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Interpreters, employed but jobless

delhi Updated: May 13, 2012 02:12 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times
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In the 12 years he has worked as an interpreter since 2000, SK Pandey was called to perform his duty on just four occasions. The last time Pandey, the only interpreter of Sanskrit in Parliament, did his job was during the 14th Lok Sabha. The interpreters of Nepali and Maithili have not received an opportunity to perform their task from the time they joined the service — eight and five years respectively. The Manipuri interpreter has also been pining for related work for the last two years.

Though they have the right to speak in their mother tongue, most members — it has been observed — prefer to speak either in Hindi or English in the house.

"Some MPs, who are not well-versed in English or Hindi, choose not to speak at all. Others think they are not being taken seriously because they speak a regional language. More or less, speaking in English has become a benchmark of sorts in Parliament," PDT Achary, former secretary general, Lok Sabha, told HT.

Hence, Pandey and some of his colleagues have now taken to interpreting speeches from Hindi to English.

While speeches in Punjabi, Bengali and Tamil are heard frequently, those in other languages such as Telugu, Marathi, Kannada and Gujarati are relatively low. “To remain relevant, some of us even request members to speak in their own language — at least once in a while — in the house,” an interpreter said.

“When they do not have an assignment, these interpreters service parliamentary committees,” Suman Arora, head, LS interpretation branch, said.

Owing to low demand, there are no interpreters for several scheduled languages such as Bodo, Dogri, Konkani, Kashmiri, Santhali and Sindhi in Parliament.