Explained: How is a language declared ‘classical’ in India, what benefits it enjoys

At the 93rd edition of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan,a resolution was passed demanding the declaration of Marathi as a ‘Classical’ language.


About Classical languages:

  • Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status namely Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

Guidelines for declaring a 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.

Benefits provided to a classical language:

  • 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 at least in the Central Universities,a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.

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