Different Dimensions of Language Conservation in India - Daily Current Affair Article


According to a recent UNESCO report, about 197 languages are in extinction in India, and from this point of view, India is on top in the world.


  • According to the latest version of the UNESCO report "UNESCO Atlas of World Languages in Danger", about 197 vernacular languages of India have been categorized from Vulnerable to Extinct. Many languages like Handauri, Ladakhi, Nihali, Toda are in crisis today. If this situation persists, then the saying of "Kos Kos Par paani badle chaar kos par baani " (an idoms shows the linguistic diversity ) will be reduced to books only.

Key points of "UNESCO Atlas of World's Language in Danger"

  • According to this report, 197 languages of India are in the category of Vulnerable and India is on top of the countries where most languages are in crisis.
  • Apart from India,191 languages are in the United States, 190 languages in Brazil are in a critical situation which is second and third respectively after India.
  • In addition to India, China (fourth place with 144 languages) and Indonesia (the fifth place with 143 languages) are in the Asian continent.
  • Besides, Mexico (143 languages), Russia (131 languages), and Australia (108 languages) are that countries where more than 100 languages are in extinction.

Various categories of "UNESCO Atlas of World Languages in Danger"

Vulnerable - Most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home)

Definitely endangered - Children no longer learn the language as mother tongue in the home

Severely endangered - Language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves

Critically endangered - the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently

Extinct- There are no speakers left

>> included in the Atlas if presumably extinct since the 1950s

Definition of Language:-

From a literature point of view, language is the system of communication. It is a collection of sounds from which a group of people assumes a common meaning.

  • A group of different languages related to the same ancestor is called a language family.

Dialect is the local form of the language. There can be many dialects from one language.

Classification of languages in India

Languages in India are classified in the following forms

  • Indian Arya Group
  • Dravidian Group
  • Chinese-Tibet Group
  • Negro group
  • Austric group
  • other

The largest group of languages in India is the Indian Aryan group. About 74% of Indians speak languages belonging to this group.

Causes of language crisis in India

  • Historically, continuous invasions on India, efforts of cultural imperialism have endangered Indian indigenous languages.
  • English refers to the status of a specific class due to prolonged colonial rule in India. Due to the increasing influence in English governance, administration, law, courses in India, acceptance of other Indian languages decreases. Which causes these languages to become distressed.
  • Due to globalization, as a result of trade and other activities from many countries of the world, Indians are constantly learning new languages (German, French), due to which their tendency towards affable languages is working.
  • According to the Indian government, only those dialects will be considered as languages, which will also have a script, in this situation, many languages are spoken only are endangered.
  • India officially has 122 languages, much lower than the 780 calculated in the linguistic survey. The main reason for this contradiction is that the government does not recognize a language that has less than 10,000 speakers. Due to this, funding is also not received under the protection of many languages.
  • According to the 2013 Linguistic Survey Report of India, more than 220 languages have ended in the last 50 years, while 197 languages are on the verge of extinction, but due to government apathy and the importance of English in general, there is no attempt to conserve it.
  • Only 22 languages are constitutionally recognized in India, which is much less than the number of linguistic surveys.
  • Many tribes were given criminal status by the British, due to which these tribals hide their language, dialect. Even after so many years of independence, efforts were not made in the protection of these tribes, which have endangered their languages.
  • Most of the endangered languages are mainly in the tribes which do not have contact with the mainstream of the society due to which their language is not spreading.
  • Due to the importance of the majority in a democracy, only those issues are given due importance to the majority class. Therefore, the political ambition of preserving extinct language is often lacking.

For these reasons, there were 1,652 languages in the 1961 census and the 2013 survey found only 780 languages.

Efforts for Language conservation

Language ensures the identity of any person. A crisis in the language is considered a crisis on identity. Ever since independence, the increasing demand of states based on language establishes the importance of language in itself. Diversity of language is an integral part of India's culture. Therefore, many efforts have also been made to preserve the language.

  • Constitutional protection has been given to 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. This schedule includes Kashmiri language, Sindhi language, Punjabi language, Hindi language, Bengali language, Assamese language, Oriya language, Gujarati language, Marathi language, Kannada language, Telugu language, Tamil language, Malayalam language, Urdu language, Sanskrit language, Nepali language, Manipuri language, Kokani language, Bodo language, Dongri language, Maithili language, Santhali language are included.
  • Government of India has given classical language status to Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Odia, and Kannada.
  • The Indian Language Institute (established in Mysore in 1969 by the Government) has done several excellent works along with researching and preparing records on Indian languages.
  • Bharatvani portal publishes content in 121 languages and is also running online courses.
  • Despite these conservation efforts, the extinction of languages continues, so some other efforts are needed to prevent languages from becoming extinct.

What can be done to preserve languages?

  • First of all it is necessary that the government changes the language norms and also conserves those dialects which do not have the script and which are used by a population less than 10000.
  • A successful way to save languages - to promote schools that teach in that language. In this situation, linguistic projects like Project Tiger will initiate the in-situ conservation of language.
  • Some portion of the amount spent under CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) should be encouraged to be spent for saving languages and handicrafts, building documentation, and accessibility tools.
  • Youth using specific languages can be encouraged to conserve and develop the language using dialogue, exchanges, apps, and podcasts.
  • Civil society will have to work in this field.

The conclusion

In the last two decades, the number of people speaking the Bhil-like language has increased by 85 percent due to the efforts of NGOs, the Government, and other sectors in India. The Government of India should give statutory protection to the languages of the tribes and other linguistic minority groups, thereby reducing the confidence deficit. India is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (Papua New Guinea 1100 languages, Indonesia 800 languages, India 780 languages), so India should strive in this direction.

General Studies Paper 1
  • Indian Art and Culture
  • Indian culture will include the main aspects of art forms, literature, and architecture from ancient times to modern times.

Mains Question:-

  • Language is a means of identification and in India, there is a constant crisis on languages. Do you think the people of India are losing their native identity now?