The Official Languages and the Classical Languages in India

The Official Languages of India are Hindi and English.

According to Article 343(1) “The Official Language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.”

The individual states can legislate their own official languages, depending on their linguistic demographics.

Accordingly,

  • the state of Andhra Pradesh has Telugu as its sole official language and
  • the state of Tamilnadu has Tamil as its sole official language and
  • the state of Karnataka has Kannada as its sole official language and
  • the state of Kerala has Malayalam as its sole official language and
  • the state of Jammu&Kashmir has Kashmiri, Urdu, and Dogri as its official languages.

In the year 2004 it was decided by the Government of India to declare Indian Languages meeting certain requirements as “Classical Language” and Tamil was declared as a Classical Language by the Government of India in June 2004. .

Sanskrit is already having a special status in India under Article 351, and Sanskrit was declared as a classical language in the year 2005.

In the year 2006 the Government of India declared that the following are the criteria to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered and declared as classical languages:-

  • “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.”

In the year 2008, Kannada and Telugu Languages were declared as classical languages of India.

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