MARGINALIZATION OF THE LEPCHA LANGUAGE IN THE DARJEELING HILLS, WEST BENGAL
A SOCIO-POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE
The Asiatic Society,Kolkata
1.0. The Demographic Status
The Lepcha speech community calls themselves ‘Mutanchi Rongkup Rumkup’and their language is called Rongring. The Lepcha language is spoken mainly in Darjeeling District of West Bengal and Sikkim. It is also spoken in Bhutan and Nepal.
According to 2001 Census, total Lepcha population in India was 50,629. The population strength of Lepcha in Sikkim is 35, 728 according to 2001 Census and 14,731 in West Bengal according to 2001 census.[Ref: Census of India-2001 Paper-1 of 2007,language India, States and Union Territories, Table C-16. Office of the Registrar General of India, Govt. Of India, New Delhi 2008] Lepchas are also settled in Bhutan (Samasti district)—the population strength being 2,000(2001 Van Driem) and in Nepal (Ilam district)—- the population strength being 1,272 (1961 Census) [according to website : http://www.ethnologue.com]
Apart from Sikkim and West Bengal, Lepcha is also spoken in Bhutan (lower valleys in the West and South) and Nepal (Mechi zone, Ilam district). In Nepal Lepcha is recognized as an official nationality by the Govt. of Nepal. In both these countries they are mainly agriculturalists, pastoralists and are followers of traditional religion and Buddhism (lamaist).
Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. The Lepcha language belongs to the Tibeto Burman sub-family under Tibeto-Chinese/Sino-Tibetan language family. It is placed in the non-pronominalised group of the Himalayan languages under the Tibeto-Burman sub-family.(Grierson,G.A.1908. Linguistic Survey of India. Vol.III, Pt.I.)
3.0.OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study investigates and analyses the status of the Lepcha language in West Bengal. The motivation behind language choice and use, and the language attitude of the Lepcha speech community has been viewed significantly in the study. The use and choice of language in close interaction is relevant from the point of view of language identity. The range of the use of mother tongue of the Lepchas of Darjeeling also brings into light a picture of the opportunity a speaker gets in using their mother tongue in various social domains of interaction. Living in a multilingual environment, the attitude of this minority community towards their mother tongue has been focused in order to bring into light the effort which the community is undertaking to promote their mother tongue.
4.0. PRESENT STATUS OF LANGUAGE USE
The use of the Lepcha language in different social domains in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district has been viewed significantly for the purpose of the present study.
Following are the various domains which have been considered significant in using the language.
4.1.The Speech Variety:
The speech variety has the status of autonomy (a full fledged language). No work on language variation in terms of geographical and social space has been recorded.
4.2.The Orthographic status of the Language:
The Lepcha language has its own ancient script. The Lepcha alphabet is known as ‘Rong Chhyoming’. Lepcha book of alphabet is known as ‘Lazaong’. Lepcha script is standardized. The first Lepcha Primer was published in Lepcha characters in 1929 in Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta.
4.3.Codification(availability status of Dictionary, Spelling manuals, Grammars)
Codification of norms refers to the phenomenon when a selection was made regarding the language variety by some agency, e.g., individual having authority starts out to make dictionaries, spelling manuals, grammars, etc. to fix the variety so that a norm is established and the members of the speech variety agrees to that part. The intellectual credibility must be there for codification.
The available publications are presented in the following.
1. Tamsang, K.P. 1982.Lazaong ( book of glossary, lexicon, syllabic scheme, etc.) Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press.
2. Tamsang, K.P. 1980. Lepcha English Encyclopedic Dictionary. Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press. Second edition 2009.
3. Tamsang, K. P. 1978.A Grammar of the Lepcha Language (in Lepcha). Kalimpong: Mani Printing works.
4. An English to Lepcha Dictionary in 1996. Gangtok: Lyandok Kurmon, Gangtok, Sikkim.
5. Mainwaring G. B. 1876. A Grammer of the Lepcha (Rong) Lepcha Language as it exists in the Sikkim and Dorjiling Hills, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta.
6. Mainwaring,G.B.1896. Dictionary of the Lepcha Language. Revised and completed by Albert Grunwedel. Berlin:Unger.
7.Sinha,P.1966. Descriptive Grammar of Lepcha. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.Pune:Deccan College.
