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Khasi language in Eighth Schedule

The clamour for including Khasi in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution is gaining ground and rightly so. Till date there are 22 recognised languages under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. At the time of the enactment of the Constitution, languages included in this list meant that the particular language was entitled to be represented in the Official Languages Commission and that the language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi, the official language of the Union. The listed languages have gained significance even as Government of India is now under obligation to take measures to enable these languages to grow and be enriched apart from them being the most effective means of communicating modern knowledge.

It is now high time for Government of India to take a call on the 38 other languages awaiting inclusion in the Eighth Schedule which include among others, Khasi, Mizo and Kokborok. The idea also is not to unduly burden students to write their examinations in the English language which is not their mother tongue and which, in most cases is very poorly taught, particularly in the rural areas of our country. English as the language of expression in examinations places students in the private schools of urban India at an unfair advantage to their peers from rural schools. Also candidates who are entitled to appear for their public service examinations in their respective languages enjoy added advantage when compared to those who have to write in English which is not their native language.

It is interesting that the inclusion of a language in the Eighth Schedule should be decided by the Union Home Ministry, whose remit is to ensure national security. Deciding whether a language should be included in the Eighth Schedule should have ideally been the task of the Ministry of Culture. This Ministry is well placed to evolve the criteria for such inclusion, taking into consideration the number of speakers of the language and its evolution over the decades. Till date these criteria have not been decided. Hence the 38 languages that are awaiting recognition are victims of this ennui of the Government of India. The alibi given is that the evolution of dialects and languages is dynamic and are influenced by socio-eco-political developments hence the difficulty to fix any criterion for languages and to distinguish them from dialects. Khasi has been waitlisted for a very long time. It’s time now for Meghalaya to stake claim for inclusion of Khasi in the Eighth Schedule

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