Video | “Nations don’t make us human – languages make us human”: Ganesh Devy – People’s Linguistic Survey of India


The census of India says the country is losing languages at an alarming rate. But the People’s Linguistic Survey of India seems to say there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Wherever the colonial power was played the local languages were destroyed completely: in Australia, in United States, in Canada. In this country so many languages remained alive despite a long spell of colonial rule. So the people of this country deserve the credit for all this work. [3:57]

Those links in turn get relinked. I mean, they go up to Armenia, to Turkey. Now this is one route: Turkey to China to Tibet to Bhutan to India.

The other route is Armenian, came through Iran, to India and became Sanskrit. The language of Zenda Vesta became subsequently – after many, many centuries, after nearly a gap of 800 to 1,200 years – the early version of the Sanskrit of the Vedas. So languages are linked globally. [5:25]

Nations don’t make us human – languages make us human. But languages make us behave like civilised beings. [7:48 min.] November 25, 2017 – view the full video (duration 8 min.) here:
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Photo © BBC news >>

Ganesh Devy undertook 300 journeys in 18 months to explore India’s languages […] Seven years ago, he launched his ambitious People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), which he called a “right-based movement for carrying out a nation-wide survey of Indian languages as people perceive them”.

As the indefatigable language hunter turned 60, he undertook 300 journeys in 18 months across the length and breadth of India to search for more languages. He paid for his trips using money he earned by delivering lectures in universities and colleges. He travelled night and day, revisiting some states nearly 10 times, and religiously kept a diary. […]

“Our languages have survived tenaciously. We are truly a linguistic democracy. To keep our democracy alive, we have to keep our languages alive.” – Prof. Ganesh Devy, “The man who ‘discovered’ 780 Indian languages”

Read the full story by Soutik Biswas, BBC News 27 (October 2017) >>

Photo: Rabindranath in Santiniketan – Source: The Better India

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” – Rabindranath Tagore >>

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Tip: click on any red marker for details on endangered languages in a particular region of India. This map is bound to be incomplete as recent surveys in-depth studies on this subject have revealed. 

Posted in Assimilation, Colonial policies, Constitution and Supreme Court, Cultural heritage, Democracy, Education and literacy, Endangered language, Figures, census and other statistics, Globalization, Government of India, History, Languages and linguistic heritage, Modernity, Multi-lingual education, Northern region – Northern Zonal Council, Organizations, Press snippets, Quotes, Regions of India, Resources, Revival of traditions, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Success story, Tribal identity, Video resources - external, Western region –  Western Zonal Council | Comments Off on Video | “Nations don’t make us human – languages make us human”: Ganesh Devy – People’s Linguistic Survey of India

Mahatma Gandhi on industrialism and his appeal to capitalists of India to become “trustees to the welfare of the masses” – Young India 1928

Capitalists Of India

Before 20 December 1928

GOD FORBID that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom (England) is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 millions took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts. Unless the capitalists of India help to avert that tragedy by becoming trustees of the welfare of the masses and by devoting their talents not to amassing wealth for themselves but to the service of the masses in an altruistic spirit, they will end either by destroying the masses or being destroyed by them.

Young India 20-12-1928; CWMG Vol. 38,pp.243-4; E

Source: pp. 276-7, Gopalkrishna Gandhi.The Oxford India Gandhi: Essential Writings. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Price: INR 850 – ISBN 9780195692525

The Oxford India Gandhi looks beyond the plaster-cast image of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma. Gandhi’s autobiography ends in the late 1920s, several historic years before his assassination in 1948.

This book seeks to fill the void left by Gandhi himself. Edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the book tells Gandhi’s story in his own words–the story of his life as he himself might have narrated it to a grandchild. […]

The Oxford India Gandhi offers a look into the personal life of one of the subcontinent’s most public figures of all time. Part of Oxford University Press’s prestigious ‘Oxford India Collection’, the book is as much for those who know Gandhi, including students and scholars of Indian history and culture, as for young readers encountering the Mahatma for the first time.

