‘Kodavas are living like aliens in their own homeland’
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‘Kodavas are living like aliens in their own homeland’

February 27, 2020

Rangayana Director Addanda Cariappa makes a fervent plea to save Kodava language, culture

New Delhi: Kendra Sahitya Academy Member and Rangayana Mysuru Director Addanda C. Cariappa has urged the Union Government to give Kodavas geo-political autonomy over their ‘Codava Land’, by including Kodava language under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and granting them the micro-minority community tag for a better future and a secure homeland. 

He was presenting a paper at All India Tribal Writers Conference here on Feb. 24. The Conference dwelled ways and means of reviving tribal languages. Speaking at length about Kodavas and tribalism, Cariappa said that it was essential to revive and rejuvenate tribal languages like the Kodava language (Kodava Thakk) that is under threat of extinction, thanks to lack of Government support. 

“With the onslaught of modern ways of life, tribal languages are suffering the most. Many tribal languages do not have their own script and the challenge with those languages is that they do not have their indigenous scripts and are not recognised in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Hence, languages like Kodava Thakk and many others which form the cultural connections among a sizeable population face the danger of disappearing as just household native tongues,” he said. 

197 languages in India are endangered 

Today, Kodavas are feeling insecure and are living like aliens in their own homeland. “Our rich culture and heritage have not been given due recognition owing to many oversights. We have been requesting the Governments to give us the due space in Eighth Schedule. To the United Nations, our plea has been that the UNESCO should include ‘Codavaame’ (Codavaism) as a traditional minuscule micro-minority Kodava tribe in Karnataka, on the list of intangible cultural heritage,” Cariappa opined. 

In the past, a UNESCO report had revealed that 197 languages in India are endangered and five languages are almost extinct with a handful of people speaking them in different tribal communities. Once they are gone, the language dies a natural death. And with that, a whole discipline of indigenous culture, knowledge and history is wiped off the face of earth forever, he explained. 

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Languages dying slow death

“There has been a demand for about 46 languages including Tulu and Kodava Thakk to be included in the Eighth Schedule. But Governments so far have not paid heed to this request and as a result, many tribal languages have died a slow death. According to an estimate, nearly 1,300 tribal languages exist in India alone. They were born in the lush greenery of forests and are constantly disappearing as the forest cover is being plundered in the name of development, urbanisation and progress,” Cariappa regretted. 

Highlighting the plight of writers of such languages, he said, “When the language itself gets buried with the passing of time, what would the writers do? A whole community loses its identity when a language disappears. Hence, someone has rightly said “f you want to finish a community, all you need to do is to kill their native tongue.”

Making a fervent plea to include Kodava Thakk in the Eighth Schedule, Cariappa said, “When a nation’s Constitution honours a tribal language with due recognition, they are used as mediums of learning, education and instruction. Languages can be saved from extinction when they use the existing scripts of other languages that are in their ecological surroundings to survive and thrive.” 

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