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20 August 1992 : HISTORIC DAY after 36 years of Democratic Struggle of Indian Gorkhas

 - Anil Chhetri ( KOHIMA)
It was a moment of achievement for the Indian Nepalese (Gorkhas) when on 20th August 1992 the constitution of Indian gave recognition to Nepali language in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution, for them, the 10 million Indian Nepalese (Gorkhas) 20th August is the historic day, this day is celebrated by the Nepalese (Gorkhas) as ‘Nepali Bhasha Manyata Diwas’ Exact 25 years ago in Nepali language got national recognition, constitutional recognition. This day (20th August) is celebrated by every apex organization of the Gorkhas all over India.

To demand the rights of the Gorkhas Late Anand Singh Thapa, editor of the Nepali newspaper “Jagrath Gorkha’ published from Dehradun and his two colleagues Late Bir Singh Bhandari, late Narendra Singh Rana in the year 18th January, 1956 submitted a memorandum to his excellence, the first President f Independent India Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sharma demanding the constitutional recognition of Nepali language just like other Indian languages recognized in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution. Late Anand Singh Thapa was the first Gorkha son of the soil of this country to voice the demand for the recognition of Nepali language which ignited a peaceful democratic struggle amongst the Gorkhas to achieve the constitutional demand which is seen as the first step in laying the foundation for the struggle. The struggle started from Dehradun and found its way to Sikkim via Darjeeling and spread to North East gaining momentum all over India. In Darjeeling a Nepali literary organization “Sahitya Sammelan” constituted a twenty five members sub-committee for the demand and held its first assembly in the year 1970 March 29 and decided to depute a team to Delhi to meet the president, prime minister and home minister to put forward the demand. Dr. Parasmani Pradhan after his return from Delhi wrote books and submitted to Sahitya Academy Delhi to press for the recognition of Nepali Language.

A short History of Nepali language & Literature in India
story of Nepali language and literature, an explanation of Nepali language and literature, the origin of Nepali language and progress, Nepali language in the eight scheduled. In the year 1947 during the tenure of Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, president, Nepali language got recognition from the Sahitya Academy and this language was added in the list of the academy. In the year 1976 Sahitya Academy constituted a ten member Nepali Language advisory committee led by Parasmani Pradhan, Indra Bahadur Rai among the ten members renowned international senior Nepali literature from Chandmari, Kohima, Late Hari Prasad Gorkha Rai was also one of the member of the advisory committee. A notification in the Calcutta Gazette was published in the year 1918 July 24, that Nepali language as a vernacular in class 10, 12 and BA allowed to study as a subject and can appear exams.

In the end of the struggle fro recognition of Nepali language as one of the Indian language could be achieved and the struggle ended from Sikkim. The them member of the parliament from Sikkim, wife of the then chief minister of Sikkim Nar Bahadur Bhandari Smt. Dil Kumari Bhandari played a constructive role and tabled the bill in the Lok Sabha, gathered the support of nearly three hundred MPs to get the bill passes, eventually nepali language got constitutional recognition on 20th August 1992.

After 36 years of democratic struggle by the Gorkhas Nepali language was added in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution. Nepali newspaper published from different parts of the country also lent its voice during the struggle. At present even in the North East dew Nepali literary society has come in the name of “Nepali Sahitya Parishad’ Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya to preserve the language, today we can also find some English book translated in Nepali language by renowned Nepali literary writer. The Guwahati University has introduced MA in Nepali subject (we can find a chapter from the book written by Late Hariprasad). After many years of misinterpretation, misconception about the Gorkhas who have accepted India as their motherland and fought shoulder to shoulder with all the Indian Patriots struggle for independence. The sacrifices and exemplary patriotism of the valiant Gorkhas in this part of the world which has a history of more than two hundred years was acknowledged by giving national recognition to their mother tongue, to name a few Gorkhas, Ari Bahadur Gurung, a barrister and a member of Indian constitution drafting committee, Retd captian Ram Singh Thakur, music composer of our national anthem, major Durga malla, the first Gorkha Martyr of INA hanged to death by the then British regime whose statue is installed in the precinct of the parliament stands as an irrevocable history.