Source: The Oxford India Gandhi: Essential Writings By Gopalkrishna Gandhi – Trade-Reference – Political-Leaders-Leadership


Date Visited: Thu Mar 21 2013 13:52:04 GMT+0100 (CET)

“The aim of University education should be to turn out true servants of the people, who would live and die for the country’s freedom.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

“Mahatma Gandhi University envisions to champion the cause of higher education in the country by catering to the scholastic, expertise and developmental needs of the individual, the society and the industry through the creation of a critical knowledge base with well-defined means for its dissemination and extension for the society’s sustained and inclusive growth.”

Source: M.G University Kerala
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Mar 21 2013 14:04:31 GMT+0100 (CET)

“Mahatma Gandhi University envisions to champion the cause of higher education in the country by catering to the scholastic, expertise and developmental needs of the individual, the society and the industry through the creation of a critical knowledge base with well-defined means for its dissemination and extension for the society’s sustained and inclusive growth.”

Prof (Dr.) Rajan Gurukkal

Source: Vision
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Mar 21 2013 14:06:06 GMT+0100 (CET)

The aim of this institution is to develop highly skilled professionals who are specially trained so as to overcome the existing imbalances in the health caring system. Academic training and practice to students are imparted in collaboration with a number of established hospitals in the public and private sector.

Source: Mission
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Mar 21 2013 14:08:28 GMT+0100 (CET)

Many people such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella, Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc. have followed the path shown by Bapu and have brought prosperity to themselves and their societies. It is often misunderstood that Gandhian principles are too hard to be followed by a common man. To break this myth we share success stories of common people who have followed Bapu’s teachings and prospered. We believe that Bapu’s teachings are much like science – they can be practised by anyone, anywhere, anytime, and would produce the same results – prosperity and welfare.

Complete Information on Mahatma Gandhi :

Source: About Us
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Mar 21 2013 14:11:00 GMT+0100 (CET)

Mahatma Gandhi said that seven things will destroy us. Notice that all of them have to do with social and political conditions. Note also that the antidote of each of these “deadly sins” is an explicit external standard or something that is based on natural principles and laws, not on social values.

Source: Seven Deadly Sins as per Mahatma Gandhi
Date Visited: 27 July 2021

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]


Journalist: What do you think of Western civilization?
Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any solid citations for this sharp exchange:
Quote Investigator >>

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Posted in Accountability, Colonial policies, Customs, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Gandhian social movement, Globalization, Health and nutrition, History, Literature and bibliographies, Misconceptions, Modernity, Organizations, Quotes, Rural poverty | Comments Off on Mahatma Gandhi on industrialism and his appeal to capitalists of India to become “trustees to the welfare of the masses” – Young India 1928

Western India’s cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies traced to Indus Valley civilization – Western region

The western region consists of the desert states of Gujarat and Rajasthan as well as Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and western Madhya Pradesh. […]

The region is home to a wide variety of people with different religions and cultures, most of whom have distinctive traditional textiles. They include Jains, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims, as well as tribal groups such as the Bhils and Mina. Yet the dominant characteristic of the traditional saris and odhnis of all these communities, as with all western Indian fabrics, is colour. For textile variation in the western region is determined by dyeing rather than weaving techniques, and the three major forms of Indian resist-dyeing evolved here. These are block-printing, tie-dye, and ikat, which culminates in the complex multicoloured patola. […]

This region’s propensity toward colour has deep roots, for it is here that the Indus Valley civilization developed cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies. From at least the early second millennium AD, western India has traded dyed textiles to the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Far East, and later to Europe and the Americas, although most local communities maintained their own textile designs. These usually had Mughal-style or geometric patterns, unlike those created in export cloths. Today, however, modern saris are often created using the resist-dyed saudagiri (trade cloth) prints once made solely for the foreign market.sari_lynton1995_fig29-31_web

Source: Lynton, Linda. The Sari: Styles, Patterns, History, Techniques. London: Thames and Hudson, 1995, p. 25.

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Fig. 29-31, Photos: Sanjay K. Singh *

* Fig. 29 Above The fact that the traditional designs of many Bhil saris are in the Mughal style shows how well entrenched the Mughal aesthetic is in the western region. Elsewhere in India, most tribal and ethnic saris do not carry this type of pattern. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 1954.