8. K.P. Tamsang 1999. Lepcha Proverbs Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press.
9. K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Proverbs with English Equivalent-1998. Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press etc.
4.4. Elaboration of Function (range of use):
Broadly speaking, Lepcha is basically used in the intimate and home domain.
In West Bengal the language has no place in the Primary and Secondary education system of West Bengal.( On the other hand in Sikkim, Lepcha is taught as a subject matter in the Government schools up to undergraduate level).
It is only taught in the Lepcha Night Schools of Darjeeling district run by the sole initiative of The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association in the village levels upto XIIth standard. There are 40+ (forty plus) Lepcha Night Schools in the Darjeeling Hills.
4.5.Implementation of the language by the community:
i)Register and Style:
Register refers to language variation in the occupational lexical level with special reference to the context of situation.
Some registral variation is evident in the language. e.g., vocables used for medicinal plants, farming, insects etc.
Stylistic variation can be observed in case of poems and narrative writings.
4.6. Legal status of the Language
There is no officially declared status of Lepcha in West Bengal.
Lepcha speech community is considered to be a scheduled tribe pertaining to the state of West Bengal.
4.7. Development of the language:
The literary contributions are mostly done by the native speakers of the language. The literary efforts in the language has been enumerated below.
i) Translations works:
Some translation works are available. Translations are essentially from Tibetan, English, Bangla, and Hindi languages. Following translation works are available in the language.
1.‘Gitanjali’ from Bangla by P.T. Simick.
2.Buddhist scriptures from Tibetan
3. Gospel from English (First Bible published in Lepcha in 1845 from Baptist Mission Press)
4. New Testament from English
5. Hymn Books
7. Old Testament
ii)Religious Writings :
Namtho Namthar, the indigenous Lepcha literary works attest nature worshipping as the traditional practice of the Lepcha people. These Namtho Namthars are available only with the Lepchas of Kalimpong, Darjeeling. Naamtho Naamthaar have also been translated into English but they remain unpublished. Lepcha Hymn books (religious songs: 200 songs approx.) were published from Baptist Mission Press.
Articles on ideological writings are published in magazines by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association.
iv)Categories of Literature
Literary works of various types like Narratives, Lyrics, Plays, Songs, Fictions and other non-narratives are available in the Lepcha language.
Some of the literary contributions have been mentioned in the following.
1. Mayel Pundor
2.Muk Jek Ding Rum Fat
3.Chyoo Rum Fat
4.Chyoo Zong etc
1. Kayu Rong Vom Chyo
2. Rong Zyung Vom
3. Sakyoo Rum Faat Chyo
4. Chyoo, Da an Lep
5. Taarsyok kaat sagraam rongkup kati
6. Nyoo Thing Laom Fron etc
1.Kingchum do Arepjong
2. Zer Fo Kup (collection of plays)
3. Nahan Bri
4. Rongnyoo Rongeet
5. Zer Kaomlenla Kursong Sarvo Rip Ryoo etc.
1. Aamoo Ringdom Pyok lao Chaakaa (collection of songs)
2. Vom Panaol (A Gift of Songs)
3. Chhakdaong Panaol etc
4.8. Works on the Language:
Some of the works on the Lepcha language, literature and speech community that are worth mentioning are presented in the following:
1.Awasty,Indira.1978.Between Sikkim and Bhutan (the Lepchas and Bhutanese of Pedong)Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation.
2.Benedict,Paul K.1972.Sino-Tibetan:A Conspectus. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press
3.Bhattacharya, A. 1989.Sikkim.New Delhi:National Book Trust India.
Campbell, A.1840. ‘Note on Lepchas of Sikkim’. JASB vol.IX: 379-393
4.Chakraborti,A. 1978. Read Lepcha (An introduction to the Lepcha or Rong Scripts Self instructor for reading the language) NewDelhi.
5.Chattopadhyay,T. 1946.Lepchas and their heritage. Delhi: B.R. Publishing.
6.Das,A.K.and Banerjee,S.1962. The Lepchas of Darjeeling district. Govt of West Bengal: Director of Tribal Welfare.
