Constitutional Recognition of Nepali language in India: A brief outline

On this day, August 20, 1992 Nepali language was included in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution.

Today, millions of Nepali-speaking people and people who love the Nepali language are living in different parts of the world. Their love for the Nepali language has brought them together and has been a medium to express their Nepali identity. Many universities around the world are teaching Nepali, and many local organizations have been set up to teach Nepali to young children. 

The achievement of the Nepali language movement in India was a victory to the Indian Gorkhas, to the Nepali-speaking citizens of India, but the significance of their struggle and love for their language goes beyond India.

The accomplishment of the Indian Gorkhas to get Nepali enshrined in the Constitution of India is also a significant recognition and achievement of the language and an inspirational success story to millions of people who love the language. 

Nepali is an Indo-Aryan language which has its origin from  Sanskrit dialect. The language is mainly considered to be  of Nepal however it is substantial and fairly widespread throughout the country including Sikkim and other north-eastern states.On this day, August 20, 1992 Nepali language was included in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution. 

The first official demand regarding the recognition of Nepali in the Indian constitution  was made on January  18,  1956 by Anand Singh Thapa of Darjeeling where he submitted a memorandum to President of India  which stated “ it not the matter of great injustice that while our constitution guarantees the official use of any language spoken by the people of the State, the Government does not recognize the language spoken by more than five million people, and that the Nepali Language should be treated as a foreign language in free India?” however there was no response to it.

When there was no response by the central government in the year 1972 one organization namely Nepali Bhasa Samity later named as Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasa Samity was formed in hills of Darjeeling.

The organization was a dedicated towards recognition of the Nepali language  in the Indian constitution. The main focus of the organization was to unify all cultural, Literary, Spiritual, social, political and other organizations in National level. 

Further, the organization through public meeting appealed the various organization and state government approach the centre inclusion of Nepali language in the eight schedule   of the constitution.

Following to which State Legislative Assembly Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal passed a resolution for inclusion of Nepali in 8th Schedule of the Indian constitution.

On June 1982 Fourth National conference was held by Bhasa Samity and resolution was taken to make this issue strong in national level, where the then Chief Minister of Sikkim, Nar Bahadur Bhandari assured that he will cooperate in all respect regarding the inclusion of Nepali in 8th schedule.

 After 36  years of struggle Dil Kumari Bhandari On 19th of August 1992 forced the debate in the house and there was lots of uproar in the house. She even said in front of speaker, “If Nepali is a foreign Language, then who am I?”  Finally, on 20th August, Lok Sabha passed the inclusion of Nepali, Konkani and Manipuri in 8th Schedule of constitution with full majority.

The joy of Nepali getting included in the 8th schedule of constitution was a historic event for the whole of Nepali-speaking community of India. The first memorandum by Anand Singh Thapa to passing of bill on 20th of August 1992 went through series of setbacks and pains and sacrifices.

So now the vista opens in front of us where we can explore how this language is treated by its native speakers as well as government now. The struggle was not easy and even the management and preservation of this status and language is also a great challenge in the hand of present generation.

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