Editorial

BY THE EDITOR

The ability to communicate and comprehend each other is indeed a magnificent gift to human race which should therefore be preserved, developed and propagated down the ages. Language is the means of communication between people in which they express their feelings and sentiments. Without it everything would come to a standstill and humans would be no different form animals, birds, insects etc. All human activities like business, trade and commerce, science and technology, industry, interaction with fellow human beings cannot happen at all in the absence of this wonderful medium gifted by God to humans. In brief it can be safely concluded that language is the best and efficient tool of the growth of civilisation. It also acts as the bridge between different people and hence highly essential for their progress and development.

Language also reflects the cultural identity of people and so the existence of any society clearly goes hand-in-hand with language failing which there is imminent danger of extinction. According to linguistic experts India has about 196 endangered languages and of these approximately 80 are in the North East. There are no definite criteria to label a language as endangered. It also depends on the other languages surrounding it and the number of speakers. For example, Onges in the Andaman Island is spoken by only about 100 people, Toda in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu by about 1,000, Idu Mishmi of Arunachal Pradesh by 9,000, Liangmai of Nagaland by about 3,000 and Zou of Manipur by about 16,000. At one stage just after World War II, there was talk that Khasi language was on the verge of extinction due not only to low population but also because of high death rate. However, as economy improved and health sector played a crucial role the situation is completely reverse and the number of speakers is at present approximately 20 lakh. Nevertheless, one cannot afford to remain complacent in this era of high political activities and people’s dynamics.

It is indeed a tragedy and a paradox as well Ā because although Khasi language and Garo have progressed much yet these two languages are not included under the Eighth Schedule. The Khasi Authors Society has taken up the challenge in this respect and for the first time in history staged peaceful demonstration recently at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to highlight and to bring it to the Central leadersā€™ notice so that needful action can be as early as possible. Our political leaders irrespective of party affiliation should be united in this aspect and it seems that until and unless political pressure be taken up the matter will not bear fruit. In the meantime scholars and writers need state’s financial assistance for their productive output.