Nepali must for Hill postings triggers row

The West Bengal College Service Commission's decision to make written and verbal command over Nepali language as a must for the candidates keen to get jobs in the faculty of colleges located in Darjeeling hills has led to widespread criticisms from aspirants as well as former administrative officials who feel that it could invite legal challenges.

On December 28, the commission released an advertisement saying that for the post of assistant professor and librarian in colleges located in Darjeeling Sadar, Kalimpong and Kurseong, good power of spoken and written expression in Nepali and English is essential.

Aspirants argue that a candidate born and brought up in Kolkata and having no knowledge of Nepali will never be then able to teach in colleges in the hills.

Debasish Sarkar, former secretary of the West Bengal Higher Education Council, said the advertisement creates discrimination amongst the candidates, and the government can get into legal tangles if Nepali language is made essential for postings in the hills.

There are 14 colleges in the hills with a total vacancy of around 1,550 posts.

Siddhartha Majumder, chairman of the commission, defended the decision that as most of the Nepali-speaking population stays in the hills, so the faculty members should be well-versed in the local language. "So, we have made Nepali language as an essential qualification for posting in the hill region," he said.

Sources said if there is strong opposition, the criterion could be relaxed by making the knowledge of Nepali as desirable and not essential.

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