Learn more about textiles and ornaments associated with tribal communities >>

[C]aste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.

“Hands off tribal culture” (Commentary), India Today, 9 January 2014
Date Accessed: 27 July 2021

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Posted in Archaeology, Crafts and visual arts, Customs, Dress and ornaments, Economy and development, Fashion and design, History, Modernity, Names and communities, Photos and slideshows, Quotes, Western region –  Western Zonal Council, Women | Tagged , | Comments Off on Western India’s cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies traced to Indus Valley civilization – Western region

Participation of tribal children in music CD production and dance programme: Aseema Trust and Vidya Vanam School at Anaikkati – Tamil Nadu


Enjoyable listening and a special gift for lovers of Indian music: CD “Kelir Kelir” produced by Aseema Trust and Rukminidevi Natyakshetra

Tastefully arranged, this professionally produced CD is intended for educational use in Tamil Nadu’s schools. The songs and dance cover a wide range of traditional and modern styles. The price of Rs. 250 per copy contributes to the charitable work undertaken by Aseema Trust.

Comprising six tracks in Tamil, sourced and recorded especially for this project, the common factor among the songs is the idea and importance of peace education, a virtue, a value that is imperative and can be inculcated through a medium that children, across the world, identify with – music. As many as 1,000 CDs will be distributed, free of cost to schools.

The CD was released by renowned Bharathanatyam dancer, Padma Bhushan Alarmel Valli at Sivagami Petachi Hall (Chennai) on August 30, 2013. These songs were performed in Bharathanatyam by Rukminidevi Natyakshetra and children from Vidya Vanam School for tribal children, Anaikkati near Coimbatore. – The Hindu (Young World, August 27, 2013)

  • To listen to this inspiring album, click here >>


To support Aseema’s work and order copies, contact its Founder-Director V.R. Devika

Vidya Vanam school

Vidya Vanam is an elementary school for children from tribal and underprivileged families in rural India.  The parents of these children are either illiterate or have had no formal education hence the sons and daughters represent first-time learners.

It is our endeavor to help these children grow into literate, self-confident, motivated and emotionally stable human beings.

Vidya Vanam provides children with the tools for self-learning while simultaneously recognizing their rich cultural identity and instilling pride and respect for their roots, environment and culture.  –

Aseema Trust

Founded in 1998 the trust aims at bridging arts, artists, and education in an ever-expanding network. Through a focus on the performing arts of South India such as puppetry, dance, theater, and music, the Aseema Trust reinforces a respect for differences, dignity in labor, and integrity in cultural preservation. Today, several projects fall under the Aseema umbrella, from teaching Gandhian principles through spinning workshops , to leading a group of Indian performing arts children through the Netherlands, to storytelling at a temporary shelter for Tsunami survivors in Nagapattinum District, Tamil Nadu, to conducting a project using traditional performing arts as an empowering tool for young girls and partnering with several organisations in art and education. […]

Dr.V. R. Devika, Founder and Managing trustee of The Aseema Trust, a nonprofit organization for linking traditional performing arts and education and Mahatma Gandhi for schools, is a well known cultural activist who has a passion for performing arts and education.

Dr.Devika’s PhD thesis is on “Gandhian communication for transformation: Philosophical issues and dimensions” at the Department of Philosophy, University of Madras. She conducts regular workshops on Charka-spinning, peace education and communication skills for students and teachers. […]

Source: The Aseema Trust – Linking Arts, Education, Rural and Urban
Address :
Date Visited: Sun Dec 08 2013 12:14:50 GMT+0100 (CET)

K.A. Shaji, The Times of India (Coimbatore), Dec 7, 2012

It was a unique experience for former West Bengal governor and Kalakshetra Foundation chairman Gopalkrishna Gandhi when he visited Vidya Vanam, a school for about 270 first-time learners from tribal families of backward Anaikatti region. […]

When Gandhi asked the students to point out major advantages of the unique school located in tribal majority Thuvaipathy Road, they said they loved its egalitarian concept along with the lack of any competitive exams or grading system.

