after Pakistan vacates its occupation for final resolution of the territorial dispute. Pakistan refuses to vacate its occupation and India lays claim to the entire state by virtue of the accession treaty. Pakistan lost both the wars it started in 1965 and 1999 to wrest Kashmir from India though its propaganda machinery misinforms its population that it won these wars.
  5. Both India and Pakistan became nuclear powers in May, 1998. India which holds overwhelming superiority in conventional military capability over Pakistan now faces nuclear bluff from Pakistan which blackmails India by refusing to declare a no-first-use doctrine, making South Asia the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world.
  6. Since realising that it cannot wrest Kashmir from Indian control by military means Pakistan has embarked on a covert insurgency campaign since 1988 using Jihadi terrorist outfits nurtured in its own backyard. It has vowed to inflict a thousand cuts on India through a proxy war by relentlessly sending indoctrinated terrorist suicide attackers striking all over India resulting in civilian casualties to terrorise the population of India. The terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001 and the daring attack at several places in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 are major acts of terrorism.

Root cause: Kashmir dispute is only the symptom and not the root cause of the conflict that exists between India and Pakistan. The root cause is the conflict between religious exclusivism and pluralism. Ever since the advent of Islam in the subcontinent in the 8th century, India has been the victim of this brand of religious exclusivism. The kind of exclusivism that exists in Islamic societies the world over irrespective of whether or not the followers of Islam are in majority or minority has kept the social strife alive. The exclusivism that exists in Islamic societies even today is similar to the one that existed in the European Christian societies of the 16th century, prior to the Protestant Reformation. In the past thirteen centuries that the Muslims have lived in India they have been in many ways thoroughly assimilated into the diversity of India. But the concept of dar-ul-harb has kept the conflict and war still existent. The two nation theory, the type of ethnic cleansing witnessed in Noakhali in 1947 and in Kashmir valley in 1990 are instances of this doctrine of Islam at play. So even if the Kashmir dispute is by any remote possibility settled, there is nothing to believe that India-Pakistan conflict will cease. If only Islam takes a leaf out the West’s experience of Christian Reformation movement, people of both the nations can think of coming out of this discord.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/politics/why-india-and-pakistan-were-separated

http://www.thetinyman.in/2016/03/muhammad-bin-qasim-failed-terrorist.html

http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/paper895

http://rajivmalhotra.com/library/articles/root-india-pakistan-conflicts/

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Blog Management & Panel Members..

Methods of Motivating for Sales Staffs

By: Anamitra Roy

B.Com. (Hons.) [C.U.], Certified Financial Accountant (CMC), DFA (CMC), PGDBF (HSIS India), Certified Financial Accountant (GLOBSYN Skills & NSDC), GPBL (TASMAC & University of Wales), Associate Member – NIPM.

Motivating the sales department staffs remains one of the most difficult and crucial jobs in any business. It is the sales department who will acquire the business and make the organization run by ensuring a smooth flow of money. In the absence of a motivated sales department there will be shortage of business, leading to a shortage of funds. That is bound to hamper the smooth operations in relation to the day to day activities as well as the future long term plans of the organization. So they (the employees in the sales department) will have to be motivated properly. It is very often said in modern day human resource management that motivated people run faster than jets. When you have a bunch of motivated sales staffs, they not only help you to earn business volumes, but it also has to be remembered that motivated people are happy people. Thus, motivated sales staffs are a very important and effective source of advertisement.

Generally speaking, methods of motivation may vary from man to man. But still there are some generalized methods followed by talent development departments around the world. A discussion on some of these methods is as follows:

  • Proper Recognition:

Recognition is a very important tool for motivation. In the absence of recognition employees become sluggish performers and develop frustration against the management of the organization. During recognition of the contributions of sales staffs in the organization, they are told/ reminded about their importance in the organization. Recognition sort of highlights/ prominent the job role played by sales staffs.

  • A Proper Plan of Incentives:

Incentives are a great source of motivation. However, it also has to be mentioned here that there are arguments against motivating sales staffs or for that matter any staff through financial rewards. But there are lots of organizations in favor of it. NIIT, one of the Indian IT training giants has financial reward schemes for the employees of its franchisee departments. In NIIT when an employee successfully opens a franchisee training centre, 17% of the franchisee registration fees is paid to the employee as a financial reward. Psychologists and human resource development experts are mostly against usage of financial rewards as tolls of motivation because that creates severe completion, sometimes unhealthy completion and jealousy among employees which instead of motivating them, may ruin the work environment in the organization.

