CLASSICAL LANGUAGES IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Art and Culture)

News-CRUX-10     9th July 2024        
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Context: Amid a clamour for classical status for many languages, the Central government has decided to tweak the criteria for giving this special tag.

Classical Languages in India

  • Criteria: The Government of India has established specific criteria for declaring a language as classical, including a high antiquity of early texts, a valuable literary heritage, originality, and distinctiveness from modern forms.
  • Currently Classical Languages: As of now, six languages hold the prestigious 'Classical' status in India: Tamil (2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
  • Demand of classical language tag: Marathi, Bengali, Assamese and Maithili.
  • The Ministry of Culture provides the guidelines regarding Classical languages.

Present Criteria for Declaration of a Classical Language

  • Antiquity Requirement: A language must demonstrate a high antiquity of its early texts or recorded history spanning 1,500-2,000 years.
  • Body of Ancient Literature: It should possess a substantial body of ancient literature or texts that are considered valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  • Original Literary Tradition: The literary tradition of the language should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  • Distinct from Modern Format: The classical language and its literature should be distinct from its modern format, possibly showing discontinuity with its later forms or offshoots.