Posts filed under ‘Kosli language and literature’

Kosali language movement

TNN | Amava.Bhattacharya

With the elections about a year away, western Odisha finds itself in conflict with the rest of the state. Part of the issue is Kosali, a language yet to find a place in the Eighth Schedule. Amava Bhattacharya traces its genesis

Labour minister Susanta Singh on Tuesday sought the replacement of the word ‘Utkala’ in ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ with ‘Odisha’. By proposing this change in the de facto state anthem, the BJD leader from Bhatli in Bargarh has turned the lens on the aspirations of western Odisha, a region that is markedly different from northern and coastal Odisha that were part of the historical Utkala kingdom.

Western Odisha’s aspirations have ranged from better infrastructure to a demand for more political attention, to even a separate Kosal state. Central to its identity is the Kosali Language Movement, a socio-political and literary movement. While its literary goal – to prove that Kosali is a language and not a dialect of Odia – has more or less been achieved, its political goal – inclusion of Kosali in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution – is yet to be realized. With elections scheduled for early next year, political parties are expected to raise the emotive language issue to target each other and gain votes in a region that comprises almost half of Odisha’s population.

Kosali (also referred to as Sambalpuri or Kosali-Sambalpuri) is spoken in 10 districts of western Odisha – Bargarh, Boudh, Subarnapur, Jharsuguda, Balangir, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Nuapada, Sundargarh, Kalahandi and the Athamalik subdivision of Angul, besides Raigarh, Mahasamund and Raipur districts of Chattisgarh. For a long time, the language spoken in this vast region, part of the ancient kingdom of Dakshin Kosal, was considered to be a dialect of Odia, but the language movement led by writers, historians, politicians and linguists has punched holes in this theory.

Proponents of the Kosali Language Movement say it is a direct derivative of Sanskrit and belongs to the Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit group of languages as opposed to Magadhi-Prakrit to which Odia belongs. There is significant difference between Kosali and Odia in terms of morphology, semantics, syntax and phonology, they add.

“Kosali is a separate language. It bears as much resemblance to Hindi as it does to Odia,” says Tila Kumar, professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. A frequent traveller to western Odisha, Kumar says he has seen first-hand the difficulties faced by students in government schools in the region.

“Odia-speaking teachers find it hard to communicate with students here. Certain words have different meanings. For example, ‘ghuri’ means kite in Odia but it refers to the village deity’s altar in Kosali,” he adds, attributing the lower exam success rate in this region, particularly in the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput zone, to Odia and not Kosali being the medium of instruction in schools. In a memorandum submitted in 2011 to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Kosali Development and Discussion Forum, an organization working for the cause of Kosali, had listed education and administrative efficiency as a reason to seek official recognition of Kosali. “Civil servants from other areas who do not have rudimentary knowledge of Kosli language cannot communicate with citizens, resulting in miscommunication,” the memorandum says.

The Kosali Language Movement is a relatively young phenomenon that gained momentum in the 1970s and 80s. It brings to the fore questions such as what constitutes a language, what differentiates it from a dialect and how important language is to political aspiration, explains Pritish Acharya, a professor of history at the Regional Institute of Education in Bhubaneswar.

“A language gains from the number of works written in it and there has been an explosion of writing, drama and films in Kosali,” says Acharya, a native of Bargarh.

The literary journey for Kosali authors has been both fulfilling and rewarding. While it has always had a strong oral repertoire, the first written work in the language is a poem by one Madhusudan published in the magazine ‘Sambalpur Hitaisini’ in 1891. Verses were composed by a number of poets like Chaitana Das, Balaji Meher, Laxman Pati and Kapila Mohapatra in the early years of the 20th century. The poems were characteristic of Kosali works at the time in that they dealt mainly with rural life. A leading light in Kosali is Khageswar Seth, a dalit fisherman who wrote prolifically in both Sambalpuri and Odia. Caste equations coloured the Odia-Kosali binary as those working in the ‘dialect’ were looked down upon for primarily belonging to the ‘lower’ castes.

