The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is planning to set up a separate desk for providing services in Nepal Bhasa, or Newari language, in addition to Nepali language.
According to officials, the municipal executive body will execute its powers to preserve the indigenous Newar language, and provide services to Newar people in their mother tongue. The Constitution of Nepal in the Preliminary says a state may, by a state law, determine one or more than one languages of the nation spoken by a majority of people within the state as it official language(s), in addition to the Nepali language.
Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya on the first day in his office had announced to set up a separate desk for starting services Newari, which is spoken as a native language by the Newar people in Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas.
“We have already assigned one of the officials who has command over the language,” said Shakya, adding that such desks would be gradually set up in all 32 wards of the metropolis.
Services seekers can write their applications in the language of their preference—Newar or Nepali—and the metropolis will respond accordingly, according to officials.
Similarly, the Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) is also working in the same line.
At the LMC, the Jyapu Samaj has kept a supporting desk with a translator who helps those service seekers for whom communicating in Newar is convenient than doing so in Nepali. “We are also in a process of providing our services in Newar language, but it may take some time,” said Hari Prasad Dahal, an executive officer at LMC.
Cultural experts and language activists described the initiative as a positive move.
“It should not be limited to the Valley. In other places also where a majority of people speak their languages, they should be made the official working language,” said Malla K Sundar, an activist who has long voiced for preserving mother tongues. According to census 2011, 123 languages are spoken in Nepal as mother tongue.