Under National Mission for Manuscripts, Odia ranks second in number of ancient manuscripts documented among all other Indian languages.
In the last leg of its tenure, nearly 41 lakh ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves, bark, metal, cloth and even paper (at least 75 years old) have been documented as of March 2016.
Sanskrit ranks first with 11.66 lakh manuscripts followed by Odia (2.13 lakh) and Hindi (1.99 lakh). Tibetan, with 1.63 lakh manuscripts being documented, is in the fourth place, while Tamil (1.08 lakh) ranks fifth.
Tibetan scripts have outnumbered those in all other languages barring three – Sanskrit, Odia and Hindi. Incidentally, Tibetan isn’t even a language like Arabic or Persian which was popularized by kingdoms which reigned over Delhi.
In fact, Malayalam (96,093), which occupies the sixth spot, Kannada (67,763), which ranks seventh, Telugu (16,691) and Bengali (15,412) together have only 1.95 lakh manuscripts, only 30,000-odd more than Tibetan. Data on the mission, whose tenure will expire on March 31, 2017, shows Persian (8th) and Arabic (9th) manuscripts have also outdone several other languages.
Of the 40.82 lakh manuscripts, 19.15 lakh fall under the category of `other languages’. Thirteen languages – Sanskrit, Hindi, Odia, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Persian, Arabic, Assamese, Telugu, Urdu, Bengali and Tibetan – have been categorized separately.