A major boost to the language was given by the All India Radio station in Sambalpur, commissioned in 1963. It broadcast programmes, especially music, in Sambalpuri and helped it gain greater acceptance. The following decades saw a flowering of works in Kosali. ‘Rangabati’ written by Mitrabhanu Gauntia become a household name. Sabyasachi Mohapatra’s award-winning ‘Bhukha’ (1989) became the first full-length feature in Kosali; the language got its first novel – ‘Bilasini’ by Dhanpati Mohapatra – in 1990 and Prayagdutta Joshi wrote his seminal ‘Koshali Bhasar Sankshipta Parichaya’ in 1991. Poet Haldar Nag emerged as an icon with his unique style and inspired the emergence of ‘Haldardhara’, a brand of poetry paying tribute to him. In 2012, the Registrar for Newspapers for India enlisted Kosali in its language list. Today, Sambalpur University offers a diploma course in Sambalpuri studies.

Despite being the second-most popular language in a state that is itself the first to be formed on the basis of language in 1936, Kosali has found it harder to notch up political victories. The year 2003 was a watershed moment for language movements as the Centre passed the 93rd Constitutional Amendment to enable the possibility of inclusion of other languages in the 8th Schedule. In the same year, it set up a committee led by Odia littérateur and IAS officer Sitakanta Mohapatra to determine the criteria for inclusion of more languages in the 8th Schedule. The committee submitted its report in 2004 and recommended the inclusion of 38 languages. Kosali/Sambalpuri is one of them. Eighteen years later, the fate of these languages remains unclear.

“The report of the committee is under consideration. No time frame can be fixed for the inclusion of more languages in the 8th Schedule,” reads the government’s official line.

While central recognition has proved to be elusive, state recognition, too, has been lukewarm. In 2014, days after the Centre declared Odia as the sixth classical language of India, the Naveen Patnaik government threw its weight behind Kosali and recommended its inclusion in the 8th Schedule.

Naveen has time and again pushed for the inclusion of Kosali in the 8th Schedule, most recently while campaigning for the Bijepur byelection in Bargarh district. But Odisha remains one of the few states to have only one official language. The Orissa Official Language Act of 1954 recognizes Odia as the official language of the state even though Kosali is estimated to have around 2 crore speakers.

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July 14, 2018 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

What happened to the center for Kosli language research?

KL

April 7, 2018 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

MP Prasanna Acharya urge center to include Kosli in 8th schedule of constitution

Following is a report from HT:

The government on Friday asserted in Parliament that it has no intention to impose Hindi over any other Indian language, a remark which assumes significance because of protests in some states due to apprehensions over the issue.

All languages are national languages, althought Hindi is the official language, said minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, who is in-charge of the department of official languages in the central government.

He said the government is trying to find a way soon on how to bring the pending 38 languages in the 8th schedule of the Constitution, which grants official status to a language.

“There is no question of imposition of Hindi over any other language. Hindi is the official language. There is no one language which is national language,” he said in the Rajya Sabha.

He was replying to a debate on a private member’s bill which sought inclusion of ‘Tulu’ and ‘Kodava’ languages in the 8th schedule of the Constitution moved by BK Hariprasad of the Congress.

“It is not a question of trying to impose Hindi. Let us be very clear. There is no one language which is national language, all languages are national languages. Hindi is the official language, so there is no question of discrimination. There is no special effort or attempt to promote Hindi,” Rijiju said.

His comments assume significance as they come in the backdrop of allegations by certain quarters in some state like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that the central government is trying to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states.

The controversy over Hindi being imposed was generated after President Pranab Mukherjee accepted the recommendation of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language that all dignitaries including the president and ministers, especially those who can read and speak Hindi, may be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi only.

The president had accepted several other recommendations, including making announcements on board aircraft in Hindi followed by English.

Elaborating on the government’s three-language formula, Rijiju said it is already in existence and there is no bar on any state to conduct its business in regional languages.

The minister observed that the issue of language is very sensitive and a slight mistake or misrepresentation can lead to many differences within the country.