  • Suggestions from the Sales Staffs:

The staffs from the sales department usually interact most with the prospective as well as the existing consumers and customers. So they know the market demands better than anybody else (read: staffs from other departments in the organization). Hence, while devising new products, their opinion about the market demands will have to be given utmost importance. If the R & D department makes the new products according to the suggestions given to them by the staffs of the sales department then the sales department staffs will have products that have the demand in markets. Thus they will be able to sell these newly launched products in a much easier way. This method of motivating of sales staffs has been developed from an old school of marketing management thinkers. These thinkers think that in order to ensure sales of products one should not try to match the demands with the existing products. Instead products will have to be developed according to the needs of customers and consumers.

  • The Philosophy of Education:

Education in India is viewed as God … as a means of attaining the greater heights of life and achieving purity. In this country Goddess Saraswati is worshipped as the Goddess of education. Sales as a career and profession offer one of the most exciting and enriching fields. Sales experience can be one of the greatest educators.

In order to avoid monotony of work, sales staffs can be told about the great experience that they are gathering, about the usefulness of this experience and price of this experience. In order to keep the sales staffs motivated, they may be told about the great education that they are receiving about human characters, markets, economic systems, consumer behavior, psychology etc. when they are interacting with customers, traveling from one place to another and trying to convince the hardest of the customers.

  • Counseling:

In a sales job there is always a pressure of target that is usually measurable in terms of money. At times such a target can be extremely steep. Chasing such targets can be stressful. It is believed by many counselors that stress is one of the commonest factors that force many people to come out of a sales job. On not achieving the targets the staffs of the sales departments may get frustrated and slowdown in their pace of achieving the targets. This can be avoided by periodical counseling of the sales departmental staffs through trained counselors and stress management experts.

Thus above have been stated some ways by which the staffs of the sales department can be kept motivated. However, in this context it will have to be remembered that these methods may not be equally responsible for motivating the staffs of the sales departments always.

Ultimately what is needed to motivate the staffs of the sales department is a harmonious blend of all the motivation methods written above. The degree and the intensity may vary from time to time and from circumstances to circumstances.

 

Merit or Seniority – better criterion for promotion

By: P. Lahiri

One of the most disconcerting decisions that human resource managers have been facing in deciding who to promote from within an organisation for bestowing higher responsibilities; whether they are serving senior and experienced employees of the organisation or those bright individuals who have proved their worth by their performance. Unarguably therefore, the most difficult part of the promotion policy that can be implemented by any organisation, is to select the criteria for conferring higher responsibilities to an existing employee, namely seniority or ability. There is no clear cut answer to this riddle as there are some seemingly strong arguments on both sides of this conundrum. Viewed simply, an effective promotion policy focuses on advancing employees based on their skills and performance, while shunning favouritism. It is important to determine the minimum criteria for advancement and make employees well aware of the standards they must meet to earn promotions. Skill and performance of employees can only be evaluated over a minimum time span which each employee is required to spend in the organisation. So the promotion policy should make it clear to employees about the definite time every employee need to spend in an organisation before he/ she can be considered for promotion. Having spoken about the importance of skill and performance of an employee and the minimum period over which these attributes are to be evaluated, the focus now shifts to another equally important benchmark for advancement which is on-the-job experience earned. More time spent within the organisation gives an insight to any employee about the nature of job and the best way to perform it. An experienced employee is an asset for any organisation, as much time and resources have already been invested in such individual. Many human resource professionals also believe, seniority adds value to an employee in terms of competence due to greater exposure. Accordingly, it adds relevance to provide the senior people in an organisation with opportunities for career advancement along with rewards or benefits that come with higher age.

 Need for a clear promotion policy:

The need to lay down a clear and unambiguous promotion policy is of immense importance. An unclear promotion policy can lead to conflicts and high turnover rates among employees who do not understand why some co-workers received precedence in promotion over them. Additionally, vague promotion procedures may also appear discriminatory. To avoid these ambiguities, the need for employers to adopt a transparent promotion policy and to apply the policy’s standards to all the employees seeking advancement, cannot be overstated.

 Seniority vs. Performance as criteria for promotion:

Before proceeding to decide on the desirability of adopting one criterion over the other it is vital to rightly interpret the terms, “Seniority” and “Performance.”

Seniority means the tenure of an employee in an organization. Seniority is something which comes with experience in some kind of work or in a particular position in the company. Such experience may also sometimes mean cumulative experience in various kinds/ levels of jobs in the company. It also signifies loyalty to the company and is measured by the seniority clock that runs from the moment the employee reports to work until the employee quits or is fired.

Performance is a distinction that is measurable. It reflects in the working behaviour of the employee. It is measured in terms of an employee’s involvement in the development of the company. It distinguishes hard work, quantum of work and also the quality of work delivered by an employee who contributes to the company’s growth in the best possible manner.

