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With new job opportunities, interest in studying ancient Indian languages is reviving

Apart from the traditional job of a teacher, several career paths are opening up for students who study languages, including the option of working as a translator in various departments.

Written by Arnab Mitra | New Delhi | Updated: August 3, 2019 10:21:01 am
Ancient Indian Languages, Ancient Indian Language, Ancient Indian Language Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil, Indian Language Sanskrit, Delhi University, DU Colleges, Colleges Delhi University, Hansraj College Is the interest in ancient Indian languages growing? Image source: Designed by Gargi Singh

Less than five years ago, students seldom opted to study ancient Indian languages like Sanskrit, Tamil, and most seats in colleges under the University of Delhi (DU) would lie vacant. This year, however, the seats in these courses have been filled.

Of the 69 colleges in Delhi University that offer arts and commerce courses, only 29 teaches Sanskrit. The seats in all these colleges offering courses on Sanskrit have been filled this year. Moreover, many colleges had to increase their seats due to the rise in demand. Hansraj College offers 43 seats in Sanskrit. In the first cut-off, 20 seats for the general category got filled, and only two seats were left vacant after the fifth list.

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“Two seats in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, one in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category and a seat in the Kashmiri migrants are available, but it will be filled soon,” Satesh Kumar Mishra, assistant professor of the college, said, adding that the last year batch also 43 students.

The cut-off for Sanskrit in Hansraj college touched 72 per cent for Sanskrit, but the college had among the highest cut-off till 98.5 per cent for BA (Hons) Economics.

The professor believes that there has been a change because of the government’s focus on ancient languages. “Since the government has the vision to Sanskrit global, the trend is changing and make students are showing interest.”

Apart from the traditional job of a teacher, several career paths are opening up for students who study languages, including the option of working as a translator in various departments.

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Bharati College in West Delhi, which offers 60 seats for its Sanskrit course, had to include an additional nine seats after witnessing an increase in the number of applications.

Asha Tewari, Sanskrit department head told, “Of the last five years, this year we received maximum applications (125). During the counselling, students said they chose Sanskrit as there are lots of opportunities coming up in fields like journalism to yoga, or Ayurveda medicines, apart from the conventional career in academics or in administration.”

According to Tewari, “Many science students take Sanskrit as an optional paper in civil service examinations as it is quite scoring.”

The case is similar with Pali. Even though fewer educational institutes offer degree courses in this language, there are several options in diploma and certificate courses provided by the Department of Buddhist Studies, DU.

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As per a professor of the department, “The students who take admission in Pali courses offered by the varsity pursue research, further many also move abroad to be involved with various monasteries as a research scholar. Those who wish to appear for the civil service examinations, also opt for the courses due to less study on these subjects as the questions in the UPSC mains are more or less common every year.”

The School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, which started in 2017 offers postgraduate courses and Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil/Ph.D) courses in Sanskrit. There are 60 seats for the Master’s courses, and classes with full capacity started from July 16.

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The myth of no jobs

The perception that these courses do not offer job opportunities is not true, as per academicians. “Of the thousand students who studied English, around 500 to 600 gets employed, while out of 400 students studied Sanskrit, 200 got jobs in various sectors,” Brajesh Kumar Pandey, who teaches at the School of Sanskrit and Indic Studies in JNU.

“The pay scale of the candidates remains the same in every field, and the candidates can earn above Rs 1 lakh,” he adds, quoting a recent thesis which is likely to be published this year in December.

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Varsity matters

The number of seats could also be filled due to low cut-offs in Delhi-based central universities. In one of the top-ranking college, Lady Shri Ram (LSR), while the cut-off for BA (Hons) Psychology went up to 98.75 per cent, the cut-off for Sanskrit in the first list was around 60 per cent.

In the Dravidian University in Andhra Pradesh, there are fewer takers for such languages. T Vishnukumaran, the head of the department of Tamil Language and Translation, said, “There are two reasons why the number of applications got reduced this year. Students are unsure whether a Tamil degree from a University in Andhra will provide value in their state.

“Secondly, the students who are residing in the district borders are hesitant to come here and study. They are unaware of the value this course holds, they think instead of travelling so far to Andhra to obtain a master’s degree they can get in their place of stay,” he adds.

The university’s Tamil department, which offers Masters, M.Phil and Ph.D programmes, has a sanctioned intake of 20 students per year.

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