“We have not given any preference to one language over another. While justice is being done, we must ensure that no complications arise in the future because it is a very sensitive subject,” Rijiju said.

Clarifying the government position, he said, “We have made it clear that there is no question of imposition of Hindi over any other language. Hindi was made the official language taking into account the spirit of members of Parliament. Hindi has to be promoted but at the same time all other regional languages also have to be promoted”.

Hariprasad, while piloting his private member bill, highlighted the importance of regional languages.

“We have no problem in making Hindi compulsory in southern states but please make one southern language compulsory in north India,” said Hariprasad, who hails from Karnataka.

Hariprasad also demanded that a criteria be developed for inclusion of languages in the 8th Schedule to make the process transparent and devoid of politics.

To this, Rijiju said it is not easy to define the criteria which will make a particular language qualify for inclusion in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

He said the Home Ministry had set up a committee to have a look at the cases pending regarding inclusion of more languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

The minister urged Hariprasad to withdraw his bill, saying the two languages cannot be considered in isolation for inclusion in the 8th Schedule, to which the Congress member relented.

At present, there are 22 languages under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution while 38 languages have been listed formally. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are demands for inclusion of 38 more languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.

Participating in the debate, Prasanna Acharya (BJD) urged the central government to come out with a broader Constitution amendment bill.

“Let the government constitute a committee which should go deeper into the subject,” he said.

“India cannot unite unless we bring the people together,” he said, adding “in spite of all diversities, this nation is one and it continues to be one”.

He said sometimes people are angry like in Gorkhaland, who are demanding a separate state, and urged the government to take care of the sentiments of people of the area.

He urged the Centre to also bring Sambalpuri and Kosli languages of Odisha as part of the 8th Schedule.

Shiv Pratap Shukla (BJP) said if all the languages were taken care of, then there would not have been problems as existing today.

The President of India has himself said that if a language is spoken more in a state, then the government can include it in the 8th schedule, he said.

He said the three-language formula has been diluted as Sanskrit has been abandoned and only English and Hindi are recognised more.

He lamented that while India has not bothered about promoting Sanskrit, Germany has adopted it and is promoting it. He urged the government to include Bhojpuri and Tulu in the 8th schedule as it is spoken by a large number of people across the country.

Anand Bhaskar Rapolu (Cong) stressed the need for protecting lesser-spoken languages in the country.

La Ganeshan (BJP) cautioned against imposition of English, saying in Tamil Nadu the mother tongue is Tamil but a generation has grown which didn’t know how to write it and now there is a generation which doesn’t know how to read it.

Pradeep Tamta (Cong) said languages like Bhojpuri, Kumaoni, Garhwali should also be included in the 8th Schedule.

Ram Vikas Netam (BJP) lamented that though Chhattisgarh was carved out as a separate state, its language Chhattisgarhi was still to be accorded official status.

 

July 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

Kosli is an independent and full-fledged language: writer Sanjay Kumar Mishra

Shri Sanjay Kumar Mishra is a well-known writer and researcher. His research interests are folklore, and folk-traditions of western Odisha. He talks to Dr. Sanjib K Karmee about his research work and Kosli language.

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June 30, 2017 at 6:20 pm 1 comment

NEW KOSLI BOOK: Gulzar Ra Kabita

CV

Download the e-copy of Gulzar Ra Kabita here.

May 2, 2017 at 8:16 am Leave a comment

We should start a Kosal academy of language and culture: Dr. Mahendra Kumar Mishra

Dr. Mahendra Kumar Mishra is a senior researcher of language and culture. His research interests are multilingual education, tribal culture and oral tradition. Dr. Mishra is the founder member of Language and Learning Foundation, New Delhi and Folklore Foundation, Bhubaneswar, India. He talks to Dr. Sanjib K Karmee about his research work, Pandit Prayag Dutta Joshi and Kosli language.

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April 20, 2017 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Writers, educationists support teaching and learning in Kosli language at school level

Following is a report from the Sambad:

Kosli language SM

April 12, 2017 at 8:56 am 1 comment

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