ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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T he useful article Decline of Sanskrit by Bhupendra Yadav in EPW, December 31, 2005, might have benefited by the inclusion of the following additional points: (1) Yes, B R Ambedkar, the famous dalit leader and chairman of the drafting committee of the Constitution, was in favour of adopting Sanskrit as the national language of India (see Sumathi Ramaswamy, Sanskrit for the Nation, Modern Asian Studies, 33, 2, 1999, p 353). The fact that a dalit leader, who earlier had passages from the Manusmriti (which is in Sanskrit) burnt in protest espoused Sanskrit should give us reason to pause, if only to reflect on the grounds on which he might have done so. (2) If memory serves, the number of people who cited Sanskrit as their mother tongue in the 1951 Census was around 3,000. If the number of such people has risen to 49,733 in the 1991 Census then, on the face of it, this statistic seems to count against the title of the paper, which announces the decline of Sanskrit. I say on the face of it because the 2001 Census may confirm the statement. It could also be argued that the respondents who declared Sanskrit as their mother tongue were thereby articulating an aspiration rather than a fact. If, however, the decline is meant to indicate or imply a decline in the number of speakers as recorded in the decennial census, then surely caution is in order.

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