Bhojpuri likely to be included in Eighth Schedule

Bhojpuri may get into the Eighth Schedule but it will not feature among the languages recognized by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for its competitive exams. As the struggle for Bhojpuri-speaking people scattered among a huge swath enters its last lap, the UPSC has proposed a constitutional amendment to delink the new entrants to the Eighth Schedule from its scheme of exams. If ratified by Parliament, Bhojpuri will finally make to the list of the scheduled languages.

Scheduled status brings certain advantages to a language. It makes it mandatory for the government to take measures for the development of a scheduled language so that it grow and become effective means of communication in due course of time. “Government is favourably inclined to accept the Commission’s suggestion. A note in this regard will soon be placed before the Union Cabinet for its approval,” said a senior home ministry official.

He said a separate note would simultaneously be sent to the Cabinet for including Bhojpuri – enlisted as mother tongue by over 3.3 crore people during the 2001 Census – in the list of scheduled languages. After getting the Cabinet’s nod, the government will bring the amendment Bills in Parliament in the Winter Session. Though the then home minister P Chidambaram had expressed the government’s willingness to include Bhojpuri – the language is spoken by people in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and even by migrants in countries like Mauritius – in the Eighth Schedule during Budget Session of Parliament in May, his promise had later hit the UPSC’s wall.

The Commission’s representatives in the meetings, held during June-September, had argued that holding examinations in Bhojpuri or any other new language would be very difficult due to acute shortage of language experts. Besides, they contended that all the languages do not have their own literature – a prerequisite of considering them as separate subjects in the Civil Services Examination (CSE) at par with other languages or optionalcompulsory papers. As a solution, the Commission has now suggested constitutional amendment so that it takes care of its concerns besides meeting the aspirations of people who have been demanding inclusion of new languages in the Eighth Schedule,” said the official.

Under constitutional provisions, it is obligatory for the UPSC to give an option of the languages to candidates as one of the qualifying papers along with English in the CSE, include them as optional papers and also allow aspirants to use the languages as medium for instructions. Besides, it is expected from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to mention denomination on currency notes in all the scheduled languages. The RBI has, however, not been able to fulfill this provision with respect to all the 22 scheduled languages due to space constraints in the currency notes. “The RBI’s provision will not be a problem as it can be dealt with through an executive order,” said the official.

The move to include Bhojpuri as scheduled language is, however, fraught with the possibility of opening a Pandora’s Box as more people may come out with demands to include other languages in the Eighth Schedule. Besides Bhojpuri, requests for 37 other languages, including English, have already been pending with the government for long.

These languages include Angika, Banjara, Bazika, Bhoti, Bhotia, Bundelkhandi, Chhattisgarhi, Dhatki, Garhwali (Pahari), Gondi, Gujjari, Ho, Kachachhi, Kamtapuri, Karbi, Khasi, Kodava (Coorg), Kok Barak, Kumaoni, Kurak, Kurmail, Lepcha, Limbu, Mizo, Magahi, Mundari, Nagpuri, Nicobarese, Himachali, Pali, Rajashthani, Sambalpuri, Shaurseni, Siraiki, Tenyidi and Tulu.

Though Pali and English are not part of the Eighth Schedule, these two languages were included by the UPSC in its scheme of examination long ago. Incidentally, over 2.2 lakh people had mentioned English as their mother tongue during the 2001 Census. The Census data show that the country has as many as 234 mother tongues. The 22 languages which are listed in the Eighth Schedule are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

While 14 of them have been under the Eighth Schedule even since Constitution came into force in 1950, Sindhi was added in 1967. Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were added in 1992, whereas four others – Dogri, Bodo, Maithali and Santhali – were included in 2003.

News source: TimesofIndia