In the year 2004, it was decided by the Government of India to declare Indian Languages meeting certain requirements as “Classical language” and Tamil was declared as a Classical Language by the Government of India in June 2004.
Sanskrit is already having a special status in India under Article 351 and Sanskrit was declared as a classical language in the year 2005.
Criteria for Classical languages in India
In the year 2006, the Government of India declared that the following are the criteria to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered and declared as classical languages:
- High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
- A body of ancient literature/ texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
- The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
- The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.
Currently six languages enjoy the status of Classical languages in India:
- Tamil (2004)
- Sanskrit (2005)
- Kannada and Telegu (2008)
- Malayalam (2013)
- Odiya (2014)
What are the benefits enjoyed by the Classical languages?
Once the status of Classical language is given to the language, then the following benefits are accredited to the language:
- Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in classical Indian languages.
- A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up.
- The University Grants Commission is requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for the Classical Languages so declared.