13 years on, few takers for Sanskrit courses in Uttarakhand varsity

The undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Uttarakhand Sanskrit University get barely 12-15 students every year as they gives less job opportunities.

dehradun Updated: Oct 03, 2018 14:57 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
uttarakhand sanskrit university,sanskrit courses in colleges,uttarakhand
Students attend a class in Uttarakhand Sanskrit University in Haridwar. (HT Photo )

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s desire to promote Sanskrit has from time to time seen several efforts, prominent among which was in 2010, in Uttarakhand, when the government of Ramesh Pokhriyal gave Sanskrit the status of second official language - the only state in the country to do so. Pokhriyal, a former pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and currently a member of Parliament from Haridwar, had said at the time that measures would be taken up to gradually link Sanskrit with the job market.

Such intentions, and the intermittent steps towards the language’s promotion, would ideally give hopes to students turning to a university dedicated to Sanskrit to study the subject at the undergraduate and/or postgraduate level.

But 13 years into its existence, the Uttarakhand Sanskrit University (USU) still waits for a substantial presence of students that may evoke greater enthusiasm for its two courses — Shashtri (BA Honours) and Acharya (MA Honours); the students at the 68 USU-affiliated colleges, meanwhile, wait for the government to live up to its promise: of creating employment opportunities to make Sanskrit a viable career option.

“The (two) traditional courses register hardly 12-15 students per year,” said university registrar Girish Kumar Awasthi.

While majority of the students take up one of the allied or modern courses, some that do enrol in Sanskrit courses also pursue Bachelor in Education (BEd), a degree required to become a teacher, according to university officials.

“A student who has studied Sanskrit has limited career options as compared to those who have done regular BA and MA (courses),” Arun Kumar Mishra, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Veda, said. Mishra suggests going for Public Service Commission examination, where knowledge of Sanskrit can come handy as there are not many candidates opting for the subject as one of the chosen papers. The professor, however, maintains that “it’s otherwise difficult to get a job” with a degree in Sanskrit.

Mishra believes that the “failure” to upgrade the Sanskrit course “as per the modern demand” is one of the likely reasons that the language has failed to meet today’s employment needs.

A view of administrative block of Uttarakhand Sanskrit University in Haridwar (HT Photo )

While there are no official data on the number of students who have studied Sanskrit from the university, those that did and whom Hindustan Times spoke to said they are currently jobless.

“There’s no scope for the Sanskrit course anywhere. I completed Acharya (MA) course in June this year but I don’t have a job. The government wants to promote the language but it also needs to create jobs for those who pursue the course,” Amit Raturi, 24, a resident of Dehradun, said. He is currently preparing for the National Eligibility Test, which opens doors to college- and university-level lectureship.

Abhishekh Sharma, another alumni, completed his B.Ed but is without a job.

In the absence of Sanskrit fulfilling their needs, applicants have taken a liking for a course in Yoga (offered as a certificate, MA degree or postgraduate diploma) or Astrology (Jyotish - MA and PG diploma).

Abhishek Jagudi, 20, a native of Muzaffarnagar in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh is pursuing a course in Astrology. “I completed my schooling with Maths but I am pursuing a course in Astrology because it has a brighter scope. I can be a teacher or can do full time astrology,” he said.

Piyush Agarwal, who completed his engineering in architecture, is enrolled in a PG diploma course. He is interested in Vastu Shastra. “As an architect, there’s demand for understanding of Vastu Shastra,” he said. Chhaya Negi, 20, from Ranikhet in Almora, Shanno Shukla, 25, from Kanpur, are studying Yoga.

“The number of seats in Yoga remains full because there’s great demand for Yoga in India as well as abroad. The initial monthly salary a person can draw with a course in Yoga is Rs 65,000, with opportunities to travel to countries like China and Vietnam where there is a great demand for trained Yoga instructors,” Laxminarayan Joshi, assistant professor, Department of Yogic Science, said.

“Sadly that’s not the case with Sanskrit,” he added.

Accepting the lacuna, MP Pokhriyal, who had passed the proposal under Article 345 of the Constitution making Sanskrit the second official language of the state, said, “The situation of Sanskrit is unfortunate in the country and also in the state. We were not able to connect Sanskrit with employment due to which the response towards this sacred language is cold.”

First Published: Oct 03, 2018 14:57 IST