Unlocking Cultural Identity: Navigating the Kokborok Script Issue with Resolve and Respect

Unlocking Cultural Identity: Navigating the Kokborok Script Issue with Resolve and Respect

Relevance: GS 1 (Indian Soceity) GS 2 (Indian Polity)

Context:  Train services and vehicular movement were severely impacted in tribal belts of Tripura, as the “indefinite” rail-road blockade over the Kokborok script issue by the students’ bodies.


The main point of contention is the Kokborok script, which has been the subject of decades-long discussion in Tripura. Although Kokborok has been written in both Bengali and Roman scripts, there has been a recent surge in demand for Roman script.

The student wing of Tipra Motha, the main opposition party of the northeastern state, announced an indefinite road and rail blockade from February 12 to press for the demand that students be allowed to write their Kokborok language papers in Roman script in the upcoming class 10 and 12 State Board examinations.

The Tipra Indigenous Students’Federation (TISF), Tipra Motha’s student wing, announced the agitation demanding that students be allowed to write Kokborok language papers in the Roman script in board examinations.

The move was supported by the Twipra Students’ Federation.


  • The Borok people of the State of Tripura speak the language called Kokborok.

  • Kokborok is an indigenous language spoken by nearly 24 per cent people of Tripura.

  • It does not have a script.


  • Kok means "verbal", and borok means "people" or "human".

  • The name emphasizes how crucial the language is to the Tripuri people's ability to communicate.


  • It is a Sino-Tibetan language that dates at least to the first century AD, when Tripuri monarchs' historical records began to be recorded in a book known as the Rajratnakar.

  • The "Koloma" script was initially used in Kokborok to write the Tripuri monarchs' historical documents.

  • Later, in the 19th century, these historical documents were translated into Bengali and Sanskrit. Sadly, these chronicles' original Kokborok editions are no longer in print.

  • Kokborok became a common people's vernacular over time, having been a regal language during the Tripuri kings' reign.

  • The dialect belongs to the Tibeto-Burman group of languages, and its root can be traced to the Sino-Tibetan speech family.

  • In 1897, Muslim scholar Doulot Ahammad produced the first Kokborok Grammar, known as "KOKBOROMA ANG TRIPURA – VYAKARAN GRAMMAR," giving Kokborok its written form.

  • Notified on January 19, 1979, it is one of Tripura's official languages.

  • Students generally write papers for the language in the Bengali script.


  • Kokborok's extensive vocabulary captures the culture, landscape, and customs of the Tripuri people.

  • It has terms for farming, customs, cuisine, apparel, and more. There might also be terms that have been borrowed from nearby languages and cultures.

Challenges and Conservation Initiatives:

  1. One of the problems Kokborok suffers is the shift in language towards dominant languages like Hindi, Bengali, and English.

  2. In order to chronicle, maintain, and promote the language, initiatives for language revitalization and the creation of instructional resources have been undertaken.

Oral Tradition and Literature:

  • Kokborok has a rich oral history that includes stories, myths, and legends that have been passed down through the ages.

  1. The amount of written literature in Kokborok has increased recently; it now includes poetry, short stories, and even newspaper articles.

The strike and protests in Tripura are a reflection of the activism and ongoing debate surrounding the Kokborok language, namely the script selection. Since it is crucial to protecting and advancing the language and cultural legacy of the indigenous Tripuri people, this subject has drawn support and attention from a variety of sources, including governmental figures and tribal organizations.

Advait IAS