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Sabha bid to get classical language status for Assamese

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Feb 29 - In a significant move, the Assam Sahitya Sabha has pressed for recognition of Assamese language as a classical language.

In this connection, newly-elected president of the Sabha Kuladhar Saikia is in the national capital to explore the possibility of expediting the proposal.

Talking to this newspaper, Saikia said that he has met authorities concerned in the national capital to pursue the proposal with the Centre. �I have met �informed people� to explore the possibility as to how to declare Assamese language as a classical language. After all we have 600 years of history in written form, which is one of the oldest,� he said.

Recently Odisha language was given the stature of classical language, he added.

He said that Sabha can be recognised as an international language because of its 103 year-old history like the French Academy. �Assam Sahitya Sabha should be recognised as a cultural heritage because there is proper documentation of old historical evidence,� the president said.

�We will call upon the Government of Assam to take the proposal forward,� added Saikia.

The president also stressed on digitalization of Assamese literature to take it forward to the world. �It is heartening to note that the new generation is coming forward to take digitalization process on a community-based approach involving all stakeholders, including scholars and IT professionals,� the president of the Sabha said.

The former Director General of Assam Police said that during his visit to Delhi he met some literary enthusiasts and discussed plans to make the Assam Sahitya Sabha�s presence felt at the national level. �We have learnt that attempts are being made to make Sabha�s presence felt at all India level,� he said.

The Sabha is also in touch with IIT Guwahati, Tezpur University and Cotton University for preservation of old literary works.

Saikia said that he went to Jorhat and Majuli island where he interacted with local citizens of different background and took suggestions to make Sabha forward looking. There are more plans to ensure public connect with Sabha in different places, he said.

It is also the intention of the Sabha to include words spoken by ethnic groups as part of Assamese literature, Saikia said.

The president also added that Sabha intends to tap the social media and popular platforms so that they can make their presence stronger apart from the use of the traditional modes.

On the move to have Assamese fonts in Unicode, Saikia said that they want to have universal Assamese fonts in Unicode to make Google translation effective. Last April, a delegation of the Sabha had visited London and held a series of meeting with the Unicode Consortium demanding an independent chart for the Assamese script in Unicode, till now labelled and included under the Bengali script. Dhruba Jyoti Borah, former president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, had led the delegation.

Meanwhile, Saikia when asked about his opinion on the definition of the Assamese people as suggested by the high-level committee on Clause VI, refrained from replying stating that as the report has not been made public so far, he would not like to comment.

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