Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kurukh Language in 8th Schedule? Why Not?

In our country, meetings and rallies are as common as are heat waves in summer. Yet, this morning news of a meeting in a sleepy town of Nagrakata (Near Jalpaiguri) caught my eye. In that meeting, groups of people were demanding inclusion of Kurukh language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Kurukh, the language of the Oraon tribe, is one of the few indigenous languages with a script of its own

Kurukh is the language of the Oraon tribe. Spread across Jharkhand and Terai region of northern West Bengal (Paschim Banga), there are around 25 Lakhs (2.5 million) Oraon people in India. The language also has its own script which is called Tolang Siki.

In 2009, the government of Jharkhand recognized the language. But in West Bengal (the so called most liberal state, the so called patron of art and craft and culture. Talk about myth!) Kurukh has remained unrecognized.

Now, what does recognition of a language mean to the Oraon? Officially, it would mean their children would get something which the elders didn't:  the  opportunity to read, write and receive lessons in Kurukh in schools. They can document their people's history and culture. It would  also mean Doordarshan (the state owned TV) broadcasting program in their language and the members of the assembly/parliament can better express herself/himself by giving a speech in her/his own language. 

But above everything else, recognition of Kurukh would mean cultural justice to a people that has always been looked down upon by cultural racists. And coming from the predominantly tribal North east, I can tell you that this racism is omnipresent, as ugly as it gets and as painful as you can imagine. 

On a slightly different note, deprivation isn't always about money. And rebellions, even the armed ones, do not always result out of lack of jobs. To be a 2.5 million strong people and to be denied the right to study your own language, or, speak in the parliament does amount to deprivation. It also amounts to denial of your rights or to be proud of your cultural heritage.

Would it not be wise and logical (not to mention humane) to stop the cycle of denial and recognize officially the language Kurukh? By doing that, the government has nothing to lose, but so much to gain: a human face, support of the 25-lakh strong people, sprouting of many a literary talents and above all, peace.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting, Stella. I spent many years in northern Canada and remember learning, early on, that academically, aboriginal students did much better if they were able to learn in their own language first, and then in English. Neuroscience suggests that children are able to learn several different languages much more easily than adults, so academically, this idea is very sound, completely apart from the linguistic and cultural importance of using your own language and telling your own stories.

stella's musings said...

Thanks a lot for that interesting information!! You know, most of the tribal folks in India live in remote areas where there are often a single school for more than one villages. Most schools are managed by 1/2 teachers and what they do is, take common classes (kids of all grades sit together). You can imagine the quality of their learning. Obviously, if the kids are allowed to learn in their own language, they at least have a chance to learn something, rather than drawing a complete blank.
Thanks again, for reading through!

shehzil said...

Thank you.

Your blog is very informative.

visit:- SEO Training Noida

neetisha xalxo said...

stella nice views, be in touch with our people, we have to give them back jo bhi apne society se liya hai, so jitna kuch apni paridhi me rah ke kar sakte hai, wah hume karna chahiye, acha laga tumhare blog se ujarte hue, kuch naya aur bhi share karo. best wishes for upcuming writings n thinkings.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stella.Really a genuine concern.But I do not agree to keeping in the 8th Schedule will serve the purpose unless Govt intervenes in its promotional activities.

I was in Jharkhand and saw that the language is being spoken and used in university curriculum.

A children being taught in their own language really increases the perception of child.

We have to create sincere effort to teach children in mother tongue.

S Kumar

bluejay said...

hi stella,

I'm a researcher from the Max Planck Institute. Recently I came down to India for collecting information and documenting the dravidian language family. You have no idea how surprised I was.. when I heard from the center for Indian languages that only scheduled languages are being documented!!.. What happens to languages like gond, kurukh, kuwi and konda?

I would love to know if you are in touch with people who speak Kurukh, it would help me immensely in my research

Gulshan Toppo said...

Can you name one kurukh speaking person....who has done remarkable efforts to add kurukh as 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Last year a International Kurukh Summit was held in Ranchi and one thing only a section of people(So called Dharmis) participated the event. And the other side Rourkela city witness the Kurukh Summit supposed to held in evry year.

But the condition is same "Only a section of people were the participant"

I think a similar movement is "Alag Jharkhand banao"


Anonymous said...

spread across so many states and a few countries people whose forefathers spoke kurukh language would certainly be much more than 2.5 million. People who took the census must have made mistakes or the kurukh people should have wrongly reported hindi/Bengali/ oriya,the language they commonly use as their mother tongue. In Tamilnadu people whose mother tongue is Telugu/Kannada/Malayalam usually identify themselves as Tamil people.such thing should have happened in kurukh speaking areas.

To popularise kurukh language among oraons and oraons feature films should be produced and exhibited. Kurukh enthusiasts should establish contacts with film personalities in Chennai/Mumbai.


ANIL KUMAR Ekka said...

Demanding to include Kurukh in the 8th Schedule is not the ultimate solution. No doubt that it should be included but not at this juncture. The basic thing is to start the thing from the grassroot level. Kurukh Literary Society of India has taken the initiative to propagate and popularise the language. Kurukh has been introduced by the Ranchi University in some forms. Development of the language is to be initiated by us by bringing out periodical magazines, Newspapers, Films etc.

mbg said...

I came across your blog as I researched the current status of the Kurukh language. 105 years ago my great great grandfather, Ferdinand Hahn, wrote a book on Kurukh grammar. He also collected some of the folk tales (perhaps of the Kol people), but he published them in German, so I am trying to get them translated in English. It would be great to have them translated back into Kurukh so that stories can be passed on to generations to come, and be inspired to write in their own language.

Neelam Kerketta said...

That's true Stella, now the first responsibility before us is to promote the knowledge of this language especially speaking, before it dies away in the homogenization culture of today.

A K Baxla said...

Dear All,
It really nice to see Rev. Ferdinand Hahn's Grand daughter in this blog. It's may pleasure to inform you that Dr. Bishop Nirnal Minz has translated the Kurukh Grammar and we Kurukh Literary Society of India published this book in KURUKH. We are also planning to publish such type of book so that Kurukh community as well Linguistics may be benefited.

We are also publishing Kurukh books and Kurukh Research Journal every year which are released in our annual National Kurukh Conferences. This national conferences conducted every year since 2006. This year we are conducting 10th National conference at Nagpur, Maharashtra during 23-25 October, 2015.

This year during 16-17 May 2015 2nd International Conference was held at Biratnagar, Nepal. 3rd International Conference planned at Bangladesh during 2018.

For more information kindly visit our web site

Ashok Kr. Baxla