7.Das,A.K.1975. ‘The Lepchas in the eyes of earlier authors’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XI,No.1&2:80-90.
8.Das,A.K.1978. The Lepchas of West Bengal. S.Dey for Editions Indian.
9. Dattamajumdar,S. 2009. ‘Reduplicated Expressives in Lepcha’ . Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics ,vol.2. No.2. 19-25.UK.
10.Dattamajumdar,S. 2009. ‘A Deterministic Study of the language Attitude of Lepcha.’ Journal of the Asiatic Society. Vol. L1,No.4. 13-28
11. Dattamajumdar, S. 2009. ‘Language Proficiency and Preference: A Case study with Lepcha’ in the Proceedings of The International Conference on World Languages and North-East Languages: Convergence, Enrichment or Death. NEHU: Shillong.
12.Debbarman,P.1992. ‘Education among the Lepchas of Darjeeling’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XVIII,No.1&2:29-31
13.Foning,A.R.1972. ‘The Children of Kanchenjunga’.Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.IX,No.1&2:61-63.
14.Foning,A.R.1979. ‘A short account of the Lepcha Language’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIII,No.3&4:20-30.
15.Foning,A.R.1980. ‘Some customary laws of our Lepcha Tribe’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIV,No.1&2:17-21.
16.Foning, A.R. 1987. Lepcha, my vanishing tribe. New Delhi: Sterling
17.Gorer, G.1984.Lepchas of Sikkim. Delhi: Cultural Publishing House.
18.Grierson,G.A. 1908.Linguistic Survey of India.Vol.III, Pt.I.
19.Hermanns,Matthias. 1954.The Indo-Tibetans; The Indo-Tibetan &Mongoloid Problem in the Southern Himalaya and North –Northeast India. Bombay: K.L. Fernandes.
20.Kloss.A, Mahapatra,B.P, Padmanabha,P, MacConnell,G.D & Verma,V.S.(ed.) 1989. The Written Languages of the World: A Survey of the Degree and Modes of Use. Non- Constitutional Languages of India. Vol.II. India: Registrar General & Census Commissioner.
21.Mainwaring,G.B.1876. A Grammar of the Rong (Lepcha) language as it exists in the Dorjeeling and Sikkim Hills. Calcutta.
22.Mainwaring,G.B.1898. Dictionary of the Lepcha Language.Revised and completed by Albert Grunwedel.Berlin: Unger.
23.Mallick,B. & Chowdhuri, M.K. 1980. ‘Ngsaey – A Lepcha dominated village’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIV ,No.1&2: 93-95.
24.Morris,J. 1938.Living with Lepchas. London; Toronto, William Heinemann.
25.Neethivanan,J. 1967. ‘Notes on Investigation among the Lepchas’ Darjeeling District Census Handbook. West Bengal:Census of India 1961.
26.Risley,H.H.1894.The Gazetteer of Sikkim.Calcutta:Bengal Secretariat Press.Denmark:Copenhagen National Museum.
27.Plaisier,H. 2003. ‘Lepcha’. The Sino-Tibetan Languages.(Thurgood and Lapolla ed.)London & NewYork:Routledge.
28.Plaisier, H.2003. Catalogue of Lepcha Manuscripts in the Van Manen collection. Leiden: Kern Institute.
30. Plaisier,H. 2007. A Grammar of Lepcha. Leiden : Brill
31.Siiger,Halfdan. 1967. The Lepchas: Culture, religion of a Himalayan People,Pt.I &II.National Museum Ethnographic Series, Vol.II, Pt I. Copenhagen.
32.Sinha,P.1966. Descriptive Grammar of Lepcha. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.Pune:Deccan College.
33.Singh,K.S.(ed.)1993.People of India: Sikkim. Vol.XXXIX . Anthropological Survey of India. Calcutta: Seagull Books.
34.Sprigg,R.K. 1982. ‘The Lepcha language and Three Hundred Years of Tibetan Influence of Sikkim’. JASB.vol.XXIV.No.1-4;16-31.
35.Stocks,C.De Beauvoir.1925. ‘Folklore and Customs of the Lepchas of Sikkim’ JASB. Art.No. 23.New Series.vol.XXI:325-505
36.Tamsang, K.P.1978. A Grammar of the Lepcha Language (in Lepcha). Kalimpong: Mani Printing works.