The proponents of seniority and those of performance as basis for advancement of employees, have very strong arguments in favour of their propositions. Objectively speaking, there are benefits/ advantages and detriments/ disadvantages in both the systems. Following lines enumerate advantages and disadvantages of both the systems:

Advantages of “Seniority” based promotions:

  1. Senior employees of an organization have better understanding of the organisational culture, vision and goals.
  2. Senior employees have on their side the advantage of more experience which is an invaluable asset for assuming higher responsibilities.
  3. Experienced employees make better team leaders for executing jobs where collective effort is needed.
  4. The measurement of seniority is simple, exact and also objective leaving no room for favouritism, nepotism, discrimination and retaliation.
  5. It protects and boosts an employee’s morale which in turn helps to increase productivity of the employee.
  6. It recognises and rewards loyalty to the organisation.
  7. It reduces labour turnover.
  8. It promotes industrial peace by making the workplace more harmonious especially in more unionised organisations.
  9. Seniority based promotions may help in attaining high levels of competence due to longer work exposure.

Disadvantages of “Seniority” based promotions:

  1. A more senior employee does not necessarily mean a more productive employee.
  2. Senior employees with long years at their back tend to be less enthusiastic and sometimes work listlessly which may prove detrimental to reaching goals of the company.
  3. Senior employees tend to display inertia to adapt to changes and prefer to stick to long-standing procedures.
  4. Promotion driven by seniority is a reward system that is based on entitlement rather than self improvement through acquisition of newer skills and training.
  5. Seniority based advancements are less likely to promote excellence within an organisation as employees may feel that promotions are guaranteed after completion of a certain period of time within the company. Such practice may promote a culture of mediocrity in the organisation.
  6. Holding onto senior employees rewarding them with higher positions with enhanced pay may prove costlier as talented younger employees can be obtained by offering a lesser compensation package.
  7. Seniority driven advancement may stifle motivation and fuel resentment among talented individuals with lesser experience.

Advantages of “Merit” based promotions:

  1. Merit based promotions by recognising high-performers nurtures a culture of healthy competition and productivity.
  2. Since actual performance, efficiency and talents are rewarded, this system of promotion encourages the employees to enhance their knowledge in maintaining a high level of productivity.
  3. It is very effective in putting the most productive, competent and talented person for specialised nature of jobs.
  4. Talent based promotion incentivises even new employees to improve their performance since promotion is made on the basis of competence, capability and efficiency.
  5. Performance driven promotion policy is effective in creating a sense of accountability among employees.
  6. It helps a HR manager to face the challenge of retention of talent, as high performers, driven by their urge to accelerate the professional goals, are always inclined to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
  7. It helps an employee to plan his own career trajectory within the organisation.

 

Disadvantages of “Merit” based promotions:

  1. The inevitable criticism of merit based promotions is that it may result in favouritism, nepotism, discrimination and victimisation by the management.
  2. The unsatisfied senior employees if superseded may resort to agitations and other activities emanating from resentments, impairing industrial peace and harmony.
  3. An essential pre-requisite of performance based promotions is a proper method of performance appraisal or merit rating which is not easy to make it foolproof.
  4. Lack of much experience may not make an employee effective when promoted into a position of leadership. Such shortcomings may affect performance of the group he/ she leads.

Conclusion:

Neither seniority nor merit can be accepted as a sole basis for promotion. Based only on seniority, a promotion system will offer less incentive to learn and improve. The employees will only bide their time to wait for their turn to secure promotion. And summarily ignoring seniority in deciding on promotion will not recognise the inherent importance of experience of tenured employees. A well formulated promotion policy should be the one that can be executed properly whenever any vacancy arises. A promotion system based on merit needs to be fully structured to avoid the element of conjecture in it.  Various jobs within the organisation should be well defined and rated and employees should be made aware of ratings. A sound promotion policy should be made on the combined basis of merit and seniority. Both seniority and merit should be given due weightage in a robust promotion policy. When ability is substantially equal, seniority should be taken into account. In specialised posts, talent, skill and ability should get precedence over seniority. For other posts a two track promotion system may be formulated whereby in the normal track, some posts may be filled on the basis of seniority only, provided the senior employee meets a minimum benchmark of performance set by the company. On the other hand, in the other track of elevation which can be named a fast track, an employee who has put in a minimum qualifying period of service can be evaluated with a slightly more demanding yardstick of performance to secure promotion. A promotion policy should not be static and needs to be reviewed at definite intervals so that it fulfils the growth of an organisation as well as offers its employees scope for their professional advancement.

Reference:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.in/pallavi-jha/merit-vs-seniority-picking-the-right-employees-to-promote/
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140919230923-59817714-does-seniority-matter-in-employment-should-promotion-be-based-on-merit-or-seniority
  3. http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/employee-management/priority-of-seniority-and-merit-in-promotion-policy-with-diagram/25982/
  4. http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/employee-management/promotion-policy-its-definition-advantages-and-disadvantages/27915/
  5. http://accountlearning.com/basis-of-promotion-merit-vs-seniority-sound-promotion-policy/