In a recent announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs, a list of 38 languages slated for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule has been met with disappointment due to the omission of the Garo or Achik language. As the voice of concern rises, it is imperative for both the Government of India and the Government of Meghalaya to revisit and amend the current list, ensuring the rightful inclusion of Garo, a language spoken by approximately 1.5 million people in North East India.
Primarily spoken in the five districts of Meghalaya, Garo holds significant linguistic importance, with around 33 per cent of the State’s population conversing in Garo or A·chik. It has evolved to the extent of doctoral-level studies, with numerous students dedicating their academic pursuits to the language.
The plea for linguistic inclusion extends beyond Garo, with demands for the incorporation of 38 languages, including Khasi, into the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. These languages encompass a diverse range, such as Angika, Bhojpuri, Gujjar, and more, each representing a unique cultural and linguistic heritage.
Presently, the Eighth Schedule comprises 22 languages, with the last inclusion occurring in 2004. The linguistic diversity of India is a testament to its rich cultural tapestry, and recognising this, successive additions have been made to the Constitution. However, the exclusion of Garo remains a glaring gap in this mosaic.
The demand for the inclusion of the Garo language is not a recent one. The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, on November 27, 2018, passed a resolution unanimously urging the Centre to amend the Eighth Schedule, including both Garo and Khasi languages. This acknowledgment of the linguistic richness of the region is not isolated; the Achik Literature Society, in alignment with literary bodies in other states, has also submitted a memorandum urging the inclusion of Garo in the Eighth Schedule.
While there has been confirmation of receipt, there has been no further communication on this matter. Therefore, on behalf of the people advocating for this inclusion and the Government of Meghalaya, a sincere request is extended to both governments to reconsider and include Garo and Khasi languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. This step would not only recognise the linguistic diversity of the region but also uphold the cultural heritage embedded in the Garo language.
In the spirit of fostering unity in diversity, it is hoped that this appeal will be heard and acted upon, ensuring that the linguistic fabric of India remains inclusive and reflective of its rich tapestry.