Despite all the emphasis on Sanskrit of late, there appear to be no takers for this language at Panjab University. Instead, it is Urdu, considered to be dying because of the Indian establishment’s historical indifference to it, that is in much demand on the campus.
For the 68 seats available for a certificate course in Sanskrit, 29 candidates applied to take admission. But only nine have enrolled. The second entrance test held for Sanskrit saw poor response from students on Monday. Only three students out of seven appeared for the entrance test. This, despite the fact that no tuition fee is being charged to teach Sanskrit on the campus. The situation was only slightly better last year. Of the 58 candidates who applied for admission, 37 enrolled. The admission is made in this course on the basis of performance in the aptitude test.
Compared to this, there was a rush of 350 applicants to fill 85 seats in the Urdu course. All seats have been filled. Last year, there were 200 applications for this course. Piyush, a student at the Urdu department, said, “People with a literary bent of mind want to learn Urdu literature, especially Urdu poetry which has rich romantic content. Knowing this language makes writers add intensity to their work. Moreover, most famous film songs have Urdu touch which makes people love this language.”
Asked why Sanskrit was not popular, another student, who did not wish to be identified, said: “The language is not popular in public domain because it is no more a medium of routine communication. It is also not a part of folklore which makes people love and learn a particular language.”
But the craze to learn foreign languages such as French and German far outstrips the demand for any Indian language, surprising even the Punjab University authorities.
This year, there were 1,100 applications for admission in the certification course in French on the campus. The figure was just 800 last academic
year and 600 before that. In two years, the number of aspirants for admission in the French course has almost doubled. The number of seats for the French certification course is 324 and for MA (French), the number of seats is 17 and in diploma course, it is 50. “Obviously, we are surprised at this development. But this is a welcome development,” said Ramnik, chairperson, French Department at the Punjab University.
On the reason for such a craze for French, Ramnik said, “Now students have become more aware. They know that the learning of an additional foreign language will enhance their job prospectus in the international job market. Other reason is the learning of a foreign language also adds value to the CV of the students concerned. By learning French, one can have ease in interacting with most people in Europe,” she said.
There is also a big rush to learn German. Against the availability of 136 seats for certification course, there were more than 600 applicants this year. Last year, the number of applicants was 380.
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Chairperson of the Department of German Language Jeevan Sharma said that mostly students doing engineering opt for the German language course as it opened possibilities for higher studies in Germany. There was a big demand for the German language in the IT sector, “Naturally, the learning of German and French gives an edge to students over others in various competitions for jobs. Moreover, a lot of translation work is available in these languages,” said Sharma.
Arrangement made to teach Shahmukhi
The Department of Urdu will also teach Shahmukhi on the campus. In Pakistan, Punjabi is written in Shahmukhi whereas in India, it is written in Gurmukhi script. In Pakistan, now learning of the Gurmukhi script is mandatory for the students doing post-graduation in Punjabi.