New Delhi: Central government grants for the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CITL), the foremost institute of research on classical Tamil, have gone down by around 56%, government data tabled in Parliament has revealed.
In the academic year 2017-18, CICT received a grant of Rs 10.59 crore, while in 2018-19 the figure dropped to Rs 4.65 crore, a percentage change of over 56%. In fact, the figure for the last academic year is the lowest it has been in the last five years. This revelation in Parliament comes over a month after the DMK kicked up a political firestorm over what it called “Hindi imposition” by the BJP-led government at the Centre via its draft New Education Policy.
The data was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by HRD minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal in response to a question by AIADMK MP A Vijayakumar, who asked the minister about “the number of schemes and grants extended to classical languages, especially Tamil language; and the details of promotional activities undertaken for development of Tamil language”.
The minister, in his response, said, “The policy of the government is to promote all Indian languages, including classical languages. There is a separate institute namely Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), which works for the development and promotion of classical Tamil. CICT has set up two chairs at Tamil University and Annamalai University to promote classical Tamil.”
In 2014-15, Narendra Modi’s first year in power as PM, the grant to CICT was Rs 8 crore, after which it rose to Rs 11.99 crore in 2015-16. This was the highest the grant has been under the Modi regime since it fell to Rs 5 crore in 2016-17. In 2017-18, the grant was at Rs 10.59 crore, only to drop to Rs 4.65 crore in 2018-19.
The minister, in his statement, added that the government also provided funds for research into other classical languages such as Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia and Sanskrit.
“In addition, an amount of Rs 2 crore per annum is allotted to Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore for promotion of other classical languages like Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia. The Government of India is promoting the Sanskrit language through three deemed universities viz. Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan (RSKS), New Delhi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, New Delhi and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati.”
He added that CICT had been giving awards to eminent Tamil scholars as a way to promote research on the language. “Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), Chennai is giving presidential awards to eminent Tamil scholars under the category Tolkappiyar Award, Kural Peedam Award and Young Scholar Award for promotion of Classical Tamil,” he said.
“The institute provides financial assistance to scholars associated with reputed institutions and also independent researches who are taking up the study that explore the uniqueness and antiquity of Tamil society like short term projects, seminars, training programmes and audio-video programme. CICT has translated Thirukkural in five languages viz. Telugu, Kannada, Punjabi, Gujarati, Manipuri and published 39 books and eight CDs,” Pokhriyal added.
Meanwhile, the draft New Education Policy (NEP), which caused controversy after it proposed a nationwide three-language formula since the draft was submitted on May 31, has received around 65,000 suggestions from the public. Pokhriyal told Parliament that in addition to Hindi and English, the draft NEP has been uploaded on the HRD ministry website in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu to reach a wider audience. The last date for sending suggestions has been set at July 31.