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Seminar held on safeguarding the Assam minority languages

By Pratibha Sinha, Guwahati

Addressing the minority communities of Assam, Patharkandi MLA Kartiksena Sinha speaking in a seminar, urged them to be a part of Linguistic Minority Development Board that is going to be formed soon by the State Government.

The Patherkandi MLA said this on the sidelines of a seminar-cum-workshop “Challenges before the minor languages of Asom” organized by Bishnupriya Manipuri Writers’ Forum at Guwahati on October 4, 2009.

The seminar organized with an aim to highlight the challenges before the minority communities of the State was participated by many distinguished personalities. It discussed various issues and possible measures related to the preservation and development, revival and implementation of the minority languages.

In his inaugural speech as the chief guest, Kartiksena Sinha emphasized the role that could be played by parents and social organizations in the preservation of one’s mother tongue by instilling pride and respect in the younger generation for the language. He said, “Speaking of mother tongue at home is diminishing particularly among the well-educated younger generations. Parents and social organisations should try to inculcate a sense of pride among the younger generation regarding speaking their own language.”

Asom Sahitya Sabha, Secretary General, Dr Paramananda Rajbongshi appealed to various ethnic groups of the State to forget what the Asom Sahitya Sabha did in the past, and rather concentrate on what it does today. He said there should be a policy on the preservation and development of various minor languages of the state that are essentially part and parcel of the greater Asomiya society.

Mising Sahitya Sabha, President and Head of English, Silapathar College, Dr Basanta Kumar Doley in his paper, suggested revival of folklore of various ethnic communities of Assam. He proposed a separate directorate for the indigenous language of the state besides imparting the education of modern science and technology through mother tongue as a medium of instruction. He further stressed on the financial assistance for research and development of indigenous languages of the state.

Former President of the Tai Sahitya Sabha Manoranjan Phukan said that the disintegration of the greater Asomia society would have been avoided if the Asom  Sahitya Sabha would have adopted its present policy on other languages of the state 50 years ago.

The speakers opined that though the Government of Assam has formally declared eight languages – Bishnupriya Manipuri, Mising, Tai, Rabha, Deuri, Tiwa, Karbi and Garo – as minor languages of the State, yet the Government has done little for the preservation and development of these languages.

Speaking on the occasion, the President of the Writers’ Forum DILS Lakshmindra Sinha said, “Due to globalization and commodification of all aspects of social, political, and economic life, many minor languages are under the threat of being extinct. Some of the endangered languages of the state are Bishnupriya Manipuri, Bodo, Rabha, Mising, Tai, Tiwa, Deuri, Kachari, Karbi etc. The language of the Daloos who have a population size of about 30,000 is no longer alive. Likewise, the Bishnupriya Manipuri language died its premature death in Myanmar.”

Lakshmindra Sinha criticized the Government of Assam and the Centre for its indifferent attitude towards the preservation and development of minority languages. He said, international bodies like “UNESCO and many other stresses on the need for primary education to be imparted through mother tongue,” but “the Government of Assam has introduced minor languages as language subjects only in class III and class IV, and that is without any appointment of teachers. There is no authority taking care of the proper implementation of the languages. There is no up gradation of the languages at higher level i.e. from class V onwards.”

He further opined, “The Government of Assam has thus violated the constitutional provisions, the recommendations of the National Commission for Linguistic Minorities and international norms. According to the State Government policy, the minor languages were introduced on an experimental basis, that is if the languages are implemented successfully within five years, with active participation of the guardians and students alike, the languages will be introduced as medium, but due to lack of a transparent policy of the State Government, the entire process is in the doldrums.”

Dr. Kali Prasad Sinha, well-known scholar of Bishnupriya Manipuri was felicitated in the seminar for his precious contribution in the development of the language through his research study.

Central Institute of Indian Languages’ resource person Dr. Ganesh Pegu laid stress on compilation of grammar for the development of any language, a point that Dr Kali Prasad Sinha added in his speech saying that he had already published a grammar on Bishnupriya Manipuri Language. Dr. Pegu made mention of DILS Lakshmindra Sinha and Sri Santosh Sinha for their efforts for the compilation of a multilingual dictionary in Bishnupriya Manipuri.

DILS Lakshmindra Sinha reminded the contribution of DILS Debojyoti Sinha, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Mathura Sinha and Simu Sinha in the process of preparing a multilingual Dictionary and Grammar in Bishnupriya Manipuri. Dr. Pegu also expressed his willingness to support the translation work of Bishnupriya Manipuri literary into Assamese language and vice-versa and publishing the same in prints.

Dr. Paramanda Rajbongshi opened the first (introductory) volume of the organ of the Forum “LONGLEI” edited and compiled by Narendra Kumar Sinha, Ramlal Sinha and Santosh Sinha. Besides the editors, other writers included in the souvenir are – DILS Lakshmindra Sinha, Bimalesh Sinha, Sanjib Sinha, Sujit Sinha, Ramendu Sinha, Brajagopal Sinha, Biswaprasad Sinha, Nanigopal Sinha, Lehausena Sinha, Mrinalkanti Sinha, Kanchanbaran Sinha Samar Sinha, Hareswar Sinha, Biresh Ranjan Sinha, Snigdha Sinha and Sashikumar Sinha. Besides the known writers, new writers were also encouraged by the forum to write in LONGLEI.

Other distinguished guests who addressed the audience in the seminar were Poetess Mira Thakur; Gita Sarma, Retd Principal, Handique Girls College & General Secretary/ Sahitya Bharati (an All India Multilingual Literary organization) and Biresh Ranjan Sinha, Working President, N.B.M.Sahitya Parishad.

Other delegates who put their views across in the seminar were Manindra Kumar Sinha, Editor/Aparupa; Sushil Kumar Sinha, Vice-President/NBM Sahitya Parishad; Bimolesh Sinha/Advocate; Lt. Colonel Bijoy Singha; Biswaprasad Sinha, Genl Secy., Mahasabha; Joy Prakash Sinha, President of NBMM/Greater Guwahati; Advocate Jiten Payeng, Editor of a Mising Journal “Agam”; Tiwa Language Resource Person Dinee Samad; and Soumen Bharatiya, Editor, Byatikram, a Bengali monthly journal.

The seminar started with a welcome Bishnupriya Manipuri dance on “Krishna Rup Barnan” performed by Rumi Sinha. At the beginning of the seminar, the writer of this write up Pratibha Sinha, presented a brief note on the objectives of the Forum and the aim behind organizing the seminar. At the end, Secretary of the Forum, Santosh Sinha conveyed vote of thanks to the Chief Guest and other distinguished participants.

The Seminar-cum-workshop concluded with an encouraging note to take up joint initiative by the minority communities to urge the Governments of the State and the Centre to address their issues.

Today is Leipakpa (Tuesday)

What next?


  1. dear rishi,
    thanks for the valuable information on your part.
    many many thanks to all delegatesand participant, particularly to mr.kartiksena shows we had to initiate positively to help one come forward to help us.

    bipul sarma

  2. nice and informative reporting.
    .....Lt.cornel vijay sinha....??.i hope it is Lt.Colonel.....or we may write 'Lt.Col.' if we have any doubt about the spelling.

    regards .

  3. Dear Prodip,

    It is corrected. Thanks.

    RK Rishikesh Sinha

  4. It's a good initiative. Many more initiatives are needed for Survival of Minority Linguistic groups. I'm personally acquainted with Dills Lakkhindra Sinha. We worked together many years in Ganatantrik Lekhok Sonstha,a multilingual Literary Association and in Sanskrik Oikyo Moncho. He is a Good Poet in Bishnupriya Language.


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