Billed as the first of its kind, a department for Tamilology in north India will be established at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), thanks to a ₹5-crore assistance from the Tamil Nadu government.
At present, a Tamil stream is being run at JNU’s Centre for Indian Languages. It grew out of a Tamil chair, which was set up in 2007. A professor and an assistant professor have been appointed. At present, a Ph.D course in Tamil is being offered, but not the Master’s programme, points out R. Thamotharan, Tamil professor at JNU, who has been made the coordinator for the establishment of the department.
The department — Centre for Tamil — will handle a host of functions such as conducting comparative studies, offering a postgraduate course, translation of works through experts, execution of projects through guest faculty members, a residency programme for Tamil researchers, workshops for teachers and coordination with foreign universities.
The department will be created under a memorandum of understanding to be signed between the Director of Tamil Development and JNU, according to a recent order issued by the Department of Tamil Development and Information.
Prof. Thamotharan, also known as Aravendan, told The Hindu on Tuesday that he had proposed to the State government to have two more components of work to be carried out through the proposed department. Making use of the services of academics at the Centre for Linguistics at JNU, research on Tamil and other Dravidian languages could be done. And studies on sociology and history of south India, including Tamil Nadu, could be carried out.
The amount sanctioned — ₹5 crore — will be utilised as a fixed deposit. The interest therefrom will be used towards salary for for teachers and to meet the other essential expenses, according to the order.
JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree D. Pandit, in a letter written in Tamil to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Monday, thanked him for the financial assistance and described the State government’s approval as his “great service to Tamil development”.