IMPHAL, February 21: The state cabinet has held discussions about upgrading Manipuri to the status of a classical language.
This was stated by Works Minister Khumukcham Ratankumar while speaking as the chief guest at a function commemorating the International Mother Languages Day in the Manipur Press Club.
The occasion also marked the distribution of the Sui Generis Mother Language Award as part of the Languages Day, organised by the Sahitya Thoupang Lup in Imphal.
The works minister said that we became aware of the love and value of our own mother tongue only when our own people living outside Manipur found it hard to speak and converse in our language. He also narrated how he found it difficult to understand the conversations of Manipuris who had lived there for the past 300 years when he visited Myanmar in May last year and met Manipuris living there from many generations.
“Manipuris living in Mandalay and Manawa of Myanmar have forgotten the Manipuri language despite being Manipuris.”
Lamenting that young people who are working as doctors, engineers etc cannot speak and understand Manipuri properly anymore, he said that even people above 60 years of age are finding it difficult to speak our own language and putting across their ideas for young people to follow them.
Manipuris need to unite and work hard to develop our official language. The state cabinet has discussed thrice about updating Manipuri to the status of a classical language, he added.
Thanga MLA Tongbram Mangibabu, speaking as the president, said: “To develop and preserve our own language is our prerogative. We must speak our language in its purest form instead of following this trend of interspersing some English words and other languages in our conversations. Perhaps, this is the reason why Manipuri was included in the endangered category of languages in a UNESCO list recently.”
He further lamented the practice of some people of giving their speeches in English in state functions even when we have our own official language, appealing people to speak in Manipuri in any functions of the state.
Ex MLA Khwairakpam Loken, a language activist was conferred with the Sui Generis Mother Language Award of this year in the function. He was given the award which carries a memento, citation, shawl and a cash reward of Rs 10 thousand for his dedication and contribution in the development of Manipuri.
Saratchand Thiyam in his key note address stated that Manipuri, our mother language is now in the list of endangered group of languages of UNESCO.
“There are 6000 languages of which 3000 languages will become extinct during the next 100 years. So, we need to save our language from extinction. UNESCO decided to observe International Mother Language Day on 1999 every year. From 2000 onwards the Day has been observed every year in remembrance of the bloodiest incident involving languages took place at Dhaka in 1952,” he said.
According to the UNESCO report, Manipuri is in the category of vulnerably endangered group. Our language is included in the 8th schedule among the 22 official languages. A classical status will make it popular and make it safer for the language. Now Marathi, Bengali and Manipuri are in the race to be included in the classical status group. Tamil is already included and recently Odia has been approved for being updated into a classical language, he added.