Union Cabinet on 20 February 2014 gave its nod for classifying Odia, the official language of Odisha as a classical language to give impetus to scholarships in the language. Odia is the first language from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group to be billed in the list of classical language. The proposal to give Odia a status of classical language was moved by the Culture Ministry. As per the eighth schedule under Articles 344 (1) and 351 Odia (Oriya) of Constitution of India is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.
The demand of classifying Odia as a classical language was the demand of the state government since 2004, which was accepted by the Sahitya Akademi in July 2013 and then was forwarded to the Union Ministry of Culture.The Odisha Government submitted a document with a demand of classical tag on its official language was prepared under the supervision of founder director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, Debiprasanna Pattanayak and researcher Subrat Kumar Prusty.
Odia being one of the oldest languages has been declared as classical language because of the demands and also because it has no resemblance to Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and Sanskrit.
Odia is the sixth language to be become the classical language of the country. Other five Indian languages that have been declared as the classical languages of which four are Dravidian languages
• Tamil was classified in 2004
• Sanskrit was classified in 2005
• Telugu was classified in 2008
• Kannada was classified in 2008
• Malayalam was classified in 2013
The five international languages of the world that has been classified as the classical language are Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek and Latin.
Once any language is declared as a classical language then it gets a financial assistance to set-up a centre for excellence for the study of the language and also opens up an avenue for two major awards for scholars of eminence.
This declaration also brings the facility to request the University Grants Commission for creation of a certain number of professional chairs for classical languages for scholars of eminence in the language at least in Central Universities.
Expert Committee of Sahitya Akademi in 2004 mentioned four Criteria on which the language is classified as a classical language
• High antiquity of its early or ancient texts or literature of recorded history over a period of 1500 to 2000 years
• Originality of the literary tradition and an assurance that the language has not been borrowed from another speech community
• Considered as the valuable heritage in form of ancient literature/texts by generations of speaker
• Distinction of the literature and classical language from the modern and may not be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its branch
Who: Odia language
When: 20 February 2014