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  • Context (TH): WB CM requests PM to recognize ‘Bengali’ as a classical language officially.
  • As per scientific research by the State team, Bengali’s origins 2,500 years ago.
  • Bengali is the 2nd most spoken language in India (after Hindi) and the 7th most spoken language globally.

Classical Language

  • It is a language with original, independent literary tradition and a large body of ancient written literature.
  • India recognizes six classical languages: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013) and Odia (2014).
  • All the Classical Languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the IC.

Criteria for declaring a language as ‘Classical’

  • The Ministry of Culture provides guidelines regarding Classical languages. They are:
    1. High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over 1500-2000 years.
    2. A body of ancient literature/texts is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
    3. The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
    4. Classical language and literature are distinct from modern, but there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or offshoots.

Benefits of being a Classical Language

  • The Ministry of Education provides specific benefits to promote the classical languages:
    1. Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
    2. Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages.
    3. The University Grants Commission is requested to create several professional chairs for classical languages in the Central Universities.
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