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Tulu Academy yet to realise its goal

By Raviprasad Kamila

MANGALORE, NOV. 12. The three-year term of Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy will end on December 18 after which it will be reconstituted. Although the academy has completed its decennial year, a long-pending demand of Taulavas is to include Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

But the outgoing president of the academy, Vamana Nandavar, along with Tulu Development Forum, New Delhi, made efforts to draw the attention of the Centre to include Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

The academy and the forum organised a national convention in New Delhi on February 16, 2003, to draw the attention of policy makers on the importance of Tulu language. The then Defence Minister, George Fernandes, and the former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily were among those who participated in the programme.

A memorandum was submitted to the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Dr. Nandavar told The Hindu that during his tenure he kept the issue alive. The demand got a boost only four years ago. Tulu organisations and elected representatives of the State should have prevailed upon the Centre much earlier, but the political will required was lacking.

A. Balakrishna Shetty Polali, former president of the academy, had sent a memorandum to the State Government on the demand of the Taulavas. The State Cabinet, in September 2001, resolved to recommend to the Centre to include Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. The decision of the Cabinet was conveyed to the Department of Legal Affairs. The State Government sent a reminder to the Centre on the demand in July 2002.

Meanwhile, a year ago, the Centre included Bodo, Santhali, Dogri, and Maithili languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution through an amendment. But Tulu was left out.

Dr. Nandavar said serious efforts had not been made to apprise the policymakers in New Delhi on the importance of Tulu language. According to an estimate, there were about 1.20-crore Tulu-speaking people in the world. Of them, over 30 lakh were in the State.

He said Tulu documents were 500 years old. Tulu Mahabharato, written by Arunabja, a poet from Kodavur, Malpe, in Tulu script is the oldest written Tulu document available. Other ancient Tulu texts are Tulu Bhagavato, Kaveri and Devi Mahatme. Basel missionaries in the mid-19th Century had contributed a lot to promote Tulu. They had translated parts of the Bible into Tulu and written Tulu textbooks for children. Brigel of Germany had written A Grammar of Tulu Language.

In 1856, Robert Caldwell, in his monumental work, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, said: "Tulu is one of the most highly developed Dravidian language and has an equal place as Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada."

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