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Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Union Minister of Education has informed in the Lok Sabha about the various steps taken by the government to promote the Languages in Eighth Schedule.

Background

  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India.
  • As per Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Indian Constitution, the eighth schedule includes the recognition of the following 22 languages.

Eighth Schedule

  • It lists the official languages of the republic of India. Part XVII of the Indian constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
  • The Constitutional provisions related to the Eighth Schedule are:
    • Article 344: Article 344(1) provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of five years from the commencement of the Constitution.
    • Article 351: It provides for the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • However, It can be noted that there is no fixed criteria for any language to be considered for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule.
  • Linguistic diversity of India
  • According to the 2001 Census, India has 30 languages that are spoken by more than a million people each.
  • Additionally, it 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.
  • India must accommodate this plethora of languages in its cultural discourse and administrative apparatus.

Official Languages

  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages:
  • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi,Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.                                                                  Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution
  • Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution.
  • Sindhi language was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967.
  • Konkani, Manipuri, and Nepali were included by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992.
  • Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of 2003 which came into force in 2004.

Classical Languages

  • Currently there are six languages that enjoy the ‘Classical’ status in India:
  • Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
  • All the Classical Languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The Ministry of Culture provides the guidelines regarding Classical languages which are as given below:
    • 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 is original and not borrowed from another speech community.                                Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution
    • 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.

 

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