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The Government of India recognises six languages as the Classical languages of India. In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain strict criteria could be accorded the status of a "Classical Language" of India. It was instituted by the Ministry of Culture along with the Linguistic Experts' Committee. The committee was constituted by the Government of India to consider demands for categorization of languages as Classical Languages.
The declared Classical languages (Sashtriya Bhasa) of the Republic of India: Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.
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In the year 2004, the tentative criteria for the age of antiquity of "classical language" was assumed to be at least 1000 years of existence.
In a 2006 press release, Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha the following criteria were laid down to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification as a "Classical Language",
High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500–2000 years; a body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers; the literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community; the classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.
As per Government of India's Resolution No. 2-16/2004-US (Akademies) dated 1 November 2004, the benefits that will accrue to a language declared as a "Classical Language" are:
Further information: Meitei classical language movement
Over the next few years, demands have been made for other languages to be accorded Classical status, including Pali, Bengali, Marathi, Maithili and Meitei (officially called Manipuri).
The movement for recognizing Manipuri as a classical language began in 2013, yet there has been a gap in the follow up actions.