The Govt. of West Bengal in their extraordinary resolution published in the Calcutta Gazette dated 5th March 2001 have constituted a committee on Santhali language.The Terms of Reference of the Committee constituted by the Govt. of West Bengal are:

    1. To examine the entire issue of teaching of Santhali language from the primary school level up to the college and University levels;
    2. The feasibility of introducing Santhali language (in Ol Chiki script) both as a medium of instruction as well as a language subject in the secondary and higher secondary schools; and
    3. The possibility of introducing Santhali language (in Ol Chiki script) in the college and university curricula.

The members of the Committee are:

  1. Dr. Pabitra Sarkar, M.A. Ph.D., Ex-Vice Chancellor: Chairman
  2. Shri Amiya Deb, MA Ph.D.: Member
  3. Shri Bhakti Prasad Mullick, MA, Ph.D.:Member
  4. Shri Dhirendra Nath Baskey, MA: Member
  5. Shri Subodh Hansda, MA:Member
  6. Shri Dillip Kumar Basu, Dy. Secretary, Backward Class Welfare Department: Secretary


The Recommendations, comments and the reasons why ?

Recommendation 1

The Santali language may be used as the medium of instruction for Santal students, in either (1) the Ol chiki script, or (2) any other script in which Santals have been reading and writing their language, in this state.

As the medium of instruction, anyone who offers any other medium available in the State may be allowed to do so.

Reason for the options: Since it is the citizen who ultimately decides on the language and script in which his/her ward should be taught, and the Constitution of the country has given him/her a choice, no Government, the Committee feels, can withdraw options already available to him. It will then be legally answerable for imposing a straightjacket of one single option on a community. Also, an abrupt change will make a number of people, literate in other script, suddenly illiterate in Santali, including teachers and parents who could crucially help the Santal children in their fist learning of their language.

Recommendation 2

A continuous support may be given to the Ol chiki script so that it can, if it may, gradually replace the other scripts in which Santali is written.

Comments: Once again, the Committee does not know how the Government can impose a single script or a single medium on a community by a fiat. In all likelihood it lies with the community itself if it use a single script or a single medium of instruction.

Recommendation 3

Santali knowing teachers may be provided a through training in the Ol Chiki script in order that they may give the necessary instruction in Ol chiki script Santali.

Special arrangements may be made so that Santal students from a cluster of schools in the same neighborhood may together have matters of their texts explained to them in their own language, even in higher classes.

Recommendation 4

A gradual accommodation may be made of the other language along with their scripts at the primary level and the following accommodation plan may be followed:

Class I:     All Santali instruction and texts (100%)

Class II:    Sanatli instruction and texts (80%)
                Bengali: alphabet and simple sentences (20%) Introductory English

Class III:   Santali instruction and texts (60%)
                 Proportionate increase in the Bengali material (40%)

                 Class III English

Class IV :  Santali instruction and test (50%)
                 More Bengali material (50%)
                 Class IV 

The proportion of language and script load, suggested above, concern Santali and Bengali alone. English shall be taught as per the general requirement.

Comments: Although the proportions suggested above have a look of being too fine grained, they are only meant for reminding the eventuality that most of the Santal students in West Bengal, at least those who will not be able to afford a privately run English medium education, will have to switch over to the Bengali medium in Classes beyond IV. That is why a gradual shift is suggested in the above plan. It is for the syllabus designers to see how the proportions may be translated into texts and school routine:

Recommendation 5

Santali may be retained as an option for the compulsory language subject at both Secondary and Higher Secondary levels, but studied in school in an available script including Ol Chiki, the medium of instruction being Santali. The medium, however, for the other subjects of study at the Secondary and Higher Secondary levels for Santal students as well may be as it is now, language other than Santali. Santali may also be studied as an additional subject at both Secondary and Higher Secondary levels.

Argument: The Committee has to address a query here: Why not Santali as medium of instruction for all subjects till the very end, i.e. the university level/many of the members of delegations demanding Ol Chiki, as well as correspondents, passionately suggested that this should be the right and only measure to adopt. They the Committee feels, for some reasons or other fail to notice the sad yet unalterable reality that a minority language can seldom be a medium at all levels of education, particularly in a plurilingual country like India, where Indian languages as well as English are organized in a hierarchy of power (see Verma, 1995 : 74-85). Here even the VIII Schedule languages do not enjoy the equal status in relation to one another, and at least two languages, one global and other national, are in many respect 'more equal' than others. The 3- language formula of the sixties that began with so much fanfare, is in a shamble now, as some state before long came to prefer Sanskrit to modem Indian languages. If, therefore, in answer to an ideal, Santali is made the medium of instruction at all levels of education, many of it's bachelors and masters will possibly find it extremely difficult to land a job outside the Santali speaking World, and many thus remain isolated from the national mainstream.

Recommendation 6

'Santali Language, Literature and Culture' may be made available as a subject of study in some of the college under Vidyasagar, Burdhaman and North Bengal Universities where there is a sizable Santal population. It may be taught in any available script including Ol Chiki and in any available language other than Santali. This facility may be open to non-Santals as well.

Arrangement may be made for offering the Santali Language Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses at various institutions in the State, such as the Centre for the Study of Local Languages at North Bengal University or at the Spacious Language division of the University of Calcutta or at the Arts faculty Language Centre of Jadavpur University. It may be taught in any available script including Ol Chiki.

The State University may also be advised to initiate, where possible, a Master degree in 'Santali Language, Literature and culture'

Argument: Santali at the tertiary level will make teachers of Santali who will be needed in a number, once Santali is introduced as the medium of instruction in the primary schools of West Bengal. However, some transitional relaxation may be considered at the initial stage.

Recommendation 7

A Santali Akademi may be established where Santal intellectuals would conduct research in every aspect of the Santali Language, Literature, Culture and script( s) as well as school texts, and advise the Government on related matters. The Akademi may also be entrusted with working out an elaborate Santali terminology, preparing and publishing dictionaries, grammars and other scholarly items, and may also be entrusted with whatever else an Akademi of this kind is normally expected to perform.

Recommendation 8

Steps may also be taken to open all-Santal primary schools for an exclusive instruction in Santali, where necessary, under Sisu Siksha Kendra and the Sikshalaya schemes as well, and where necessary, NGOs like the ASECA may be entrusted with the work. Additional grants may be given to such NGOs for the development of the infrastructure needed for this purpose.

Recommendation 9

Recommendations 1-8 above may be implemented for an initial period of 8 years at the end of which a thorough review may be made of the impact of such measures adopted.


Disclaimer: Though all possible care have been taken to reproduce the recommendations correctly, these should be verified with the original text before quoting or referring for official work or otherwise.


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