Department for Tamilology in JNU: Professors, Tamil writers laud Tamil Nadu government for the move

Tamil professors from Tamil Nadu welcomed the move, saying it would help increase the reach of one of the oldest languages in the world.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Sep 09, 2022 | 6:13 PMUpdatedSep 09, 2022 | 6:18 PM


Tamil professors and writers have lauded the Tamil Nadu government’s move to set up a separate department for Tamilology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.

The Tamil Nadu government released ₹5 crore for the proposal under a fixed deposit.

However, the assistance price may vary once the proposed project begins, according to R Thamotharan, Tamil Professor at the Centre of Indian Languages of the School of Language Literature and Culture Studies.

A move to spread the Tamil language 

Welcoming the move, Thamotharan told South First that the Department for Tamilology would pave the way for creating self-confidence, improving personality skills, and also spreading Tamil-based research worldwide, thanks to the Tamil Nadu government.

He had requested Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin in May to set up a Department for Tamilology at JNU.

To his request came this answer, he said.

“It will help the students of Tamil and other languages as well. Currently, the Tamil stream is at JNU’s Centre for Indian Languages. It grew out of a Tamil chair, which the university set up in 2007,” explained Thamotharan.

The funds are to be used for the teachers’ salaries, books, and students’ welfare, he added.

First department of a South Indian language? 

The department for Tamilology will be the first of its kind for any other south Indian language in the university in the Northern part of India.

Thamotharan told South First that the department would 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.

At least 100 Tamil students are enrolled in JNU. Last year, around 45 Tamil students did their MPhil in the Tamil stream, while 30 students did their PhD in it. However, there are 15 Tamil students in various other streams at JNU.

“The department would be the first one to be from the South Indian language, and we are delighted that it will happen in universities like JNU. It’s not just the first South Indian language department; it is also the first set up in North India,” said Thamotharan.

A few other Tamil professors from Tamil Nadu also welcomed the move, and said it would help increase the reach of one of the oldest languages in the world.

Late, but a welcome move 

Tamil Selvan, a noted writer from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) writers’ wing of Tamil Nadu, told South First that the move by the state government was late, but he welcomed it.

“The government should have set up such a department even earlier, but it’s a welcome move. It will make others know the importance of linguistic pluralism in JNU,” he said.

The department would promote and foster cross-cultural and global perspectives in the classroom, Tamil Selvan added.

Recently, the Tamil Nadu government released the Tamil translation of Robert Caldwell’s The Comparative Grammar of Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages. The book would benefit the students of JNU once the university sets up the department, Tamil Selvan told South First.

Tamil Scholars also echoed the importance of setting up such a department in universities like JNU, as the brand of the university name would help it reach more Tamil audiences.

Sriram, who completed his PhD from JNU in 2021, told South First that a department for Tamilology would help students in many ways, and also create a chance for non-Tamil speaking students to study the regional language.