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July 10 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The Central government has recently decided to modify the criteria for granting classical language status, based on recommendations from the Linguistics Expert Committee of the Union Culture Ministry.

This change aims to better reflect the rich linguistic heritage of India and address the demands of various language groups.

What are Classical Languages?

  • Definition: In 2004, the Government of India introduced the category of “classical languages.”
  • Criteria Established: In 2006, specific criteria for conferring classical language status were established.
  • Current Classical Languages: Six languages currently hold classical language status.

Criteria for Classical Language Status

  1. Antiquity: The language should have early texts or recorded history spanning 1,500 to 2,000 years.
  2. Valuable Heritage: It should possess a body of ancient literature or texts considered valuable by generations.
  3. Original Literary Tradition: The language must have an original literary tradition, not borrowed from another speech community.
  4. Distinctness: The classical language and its literature should be distinct from modern forms, allowing for discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or offshoots.

Benefits of Classical Language Status

  • Financial Assistance: For setting up a center of excellence for the study of the language.
  • Awards and Recognition: Two major awards for scholars of eminence in classical languages.
  • Academic Support: University Grants Commission (UGC) can establish professional chairs for scholars in central universities.

Recent Developments

  • Modification of Criteria: The Central government has decided to revise the criteria for granting classical language status based on the Linguistics Expert Committee’s recommendations.
  • Composition of the Committee: Includes representatives from the Union Ministries of Home, Culture, and several linguistic experts, chaired by the president of the Sahitya Akademi.
  • Notification Pending: The new criteria will be officially notified once approved by the Union Cabinet.
  • Impact on Language Consideration: The modification has delayed the consideration of languages like Marathi for classical status.
  • Demand for Other Languages: Other language groups, such as Bengali and Tulu, have also demanded classical language status.

Arguments for Inclusion of Various Languages as Classical Language

  • Bengali:
  • Historical Evidence: Bengali literature dates back to the 10th century AD, with origins traced to 2,500 years ago.
  • Written Existence: Evidence of written Bengali as early as the 3rd-4th BCE.
  • Consistency: Retains fundamental syntactic, morphological, and phonological patterns from the 3rd BCE.
  • Tulu:
  • Historical Background: A Dravidian language spoken in Karnataka and Kerala.
  • Literary Tradition: Mentioned in Sangama Literature and Greek Mythology.
  • Rich Oral Literature: Includes folk-song forms like paddana and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Language

  • Eighth Schedule:
  • Promotes the progressive use of Hindi and enrichment of language.
  • Article 344(1): Constitution of a Commission for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes.
  • Article 351: Duty of the Union to promote Hindi as a medium of expression for India’s composite culture.
  • Languages in the Eighth Schedule:
  • Includes 22 languages, with 14 initially included.
  • Additions Over Time: Sindhi (1967), Konkani, Manipuri, Nepali (1992), Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Santhali (2004).
  • Demands for Inclusion:
  • There are demands for 38 more languages to be included in the Eighth Schedule, such as Angika, Banjara, Bazika, Bhojpuri.
  • Current Status: The decision on inclusion is under government consideration, guided by the recommendations of the Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) Committees.

Language of The Union

  • Article 120: Language to be used in Parliament.
  • Article 210: Language to be used in State Legislature.
  • Article 343: Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Union.

Regional Languages

  • Article 345: State legislatures can adopt any official language.
  • Article 346: Official language for communication between states and the Union.
  • Article 347: President can recognize any language spoken by a section of the state’s population if demanded.

Special Directives

  • Article 29: Protects the interests of minorities in preserving their language, script, and culture.
  • Article 350: Ensures the right to submit grievances in any language used in the Union or the State.
  • Article 350A: States must provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage for children belonging to linguistic minority groups.
  • Article 350B: Establishes a Special Officer for linguistic minorities, appointed by the President, to investigate matters relating to linguistic minority safeguards.


The decision to modify the criteria for granting classical language status is a significant step in acknowledging the rich linguistic heritage of India.

The process is dynamic and responsive to the evolving socio-economic and political landscape, ensuring that languages with historical and cultural significance are rightfully recognized and preserved.

This initiative not only supports the academic and cultural study of these languages but also fosters a sense of pride and identity among speakers of these languages.

Mains Question:

  1. Discuss the recent modifications in the criteria for granting classical language status in India and their implications for linguistic and cultural heritage preservation. (150 WORDS)


July 10
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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