Translated into Ol Chiki for first time, Santals get to read India’s Constitution in their own script

What is the news?

An assistant professor in the Santali language at the Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University in Purulia, West Bengal, Sripati Tudu has translated the Constitution of India in the Ol Chiki script.

Need for translation

He wanted the document to be more accessible and available for a wider group that may not necessarily be familiar with languages in which a translation of the Constitution is available.

There is a lot of demand for the Constitution in Santali among students in the higher secondary level. Educators who intend to teach political science in schools to Santali students will find the translation indispensable.

About Santali language

Santali (Santhali) was a mainly oral language until the development of Ol Chiki by Pandit Raghunath Murmu in 1925. Ol Chiki is alphabetic, sharing none of the syllabic properties of the other Indic scripts, and is now widely used to write Santali in India.

In 2003, the 92nd Constitutional Amendment Act added Santhali to 8th Schedule  to the Constitution of India, which lists the official languages of India, along with the Bodo, Dogri and Maithili languages.

This addition meant that the Indian government was obligated to undertake the development of the Santali language and to allow students appearing for school-level examinations and entrance examinations for public service jobs to use the language.

According to the 2011 Census of India, there are over 70 lakh (seven million) people who speak Santali across the country.

The Santhali community is the 3rd largest tribe in India, concentrated in seven states in large numbers, including in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The community is also spread across Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

In 2005, India’s Sahitya Akademi started handing out awards every year for outstanding literary works in Santali, a move that helped preserve and give more visibility to the community’s literature.

Any Indian national can translate the Constitution in their own language. The department of Official Languages under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs oversees the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution relating to official languages and the provisions of the Official Languages Act, 1963. No permission is needed for translations. The individual also has the right to generate income by selling their translation of the Constitution.

Source: This post is based on the article “Translated into Ol Chiki for first time, Santals get to read India’s Constitution in their own script” published in The Indian Express on 20th Mar 22.

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