37. Tamsang K. P. 1980, 2009. Lepcha English Encyclopeadic Dictionary. Kalimpong. Mani Priting Press.
38. Tamsang K. P. 1999. Lepcha Proverbs. Kalimpong. Mani Printing Press.
39. Tamsang, K.P. Unknown and Untold Reality about the Lepchas 1983,1998
40. Tamsang, K. P. Glossary of Lepcha Medicinal Plants, 2004.
41. Tamsang, Lyangsong, 2008. Lepcha Folklore and Folksongs, Sahitya Akademi.
42.Waddell,L.A.1898. ‘The Lepcha or Rong Language as illustrated in its songs’.JASBvol.LXVII(3):75-85.
4.9. Printed Oral Tradition:
The Lepcha language has a rich oral tradition. Efforts have been made essentially by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association for publication of such indigenous knowledge of the speech community. Some important works are mentioned in the following.
1. Lepcha Myth by K.P. Tamsang 1996.
2. Lepcha Folklore by K.P. Tamsang 1997.
3. Rong Taom Sung by K. P. Tamsang (Lepcha moral Stories) 1999.
4. Rong Sung Gyom by K. P. Tamsang (Lepcha folk tales) 2004. etc.
5. Rong Sung Gyom (Lepcha folktales) by P. T. Simik 2002.
Publication of the periodicals constitute an integral part of the contribution of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association for the promotion of their mother tongue and indigenous culture. Some of such worthy publications are mentioned below.
1. Achuley (quaterley) published by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association. Editor, Lyangsong Tamsang.
2. Pano Gaebo Achyok (annual) published by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association. Editor, Lyangsong Tamsang.
3. Aathing K.P.Tamsang (annual) published by Pachaok Lepcha Village Association. Editor, Suksing Kongchhyen Lepcha, Kalimpong.
4. Zyer Fo Kup (annual) published by Ryon Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong.
5. One handwritten magazine published from Mirik, Kurseong, has been reported.
In West Bengal the Lepcha language has no place in the educational curriculum provided by West Bengal Board of Secondary Education.
It is only taught in the Lepcha Night Schools run by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association in the village levels upto XIIth standard as a subject .
ii)Private / Religious Schools:
i) There are 40+ (forty plus) Lepcha Night Schools all over Darjeeling district established by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association where Lepcha is taught formally to the Lepcha children along with English language from pre-primary to XII standard.
ii) There are no religious schools. Only Boongthing and Mun, the Lepcha priest and priestess of their traditional religion teach their disciples about their own practice in Lepcha language. All these are basically oral teachings and are considered to be the highest form of spoken variety of the language by the members of the speech community.
4.12. Text books written in the Language:
Text books in the Lepcha language are published with private effort of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association to carry out the development of the language especially as a syllabus for the Lepcha Night Schools where Lepcha language is taught.
Some publications are mentioned in the following.
1. Lazaong (Lepcha syllabic schemes)- K. P. Tamsang 1982, 2002,2008,2009
2. Lepcha Primer –I by G.T. Sitling Lepcha, 1929, 1957, 1971, 2002, 2006, 2009
3. Lepcha Primer – II by S.K. Taso Lepcha, 1949, 2002, 2009
4. Lepcha Primer- III by D.S. Lepcha, 2002.
5. Lepcha Primer –IV by D.S. Lepcha, 2002.
6. Lepcha Reader- V by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
7. Lepcha Reader- VI by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
8. Lepcha Reader- VII by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
9. Lepcha Reader-VIII by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
10. Lepcha Reader- IX by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
11. Lepcha Reader- X by D.S. Lepcha,2007.
12. Lepcha Reader- XI by P.T. Lepcha, 2008.
13. Lepcha Reader- XII by P.T. Lepcha, 2008
4.13. Mass Media
All India Radio, Kurseong broadcast Lepcha programme (only folk songs) twice a month. (Ten minutes only).
No regular programme has been reported to be broadcast from All India Radio, Kolkata
No regular programme is telecast in Lepcha .
ii)Print Media :
1.Calendar (lunar)is published in the Lepcha language by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Kalimpong.
