A workshop on Sunday highlighted the need for greater and concerted efforts to realise the long-pending aspiration of people to see Tulu in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution, which contains a list of 22 scheduled languages.
The workshop focussed on the need for research on various aspects of Tulu on the one hand and the tough task ahead to ensure that a constitutional amendment was passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with a two-thirds majority, if the dream was to be realised.
The workshop, which witnessed several scholars arriving on the same platform to debate the issue, was held at Rani Abbakka Tulu Adhayana Kendra, Sanchayagiri, B.C. Road. It was titled “Tulu in the VIII Schedule: possibilities and challenges” and was organised by the Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy and the host institution.
Articulating the challenges, Ananthakrishna Bhat, retired Professor of Canara College here, said that only 0.17 per cent of India’s population spoke Tulu whereas many other languages, spoken by higher number of people, were vying for a similar status.
On the other hand, languages spoken by fewer people such as Manipuri (0.14 per cent) and Bodo (0.13 per cent) had found place in the list. Tulu was in the 25th place in terms of speakers. A couple of other languages such as Kurukh and Gondi were spoken by less than 1 per cent of the population; their proponents could join the battle for a place in the eighth schedule. Otherwise, convincing two-thirds of the members of Parliament would be a tall order. Even Karnataka MPs themselves had not been taken on board as yet, Mr. Bhat said.
He said that it would take five or six months once the process of a Constitutional amendment began as the process involved introduction of a bill, question, and answers on it, referring it to the standing committee concerned, then if required referring it joint select committee of Parliament before voting and obtaining presidential assent.
Lack of will
A.V. Navada, retired Professor of Kannada University, Hampi, said that although considerable research had been done on the language, what hampered the realisation of the dream of the region was a lack of political will to get it done.
He had, as a member of delegation, spent eight days in New Delhi to pursue the issue, MPs, including M. Veerappa Moily (Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas), and George Fernandes had given due importance to it. Karnataka Government itself had not recognised Tulu as an official language, he said.
Tulu Academy member Thukaram Poojary said that scholars must focus on the strengths of the language, promoting it further so that it could become a part of the VIII Schedule, besides employing pressure tactics.
Academy president Umanath Kotian said a meeting on February 24 in New Delhi would attempt to take all the MPs of Karnataka on board on the issue.
Detailed handbooks to highlight the need for including the language in the VIII Schedule were being readied for circulating them among MPs and others.