The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Demand for recognition
- Tribes at crossroads

The Ho-Munda speaking people have begun a silent movement in the Singhbhum-Kolhan division, comprising East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Saraikela-Kharsawan to pressurise the Centre to include 'Ho-Munda' in the Eight Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

The Jharkhand government had already recommended to the central home ministry to include the regional language into the list of Eight Schedule in 2003. The Ho-Munda was unfortunately not included in the recent Constitution (Ninety-Two Amendement) Act for unavoidable reasons.

It's a very emotional issue but the Ho tribals have not just emotions to guide them but arguments backed with logistic support.

A school of thought believes that 29(i) of the Cultural and Educational Rights of the Constitution protects the interest of minorities'any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any parts having a distinct language, script or culture of their own, shall have the right to conserve the language.

They said statistically the speakers of Ho-Munda regional language outnumbered other languages that have been bracketed under the Eight Schedule of Indian Constitution. According to the 1991 census, the speakers of 'Ho-Munda' language was 1,363,110. The linguistic figure was tabulated separately under the Ho and Munda category.

Speakers of other languages on the other hand, despite having a lower figure, Sanskrit (49736), Kashmiri (56693) and Dogri (89681) have been included in the Eighth Schedule.

According to the school of thought , in pre and post era of Independence the 'Kol' tribe was originally 'Ho' but was not officially recognised as a linguistic group in West Bengal and Assam. If a fresh linguistic survey is conducted in the country, they argue, their numerical strength could be much higher.

'The Ho-Munda regional dialect is believed to have originated from the Aryan and Austro Asiatic school. As time passed the ancient tribal population developed a dialect of their own. . But the intellectual class failed to develop the dialects in form of grammar. And this was the most unfortunate historical error in growth of the regional languages,' Champia said.

He added that after the inclusion of Ho-Munda in the Eight Schedule it will give the language a platform for development like the other eighteen languages included in the Constitution.

Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Oriya, Sanskrit, Tamil, Konkoni, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Sindhi and Urdu had been included in the Eight Schedule under the different Constitution Amendment Acts. Asok Sen, a researcher in various tribal issues, said if the numerical statistics favours the Ho-Munda speakers, then, certainly the regional language could be included in the Schedule. 'So far there is considerable presence of Ho tribes in Jharkhand ," Sen, who did an extensive research work at the Chaibasa Record Room related with Ho tribe, said.

He added that various dialects spoken in different parts of the country were not highly developed because of the economic condition of the language speakers. 'The Ho-Munda became prey to poor class who spent most of their time trying to earn a livelihood rather than developing the rudiments of dialects," Sen said. He further added that financial status of Ho community population was not very sound compared to other linguistic groups of the country. 'And naturally this affected the growth of Ho-Munda language in present Jharkhand,' Sen explained.

The president of Jamshedpur-based Akhil Bhartiya Ho-Munda Bhasa Chetna Sangh, Surendra Sundi, said the various constituent colleges of Ranchi University have been teaching the Ho-Munda regional language for last two decades. 'Even the Jharkhand government published Ho literatures for schoolchildren. The grammar books too have been published to structure the regional language.' Sundisaid.

Another cultural and literary body, the Kolhan Ho Sahitya Sabha, too raised a voice in West Singhbhhum to include the regional language in Eight Schedules. Chairmain of Akhil Bhartiya Ho Vikas Sangh K.C. Biruli said the rich literature of undivided Singhbhum has the required eligibility to qualify into the Eight Schedule.

He added that if people having Ho-Munda linguistic certificate got government jobs, then, certainly the language would flourish in future.

A delegation of tribal population including legislators and parliamentarians would meet the central home minister ahead of the winter session of the Parliament in New Delhi to press the demand for inclusion of the language in Eight Schedule.

Anupam Rana

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