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Classical languages of India

Classical languages of India- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 1: Indian History- Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Classical languages of India- Context

  • Classical languages in India are recognized as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Culture.
  • Proponents of many languages often demand the status of classical languages to various languages.
    • For example, in 2020, Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan passed a resolution demanding the declaration of Marathi as a ‘Classical’ language.

Classical languages of India_3.1


List of Classical languages in India

  • Background: In 2004, the Indian Government decided to give certain Indian Languages as Classical Languages who are meeting certain requirements.
  • List of Classical Languages: Till now six Indian Languages have been given the classical language status in India. Six classical Languages are-
    1. Tamil (declared in 2004),
    2. Sanskrit (2005),
    3. Kannada (2008),
    4. Telugu (2008),
    5. Malayalam (2013), and
    6. Odia (2014).

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 1


Classical languages of India- Criteria for Classical Languages in India

  • Criteria: Ministry of Culture provides the following criteria for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ language-
    • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
    • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
    • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
    • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.”
  • Classical Languages and Eight schedule of Indian Constitution: All Six Classical Languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

List of Major Constitutional Amendment Acts- Part 2


Classical languages of India- Associated Benefits

The Human Resource and Development Ministry provides certain benefits once a language has been notified as classical language. These benefits are-

  • Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
  • A Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages is set up
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) is requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.
  • The University Grant Commission (UGC) also awards research projects for promoting these Classical languages.
    • The UGC released funds worth INR 56.74 lakh in 2016-17 and INR 95.67 lakh in 2017-18.


The Editorial Analysis: A language ladder for an education roadblock

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