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India is on the verge of losing about 300 Languages out of 800: Find out Why!

A report by Bhasha Research Centre states that around 197 languages have been extinct while 42 are critically endangered

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Endangered languages in India. Image Source: LokSabha
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  • India has the distinction of accommodating 800 languages and dialects across the country
  • The UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation found that 197 languages in India are endangered while 42 languages are critically endangered
  • Prof. K. Shrikumar of Lucknow University has taken the initiative to prepare a documentary on Jad language of Uttarakhand 

Language forms an integral part of one’s culture. India has the distinction of accommodating 800 languages and dialects across the country, according to a research conducted by Bhasha Research Centre. Bhasha Research Centre is an NGO founded under the leadership of Dr G.N. Devy, winner of Sahitya Academy Award.

Dr S Radhakrishnan. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dr S Radhakrishnan. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The report of the survey was published on 5th September on the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr S. Radhakrishnan. The report consists of 35000 pages and was published in 5 volumes. The survey began in 2010 and lasted for 4 years. The research was done by many known historians and research scholars.

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The report suggested that around 300 languages have been extinct till now. And 150 more languages will extinct in the coming half century. A linguistic scholar George Grierson founded that there were 364 languages between 1894 to 1928.

The UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation is also counting the same, in which they found that 197 languages in India are endangered while 42 languages came under the category of critically endangered. Nihali, a language from pre-Aryan and pre- Munda reign, was also included in the list.

UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com
UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The research found that the main cause of the extinction is that the speaking community has died and children are not interested to learn their mother-tongue and therefore are not able to carry it.

Researchers believe that languages are the product of a culture which helps them to trace the culture of a country and the country who has suffered the extinction of language has witnessed the extinction of the primitive culture.

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Another language which is spoken on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border by around 2500 villagers is on the verge of extinction. The reason is that they are migrating to other cities in search of work.

Tribals of Chattisgarh. Image Source: www.chhattisgarhonline.in
Tribals of Chattisgarh. Image Source: www.chhattisgarhonline.in

Prof. K. Shrikumar of Lucknow University has taken the initiative to prepare a documentary on Jad language of Uttarakhand with less than 2000 speakers. Similarly, Professor Anvita Abbi has taken the initiative to record the oral tribal languages in Chattisgarh (Todi) and Tamil Nadu.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Languages are the integral part of India. to preserve our culture we need to practice our regional languages instead of English.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Indian culture is supposed to be one of the best cultures and languages have been a major part of the culture. There should be something done to save these languages.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Languages are the integral part of India. to preserve our culture we need to practice our regional languages instead of English.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Indian culture is supposed to be one of the best cultures and languages have been a major part of the culture. There should be something done to save these languages.

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)