HYDERABAD: The four-year long campaign
by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka culminated in a ‘Formation Day’ gift
for both the states. Union tourism and culture minister Ambika Soni announced in
New Delhi on Friday the Centre’s decision to accord classical language
status for Telugu and Kannada, a day before both the neighbours celebrate the
52nd anniversary of their founding on November 1, 1956.
The fight for
the prestigious status for the two languages was launched by academicians and
language experts in AP and Karnataka after the UPA government had accorded the
classical language status to Tamil in 2004. To be classified as classical, a
language must fulfil four criteria laid down by the government. Among them are
that the language must have a recorded history of at least 1,500-2000 years and
its literary tradition must be original and not borrowed from any speech
community and must have a large and rich body of ancient literature. Till now,
Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Tamil have been accorded classical language
But it is granting Tamil the status of classical language in
2004 that had Telugu and Kannada culture activists up in arms. They contended
that both these languages too fulfilled all the criterion needed to be
classified as classical languages. While these two states kept up the campaign,
Tamil enthusiasts did their best to sabotage the Telugu and Kannada campaign
insisting that Tamil is the oldest spoken language in the world and that Telugu
and Kannada should not be placed on the same pedestal.
In was in July
this year that the two states decided to join forces. At a seminar organised by
the Karnataka Sangha from Hampi in Karnataka and the Dravidian University from
Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh held in New Delhi, ministers and professors said it was
unfair to deny Telugu and Kannada classical language status when the same was
given to the Tamil language.
Speakers at the seminar said Tamil,
Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages have similar ancestry and, therefore, it
was wrong to elevate only Tamil as a classical language and leave behind the
The UPA government then appointed a committee of linguistic
experts under the culture ministry which recommended in August this year that
the two languages too fulfilled the criteria laid down by the government for
recognition as classical languages.
An elated A B K Prasad, chairman
of the official language committee of Andhra Pradesh, said according classical
language status would greatly boost research, preservation and spread of the
language. “To begin with, the state would be given Rs 100 crore annually.
With this, we will set up chairs in universities inside India and abroad,
conduct research, encourage studies in Telugu, modernise and preserve ancient
Telugu texts as well as encourage scholars to undertake widespread research into
the origin and history of Telugu,” Prasad told TOI.
proposal as to what activities can be done by the official language committee on
Telugu would be submitted to chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a week's
time, Prasad said. Malayalees are now hoping that it is time that the Kerala
government begin a similar campaign to get their language accorded classical