Current Affairs Today

“Odia”- 6th Indian classical language

The Union Cabinet gave its nod for classifying Odia as a classical language to give impetus to scholarships in the language. It is the sixth Indian language to get such prestigious tag after Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. 

There has been a long-standing demand that Odia, which is one of the oldest languages and has no resemblance to Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Telugu, etc, be declared as a classical language.

What is a ‘Classical Language’ ?

A classical language is a language with a literature (art of written work) that is classical. U.C.Berkeley linguist George L. Hart defined Classical Language as follows:

It should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own, not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature.

Classical languages are those which are ancient, of an independent nature and not a derivative of any other tradition. And based on above, Chinese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hebrew, Greek and Latin are considered as the Classical Languages of the World. Of these only Chinese and Tamil are used by masses now. 

In India, Tamil was the first to gain the Classical Language status, followed by Sanskrit in 2005. These two languages (Tamil and Sanskrit) are undoubtedly parental sources for many languages belonging to the Indo-European family and the Dravidian family of linguistic groups.

In 2006, the Union Minister for Tourism and Culture announced in the Rajya Sabha the creation of a new category of languages as classical languages based on 4 norms:

committee of linguistic experts followed it up, and based on its recommendation classical status was conferred on Telugu and Kannada in 2008. Thus, the definition of classical languages has undergone several changes over the years and the latest criterion too is susceptible to changes.

Benefits of declaring Odia as classical language
Which are the Classical Languages of India?

Languages thus far declared to be Classical are:

  1. Tamil (2004)
  2. Sanskrit (2005)
  3. Kannada (2008)
  4. Telugu (2008)
  5. Malayalam (2013)
  6. Odia (2014)