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Mattur village of Karnataka, India’s rare village where people speak Sanskrit language

Mattur village of Karnataka, India’s rare village where people speak Sanskrit language


  • GS 2 || Polity || Other Constitutional Dimensions || Official Language

Why in news?

India’s rare village, Mattur village of Karnataka where people speak Sanskrit language.


  • There are around 7000 languages spoken on Earth, yet approximately half of the world’s population speaks 23 languages. Roughly 3000 languages, on the other hand, are deemed endangered, putting nearly half of the world’s existing linguistic variety at jeopardy.
  • According to the UNESCO criteria, a language becomes extinct when no one speaks or remembers it. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has classified languages according to their risk of extinction as follows:
    • Vulnerable
    • Endangered Species
    • Severely Endangered
    • Critically Endangered Species
  • India is one of the few countries in the world with such a diverse language heritage. The 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution recognises 22 official languages. People in many sections of the country have been speaking more than one language since birth. Though there are 122 languages officially recognised in India, the People’s Linguistic Survey of India has found 780 languages, 50 of which have become extinct in the last five decades. Wadari, Kolhati, Golla, and Gisari are examples of such languages.
  • 42 Indian languages have been designated as Critically Endangered by UNESCO.

The importance of preserving India’s linguistic diversity:

  • Individual Cultural Identity: Language is a part of an individual’s cultural identity. We are the words we speak. Any loss of language has an impact on an individual’s identity, resulting in an identity crisis. This has an impact on their ability to grow and develop as a person.
  • Language Diversity: Language diversity reflects and improves cultural diversity. As a result, the world is enriched. The cultural diversity of a nation is defined by unwritten languages rich in oral traditions, stories, music, poetry, and ritual passed down through the years.
  • Human rights: Because language is so important to one’s identity, the freedom to use one’s own language is viewed as part of the human person’s dignity. Many people do not speak English and hence are unable to take use of the rights that have been granted to them owing to a lack of understanding.
  • Languages offer a window into our past: When a language is gone, the history and culture linked with that language are also lost. Many languages have been lost as a result of this, and many customs have perished as a result.
  • Environment: Because languages are intimately linked to the environments in which they are spoken, they often contain extensive, detailed, and technical knowledge of the area’s flora, wildlife, and habitat. These languages are encyclopaedias of environmental knowledge. Biological and linguistic diversity are inextricably linked. If one is jeopardised, the other is as well.
  • Cognitive powers: Research has shown that when children are educated in their mother tongue in primary school, their cognitive abilities improve significantly. If a youngster is not taught in the language that he or she speaks at home, he or she will struggle to learn and think critically.

Problem with language and lingual diversity:

  • India’s polity and social mobilization:The language issue was one of the most significant issues influencing India’s polity and social mobilisation following independence. India Being a plural society in terms of caste, creed, religion, language, customs, and so on, there were many elements that led to people mobilising and are still heavily affecting Indian culture and politics.
  • Dravidian languages: The language issue arose as a result of regional languages (non-Hindi), particularly Dravidian languages, being concerned about Hindi areas’ dominance in Indian politics and job representation. There was also a call for Indian states to be divided along linguistic lines.
  • The question of state language was also a major issue that sparked different protest movements by students and political activists around the country. As a result, a number of arose.
  • Pro-Hindi movements: However, several similar problems were solved amicably through the establishment of various states along linguistic lines. The issue of state language was also settled by the Three Language Formula, which permitted states to use their own language for official purposes in addition to Hindi.

Efforts to protect linguistic diversity include:

  • Engage indigenous peoples: In order to realise indigenous peoples’ rights and ambitions, the government must engage and support them in defining their own development through policies that are inclusive, equitable, and accessible.
  • Education and literacy:Tribal communities account for around 8% of the Indian population. Their languages are integral to their identity and culture. Giving these languages a place in school instruction for at least 5 to 8 years as a language is the only way to ensure that they do not die extinct in this multilingual country. This could be accomplished by providing particular accommodations for tribal and minor language populations in certain regions/districts.
  • Promoting international domain names’ universal acceptance:Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) can help to support the spread of local languages online by allowing Internet users to access domain names using non-Latin scripts, according to UNESCO. IDNs, which are made up of characters from non-Latin scripts, are an important aspect of the ecosystem that helps local languages thrive online.
  • Language preservation and extinction: The internet can be used to increase awareness about the concerns of language preservation and extinction. It has the ability to translate, classify, store, and give linguistic information and access. New technologies, such as podcasts, can be used to preserve spoken versions of languages, much as written materials can be used to preserve knowledge about a language’s native literature and linguistics.

Government initiative and effort:

  • Technology Development for Indian Languages: The government has launched a project to create information processing tools and methodologies for Indian languages. This will enable human-machine interaction without the need for translation, as well as the creation and use of multilingual knowledge resources.
  • Mandatory inclusion: As part of the Digital India initiative, the Indian government has mandated that all mobile phones sold after July 2017 support all Indian languages. This would pave the path for one billion people who do not understand English to get access to the internet, bridging the digital divide. This will also increase the number of people who can participate in e-governance and e-commerce.
  • The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysore is implementing the Government of India’s “Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India” (SPPEL) Scheme.
  • The goal of this programme is to safeguard, preserve, and document all of India’s mother tongues/languages that are spoken by fewer than 10,000 people. This programme is concerned with dialects that are part of a language.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has a scheme for “Establishment of Centres for Endangered Languages,” under which nine Central Universities have been authorised as centres. In addition, the UGC has been implementing a plan called “Funding support to State Universities for study and research in indigenous and endangered languages in India,” under which seven universities have been granted funding.
  • In addition, the University of Gujarat has approved a collaboration between Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, and BHASA, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion and preservation of indigenous and endangered languages.