The HRD Ministry has despatched an advisory to all Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to consider the idea of offering the ancient language as an elective course to their students.
Sources said, the advisory, which was sent Thursday, also requests the IITs to create posts and appoint teachers for the above purpose with the approval of their respective Board of Governors. The letter carries a link to the soft copy of a report submitted by an expert panel, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, in February.
The committee, which had economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, PM Narendra Modi’s yoga guru H R Nagendra and UGC chairman Ved Prakash as members, was entrusted with the job of recommending a 10-year roadmap for promotion of Sanskrit. It had suggested the setting up of Sanskrit cells in all IITs, NITs, IISERs and central universities “in order to facilitate the student of science and technology in Sanskrit literature and inter-disciplinary study of various modern subjects and its corresponding subjects in Sanskrit literature”.
“Atharavaveda, Vaisheshika Darshana etc. are, it is acknowledged, the treasure house of scientific concepts which are hitherto studied from Science point of view. There are hundreds of works like Siddhanta Shiromani, Vriksha Ayurveda, Upavana Vinoda, Mayamatam, etc. to name a few, which are of great relevance in the context of research and innovation. The proposed cell should also offer various types of Sanskrit Courses for the students in the campus for credits,” the report states.
The HRD Ministry’s advisory, however, isn’t the first of its kind. In July 2000, under NDA-I, it had issued notices to around 40 institutions, including the IITs and IISC, asking them to consider introducing Sanskrit courses. Several IITs have since then integrated the knowledge available in ancient Indian texts in the mainstream engineering curriculum.
IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar told The Sunday Express that his institute currently has a ‘Cell for Indian Science and Technology in Sanskrit’ which aims to bring the science-related materials (in Sanskrit) to the fore.
IIT Gandhinagar, on the other hand, offers a course on ‘Introduction to Sanskrit language and literature’ which covers literary genres, such as kavya, nataka, Purana and Niti and basic information about scientific and technical literature in Sanskrit.
IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, “We currently don’t offer a Sanskrit course, but once we receive the ministry’s communication, we’ll forward it to the humanities department to assess the demand for learning of Sanskrit among students. If there is a need, we can definitely start a course. We already have one on Chinese languages.”