Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Languages of India

There are many languages in India. Some of these are the main languages e.g. Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Assamese, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujrati, Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc
 However, there are also other languages like Kashmiri, Dogri, Maithili, Bodo, Gondvi, Santhali, Tulu, Toda, Avadhi, Magahi, Khasi, Bhojpuri, Mewari, Marwari, Kumaoni, Garhwali, Lepcha, Bhutia, Munda, Koya, Savara,Chenchu, Kurukh, Duhan, Bundeli, Sadani, Sara, Kondh, Painte, Mizo, languages of Nagaland, Kokborok, Koch, Rajvanshi, Jaintia, Adi, Bhil, Tenydyie, Sindhi, Manipuri, Abujmaria, Aka, Allar, Garo, Aariya, Tsangla, Saurashtri, Gadaba, Chakma, Kol, Khampti, Jarawa, Onge, Sentinelese, Asuri, Aranadan, Arakh, Anga, Andh, Amwi, Alu, Eravalla, Tiwa, Vagriboli, Dimasa, Hmar, Karbi, Angami, Baitei, Deuri, Kebui,, Ao, Konyak, Metei, Mech, etc.

 These languages which are not so well known also have a great literary heritage. Their literature is often called the ' alternative literature ' of India , or ' the second stream of India's literary heritage '.
 Many of these languages do not have a written script, and often rely on oral and tribal traditions, including songs, legends and tales. But that is no reason for looking down on them. Their literature is part of the great treasury of Indian culture, and must be given equal respect to the literature in the better known languages.

  According to a 2010 UNESCO report, many of these languages fall under the vulnerable or endangered categories.

   According to the Bhasha Research and Publication Center, Vadodara, India has already lost 20% of its languages in the past 5 decades. In the early 1960s India had 1100 languages, out of which 220 have disappeared.

 According to the People's Linguistics Survey of India, 17 tribal languages spoken in pockets of Tamilnadu are in danger of extinction. Of these, 13 are now spoken by less than 10,000 people. Eravalla, a tribal language spoken in the Annamalai region of the Western Ghats is no longer used by the younger members of the tribe.

 This is a very sad state of affairs. We make great efforts to preserve wild animals from extinction ( and rightly so ), but how much effort do we make to preserve our native languages, particularly of tribals who were the most ill treated in our country ?.

  We must make all efforts to ensure that these languages and their literature do not die out, but instead they develop and flourish. Their literature represents the hopes and aspirations of the people who speak these languages.

 In a country like India with so much diversity ( see my article ' What is India ? ' on my blog  and on the website ) all languages, and of people of all regions and religions, must be given equal respect if we wish to remain united.

 These lesser known languages, many of which are spoken by tribals or adivasis ( the original inhabitants of India, as I have explained in my article ), need administrative and financial support, as they ordinarily do not get patronage from the governments or other organizations, like the better known languages. It is the duty of everyone, whether in the government or outside it, to give such help and support, so that the rich heritage in these languages, which belong to all Indians, does not die out but instead flourishes

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