India has the highest number of endangered languages in the world as per the UNESCO. Discuss the factors that have endangered the native languages. Also highlight the steps taken for their protection and conservation.

India is home to a rich linguistic diversity.

  • There are 22 scheduled languages.
  • There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India.
  • More than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India.
  • Manuscripts & historical texts are present in many languages.

Despite above diversity, India also faces a high risk due to highest number of endangered languages in the world.

Factors leading to endangerment of native languages:

  • Social Factors:
    • Isolation of many tribes in India to preserve tribal distinctiveness.
    • Bias in favour of English as the language of globalization.
  • Economic Factors:
    • English being the predominant language for higher education and research, other languages find less economic utility.
    • Lack of funding for preservation of languages.
    • Lack of employment opportunities for vernacular learners.
  • Policy-related:
    • Lack of dedicated effort to safeguard & document all distinct languages of India.
    • Vernacular languages in pre-primary schools is not implemented efficiently.

Steps taken to conserve languages:

  • NEP 2020 – Education at primary & secondary levels in vernacular languages.
  • Traditional digital knowledge library to preserve & document manuscripts in distinct languages via digitization.
  • Collaboration with UNESCO to enable learning of vernacular language by younger generation.
  • Provision of funding for development of 22 scheduled languages.
  • Scheme for protection & preservation of endangered languages.

Diverse languages are an asset of India’s cultural distinctiveness & must be preserved through local efforts & collaboration.

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