Languages and Eighth Schedule

Languages and Eighth Schedule

History of Tulu and the demand for Official Language Status


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eight Schedule Languages

Mains level : Not Much

Various organizations have initiated a Twitter campaign demanding official language status to Tulu in Karnataka and Kerala and received an overwhelming response.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following languages:

  1. Gujarati
  2. Kannada
  3. Telugu

Which of the above has/have been declared as ‘Classical Language / Languages’ by the Government?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Who all speak Tulu in India now and what is its history?

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in two coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • As per the 2011 Census report, there are 18,46,427 Tulu-speaking people in India. Some scholars suggest Tulu is among the earliest Dravidian languages with a history of 2000 years.
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, called Tulu “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.

So what exactly is the demand by Tulu speakers?

  • The Tulu speakers, mainly in Karnataka and Kerala, have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule to the Constitution.
  • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri are the 22 languages presently in the eighth schedule.

Tulu art, culture and cinema

  • Tulu has a rich oral literature tradition with folk-song forms like paddana, and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.
  • Tulu also has an active tradition of cinema with around 5 to 7 Tulu language movies produced a year.
  • Tulu films are being screened every day in Mangaluru and Udupi in at least one theatre.

What is the present status of Tulu?

  • According to Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy president Dayananda G Kathalsar,
  • People who speak Tulu are confined to the above-mentioned regions of Karnataka and Kerala, informally known as Tulu Nadu.
  • At present, Tulu is not an official language in the country.
  • Efforts are being made to include Tulu in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
  • If included in the eighth schedule, Tulu would get recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.

Back2Basics: Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution

  • The Eighth Schedule lists the official languages of the Republic of India.
  • At the time when the Constitution was enacted, inclusion in this list meant that the language was entitled to representation on the Official Languages Commission.
  • This language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi and English, the official languages of the Union.
  • The list has since, however, acquired further significance.
  • In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper.
  • As per Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Indian Constitution, the eighth schedule includes the recognition of the 22 languages.

‘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.

Languages and Eighth Schedule

Issues with legal language in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue with legal language


  •  Recently, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court regarding the use of legal language.
  • Reacting to the plea, the Supreme Court has asked the Ministry of Law and Justice and Bar Council to respond.

Wha the PIL is about?

  • The PIL (Subhash Vijayran vs Union of India) wants the legislature and executive to use plain English in drafting laws, the Bar Council to introduce plain English in law curricula and the Supreme Court to only allow concise and precise pleadings.
  • He begins the synopsis to the writ petition in the following way. “The writing of most lawyers is: (1) wordy, (2) unclear, (3) pompous and (4) dull.

Way forward

  • When asking the Ministry of Law and Justice and Bar Council to respond, the Chief Justice of India referred to Anthony Burgess’s book (1964) Language Made Plain.
  • George Orwell set out six principles, which could be used while drafting.
  • Copy editors routinely use these principles, but not the judiciary.
  • The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy produced a manual on plain language drafting in 2017.


The Ministry of Law and Justice make use of the opportunity provided by the PIC to come up with the set of principles to make the legal language easier for all.

Languages and Eighth Schedule

Should India have one national Language?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eight Schedule

Mains level : Paper 2- Eighth Schedule and related issues

The article discusses the issues with excessive attention given to Hindi and how the neglect of another language could lead to the loss of language and the way of life associated with it as well.

Debate in Constituent Assembly and issues in the adoption of Hindi

  • The issue of adopting a national language could not be resolved when the Constituent Assembly began drafting India’s Constitution.
  • Members from the Hindi-speaking provinces who moved a number of pro-Hindi amendments and argued for adopting Hindi as the sole national language.
  • Widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English for all official purposes.
  • Hindi became the sole working language of the Union government by 1965 with the State governments free to function in the language of their choice.
  • The constitutional directive for the Union government to encourage the spread of Hindi was retained within Central government entities in non-Hindi-speaking States.

Issues with the Eighth Schedule

  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each.
  • The Constitution lists 22 languages and protects them in the eighth schedule.
  • Many languages are kept out of this schedule even if they deserve to be included.
  • This includes Tulu which is spoken by over 1.8 million people and has inscriptions dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • While Hindi, a much younger Indo-Aryan language, has been gaining prominence since before independence.
  • When a refined language loses its status in literary and daily interactions, the way of life associated with it also vanishes.
  • The Census found that while Hindi is the fastest growing language, the number of speakers of other languages has dropped.

Way forward

  • While discussing Hindi and its use, let us also focus on the merit of other Indian languages.
  • Instead of focusing on one national language, we should learn a language beyond the mother tongue and get to know a different way of life too.


