Classical languages in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Classical languages of India

Mains level : Protection of classical languages

Recently in a Marathi literary festival, a resolution was passed demanding its declaration as a ‘Classical’ language.

‘Classical’ languages in India

Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

How are they classified?

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:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • 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.”

How are the Classical languages promoted?

The HRD 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.
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