Restore the status of Translators! | Daily News

Restore the status of Translators!

International Translation Day falls today:

The United Nations Organization, at its 71st Session held on May 24, has declared 30th September as the International Translation Day recognizing the invaluable service Translators are rendering in bringing about inter-ethnic harmony and national reconciliation. In that resolution, the UNO “affirms that professional translation, as a trade and an art, plays an important role in upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security”. The resolution also states as its purpose the need to recognize Translator service in terms of the role it performs in bridging the communication gap between different communities, in particular in post-conflict contexts in countries which have suffered long drawn out inter-ethnic disharmonies.

It is in this backdrop that the declaration of International Translation Day matters so much to Sri Lankans and Sri Lanka, in particular as a country which suffered for three decades a bloody war caused, for the most part, by a language issue, resulting in loss of hundreds of thousands of valuable lives. Further, we gather that a function has been organised to celebrate this day headed by Minister Mano Ganesan who has shown much interest in bringing about national reconciliation. However, the true situation of Government Translators’ Service in Sri Lanka is a story of disappointment where these professionals are suffering endless degradations and step-motherly treatments at the hand of certain authorities never giving them their due status and recognition in spite of re-iterations even by the Cabinet of Ministers by the Official Languages Policy passed in year 2013 that immediate measures have to be adopted to address the present issue of qualified translators leaving the service and skilled personnel being not interested in entering this Service.

Government Translators are graduates who enter the service by passing a highly competitive examination conducted to test their inter-lingual competence. Upto year 2006 the Graduate Recruitment Class (Class I) of the service had been placed at a status parallel to that of an Administrative Officer in a Department while its Promotion Class (Special Class) had been placed in Executive level.

However, with introduction of Public Administration Circular 06/2006, both Classes of the Service were placed at a level much below the level of Administrative Officer and Special Class was made deprived of its Executive Status. Accordingly, from year 2006 onwards, utterly frustrated of the downright degradation of their status, many qualified translators vacated their post while other qualified personnel outside the service who were desirous of joining this service were discouraged to enter it. Many parliamentarians of the present government, as members of the Opposition under the previous regime, pointed out this deplorable situation in Parliament and, as a result, the Cabinet of Ministers, by the above said Language Policy Decision, recognized the need to restore Translators the status stripped off them.

Keeping to the pledges made, and in response to the persistent explanations by Translators Service Union, the Present Government took steps to restore the status Translators lost with effect from year 2006 and even a Cabinet Memorandum was submitted twice under the signature of the Minister Karu Jayasuriya and thereafter Ranjith Maddumabandara who, in turn, were entrusted with the subject of Public Administration. However, now it transpires that due to strong objections and counter-recommendations of the same category of high ranking officers who initially downgraded this Service in year 2006, the Ministry of Public Administration has submitted a Note to the Cabinet proposing to further downgrade recruitment level of Graduate Translators in 11 salary steps while even not restoring the Executive level its Special Class lost in year 2006.

Against this backdrop, we urge the Minister of Official Languages who seems to be genuinely interested in bringing about national reconciliation, to celebrate International Translation Day on September 30 with a strong determination to fight for the rights of Translators in the Cabinet and celebrate the same Day next year at least by restoring the status Translators enjoyed upto year 2006. We trust you and are positive that soon you will usher in the spring season for Government Translators and thereby for the movement of national reconciliation, not by offering any extra privilege, but only by restoring the status Translators enjoyed upto year 2006 and then were made deprived of. Then, and only then, will the nation be able to meaningfully celebrate the International Translation Day in year 2018 as a member state of the UNO. 


There are 7 Comments

Very true! This is a serious issue of present day bureaucracy in Sri Lanka. Not only Translators, but all other services also are suffering injustices of these high ranking authorities who use the spoon only to serve themselves.

Agree. This Ministry is only representing the grievances of Sri Lanka Administrative Service. All other Services are downgraded to the level of servants of this high ranking service. If this is situation is not rectified, again the International Community will have to intervene to solve the problems deliberately created in Public Service.

Yes. I know that the category of officials who are entrusted with rectifying the anomalies in public service are creating unnecessary problems in every other trade except SLAS.

Thanks Daily News for presenting the really true sad side of Public Service suffering so much suppression and oppression at the hand of present day bureaucracy lead by Sri Lanka Administrative Service.

A separate Committee must be appointed to look into the real festering issues of all Public Servants in other categories that are unlikely to be solved under the present day authorities entrusted with these responsibilities such as the Director Generals of Establishments and Combined Services, Salaries Commission and Director General of Management Services, all monopolized by Sri Lanka Administrative Service which is reluctant to give any opportunity to any other service except their own.

Yes. The country should seriously re-consider a revision of the present system of bureaucracy in Public Service which is monopolized by a team of officers who create problems in public service ultimately distancing the Public Service from the Government because the oppressed categories think that it is the government that takes their rights off. Therefore, I also think it time for the government to appoint panels of independent persons to look into the grievances of public servants. Any way a big "Thank You" to the Daily News for uncovering this sad truth. I commend you Daily News!

I agree and disagree. Agree first because I know that this country which has suffered so much by a long-drawn-out bloody war should no doubt give due recognition to these professionals who play an invaluable role in bringing about national reconciliation. Disagree because even the public servants are responsible partly for their sufferings for the reason that they, rather than remaining idle only complaining, should get together and raise their voice strongly against the unjust authorities who create unnecessary problems in their trades. I also join those who thank the Daily News for publishing this article.


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