Challenges of Non-Scheduled Indian Languages

  • IASbaba
  • January 14, 2020
  • 0
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Indian Federalism

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 

Challenges of Non-Scheduled Indian Languages


An MP from Kerala’s Kasargud region arguing for including Tulu in the Eighth Schedule

Present Scheme of Indian Languages

  • Hindi and English are the official languages of the Central Government for communication and administrative purposes, no language in India has been conferred the status of the national language.
  • There is no national language in India as all the states are free to decide their own official languages. This is primarily to address the huge linguistic diversity in the country.
  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India. Presently, it consists of 22 languages.
  • Also, till date, six languages have been conferred the status of ‘Classical Language’ in India. They are Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit, Malayalam and Odia
  • However, Article 351 of the Constitution says that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India
  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each. 
  • India also has 1,599 languages, most of which are dialects. These are restricted to specific regions and many of them are on the verge of extinction.

Constitutional Safeguards

  • Article 29 of the Constitution provides that a section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same.
  • Eighth Schedule and Classical Status
  • No National Language
  • Article 350B: Appointment of Special Officer for linguistic minority with the sole responsibilities of safeguarding the interest of language spoken by the minority groups.

Cause of Concern 

  • Many languages that are kept out of Eighth Schedule are in some ways more deserving to be included in the Schedule
  • For Example: Sanskrit, an Eighth Schedule language, has only 24,821 speakers (2011 Census). Manipuri, another scheduled language, has only 17,61,079 speakers.
  • Similarly, many unscheduled languages have a sizeable number of speakers: Bhili/Bhilodi has 1,04,13,637 speakers; Gondi has 29,84,453 speakers; Garo has 11,45,323; Ho has 14,21,418; Khandeshi, 18,60,236; Khasi, 14,31,344; and Oraon, 19,88,350.

Case for Tulu Language to be included in Eighth Schedule

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • The Census reports 18,46,427 native speakers of Tulu in India. The Tulu-speaking people are larger in number than speakers of Manipuri and Sanskrit, which have the Eighth Schedule status.
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, called Tulu as “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.

Advantages of Inclusion of a Language in Eighth Schedule:

  • Recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.
  • Members of Parliament (MP) and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) could speak Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.
  • Translation of Tulu literary works into other languages 
  • Option to take competitive exams in Tulu including all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam.
  • Special funds from the Central government.
  • Teaching of Tulu in primary and high school.

Way Ahead

  • Placing all language on equal footing will promote Social harmony, inclusion and National Solidarity
  • Protection and preservation of diverse languages should not just remain on paper but also implemented on ground with adequate provision of funds on language development programs

Did You know?

The Yuelu Proclamation:

  • The Proclamation was made by the UNESCO at Changsha, China in 2018. 
  • The The Yuelu Proclamation is the first UNESCO document of its kind dedicated to the protection of linguistic diversity, and is also an important supporting document for the “UN International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019”. 
  • It confirms that protecting linguistic diversity is the cornerstone for building a global community with a shared future, and for promoting equality, mutual learning and understanding, and facilitating exchanges around the world. 
  • The document calls on member states to formulate action plans to promote language and cultural diversity, and urges academic and indigenous organizations to provide the resources required to help combat the loss of indigenous languages.

Connecting the dots

  • Languages are an important identity of India’s liberal and democratic society. Elaborate
  • How can India accommodate the plethora of languages in its cultural discourse and administrative apparatus ?

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