A case for including Tulu in the Eighth Schedule-The Hindu-07-01-2020

Abstract:

The article argues for the inclusion of Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and the benefits of such a move.

Overview:

India is one of the unique countries in the world that has the legacy of diversity of languages.
According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each. There are 122 languages that are spoken by at least 10,000 people each.
India is home to 1,599 languages, including the various dialects.

Multilingualism is the way of life in India as people in different parts of the country speak more than one language from their birth and learn additional languages during their lifetime.
There is a threat to the linguistic diversity of India.

In recent years, language diversity is under threat as speakers of diverse languages are becoming rare and major languages are adopted after abandoning the mother tongues.
Most of the languages and dialects are restricted to specific regions and many of them are on the verge of extinction.

50 languages have become extinct in the past five decades.
The constitutional provisions and the language policies have tried to conserve the linguistic diversity of India.

Article 29 of the Constitution provides that a section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture has the right to conserve the same. Under the Constitution, provision is made for the appointment of a Special Officer for linguistic minority with the sole responsibility of safeguarding the interest of languages spoken by the minority groups.

The language policy of India provides a guarantee to protect the linguistic minorities.
The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India. The Constitution of India has recognised 22 official languages.

Despite the many constitutional provisions in place and the language policy of India which provides a guarantee to protect the linguistic minorities, there have always been concerns over the non-inclusion of certain languages in the 8th Schedule.

The article argues for the inclusion of the Tulu language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution based on the following facts:

Sanskrit and Manipuri, both scheduled languages have much lesser number of speakers than the non-scheduled languages like Tulu, Bhili/Bhilodi, Gondi, Khandeshi and Oraon. The Census reports 18,46,427 native speakers of Tulu in India.

Tulu, a Dravidian language has speakers spread across the two coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.

Robert Caldwell in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Or South-Indian Family of Languages, has called Tulu as “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.

Significance:

Inclusion of Tulu in the Eighth Schedule would lead to Tulu getting recognition from the Sahitya Akademi which would only help the cause of Tulu language.

Tulu books would be translated into other recognised Indian languages, thus increasing the reach and influence of Tulu literature.

Members of Parliament and MLAs will be allowed to speak in Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.

Candidates can opt to write all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam in Tulu.

For India:

The Yuelu Proclamation, made by the UNESCO at Changsha, the People’s Republic of China, in 2018, is an important step in recognizing the importance of linguistic diversity and the subsequent benefits arising out of it.

The protection and promotion of linguistic diversity help to improve social inclusion and partnerships among the people of different languages.

It guarantees the rights for native speakers of endangered, minority, indigenous languages, as well as non-official languages and dialects to receive education in their own languages.

It helps to reduce social inequality, if any, between the different native speakers. It will enhance the social inclusion level in society.

It will also help encourage the speakers to participate in a series of actions to promote cultural diversity, protect endangered languages and intangible cultural heritages.

Placing all the deserving languages on an equal footing will promote social inclusion and national solidarity in India. It will reduce the inequalities within the country to a great extent.

India must accommodate this plethora of languages in its cultural discourse and administrative apparatus.

Tulu, along with other deserving languages, should be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in order to substantially materialise the promise of equality of status and opportunity mentioned in the Preamble.

There is the need to understand the fact that conserving the distinct language, script or culture is not the duty of the state alone. Both the state and the citizens have an equal responsibility to conserve the distinct language, script and culture of a people.

There is a need for increased efforts at the societal level, in which the communities have to take part in the conservation of language diversity that is part of cultural wealth.

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