Inclusion of Farsi (Persian) as a Classical Language in India’s New Education Policy

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January 17, 2024

Inclusion of Farsi (Persian) as a Classical Language in India’s New Education Policy

• The External Affairs Minister recently made a significant announcement regarding the inclusion of Farsi (Persian) as one of the classical languages in India under the New Education Policy. This decision reflects the government’s commitment to recognizing the cultural and linguistic diversity that exists within the country.
Understanding Farsi Language:
• Farsi, commonly known as the Persian language, stands as the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages. It belongs to the subfamily of Indo-European languages and serves as the official language of Iran. Additionally, its variants, Dari and Tajik, hold official language status in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, respectively.
Global Presence:
• Apart from its prevalence in Iran and neighboring countries, Farsi boasts significant speaker populations in various Persian Gulf nations and has established large communities in the United States. With approximately 62 million native speakers, Farsi ranks among the top 20 most widely spoken first languages globally.
Script and Historical Context:
• Farsi in Iran is predominantly written in the Perso-Arabic script, a variant of the Arabic script, introduced after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century. The language shares historical ties with northern Indian languages and exhibits distant connections to major European languages, including English.
Classical Language Status in India:
Criteria for Classification:
• The Government of India follows specific criteria to declare a language as classical, including a rich historical record spanning 1500-2000 years, a body of ancient literature deemed invaluable by generations, originality in literary traditions, and a distinction between classical and modern forms.
Existing Classical Languages:
• As of now, six languages enjoy classical status in India: Tamil (2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
Associated Benefits:
• Upon notification as a classical language, certain benefits are conferred, such as two major international awards for eminent scholars in classical Indian languages, the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages, and the creation of Professional Chairs for these languages in Central Universities by the University Grants Commission.
• The inclusion of Farsi as a classical language in India not only acknowledges its historical significance but also adds to the diverse tapestry of classical languages in the country. This decision aligns with the government’s efforts to promote linguistic heritage and scholarly pursuits in classical Indian languages.

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