Centre for Study of Foreign Languages (CSFL) had organized a two-day International Conference on Indigenous Languages, Societies and Cultures in India (ICILSCI-2019) at University of Hyderabad (UoH) during 21-22 February, 2019 in collaboration with UNESCO Chair on “Language Policies for Multilingualism” CSFL, UoH, UNESCO India, New Delhi, UNESCO Information for All Programme, Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru and Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. The conference was organized as a part of celebrations of 2019 as Year of Indigenous languages declared by UNESCO.

The main focus of the conference is to bring together researchers, academicians and language speakers to present their work and deliberate on indigenous languages, societies and cultures of India. Hence, the goal of the conference is to provide a forum to discuss and identify measures for protection and promotion of these languages, societies and cultures using both conventional and contemporary technological methods.

The inaugural session of the conference was presided over by Prof.Gilvan Muller de Oliveira, Chairman, UNESCO Chair on “Language Policies for Multilingualism”. He spoke on the significance of framing up language policies in multilingual and multicultural contexts. Welcoming the dignitaries and participants of the conference Prof.J.Prabhakar Rao, Convenor, ICILSCI-2019 has mentioned the background and the overall objectives of the conference. Dr.Anirban Sarma, National Programme Officer, UNESCO New Delhi pledged his support to the conference and its future initiatives. Prof.D.G.Rao, Director, CIIL, Mysuru has highlighted the significance of preserving Indigenous languages and cultures of India and role of CIIL in this endeavour. Prof.Sarat Jyotsna Rani, Dean, School of Humanities has explained the multiple nature of the School and the work of the School in the area of indigenous languages and societies of India. Prof. Umarani Pappuswamy, Deputy Director, CIIL called for creation of Atlas of indigenous languages and cultures of India. The inaugural session was concluded with vote of thanks by Dr.Arulmozi Selvaraj, Coordinator, ICILSCI-2019.

Inauguration of the conference

There were 40 scholarly presentations on various aspects of indigenous languages, societies and cultures of India including scholars from 13 countries such as Russia, Macau, Brazil, Mexico, etc. have shared their experience on preservation and promotion of indigenous languages in their respective countries.

Delegates of the conference

Dr. Arulmozi Selavaraj is discussing with delegates from CIIl, Mysuru

There were three keynote speakers:

Prof.Brendan Stuart Hackett Weekes
University of Hongkong, University of Melbourne, University of Science and Technology, Beijing delivered on
“Literacy in Contact: Reading and Writing in Multiliterate Speakers Along the Silk Road”

Dr.Evgeny Kuzmin,
Vice President, UNESCO IFAP Programme, Moscow delivered on
“What Kind of Policies We Need To Preserve Indigenous Languages”

Prof.Anvita Abbi, New Delhi delivered on
“The Fight Against Linguistic Apartheid”.
In addition to it, there was a panel discussion on “Stakeholders achievements and challenges as a case towards
establishment of a Consortium for promoting language-related interventions at the National level”.

Panel discussion chaired by Prof.Anvita Abbi, New Delhi

Before the conference day on 20th February, 2019 there was a UNESCO Chair meeting on “Language Policies for Multilingualism” in which 11 countries have participated both physically and virtually to review the status of the research under the chair and to chalk out future plans. The abstracts of the conference have been published and the proceedings are in progress.

UNESCO Chair Meeting

The major outcome of the conference was launching of Consortium for Promotion of Under-Resourced Indian Languages (COPUIL). This initiative was taken by University of Hyderabad; UNESCO, New Delhi Office, New Delhi; Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi; CIIL, Mysuru; KIITS, Gurgoan; C-DAC, New Delhi.

Declaration of launching of the Consortium by Prof.J.Prabhakar Rao, University of Hyderabad

The aim of the Consortium was to promote, preserve and support access to Indian languages in order to build an inclusive information society.

The first meeting of the different institutions who initiated the Consortium

The objectives of the Conference include
• To promote research and capacity building in order to preserve language heritage and culture
• To develop new technologies and tools, and strategically use existing technologies and tools for preserving and processing under-resourced Indian languages (URIL)
• To provide a common platform for stakeholders to undertake advocacy and outreach, and to share knowledge and resources

However, the guidelines of the Consortium are being worked out.

Prof.J.Prabhakar Rao
ICILSCI, 2019.