Mother Tongue in Indigenous Script as Medium of Instruction: Discourses among Migrant Santals of Kolkata

Ruchira Das | 2017


Olchiki is the indigenous script of Santals, a dominant tribal community of West Bengal, formulated to promote and represent ‘adi’ cultural heritage and traditions in their mother tongue Santali. The script was recognised by the Government of West Bengal in 1978 and was introduced at the primary level of education. However, there have been contestations around its appropriateness as the medium of instruction for the migrant tribal community in the emerging context of the city and globalisation. These discourses have led to the formation of two distinct groups—those who support the introduction of Santali language in Olchiki as a means to formal education and those who resist usage of its script for schooling. In my article, I will present these conflicting views prevailing among the migrant Santals of a settlement called Santragachi, in Kolkata.