We all are equals here and the teachers ensure that nobody gets sidelined in the rat race for performance. Teachers teach us after understanding our strengths and weaknesses,” the students explained.

Source: Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s day out with tribal students in Anaikatti school – Times of India
Date Visited: 27 July 2021

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Posted in Childhood and children, Community facilities, Education and literacy, Gandhian social movement, Music and dance, Names and communities, Networking, Organizations, Photos and slideshows, Press snippets, Quotes, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Storytelling | Tagged | Comments Off on Participation of tribal children in music CD production and dance programme: Aseema Trust and Vidya Vanam School at Anaikkati – Tamil Nadu

The relevance of Gandhi’s legacy for solving modern India’s socio-economic problems: Addressing the needs of peasants, labourers, students and tribals

The slogan today is no longer merely ‘Asia for the Asians’ or ‘Africa for the Africans’ but the unity of all the oppressed races of the earth.” – Mahatma Gandhi addressing two stalwarts of the struggle struggle in South Africa against apartheid), quoted by Vinay Lal in The Solidarity of Oppressed Peoples: A Tribute to E S Reddy, Anti-Apartheid Activist >>

IS there such a thing as Gandhi’s legacy?
For fifty years we have enshrined him. We must now enfranchise him again.

by Gopalkrishna Gandhi [1997]

IS there such a thing as Gandhi’s legacy?
There is, well, the name; a legacy for some. Legacy of a kind. […]

HOW is that Gandhi, that Gandhi legacy, to be regenerated? Not by holding drowsy seminars on ‘Gandhi’s relevance’, certainly not by re-enactments of his marches that turn into picnics. Rather by spotting injustice and iniquity and tackling them through means available to us, but without personal agendas.

Gandhi’s legacy needs to be retrieved from that political studio and returned to the people. Returned to his great electrifying link among the people where his legacy can and does work – namelessly. By setting up or supporting others’ initiatives similarly engaged. And there are ever so many initiatives in India, so many causes where his legacy is alive. Where it works.

As where Sushila Nayar, in her great age, takes a band of satyagrahis to Ayodhya and they are “allowed” to sing Raghupati Raghava by the kar sevaks until the lines “Isvara Allah Tere Naam” are reached; then the blows begin to rain. As where Anand Patwardhan makes the brave film Ram Ke Naam. And where films like Kaise Jeebo Re? are made telling us about tribal people flooded out of home and hearth by the Narmada project. Where Baba Amte and Medha Patkar agitate for these oustees, where Aruna Roy demands to know how government moneys are being spent, where Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt show what trees and mountains mean, where Subhashini Ali pickets the Miss World contest in Bangalore, where women in Andhra organise against liquor-shops, where processions are taken out on the subject of child abuse, where Sheela Barse rescues the girl-child from her captors, where Swami Agnivesh campaigns for bandhua-mukti, where P. Sainath can raise a fist on behalf of rural poverty, where Anna Hazare fasts to make the corrupt resign their high offices, where the District Collector of Surat rids that city of its dirt. And where India and Bangladesh agree to sharing the Ganga waters equitably.

I am not suggesting that India erupt in agitation; far from it. Only, that Indians become less smug, less self-absorbed. If we lack the time to think of causes beyond ourselves it is because our time is misapplied, not because it is short. Gandhi was never short of time. Either to write, or to wrestle.

He wrote on May 12, 1920 in Young India something that needs to be better known: “…if I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish, therefore, to wrestle with the snake as I have been doing…”

There he is not boring. He is crucial. There he is not a mascot, not a logo. There he is a legacy.

