BY THE EDITOR:
For quite a long time, the local indigenous people of the state had been fighting for inclusion of Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The treasurer of the Khasi Authors’ Society (KAS), Padmashri Badaplin War, and Associate Professor of Khasi Department, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong have reiterated the aspirations of the Khasis.
Khasi language is unique and distinct, spoken by nearly two million people belonging mostly to Meghalaya and a few in the neighbouring states, including Bangladesh. Prior to independence, it was recognised as a subject in Calcutta University and subsequently in Gauhati University.
At present, it is also recognised as a subject to be taught, right from lower primary level up to postgraduate and doctorate level by NEHU. Meanwhile, Garo language too has blossomed and rapidly progressed which rightly deserves similar attention.
Right after independence, our esteemed leaders who cherished the vision of ‘unity in diversity’ devoted special attention to nurture, preserve, protect and enrich the diverse cultures of the nation.
Accordingly, the Union Ministry of Culture was set up and its first task was the creation of three National Akademies- Sahitya Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Akademi- to look after literary standards, performing arts and visual arts. The state has limited resources but the central government has ample opportunities to extend financial help to aspiring and deserving scholars and artistes. Besides, with assistance from the Government of India journals, monographs, encyclopedias, translation, dictionaries, histories of literature, seminars, workshops, symposia can be organised in one’s own vernacular, including the All India Tour as well as outside the country.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization also extends its assistance to and cooperation with India. The United Nations is greatly concerned with the dwindling population of indigenous people whose languages are on the verge of extinction. Consequently, the year 2019 was proclaimed as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Language is directly correlated to identity. The more the number of speakers of a particular language, the greater is the probability of the identity of the people to exist and to flourish. The converse also holds true. For example, the number of people who use the Great Andamese language was in single digit a few years ago and obviously they are a vanishing race. Even Ahom language of Assam has about 200 speakers. Such a precarious situation is not confined only to India but to every corner of the globe.
Let us learn a lesson from the Sindhi-speaking people. After partition in 1947, majority of the Sindhi Hindus migrated to India. Though they live in a country that does not include Sind yet they struggle like any other Indian and now they number about 30 lakh.