Tribal Writers Stress On Arresting Trend Of Indigenous Languages Getting Extinct

Bhubaneswar: Experts at the All India Tribal Writers’ Meet on Wednesday expressed deep concern about indigenous languages becoming extinct.

They pointed out that nearly 40% of the world’s 7,000 languages, including dialects spoken by indigenous people groups, had already disappeared while several others were on the verge of getting extinct.

“The world is facing the danger of losing its languages several of which are already listed as endangered and loss of languages equates loss of culture,” Sahitya Akademi secretary Dr K Sreenivasarao said while addressing the inaugural programme of the meet which began at Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) here.

The two-day conference, which has attracted around 70 tribal writers from different parts of the country, is being organised by Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India (PPRACHIN), the conservation arm of SOA, to mark International Day of World’s Indigenous People.

“If we don’t care now, we will lose the culture and the associated ancient knowledge system which these communities possessed,” Dr Sreenivasarao said.

He informed that Sahitya Akademi was engaged in translation and publication of tribal literature into English and other Indian languages.

The event, inaugurated by celebrated writer and Padmashri awardee Dr Haladhar Nag, was attended by eminent scholar Prof. Jagannath Das, eminent writer and Sahitya Akademi’s Convenor of Odia Advisory Board Dr Gourahari Das, Santhali writer and Convenor of Sahitya Akademi’s Santhali Advisory Board Chaitanya Prasad Majhi and eminent writer and Head of PPRACHIN Dr Gayatribala Panda.

Also present was eminent linguist Dr Debi Prasanna Patnaik, while SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. Pradipta Kumar Nanda presided over the programme, which was conducted by Prof. Jyoti Ranjan Das, Dean (Students’ Welfare).

Dr Nag, who addressed the inaugural session in his native ‘Koshali’ language, said he had studied up to Class III but had delved into literature as it was a way to show the path to society.

“My writings have been translated into other world languages and transcended international boundaries in spite of the fact that I have not studied much,” he said adding some of his writing have become part of the curriculum in several universities.

“My writings are rooted to the soil where I live and literary creations which show the way to the society are timeless,” he said.

Prof. Das, who delivered the keynote address, said tribal people, unlike those influenced by modernity, don’t drift away from their culture.

“Tribal people are inexorably linked to nature like hills, rivers and streams and express their feelings from the heart. We need to listen to their poetry and appreciate the same,” he said.

Majhi said around 40% of the world’s languages had already become extinct and called for urgent steps to arrest the trend. UNESCO has declared the period between 2022 to 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages for their protection and propagation.

Dr Panda said PPRACHIN was involved in some major programmes including publication of critical edition of the original Sarala Das Mahabharat which involved digitalisation, translation, prose rendering, production of corpora, dictionary and literary encyclopedia of Sarala Das.

The ‘Adi Parva’ edition of Sarala Mahabharat was released on the occasion. Ten of the 18 ‘parvas’ of the epic had already been published by PPRACHIN.

Multiple sessions of multilingual poetry reading, short story reading and analysis of tribal songs, Saora art and script marked the opening day’s programme.

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