Conferment of the status of classical language for Telugu was not a cake walk. Telugu scholars and activists brought pressure on the Centre to achieve this purpose. As Tamil was conferred the status of classical language in 2004, pressure was being mounted on the Centre since then, to award the same status for Telugu. The Andhra Pradesh Government adopted a resolution in the Legislative Assembly on 22nd February, 2006, requesting the Centre to confer the status of classical language for Telugu on par with Tamil and Sanskrit. Again the same resolution was adopted in the Legislative Council on 21st February, 2008. Both the resolutions were proposed by the Chief Minister Dr.Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy which the opposition backed unanimously. Later when Dr. Reddy visited
Again the state government appointed a task force which consisted of the Telugu literateur Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad and Telugu activist and minister of Fisheries Mandali Buddha Prasad. The task force met Ms. Ambika Soni for the same purpose.
Though the Centre had no objection to confer the classical language status on Telugu, the Tamil scholars Kolandaisamy and Kannan in the Language Experts Committee argued that only Tamil among the South Indian languages deserves this distinction. They pointed out Tamil was most ancient of all languages. They even sought the intervention of the Madras High Court to restrain the Centre from declaring any other Southern language as ancient as Tamil.
When the Centre issued an order, which said languages which had a literary and linguistic history of one thousand years could stake their claim for the conferment of classical status, the then minister Dayanidhi Maran and now the Home minister P.Chidambaram brought pressure on the Government to issue an amended order on 29th October, 2004, which increased the time specification to 1500 to 2000 years. The obvious intention of the coerced order was to prevent other languages from attaining classical language status. Even then, the other members of the Committee as Prof. Bhadriraju Krishnamurthi, Subba Rao and Udai Narayan Singh of Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, advanced forceful arguments in favour of Telugu and Kannada. They proved beyond a shadow of doubt that both Telugu and Kannada had a history of about 2000 years. As the majority of the members of the Committee supported this argument, Telugu and Kannada were accorded the desired classical language status.
Though the decision conferring classcal language status has no Cabinet sanction, it was done by a special permission from the Prime Minister.
The three requisities for the conferment of classical status on a language
* Should possess written books of 1000 years old. The time specification was later increaed to 1500 years.
* Should possess literature that can be considered to be of priceless heritage value.
* Such language should consist of independent literature, not translated one.
The benefits to be accrued by conferment of the classical status -
* This will facilitate an annual grant of Rs. 100 crores for the development of the language
* All international falicitations due for classical languages, will be extended to Telugu also. Telugu seat could also be created in foreign universities utilising this grant.
* Centre for excellence could be created in Central universities and University Grants Commission.
* Three Telugu scholars will be presented with Life Time Achievement awards. Two of the three awards are of international nature
* Five language pandits will be honoured with a cash prize of Rs.50,000 each.
*10 doctoral and 5 post doctoral fellowships will be given in language research.
Evidence presented in support of the ancient nature of the Telugu language
* Telugu words were found in the Gatha Sapthasati of Hala in the 1st century A.D.
* The mention of Andhras in the Ithareya brahmanas of 5th century B.C.
* Telugu words were also found in the Dharmasila inscription of Emperor Ashoka.
* The first Telugu word Nagabu was found in the Sanskrit inscripton of 1st century B.C at Amaravati
* A number of Telugu words were found in the Sanskrit and Prakrit inscriptions of Satavahanas, Vishnukundins, Ikshwaks etc.,
* The first Telegu inscription dates back to 575 A.D. It was the first prose inscription erected by the Renati Chola King Erical Muthuraju. It was found in Erragudipadu in Kadapa district.
* The first Telugu inscription in poetry was erected at Addanki, during the rule of the Chalukya king Vijayaditya in 848 AD.
All these inscriptions go to prove that Telugu had systematised body of prose and poetry during 6th century A.D.