From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tangam tribe
Mains level : Tribal issues in the NE
Last week Arunachal CM released a book titled “Tangams: An Ethnolinguistic Study Of The Critically Endangered Group of Arunachal Pradesh”.
Try this question from CSP 2019:
Q.Consider the following statements about Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India:
- PVTGs reside in 18 States and one Union Territory.
- A stagnant or declining population is one of the criteria for determining PVTG status.
- There are 95 PVTGs officially notified in the country so far.
- Irular and Konda Reddi tribes are included in the list of PVTGs.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1, 2 and 3
(b) 2, 3 and 4
(c) 1, 2 and 4
(d) 1, 3 and 4
Who are the Tangams?
- The Tangams is a little-known community within the larger Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh and resides in the hamlet of Kugging in Upper Siang district’s Paindem circle.
- In 1975, the community’s population was pegged at 2,000 spread across 25 villages.
- From 2016 to 2020, a team from the Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL) of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU), carried out extensive field research and documented the community.
- Their survey revealed that Tangams were now concentrated in only one village (Kugging), with only 253 reported speakers.
- As per the UNESCO World Atlas of Endangered Languages (2009), Tangam — an oral language that belongs to the Tani group, under the greater Tibeto-Burman language family — is marked ‘critically endangered’.
Why are there only a few speakers?
- Kugging is surrounded by a number of villages inhabited by Adi subgroups such as Shimong, Minyongs, as well as the Buddhist tribal community of Khambas, among others.
- To communicate with their neighbours over the years, the Tangams have become multilingual, speaking not just Tangam, but other tongues such as Shimong, Khamba and Hindi.
- They rarely speak their own language now since their population is restricted to a single village. Moreover, the Tangams are relatively unknown — even within their state.
- The village lacks proper infrastructure in all basic sectors of education, health, drinking water facilities, road and electricity. Roads have reached Kugging only in 2018.
- Not a single person from the community has gone to university.
Why are the languages at risk?
- The diversity of languages has led various communities to depend on English, Assamese and colloquial variety of Hindi called Arunachalee Hindi as the link languages.
- Many believe this shift has led to the loss of native languages of the tribal communities.
- Even the numerically larger tribes like Nyishi, Galo, Mishmi, Tangsa etc. whose population exceed the ten thousand mark are also not safe from endangerment, hence marked unsafe.
- The younger generation of these tribes especially in the urban areas has mostly discarded the use of their mother tongue.