New Delhi, July 19 : Several ministers and leaders of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday strongly pitched for conferring the 'Classical Language' status for Kannada and Telugu languages at a seminar here.
It was organized by the Karnataka Sangha, the Hampi-based Kannada University, the Kannada Development Authority, the Dravidian University in Kuppam and P.S. Telugu University, Hyderabad.
Inaugurating the seminar, former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily said: "All languages cannot be classified as classical languages but those which deserve it, cannot be denied the status."
"To qualify for being declared as classical, a language should be ancient, should have an independent tradition, and must have a large and rich body of ancient literature," he added.
Moily pointed out that Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam, and Kannada languages had similar ancestry. Tamil was accorded the status of a classical language in 2004 and the same status cannot be denied to Kannada and Telugu, he said.
Moily, who is himself a well-known author in Kannada, having translated the Ramayana, said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had appointed a committee to examine the question of granting classical status to Kannada and Telugu. The Committee had met last month and would meet again in August.
Moily said that Kannada literature dated back to the pre-Christian period and the language had retained its identity even after being influenced by Sanskrit. Epic poems were inscribed on stones in Karnataka, he added.
Telugu, which was a twin Dravidian language, had a similar tradition and Moily wanted scholars from both states to coordinate their efforts to persuade the Government of India to grant classical language status for both Kannada and Telugu.
Karnataka's Minister of Higher Education, Aravinda Limbavali, who represents the Bharatiya Janata Party, said, "We need not argue for the antiquity of these languages. The Bharatiya Janata Party in the State and the Congress in the Centre - both national parties -- will have to work together to get the classical status for the languages.
Mandali Buddha Prasad, a Minister in the Andhra Government, pointed out that Telugu and Kannada were sister languages. The Vijayanagara Kingdom of Krishnadevaraya included parts of present Karnataka and Andhra and both States should now coordinate efforts, he added. He said that it was a happy coincidence that Moily, who was a former Chief Minister of Karnataka, was in charge of party affairs for Andhra.
Ex-Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad University and the member of the expert committee Dr. Bh. Krishnamurthy highlighted the historical importance of Kannada and Telugu languages, which have a recorded history of 1500 to 2000 years.
He said, "As far as academic arguments are concerned, we have enough evidence which prove the antiquity of these languages."
He also told reporters that the committee has already recommended that the languages be given their deserving status.
Vice Chancellor of the Dravidian University of Kuppam, Dr. G. Lakshminarayana said Telugu and Kannada were the senior most in the Dravidian family of languages. They rightfully deserved being given the status of classical languages.
Karnataka Sangha President Purushothama Bilimale said, "The classical status would give international recognition to them and would also help getting Rs. 100 crore from the Center for the promotion of the languages. When we see that Tamil has been given the Classical language status and not the others, which are of same origin, then it hurts the sentiments of the people."
The seminar was also addressed by Mukyamantri Chandru, Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, Prof. Krishnamurti, former Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad University, A.B. K. Prasad, Chairman of the Official language Commission, Hyderabad.
The seminar passed a resolution, signed by the participants, strongly urging the Union Government to declare Kannada and Telugu languages as classical languages immediately.
The resolution pointed out that there are Kannada and Telugu books on grammatical tradition, dictionaries, encyclopedias and books on science, agriculture and medicine. Both languages have written records dating from the First Millennium. By Pratibha Verma