IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th January, 2024 Culture


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


Madhika, a language spoken by the Chakaliya community that migrated from Karnataka centuries ago, is fast becoming extinct with the younger generation opting for Malayalam.


Madhika Language

Language Characteristics:

  • Similarities to Kannada:Madhika shares linguistic similarities with the Kannada language.
  • Diverse Influences: Combining Telugu, Tulu, Kannada, and Malayalam, Madhika exhibits linguistic complexity.
  • Script Absence: Despite its uniqueness, Madhika lacks a written script.

Factors Leading to Decline:

  • Elderly Speakers:P. Narayanan, 87, and his niece Rajputhri are the last fluent speakers of Madhika.
  • Youth Disinterest: The younger generation's preference for Malayalam contributes to the diminishing use of Madhika.
  • Social Stigma: The historical social stigma associated with the Chakaliya community impacts the language's preservation.

Cultural Influence and Complexity:

  • Influences:Madhika is a linguistic blend influenced by Havyaka Kannada, an ancient form of Kannada.
  • Challenges for Listeners: Despite sounding similar to Kannada, the diverse linguistic influences make Madhika challenging for listeners.

Endangered Status:

  • Decline in Usage: Fast becoming extinct as fluent speakers age and the language is not passed on to younger generations.
  • Critical Endangerment:Madhika is categorized as critically endangered, facing a high risk of extinction.

Chakaliya Community

Historical Background:

  • Migration: Originating from Karnataka, the Chakaliya community migrated to northern Malabar centuries ago.
  • Nomadic Lifestyle: The community has a nomadic history, contributing to its distinct cultural practices

Religious Practices:

  • Deities: Worshipers of Thiruvenkatramana and Mariamma, their religious practices are integral to their cultural identity.

Social Stigma and Language Neglect:

  • Caste Reclassification: Initially recognized as a Scheduled Tribe, the community was later included in the Scheduled Caste category in Kerala.
  • Impact on Language: Social stigma associated with the community has led to neglect and disinterest in preserving Madhika.

Literary Recognition:

  • Historical Mention: The community finds mention in the book "Caste and Tribes of Southern India."

UNESCO Classification

The UNESCO 'Atlas of Endangered Languages' employs a classification system to categorize languages based on their endangerment levels. The categories used are:

  • Vulnerable:The language is still being learned by children, but its use may be confined to certain areas, typically within the home environment.
  • Definitely Endangered: The language is no longer passed down to children as their primary language within the household.
  • Severely Endangered: The language is spoken by older generations, typically grandparents, while parents may understand it but do not actively speak it to their children or among themselves.
  • Critically Endangered: The language is on the brink of extinction, with the youngest speakers being grandparents. Its usage is limited, and it is spoken only partially and infrequently.
  • Extinct: The language has no living speakers, and there is no active use or transmission of the language.

Madhika's Status:

  • Critically Endangered:Madhika falls into the critically endangered category, signifying an urgent need for preservation efforts.

Government Initiatives

Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India (SPPEL):

  • Government Initiative: Implemented by the Government of India.
  • Central Institute's Role: Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore, focuses on the protection, preservation, and documentation of languages spoken by less than 10,000 people.

Preservation Focus:

  • Documentation: Emphasis on documenting endangered languages to facilitate preservation efforts.


Madhika is on the verge of extinction due to disinterest, social stigma, and the absence of documentation.The decline of Madhika reflects intricate interactions between linguistic, cultural, and social factors within the Chakaliya community.


Q. Discuss the various government's efforts to preserve and protect endangered languages in India. (150 Words)