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Art & Culture

Tulu language official status campaign

Tulu language official status campaign


  • GS 1 || Art and culture || Culture of India || Languages

Why in news?

  • The Tulu speakers have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule to the Constitution.


  • Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod of Kerala.
    • Kasaragod district is called Sapta bhasha Samgama Bhumi (the confluence of seven languages)’, and Tulu is among the seven.
  • The oldest available inscriptions in Tulu are from the period between the 14th to 15th century AD.
  • The Karnataka government introduced Tulu as a school language a few years ago.
  • Literary recognition
    • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, “A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Or South-Indian Family of Languages” has called Tulu one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family.
  • Number of speakers more
    • Tulu is spoken by more than 18 lakh native speakers in India, according to the 2011 Census. Tulu speakers outnumber those who speak Manipuri and Sanskrit, both of which are listed on the Eighth Schedule.

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.

Advantages of including Tulu in Eight Schedule

  • If it is included in the Eighth Schedule, it would get the following benefits
    • Recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.
    • Translation of Tulu literary works into other languages.
    • Option to take competitive exams in Tulu including all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam.
    • Members of Parliament (MP) and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) could speak Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.

Languages in India

  • Language in its literary meaning means a system of communication through speech, a collection of sounds that a group of people understands to have the same meaning.
  • A language family: includes languages related through a common ancestor that existed before the recorded history.
  • Dialect: Form of a local language spoken in a limited area. It should be noted that several dialects can be derived from a common language.
  • The languages spoken in the subcontinent are derived from several language families but mostly they are from Indo – Aryan language families. Indo – Aryan language family is a part of the Indo-European language family.

Linguistic Survey of India

  • The Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) is a comprehensive survey of the languages of British India, describing 364 languages and dialects. The Survey was first proposed by George Abraham Grierson.
  • The primary objective of the present Linguistic Survey of India is to present an updated linguistic scenario.
  • It will also provide necessary inputs to the social/educational planners in respective States for their planning to attain the envisaged goals.
  • The Census of India has been the richest source of language data collected and published at the successive decennial censuses for more than a century.

Languages in danger

  • According to the criteria adopted by UNESCO, a language becomes extinct when nobody speaks or remembers the language. The UNESCO has categorized languages on basis of endangerment as follows State Universities
    • Vulnerable
    • Definitely Endangered
    • Severely Endangered
    • Critically Endangered
  • UNESCO has recognized 42 Indian languages as Critically Endangered.

Causes For Decline

  • The Government of India does not recognize languages with fewer than 10,000 speakers.
  • Community in-migration and out-migration, resulting in the dispersal of traditional settlements.
  • A shift in employment patterns that favours the majority language.
  • Shifts in social and cultural norms.
  • The rise of “individualism,” prioritizes self-interest over community interest.
  • Materialism’s encroachment on traditional communities, allowing spiritual, moral, and ethical values to be overshadowed by consumerism.

What is the government of India doing to protect the languages?

  • Constitutional protection to languages
    • The Constitution of India has included the clause to protect minority languages as a fundamental right.
    • Article 29 of the Indian Constitution deals with the “Protection of Minorities’ Interests.”
    • It asserts that every group of individuals residing in any area of India who speaks a separate language, script, or culture has the right to preserve that language, script, or culture.
    • The language policy of India provides a guarantee to protect linguistic minorities.
    • Under the constitutional provision is made for the appointment of Special Officer for the linguistic minority with the sole responsibilities of safeguarding the interest of language spoken by the minority groups.
  • 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.
  • Article 343 (1) states that Hindi written in the Devanagari Script is to be the official language of the Union.
  • Official language Act, 1963 provides for use of English in addition to Hindi for all official purposes of Union and business transactions in Parliament.
  • Constitution does not specify the official language of different states.
  • The legislature of each state may adopt any one or more languages used in the state or Hindi as an official language of the state.
    • Until that is done, English will be used as an official language of the state.
    • 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.
  • Most States have adopted major regional languages as the official language.
  • Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages (SPPEL)
    • It was established in 2013 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Government of India).
    • The Scheme’s sole goal is to document and archive the country’s languages that have become endangered or are likely to become endangered soon.
    • The scheme is overseen by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysuru, Karnataka.
    • The University Grants Commission (UGC) provides financial assistance for the establishment of endangered language research centres at Central and State Universities.
  • Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL)
    • Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) was established in 1969.
    • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • Purpose
    • To coordinate the development of the Indian language.
    • Through scientific research, to achieve the essential unity of Indian languages.
    • Encourage interdisciplinary research.
    • Contribute to the mutual enrichment of languages and the emotional integration of the Indian people.
    • safeguards and records minor, minority, and tribal languages.

Inclusion in the 8th Schedule 

  • At present, there is no such Criterion for languages to be included in the 8th Schedule.
  • Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) committees also failed to evolve any criteria.

List of 22 languages in 8th schedule

  • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili, and
    • six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status-Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

Global Efforts for the preservation of languages

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued the Yuelu Proclamation in Changsha, China, in 2018 to guide governments and regions around the world in their efforts to safeguard linguistic resources and diversity.
    • The Yuelu Proclamation was adopted at the first international conference on language resources protection in Changsha, Central China’s Hunan province in 2018 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
    • It calls upon the international community, states, governments, and non-governmental organizations, among others, to reach a consensus on the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity in the world.
    • 2019 has been declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations General Assembly (IYIL).
    • At the national, regional, and international levels, the IYIL 2019 aims to protect, support, and promote indigenous languages.


  • The Yuelu Proclamation has a lot to teach India. The equalization of all qualified languages will foster social inclusion and national togetherness.
  • It will significantly reduce inequalities within the country. As a result, Tulu, along with other deserving languages, should be placed in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule to make the Preamble’s promise of equality of status and opportunity a reality.

Mains model question

  • The Indian constitution includes special provisions to protect the interests of linguistic minorities and to promote the development of the Hindi language. Discuss the issues that arise as a result of them critically and solutions to address the issue.