In a first, a group of 80 representatives of the Gond tribe from India’s six states – Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh – launched the first-ever standardised Gondi dictionary at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) on Monday, 26 March, Livemint reported. The dictionary has 3,000-plus words.
The unique initiative, launched in 2014, was helmed by Shubhranshu Chowdhary, founder, CGNet Swara, an Indian voice-based online portal that allows people in the forests of central tribal India to report local issues.
A group of 80-100 Gondi-speaking people from different regions have been holding meetings since the last four years, in an attempt to standardise the language.
The Ministry of Culture backed the first meeting that was held in July, 2014. Even though Gondi is spoken in over six states, different dialects exist with influences from regional languages. Due to this, it gets difficult for people from different regions – who all speak Gondi – to communicate with each other.
This initiative aims to bridge administrative and communication gaps among the nearly 12 million Gond adivasis, the report added.
According to the Livemint report, the meetings are week-long workshops, during which members work together for hours within a room.
We look at one word and the many different versions of it in different dialects. These are then listed alongside.Shubhranshu Choudhary, founder CGNet Swara to Livemint
The group’s eighth meeting saw people from all walks of life, including retired school teachers and journalists to forest dwellers and farmers.
Hailing from the same community, KM Metry, a professor at the department of tribal studies at Kannada University, Hampi said:
This is a project for the Gond Adivasis by the Gond Adivasis, thus making it one of the most unique public participation projects.
However, the government of India is yet to give its stamp of approval to the language’s inclusion in the eighth schedule of languages – something which CGNet Swara is campaigning for.
(With inputs from Livemint)