Friday, 10 August 2012

Bishnupriya Manipuris and Eighth Schedule

RK Rishikesh Sinha

In Guwahati, on November 05, 2003, a new committee named Bishnupriya Manipuri Language EighthSchedule Demand Committee was formed with Pratap Sinha as the chairman and P.C. Sinha as the adviser. This is probably the first and the last web media record where Bishnupriya Manipuris were seen associating themselves with the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. (the news clip with URL is given at the bottom of the article)

Every speech community wishes/struggles to add its language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. The language included in the List gets preference in every sphere – educational, cultural, governance, literature and in other domains. The languages in this List are recognized as “Scheduled Languages”.  And those not specified in this List are termed as “Non-Scheduled Languages”.  And Bishnupriya Manipuri language is a Non-Scheduled Language.

What is Eighth Schedule?

The Eight Schedule was added in the Constitution in 1950. The languages specified in the list get formal and Constitutional recognition and receives priority favour from the Government of India. In the beginning, there were only 14 languages, and Assamese from Northeast India was one among them.

Present Status

According to Census of India 2001, there are 22 languages. From the Northeast India, there are only three languages – Assamese, Bodo, and Manipuri (Manipuri includes Meithei). Today, demands for the inclusion of languages have increased. As reported by Press Information Bureau on March 27, 2012, Government of India has received two more languages from Northeast India – Mizo and Tenyidi (Nagaland). The demand for the inclusion in this list today stands at 33.


There are no criteria laid down in the Constitution for inclusion of languages in the Eighth Schedule.

To consider that majority speech is taken for consideration. It is not. Take Sanskrit, it is spoken by mere 49,736 speakers, still it occupy in the list since its functional transparency is high in the context of Hinduism.

To the question, is there any requirement to have a native state to be included in the list? If it is so, the list would have been long, that would have included all the official languages of States in India. Sindhis don’t have a native state, still it occupies the list. 

Bishnupriya Manipuri Language

So, with the records that are appearing in the media, (if we believe) we can conclude that we have been maintaining silence for more than a decade. There has been no serious discourse in relation to it. Has it fallen down from our collective intelligence? Or it is the other way round; the Eighth Schedule is not of importance to us. Or there has been tectonic shift in our priorities in relation to our language? 



The Telegraph

November 05, 2003 

A new organisation, Bishnupriya Manipuri Language Eighth Schedule Demand Committee, was formed recently. Pratap Sinha is the chairman and P.C. Sinha is the adviser to the organisation.
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