The other printed matters have already been mentioned in section 4.10
iii) Movies / Advertisements:
A number of documentaries are available in the Lepcha language. The subject matters of these documentaries are basically folk songs, rituals, customs, tradition etc. Following documentary films are worthy to be mentioned in this connection:
1. One documentary on Lepcha culture and livelihood has been prepared by Central Institute of Indian Languages, (MHRD) Mysore.
2. One documentary on the Pilgrimage to Dzongu ( Faokram Takram Lyang) by Kalimpong Lepchas.
3. One documentary on Lepcha New Year programme, Nambun, Namaal, Namsung has been done by Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Kalimpong.
4. Films Division, Government of India, is currently shooting a documentry film on the Lepcha tribes, Aachuley!
Advertisements and Posters in the Lepcha language are prepared and circulated by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association of Headquarters Kalimpong, Darjeeling .
1. Celebration of the birth anniversary of King Gaeboo Aachyok
2. Leaflets on Lepcha New Year.
3. Movement to save Dzongu (the Lepcha holy land in Sikkim) etc.
Rural and Health development departments do not produce posters and pamphlets in the Lepcha language.
Such activities are done in the Lepcha language by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association.
4.14.Internal written communication:
Notices like resolutions of The Lepcha Indigenous Tribal Association, pilgrimage to Dzongu, examination in night schools and various administrative instructions are done in Lepcha and circulated especially in the Lepcha villages in the Darjeeling Hills.
ii) Other Activities:
In West Bengal Lepcha language is not used in administration , legislation or in judiciary.
Lepchas as a tribal community has indigenous customary laws which are written in Lepcha are practised amongst the Lepchas.
In respect to trade and industry Lepcha is used as per the situation along with Bhotia, Hindi and Nepali. English is used marginally.
4.15. Effort for Promoting the language:
i) Agencies (Govt./ non-Govt.):
1.The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (est.1925) is a non-govt. agency that takes initiative in promoting various literary, social, cultural activities all over Darjeeling district.
The Association has three tier system :
Central (Headquarters : Kalimpong)
Village level and supported by
The Lepcha Youth Organisation
2. Preparation of documentary film on the Lepchas of Darjeeling, Bilingual dictionary, etc. are some of the initiatives taken up by the Central Institute of India Languages, Mysore (Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. Of India)
ii) Personalities Promoting Language and Culture:
1. Lyangsong Tamsang, Editor and President, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters, Kalimpong
2. P.T.Simik (Translator of ‘Geetanjali’ / author, Bhasa Saman)
3. Sonam Tshering Lepcha (Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee/ Padmasree)
4. N.T.Lepcha (Lyricist, poet, dramatist, singer)
5. Hildamit Lepcha (Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee)
6. Gautam Lepcha (Novelist, Poet)
7. Dup Shuzong Lepcha (Essayist and Text Book Writer)
8. Suksing Kongchhyen Lepcha (Dramatist, Poet and Editor)
9. O. T. Lepcha (Namtho-Namthar)
10. Palden Lepcha (Namtho-Namthar and Essayist)
11. O. T. Goulok Lepcha (Essayist)
12. Anthony Lepcha (Poet)
13. Ongden Lepcha (Essayist)
14. Pasang Tshering Lepcha (Lyricist)
15. Ten Tshering Lepcha and others (Essayist)
5.0. THE SCENARIO IN SIKKIM
Contrary to the above scenario regarding the status of the Lepcha language, Sikkim gets support from Governmental level that marks a radical difference in attitude of the members of the speech community.
Lepcha has been declared as one of the three official languages (along with Nepali and Bhotia) by the Sikkim Govt. vide notification dated October 17, 1977 . Lepcha has been considered as official language by the Govt. of Sikkim.
In the educational level Lepcha is taught as a subject in the Government schools up to undergraduate level. Series of text books in Lepcha are published from Government press, Govt. of Sikkim.
In Legislative activities mainly English and Hindi are used. Translation in Lepcha are of course done when required. There is provision for qualified Lepcha translators.
Rural and Health development departments have reported to produce posters and pamphlets in the Lepcha language.
