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Demand for inclusion of Garo language in 8th Schedule
Biplab Kr Dey
 TURA, Sept 14 - Achik Indigenous Justice Initiative Forum (AIJIF) has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking the inclusion of Garo language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India. The memorandum was submitted today.

In its memo, the NGO stated that the Garo language was spoken by over 1.5 million people in India with the community having a significant presence in both the States of Meghalaya and Assam, with many more residing in Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal. Bangladesh too has a sizeable population of the tribe.

“Garo has been given the status of an associate official language (the main official language being English) in five Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya under the Meghalaya State Language Act, 2005,” said Alex K Sangma, director of AIJIF.

“The language is also used as a medium of instruction in government-run schools at the elementary stage and in some at the secondary stage. It is also taught as a subject under MIL in schools and also taken up at the degree level,” he added.

According to the NGO, the language has seen growth lately in printed literature such as dictionaries, grammar books, translated materials, newspapers, magazines and journals, novels, collection of short stories, folklores and myths, scholarly materials, and many important religious publications such as the Garo Bible and the Garo hymnal.

“However, further research on the language itself has been slow rather rare but not non-existent,” added chief coordinator of the NGO, Stubent G Marak.

“The Government of India is under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages, such that ‘they grow rapidly in richness and become effective means of communicating modern knowledge.” In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper,” said coordinator, Chenang Momin.

The NGO felt that through inclusion of the Garo language, job opportunities would increase while many prominent writers will have the opportunity to be bestowed with the Sahitya Akademi Awards.

“There are 22 recognised languages in the Eighth Schedule and only three from the North East are recognised”, the NGO added.

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