If we don’t protect and promote other well-evolved or endangered and indigenous languages, our future generations may end up never understanding their ‘real’ roots and culture

Languages and Eighth Schedule

Nationalism and the crisis of federalism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Reorganisation of States

Mains level : Paper 2- Federalism in India

The article analyses the challenges federalism in India faces and the important role played by the division of states based on the languages.

Three conceptions of nationalism in India

  • Following three conceptions of nationalism were prevalent in India before independence.
  • The first, the idea that a community with a strongly unified culture must have a single state of its own.
  • The second saw the nation as defined by a common culture whose adherents must have a state of their own.
  • But this common culture was not ethno-religious.
  •  It conceives common culture in terms of a strong idea of unity that marginalises or excludes other particular identities.
  • A third nationalism accepts that communities nourished by distinct, territorially concentrated regional cultures have the capacity to design states of their own as also educational, legal, economic, and other institutions.
  • This may be called a coalescent nationalism consistent with a fairly strong linguistic federalism.
  • The central state associated with it is not multi-national.
  • At best, it is a multi-national state without labels, one that does not call itself so; a self-effacing multi-national state.

Suspicion of linguistic identities

  • After Partition, the Indian ruling class began to view with suspicion the political expression of even linguistic identities.
  •  It was feared that federation structured along ethno-linguistic lines might tempt politicians to mobilise permanently on the basis of language.
  • The second fear was about an increase in the likelihood of inter-ethnic violence, encourage separatism and eventually lead to India’s break up.
  • Thus, when the Constitution came into force in 1950, India adopted unitary, civic nationalism as its official ideology.

Formation of states on linguistic basis and its implications

  • A unitary mindset shaped by the experience of a centralised colonial state was resurrected.
  • The second tier of government was justified in functional terms, not on ethical grounds of the recognition of group cultures.
  • Following the Committee’s recommendations, States were reorganised in 1956.
  • India slowly became a coalescent nation-state, moving from the ‘holding together’ variety to what is called the ‘coming together’ form of (linguistic) federalism.
  • This meant that regional parties were stronger than earlier in their own regions and at the centre.
  • This let to more durable centre because it was grounded more on the consent and participation of regional groups that, at another level, were also self-governing.
  • Indian federalism also attempted to remove its rigidities by incorporating asymmetries in the relation between the Centre and different States.
  • Treating all States as equals required the acknowledgement of their specific needs and according them differential treatment.


Coalescent nationalism has served India well, benefiting several groups in India. True, it has not worked as well in India’s border areas such as the North-east and Kashmir. But their problems can only be resolved by deepening not abandoning coalescent nationalism.

Languages and Eighth Schedule

[op-ed snap]A case for inclusion of Tulu language in the Eighth Schedule.


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tulu language and its region in India.

Mains level : Paper 2-Official languages of the union and the states.


With numerous languages in the country, placing all deserving languages on an equal footing will promote social inclusion and national solidarity.

Figures and facts

  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each.
  • It also has 122 languages that are spoken by at least 10,000 people each.
  • It 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.
  • Article 29 provides every citizens of India with a distinct culture, language, and script, the right to conserve the same.
  • It is the responsibility of both the state and the citizens of this distinct language, script or culture to preserve the same.

Eighth schedule and Tulu language

  • Sanskrit has 24,821 speakers and it is in the Eighth Schedule according to the 2011 Census.
  • However, many languages with sizeable speakers are not in the schedule.
  • Bhili/Bhilodi has 1,04,13,637 speakers. Garo has 11,45,323 speakers, Ho has 14,31,344 speakers.
  • Tulu is a Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • The Tulu language speakers are larger in numbers than Sanskrit and Manipuri which included in the Eighth Schedule.
  • The cities of Mangaluru, Udupi, and Kasaragod are the epicenter of Tulu culture.

What are the benefits of being on the Eighth Schedule

  • Tulu would get recognition from Sahitya Academy.
  • The book in Tulu would get translated into other recognised Indian languages.
  • The MP’s and MLA’s could speak in Tulu in the Parliament and Assemblies.
  • Candidates could write all-India competitive examination like the Civil Services exam in Tulu.

Yuelu Proclamation

  • It was made by UNESCO at Changsha, The People’s Republic of China, in 2018.
  • It says the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity help to improve social inclusion and partnerships.
  • It helps reduce the gender and social inequality between different native speakers.
  • It guarantee the rights for native speakers of endangered, minority, indigenous languages, as well as non-official languages and dialects to receive education, enhance the social inclusion level and social decision-making ability by encouraging them to participate in a series of actions to promote cultural diversity, endangered language protection, and the protection of intangible cultural heritage.


