TURA, Sep 14: The Achik Indigenous Justice Initiative Forum (AIJIF) has written to the Central Home Minister, Rajnath Singh on Friday, seeking the inclusion of the Garo language into the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India.
In its memo, the NGO stated that the Garo language was spoken by over 1.5 million people in India with the community having a significant presence in both the states of Meghalaya and Assam with many more residing in Nagaland, Tripura and in West Bengal. Bangladesh too has a sizeable population of the tribe.
“Garo has been given the status of an associate official language (the main official being English) in the five Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya under the Meghalaya State Language Act, 2005,” said Alex K Sangma, the director of AIJIF.
“The language is also used as a medium of instruction at government run schools at the elementary stage and in some at the secondary stage. It is used alongside English. It is also taught as a subject under MIL is schools and also take up the language at the degree level,” he added.
According to the NGO the language has been growth lately in printed literature with many materials as dictionaries, grammar books, translated materials, newspapers, magazines and journals, novels, collection of short stories, folklores and myths, scholarly materials, and many important religious publications such as the Garo Bible and the Garo hymnal.
“However, further research on the language itself has been slow rather rare but not non-existent,” added chief coordinator, Stubent G Marak.
The NGO referred to the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India that lists official languages which allowed for inclusion.
“The Government of India is now under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages, such that ‘they grow rapidly in richness and become effective means of communicating modern knowledge’. In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper,” said coordinator, Chenang Momin.
The NGO felt that through inclusion of the language, job opportunities would increase while many prominent writers who have missed the opportunity to be bestowed with the Sahitya Akademi Awards would find their names in the list.
“Our youths have missed the opportunity because they have been asked to write papers in Hindi or other languages and this has been a disadvantage to our youths. There are 22 recognized languages in the Eighth Schedule and only three languages from the North East are recognized” the NGO added.
The NGO feels that it is imperative on the part of the GOI to take up the matter and acknowledge this right of the Garos and take necessary initiatives in including “Garo Language” in the Eighth Schedule.