A day after dispatching 4,000 postcards to President Ram Nath Kovind, Maharashtra on Monday made a strong pitch to the Centre to accord the status of “Classical Language” for Marathi by February 27 – celebrated as Marathi Language Day.
Marathi Language Minister Subhash Desai went to New Delhi and called on Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy and discussed the long-pending issue with him.
“We have submitted a letter and a booklet to him detailing how the state government has completed all the formalities and why Marathi deserves to be given the status of a classical language at the earliest,” he said.
Desai said that Reddy was extremely open to the suggestion and even conveyed that there is no doubt that Marathi deserves the honor.
“We have invited Minister Reddy to come to Maharashtra on February 27 and make the momentous declaration granting the classical language status which would be welcomed by the 13 crore people of the state,” he added.
Earlier, Desai and his team comprising officials like Bhushan Gagrai, film personality Shrirang Godbole and others gave a detailed presentation showing that the Marathi language satisfies all the parameters for being made a classical language.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have displayed a positive approach to the state’s demand and Reddy assured that the Centre would take a decision soon in the matter.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray dispatched a box containing around 4,000 postcards to the President to demanding classical language status to Marathi.
The postcards – sent in a gift-wrapped box with the slogan “Abhijat Marathi Jan Abhiyaan (Mass Campaign for Classical Marathi)” printed on it – are part of an ongoing statewide campaign which the state government hopes will fructify by February 27.
This was the second lot of postcards – earlier another lot of 6,000 was sent – to the President with the same plea.
In the past couple of months, people all over the state – ranging from celebs to commoners – have dropped over 125,000 postcards to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Last December, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar fired the first postcard to the President, neatly typed in Marathi and signed by him, kickstarting the trend.
Presently, only six Indian languages – Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Odia – have been bestowed the status of classical language, based on various parameters.
Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi pointed out that although the Centre took the decision in 2004 to confer the classical language status to various languages, Marathi was ignored despite repeated requests.
Even a high-level committee of language experts appointed by the Centre had unanimously approved a proposal to this effect seven years ago, but there has been no further progress in the matter.
Pawar had said in his postcard to the President that it was necessary to grant the status of a classical language to Marathi as recommended even by the Sahitya Akademi, at the earliest.
“Marathi is not only an ancient language but also the state language, used by litterateurs, intellectuals, by people of religion besides the common masses, and ranks among the major languages in the world,” he said.
The Maharashtra Legislature passed a unanimous resolution recommending to the Centre to accord classical language status to Marathi in 2020.
In anticipation of the exalted status, Thackeray in October 2021 cleared the proposal to construct a ‘Marathi Bhasha Bhavan’ on a 2,500 square meter plot in south Mumbai – a project which had been on the backburner for nearly eight years.
Coming up within the Jawahar Bal Bhavan complex at Marine Drive, the work on the project is starting shortly with a completion target of 18 months, comprising a library, an expo center, conference halls, etc, to promote the Marathi language.
During the tenure of Congress Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, a committee chaired by litterateur Rangnath Pathare had prepared a voluminous report running into 500 pages on the same issue.
The report was forwarded to the government in July 2013, but the matter remained unresolved after the change of guard both at the Centre and the state.
The Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which started in 1878, has demanded the classical language status for Marathi several times in the past.
The status paves the way for two prestigious international-level awards for scholars of eminence in the Indian classical language, setting up centers of excellence for studies, the University Grants Commission creating or starting a certain number of Professional Chairs in these languages besides dedicating various institutions for the same to promote the study and research in such classical languages.