  • 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.


Importance for exams:

  • Mains: Understanding the pros and cons of promoting a single language in a multilingual India. Drawing parallels from events around the globe on similar issue
  • Prelims: Constitutional provisions related to the issue


NDA Govt has come under severe criticism in the past for its efforts to promote Hindi and making it compulsory for all Central government offices to communicate on social media.

Present Scenario:

Hindi is widely spoken in the north, but southern and eastern states have always opted for local languages or English. Five decades ago, efforts to impose Hindi as the country’s only official language had triggered violent riots in the south.

Constitutional provisions:

  1. There is no national language as declared by the Constitution of India.
  2. The Constitution lists Hindi written in Devanagari script as well as English as the official language of the govt of India. Hindi and English are used for official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, judiciary, communications between the Central Government and a State Government.
  3. States within India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation.
  4. The Constitution imposes a duty upon the Centre to promote the spread and development of the Hindi language so that it may become the lingua franca of the composite culture of India.
  5. The Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution contains a list of 22 scheduled languages. The Government of India is under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages.
  6. The Constitution also contains certain special directives to protect the interests of linguistic minorities.

Why does language continue to be such an emotive issue?

  1. This is because language is regarded by people as indissolubly connected with their culture. E.g. in Tamil Nadu, disinterest in Hindi stems from the pride of people in Tamil heritage. They are happy, and proficient enough, using English when Tamil doesn’t work.
  2. This issue continues to be exploited by the political parties for narrow political ends.
  3. Linguistic problems are not limited to India and have arisen in other parts of the world too. In Ireland there has been a fierce agitation concerning the language of the Irish people; and in spite of the fact that practically every educated Irishman knows English, they have adopted the Irish language as their national language.

The linguistic question has affected the rise of nationalities in the East too. In Iran there has been a movement that a purely Iranian language free from Arabian influence should be the national language of Iran. Similar campaigns have been observed in Poland, Wales and Turkey too.

Reasons behind the Government’s recent push for promotion of Hindi:

  1. English is seen as a remnant of India’s colonial past.
  2. The Government, as also empowered by the Constitution, wants to popularize Hindi so that gradually it can become the lingua franca of the India.

Criticism of recent steps taken by the Government for promotion of Hindi:

  1. The government should not favor one language over the other in a country that has benefitted from its knowledge of English.
  2. The English language skills of Indian engineers gave momentum to the growth of the country’s famous information technology industry.
  3. In a globalizing world, India’s familiarity with English is a huge benefit.

Arguments given in favour of promotion of Hindi and other Indian languages:

  1. We should not abandon what is ours in terms of culture and language.
  2. Assertion of our linguistic identities is the key to international respect and power. As long as we speak and deal with the west in English, we are essentially playing on fields created for them. If we speak and converse in our languages, the field automatically levels out.
  3. Greater use of Indian languages would in turn fuel the need for thousands of translators and multi-lingual skills, both from Indian to foreign languages, and between Indian regional languages themselves. We would need as many English-Hindi, Japanese-Tamil translators as Hindi-Tamil, Kannada-Bengali translators.
  4. As we reinvest money and emotion into our own languages, more original work will be done in them, and more foreign work can be translated into local languages, creating a huge deluge of jobs.

The way ahead:

  1. A national government promoting a single language in a multi language country is against the idea of multiculturalism and a multilingual, federal polity. The objective of the government should be on the imperatives of communicating with people all over India, rather than trying to decide on the language of communication.
  2. The Government is well within its rights to promote Hindi, but it must realise that belief of one nation and one language can divide more than unite. In South Asia alone, there are two examples – of West Pakistan imposing Urdu on East Pakistan and Sri Lankan Government imposing Sinhalese on the Tamils – where language conflict led to civil wars.
  3. Hindi has already made considerable inroads through entertainment and Bollywood. Bollywood movies in multiplexes now attract a lot of local audiences, particularly the new generation, and the entertainment industries seem to be contiguous. The best course of action, thus would be letting languages evolve on their own and allowing people to choose.
  4. The Government must, instead, build liberal institutions where scholarship of various languages can flourish.


Quotable Quote (useful for essay)

We should keep our windows fully open to ideas from everywhere, but we need not choose to be blown off our feet by anyone of them – M.K.Gandhi

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Sharmila Kareem
Sharmila Kareem
1 year ago

please upload notes for 2020