classical-languages-in-india

In News: At the recently concluded 93rd edition of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, a resolution was passed demanding the declaration of Marathi as a ‘Classical’ language

‘Classical’ languages and their classification

  • Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
  • According to information provided by the Ministry of Culture in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, the guidelines for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ are:
  1. High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
  2. A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  3. The literary tradition is original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  4. The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan 

The Sammelan, an annual conference of Marathi writers, was started in 1878, and over the years has been headed by leading Marathi intellectuals, including Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, and Prahlad Keshav “Acharya” Atre. This year’s conference was presided over by litterateur, environmentalist, and Catholic priest Francis D’Britto, the first Christian to do so in history.

How are the Classical languages promoted?

The Human Resource and Development Ministry noted the benefits it provides once a language is notified as a Classical language:

  • Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
  • A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up.
  • The University Grants Commission is requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.