The ministry of culture in response to an RTI query filed by one L. Ramesh revealed that the number of inscriptions in the South Indian languages significantly surpasses the same in Hindi.
This revelation is timely as it comes while the Ministry of HRD happens to be trying to impose Hindi in their New Education Policy.
Inscription is the process of writing something on a durable material. The ASI identifies the process of preservation and propagation of knowledge through inscriptions as epigraphy which has been steadily developing since the 16th century.
As per the data available with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the department houses 12,000 inscriptions in Telugu and only 200 in Hindi. The other South Indian languages i.e. Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada also surpass Hindi by a significant margin in this regard.
In fact, Tamil was found to top the list with a record 38,000 inscriptions available with the ASI.
“It (epigraphy) is the science of discovering, deciphering, and interpreting inscriptions. These inscriptions on stone and other materials are the most authentic records of our history,” the ASI informed.
Elaborating on the relevance of these inscriptions, Dr Bhangya Bhukya, professor of History, University of Hyderabad, told this newspaper that, “The Telugu language was spread by the Eastern Chalukyas. Tamil and Kannada were the dominant languages in this region, however, owing to local factors, Telugu literature began gaining popularity. The primary reason behind the large number of Telugu scripts is its rich history and cultural diversity. Also, we do not see Persian or Urdu influence in Telugu, but we do in Hindi.”
“Inscriptions are the primary source of information about our past – our social history. We did not have printing and paper technology back then, so the only method of maintaining records was to inscribe data. Hindi, on the other hand, developed as a language in the 18th century. It was the Britishers who separated Hindi from Urdu. And it was India’s freedom movement which contributed a great deal in making Hindi popular among the masses,” he added.
Japanese Historian Noboru Karashima, also the former president of the Epigraphical Society of India, back in 1985, had calculated approximately 10,000 inscriptions in Telugu language, which makes it one of the most diverse languages in our country.