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Why Kokborok language in news?

A coalition of 56 organizations in Tripura, under the banner of ‘Roman Script For Kokborok Choba,’ has taken to the streets to demand the adoption of the Roman script for the Kokborok language. This move comes as a culmination of decades of efforts by the indigenous community in the state to preserve and promote their native language.

The Essence of the Kokborok Language

Only the Roman script pans out for Tripura's Kokborok language. Why?

  • Kokborok is the lingua franca of Tripura’s indigenous community, spoken by nearly one-third of the state’s population.
  • Its cultural and emotional significance to the people of Tripura cannot be overstated. The demand for a Roman script for Kokborok stems from the need to ensure its survival and accessibility in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

A Long-standing Demand

  • This demand for adopting the Roman script for Kokborok is not new. Indigenous communities in Tripura have been advocating for this change for over five decades.
  • The issue gained momentum when the ‘Bhasa Commission,’ a government-formed body, reported that more than 80 percent of indigenous people favored the Roman script for Kokborok.
  • However, successive governments, including the current BJP-led administration, have failed to act upon this recommendation, leaving the indigenous community frustrated and disillusioned.

Political Maneuvering with Language

  • Former minister and TIPRA Motha leader Mevar Kumar Jamatia, a prominent figure in this movement, has accused both the previous Left Front government and the current BJP government of playing politics with the Kokborok language.
  • The failure to implement the recommendations of the ‘Bhasa Commission’ has been viewed as a betrayal of the indigenous people’s trust.

Threat of an Aggressive Movement

  • The frustration within the indigenous community has now reached a boiling point. In response to the government’s perceived inaction, Mevar Kumar Jamatia and the ‘Roman Script For Kokborok Choba’ coalition have issued a stern warning.
  • They threaten to launch an “aggressive” movement if their demand for the Roman script is not met promptly.
  • This threat underscores the deep-seated emotional connection between language and identity, as well as the urgency of addressing this issue.

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