10 Sep 2019

Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages (SPPEL)

Source: PIB and SPPEL website

The Government of India has initiated a Scheme known as “Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India”. 

Objective 

The sole objective of the Scheme is to document and archive the country’s languages that have become endangered or likely to be endangered in the near future. 

Key highlights about the scheme

  • The scheme is monitored by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) located in Mysuru, Karnataka. 
  • The CIIL has collaborated with various universities and institutes across India for this mission.
  • Under this Scheme, the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore works on protection, preservation and documentation of all the mother tongues/languages of India spoken by less than 10,000 speakers keeping in mind the degree of endangerment and reduction in the domains of usage.

Zones

All the languages listed under SPPEL are placed under one of the six Zones for academic or administrative convenience. The six zones are 

  1. North Zone: Northern Zone is documenting the endangered languages spoken in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand
  2. South Zone: Southern zone covers documentation of the endangered languages spoken in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.
  3. Northeast Zone: This zone comprises of eight states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. 
  4. East Central Zone: There are fourteen languages from this zone under SPPEL
  5. West Central Zone: It is geographically attached to the States /Union territories of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli, and Goa. In this zone, five languages have been identified as Endangered in the first phase of documentation of the SPPEL. They are as follows:
    1. Baradi
    2. Bhala
    3. Bharwad/Bharwadi
    4. Diwehi
    5. Nihali 

The last one is Andaman and Nicobar Island.

Criteria adopted by UNESCO

 According to the criteria adopted by the UNESCO, a language becomes extinct when nobody speaks or remembers the language.  The UNESCO has categorized languages on the basis of endangerment as follows:

  • Vulnerable
  • Definitely Endangered
  • Severely Endangered
  • Critically Endangered