In reply, the Centre said the Union ministry of human resource development (HRD) had established the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Delhi as a nodal authority to promote Sanskrit.

A concerted bid to promote Sanskrit as a classical Indian language appears to top the Centre’s agenda, the Union ministry of culture’s latest figures suggest.

The government spent Rs 643.84 crore on the promotion of Sanskrit in the last three years, 22 times the combined spending of Rs 29 crore on the other five classical Indian languages — Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia.

The government has not set aside any separate fund for the promotion of Malayalam and Odia, and is yet to establish any centre of excellence to promote these classical Indian languages.

Earlier this month, the Union ministry of culture gave out these figures in reply to a Lok Sabha question raised by Shiv Sena MPs Dhairyasheel Sambhajirao Mane (Hatkanangale), Hemant Sriram Patil (Hingoli) and Shrikant Eknath Shinde (Kalyan), and, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs Sujay Vikhe Patil (Ahmednagar) and Ranjeetsinha Hindurao Naik Nimbalkar (Madha).

In reply, the Centre said the Union ministry of human resource development (HRD) had established the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Delhi as a nodal authority to promote Sanskrit. The Sansthan was allocated Rs 643.84 crore in the last three years. The Sansthan was allocated Rs 231.15 crore in 2019-20, around Rs 214.38 crore in 2018-19, and Rs 198.31 crore in 2017-18.

The Centre’s spending on Tamil through the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), a Chennai-based autonomous organisation under the HRD ministry, has gone down significantly.

The CICT was allocated Rs 10.59 crore in 2017-18, Rs 4.65 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 7.7 crore in 2019-20. For Telugu and Kannada, the HRD ministry set up the Centres of Excellence for Studies at the Mysore-based Central Institute of Indian Languages (CllL) in 2011. Later, the Telugu Centre for Excellence was shifted to Nellore, Andhra Pradesh.

“The University Grants Commission has also approved a Centre for Classical Languages in Telugu in University of Hyderabad and a Centre for Classical Languages in Kannada in Central University of Karnataka ,” the Centre said.

Allocations for Kannada and Telugu were identical for the past three years at Rs 1 crore each in 2017-18, Rs 99 lakh in 2018-19 and Rs 1.07 crore in 2019-20.

The HRD ministry is “considering setting up” of Centres of Excellence for Odia and classical Malayalam.

The proposal to confer classical status has led to discontent across other linguistic communities that want their language to be considered one. Several Maharashtra MPs are demanding to know why Marathi should not be considered classical.

The ministry of culture had said in the Rajya Sabha in 2014 that a language is considered “classical” if there is “high antiquity” of its recorded history over a period of 1,500-2,000 years, or if it has a body of ancient literature that is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers, its literary tradition is original and not borrowed from another speech community, and the classical version of the language is distinct from its modern version and there exists a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Courtesy Hindustan times