Inclusion of indigenous languages in Eighth Schedule priority: Padma Shri educationist

From CK Nayak

NEW DELHI, March 23: Padma Shri awardee Dr Badaplin War, a professor in the Khasi Department at NEHU, who spent her entire life dedicating to Khasi language and literature, on Wednesday said that inclusion of the indigenous language in the 8th schedule of Constitution will be her priority.
Talking to The Shillong Times on the sidelines of the felicitation ceremony here after receiving the prestigious award, Prof War said that the unique language should be uniformly used in daily conversations and in vernacular newspapers. This way the language will not only survive but also spread more, she said.
Elated over conferment of the prestigious civilian award by the President of India in the presence of top dignitaries on Tuesday, War said that it is recognition of her language. While Ramnath Kovind congratulated her while bestowing the award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got up from his seat when she greeted him while going to receive the award.
Dr War was felicitated by students and young professionals of Meghalaya who are in the national capital. Among others, senior advocate Daniel Stone Lyngdoh and office-bearers of Khasi Students’ Union in Delhi attended the programme held at new Meghalaya House.
“In fact, the Union Government should include the Khasi and Garo languages in the 8th Schedule as a gift on the occasion of ongoing golden jubilee celebrations of Meghalaya,” Dr War said. All the three MPs from the state — Agatha Sangma, Dr W R Kharluki (both NPP) and Vincent H Pala — have raised the same demand in Parliament earlier.
There are 22 languages in the 8th Schedule and Khasi is one among 99 Non-Scheduled languages in Part B of the Schedule as mentioned in the Census report of 2011. As a matter of fact, the majority 96.71 per cent of people in India use one of the 22 Scheduled languages as their mother tongue and the remaining 3.29 per cent speak one or the other 99 Non-Scheduled languages.
Among the three language families, besides Indo-Aryan and Dravidian, the third largest language family is Austroasiatic. Only Santhal from the Austroasiatic family is in the Eighth Schedule and next Khasi in the family should find a place, Dr War said.
Dr War also emphasised on translation of Khasi literature to other Indian languages which will help in spreading the dialect all over the country.
Translation itself is the starting point of Khasi literature, the educationist said. From the time of missionaries, a lot of literary works were translated to Khasi, she said.
Imparting education in mother tongue will also help in preserving and helping the indigenous languages like Khasi and Garo languages, War said. The National Education Policy 2020, which stressed on education through mother tongue, will go a long way in this direction, she added.
Dr War said that another important step is to bring out a dictionary which will standardise the Khasi language not only in spelling and grammar but also in pronunciation. This will also help non-Khasi speakers to learn the language correctly, she said.
The Khasi Authors’ Society (KAS), where Dr War is a top office-bearer, has undertaken the task of compiling a Khasi-to-Khasi dictionary to help both Khasis and non-Khasis to pronounce Khasi words correctly. The objective is to codify and standardise the Khasi language in the written form.
The dictionary will give definition and explanation of each word in the Khasi language and then they will add the English equivalent of those words, Dr War said. It will have phonetic transcription of each of the lexical entries so that anyone reading the dictionary will get to know the correct pronunciation of those words, she added.

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