Assam's New Language Policy
Assam's New Language Policy

Assam Introduces Six Indigenous Languages: A Milestone for Cultural Preservation

Embracing Linguistic Diversity: The Significance and Impact of Assam's New Language Policy

The Assam government has incorporated six indigenous languages for educational instruction at the foundational level.

Background of the Initiative:

  • The decision to introduce tribal languages as the medium of instruction (MoI) in the foundational stage of school education is rooted in the National Education Policy of 2020.

  • It reflects the government's commitment to safeguarding the interests of tribal communities and preserving their linguistic heritage.

Scope and Implementation :

  • Six tribal languages, namely Tiwa, Deori, Rabba, Karbi, Dimasa and Mising, will serve as Medium of Instruction in the foundational stage of school education.

  • This initiative aims to provide children from tribal communities with access to quality education while fostering pride in their cultural identity.

  • Following instruction in tribal languages, students will transition to learning a regional language, thereby ensuring a seamless educational experience.

Legislative Support :

  • In addition to the educational reforms, the Assam government passed the Assam Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

  • This bill recognizes Manipuri as an Associate Official Language in four districts of the state: Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi, and Hojai.

Academic Infrastructure Development :

  • The establishment of the Assam Veterinary and Fishery University signifies a significant milestone in the state's educational landscape.

  • Through the bifurcation of existing faculties and colleges, including the Lakhimpur College of Veterinary Science and the proposed Dairy Science College, the government aims to enhance academic opportunities in these fields.

Significance and Impact :

  • Integrating tribal languages into the educational framework not only preserves linguistic diversity but also empowers tribal communities by providing them with equal access to education.

  • This initiative fosters a sense of belonging and pride among tribal students, promoting their holistic development and contributing to the overall social cohesion of Assam.

About Languages:

  • Tiwa Language: Tiwa (Lalung) is a Tibeto-Burman (Sino-Tibetan) language spoken by the Tiwa people in Assam and Meghalaya in North East India.

  • Similar to Boro, Dimasa, Kokborok, and Garo languages of India.

  • Rabha Language: Rabha is a Sino-Tibetan language of Northeast India.

  • It has two dialects, Maituri and Rongdani, which can cause communication issues due to their divergence.

  • Deori Language: Deori (also Deuri) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Deori people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Associated with the Bodo-Kachari people, it has four territorial groups, with only the Dibongiya retaining the language.

  • In colonial times, it was mistakenly associated with the Chutia people, leading to its misidentification as the "Chutia language" in the Linguistic Survey of India.

  • Dimasa Language: Dimasa language is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Dimasa people of Assam and Nagaland.

  • Known as "Grao-Dima" to Dimasas, it shares similarities with Boro, Kokborok, and Garo languages.

  • Etymologically translates to "Son(s) of the big river", referring to the Brahmaputra, with "di" meaning water, forming the root of many river names in Assam and Northeast India.

  • Karbi Language: Karbi language is spoken by the Karbi (also known as Mikir or Arleng) people of Northeastern India.

  • Mising Language: Mising language is spoken by about five lakh people in twelve districts of southern Assam.

  • It belongs to the Tibeto-Burmese branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, known as Mising, which translates to "man of the soil.”

Assam's decision to integrate tribal languages into the foundational stage of school education reflects a progressive approach towards inclusive and culturally sensitive education.By recognizing and celebrating linguistic diversity, the government lays the foundation for a more equitable and harmonious society, wherein every child has the opportunity to thrive academically and culturally.

Advait IAS