The Language Movement
Nepali-speaking Indian citizens have long faced challenges when it comes to their identity. In no other places in the country have they felt such challenges than in the district of Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal. Even though a large number of Nepali speakers live in other parts of the country, especially in the northeastern states of Sikkim and Assam, the Nepali-speaking population constitutes the overwhelming majority in Darjeeling and Nepali is the lingua franca in the district. The shared border with Nepal and a treaty between Nepal and India that allows nationals of both countries to live and work in either country often have caused many to think that the Nepali-speaking Indian citizens are migrants from Nepal rather than Indian citizens even though their roots and ties to India existed even before the independence of India.

The Nepali-speaking Indian citizens, mainly for this reason, call themselves Indian Gorkhas to differentiate themselves from the Nepali citizens living and working in India. Their ongoing demand for a separate state, Gorkhaland, has mainly been fueled by their desire not to be viewed as migrants from Nepal but rather be viewed as Nepali-speaking Indian citizens and their desire to preserve and promote their language and culture.

Their movement for the recognition of the Nepali language gained momentum after the independence of India. First it was Darjeeling that was carrying the torch, but soon Indian Gorkhas from other parts of India joined the cause and made significant progress along the way, like making Nepali an official language in the district and state levels. Soon, the movement transformed into a national movement seeking to make the Nepali language one of the official languages of the country, not only of a few districts or states.

Various organizations were formed at different times during the language movement. Through these organizations, like Darjeeling District Hill People's Language Implementation (Recognition) Committee (Bhasa Manyata Samiti) formed in 1961 that united the people of Darjeeling, All India Nepali Bhasa Samiti (AINBS) formed in 1972 that gave the movement a national form and brought Nepali-speaking Indian citizens from all over India together, and Bharatiya Nepali Rastriya Parisad (BNRP) formed in 1990 as a successor to AINBS for furthering the language movement,[1] the Indian Gorkhas continued their struggle for the recognition of their language.

A unique aspect of the movement was that it was not divided along the political lines. The Indian Gorkhas, independent or belonging to various political parties, came together for the common cause. Various institutions and individuals continued their struggle relentlessly and they were able to get a national attention to their collective voice and were able to win the support of many, mainly the state and national leaders.

Their successful movement finally led to the Parliament of India, the Indian legislature, passing a bill in 1992 that included a provision to make Nepali one of the official languages of India. When President Shankar Dayal Sharma approved the bill on August 31, 1992, which officially included the Nepali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, it marked a major milestone in the history of the Indian Gorkhas and a successful conclusion to their language movement. Enshrinement of the language in the Constitution meant that any Indian citizen could now use Nepali for official business and that the Indian government would take measures to promote and preserve the language.

Today millions of Nepali-speaking people and people who love the Nepali language are living in different parts of the world. Their love for the Nepali language has brought them together and has been a medium to express their Nepali identity. Many universities around the world are teaching Nepali and many local organizations have been set up to teach Nepali to young children.

The achievement of the Nepali language movement in India was a victory to the Indian Gorkhas, to the Nepali-speaking citizens of India, but the significance of their struggle and love for their language goes beyond India. The accomplishment of the Indian Gorkhas to get Nepali enshrined in the Constitution of India is also a significant recognition and achievement of the language and an inspirational success story to millions of people who love the language. We hope that the success of the Indian Gorkhas will encourage many others to continue to promote and modernize the language, may it be by simply introducing the language to their children if their children do not get the exposure to the language or by taking on bigger roles in the society.

Congratulations Indian Gorkhas on your achievement and thank you for being a role model to many. Your success story will inspire many others in the community to craft their own success stories.

[1] Sarkar, Swatahsiddha. "Language and Ethnicity in Darjeeling Hills." Himalayan Studies in India (2008)

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