Source: Gopalkrishna Gandhi in “Gandhi’s legacy”, Frontline, (India’s National Magazine), Vol. 14 :: No. 16 :: Aug. 9-22, 1997
Date Visited: Sat Jun 25 2011 02:08:02 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Forbes, India and Pandora’s Pandemic Box”
by P. Sainath [2021]
In a year GDP contracted 7.7 per cent, and as we brace for another round of ‘reverse’ migrations, and as the farmers wait unheeded at the gates of Delhi, Indian billionaires reached record levels of wealth. […]

The ranks of Indian Dollar Billionaires swelled from 102 to 140 in 12 months, if the Forbes 2021 List is to be believed […]

Many newspapers simply carried (or modified) a Press Trust of India report that does not anywhere make the juxtapositions or connections that the Forbes story does. The words covid or coronavirus or pandemic are absent in the PTI story. Nor does it, or any other story, emphasise as the Forbes report does, that “Two of the ten richest Indians get their wealth from healthcare, a sector that’s enjoying a pandemic boost around the world.” The word ‘healthcare’ does not appear in the PTI report or most other stories. Even though Forbes places 24 of our 140 dollar billionaires in the ‘healthcare’ industry. […]

I think it’s fair to say we showed the rest of the world its place. Er…we were shown our place too, on the UN Human Development Index – rank 131 in 189 countries. With El Salvador, Tajikistan, Cabo Verde, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bhutan and Namibia all ahead of us. I guess we must await the results of a high-level probe into an obvious global conspiracy to shove us down a rung compared to the previous year. Watch this space.

Source: “Forbes, India and Pandora’s Pandemic Box” by P. Sainath (16 April 2021)
Date visited: 26 July 2021

Image © PARI People’s Archive of Rural India reporting on Covid-19 >>
Related posts: how India’s tribal communities cope with the pandemic >>

Covering the human cost of Covid-19
The nationwide Covid-19 lockdown that started on March 25 [2020] has triggered distress for millions of ordinary Indians – stranded migrant workers, farmers, sugarcane cutters, Adivasis, Dalits, sanitation workers, construction labourers, cancer patients staying on city pavements, brick kiln labourers, pastoral nomads, and others. While many are on the brink with no work, income or food, several continue to work amid extremely hazardous conditions | Read about them in these PARI reports from across the country >>

Mahatma Gandhi is our nation’s most misunderstood leader
by Sulogna Mehta

As the head of the department of social works and the Gandhian Studies Centre in Andhra University, 55-year-old Prof ABSV Ranga Rao is actively involved in several social projects. The die-hard Gandhian, along with his band of research scholars and students, works in collaboration with various government departments to eradicate social evils such as child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, problems of orphans, among others. In a chat with Sulogna Mehta of TOI, Prof Ranga Rao talks about the relevance of Gandhi in today’s world, the popularity of social work as a field of higher studies and its future in the city. […]

How relevant is Gandhi’s approach to socio-economic problems today?
Gandhi was a political visionary, economist and pragmatist and most of his programmes are relevant even today. Some of the constructive programmes designed by him are still very much in use by the government or are still being implemented through national rural employment and health schemes even after 60 years of his demise. These include promoting village industries or micro enterprises for generation of local employment, village sanitation, education in health and hygiene, sustainable development, ecological conservation, addressing alcohol-related problems, promotion of provincial and national languages, basic and adult education, emancipation of women, addressing the needs of peasants, labourers, students and tribals and so on. He focused on health issues like leprosy. A practical person like him would have taken up HIV/AIDS had he lived now, since controlling leprosy is no longer a major challenge. He believed in grassroots democracy, decentralisation of power, panchayat administration, which are still in vogue. […]

What areas has the department of social work worked on?
Our faculty and research scholars have done work on various social issues including child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, family problems, single parent families, divorce, ageing, single women, juvenile homes, self-help groups, HIV/AIDS orphans and so on. We work in collaboration with NGOs, the police, women and child welfare, tribal and labour department to stall illegal and evil practices prevalent in society. […]

Source: ‘Mahatma Gandhi is our nation’s most misunderstood leader’ by Sulogna Mehta – The Times of India, 15 July 2013
Address :
Date Visited: 27 July 2021

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Posted in Accountability, Commentary, Community facilities, Democracy, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Figures, census and other statistics, Gandhian social movement, Government of India, History, Misconceptions, Modernity, Narmada, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Press snippets, Rural poverty, Women | Comments Off on The relevance of Gandhi’s legacy for solving modern India’s socio-economic problems: Addressing the needs of peasants, labourers, students and tribals