Notices are available mainly in Lepcha section of Human Resource Development and in the organizational level in North Sikkim.
Sikkim Herald (Weekly newspaper) is published from Information and Public Relation Department , Goverment of Sikkim.
AIR, Gangtok broadcast Lepcha program me. Composite programme in the Lepcha language is broadcast everyday from 4.30 to 5.00 P.M. This consists of three or four folksongs, talk on Lepcha social or environmental affairs. At 6.45 P.M regional news in Lepcha is also broadcast.
Some years back local cable stations used to telecast news in Lepcha. But at present Nayuma cable TV centre, Gangtok telecast small albums at times.
Effort for promoting the language has been taken up both by the governmental and non-governmental agencies like——
1. Sikkim Academy(Govt.) for the development of State Language (for the development of Lepcha language) under Culture and Heritage Department.
2. Sikkim Lepcha Literary Organization, Gangtok (NGO) for the development of the literature of the language.
3. Laom Aal Shezum , North Sikkim.
4. Rong Ong Shezum (Youth Association, Gangtok)
6.0. ANALYSING THE STATE OF AFFAIR
Historically viewing, Lepcha, once an official language of Darjeeling hills, was in extensive use in Darjeeling area till the end of 19th Century. When Dr. Campbell took charge of the administration in Darjeeling, Lepcha language received a back foot and started to be considered as the language of the aboriginal people who are socially and culturally backward. Foning (1987:160. Lepcha, my vanishing tribe. New Delhi: Sterling) rightly puts it as, “ The government language report gave unfavourable findings. This was the result of a politically motivated action on the part of the British government.” As a consequence, black and white communication came to be considered as an occasional phenomenon of the present –day Lepcha society in spite of having a developed literary history.
The socio-political dominance of the Nepali language that started from the end of 19th Century, can be traced to be the major socio-political factor , that exerts immense pressure on this minority language. Inspite of the fact that Nepali is an Indo-Aryan language and that Lepcha , a Tibeto-Burman language that had a developed tradition, the huge continual migration of Nepali population that was encouraged by the then British administration influenced every aspect of social life in the hills of Darjeeling. Therefore Foning (ibid:296) aptly observes, “Both in the urban and the rural areas, the Nepali language has virtually become the ‘Lingua Franca’ for the people of different ethnic groups that one finds in the regions.”
The enquiry regarding the status of Lepcha language in the curriculum of West Bengal Board reveals that, Lepcha language has not been incorporated in the curriculum of primary and secondary education. Neither as a medium of instruction nor as a subject, Lepcha finds its place in the education system of West Bengal (Ref: Syllabi published in 1984 and revised in 2006). Therefore depriving the formal cultivation of reading and writing skills in Lepcha, the mother tongue, for the present generation. On the other hand Nepali being a link language is found to exert immense pressure especially being one of the languages (taught in school) taught in West Bengal education curriculum.
Not only Nepali, the promotion of Hindi in the government level — both at the centre and state government levels is also replacing Lepcha language in different domains of social life. The exposure of Hindi through audio-visual media is found to have penetrated even in the remote villages of Darjeeling district.
English language being one of the associate official language of the country is considered instrumental to future economic opportunities for the younger generation. The formal education provided by the missionary schools that came into vogue from nineteenth century naturally enhances the use of the English language.
7.0. SUGGESTIVE MEASURES
The above situation reveals the fact that in spite of being a language with developed literary tradition and a good deal of effort by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (especially in the matter of teaching Lepcha language through the night schools and publishing text books for different classes), the language is yet to get a place in the West Bengal state educational system. Field investigation reveals, the qualified people of Darjeeling District having expertise to teach Lepcha language has to migrate to Gangtok, Sikkim for seeking relevant job.
The effort in the Governmental level of West Bengal for incorporation of the Lepcha language, (the mother tongue of the autochthones of the land) in the board of Primary/Secondary/Higher Secondary Education would have helped in uplifting the ‘Right to education in mother tongue’ and in eradicating the sense of marginalization /identity crisis of the speech community. Such a policy on the part of the government is likely to uphold justice for the Lepcha speech community which is socio-politically significant for the present –day Darjeeling hills.