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In view of the enthusiasm among the Tamils of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province to learn Hindi, the Indian Consulate General in Jaffna has asked the Ministry of External Affairs for funds to start regular Hindi classes at the Consulate, said A. Natarajan, the Consul General in Jaffna.

“For some time now, the Consulate has been conducting classes, but in an ad hoc manner with no special or dedicated fund for holding such classes. We want to regularize and institutionalize the classes employing regular teachers, for which we need dedicated and adequate funds. We have taken up the matter with the Ministry,” Mr. A. Natarajan told The New Indian Express.



“The Consulate is conducting a survey to find out the extent of interest in the Hindi language in Lanka’s Tamil heartland. We are trying to find out how many are familiar with the language and to what extent, and to what age groups they belong, so that we can proceed on the right lines when we institutionalize the set up here,” he said.

Asked if he would be able to find regular Hindi teachers in Lanka’s Tamil heartland where the language is not spoken at all, the Consul General said that he has already received seven applications.

“There are some people who are willing to come to Jaffna to teach free of charge,” he added.

There is no shortage of Hindi teachers in Sri Lanka, but they are all in the Sinhalese-speaking South. Apart from the Indian Cultural Center in Colombo, the Universities of Keleniya and Sabaragamuwa have regular Hindi Departments turning out graduates. In and around Colombo itself there are 40 tutorial colleges conducting Hindi classes. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation’s FM station has a daily Hindi program woven around Hindi film music. And all but one of the staffers in the Hindi unit there are Sinhalese.

Subhashini de Silva, who is a Hindi announcer at the SLBC, came to learning the Hindi language through Hindustani classical music.

“When I went to the Bhatkhande University in Lucknow to learn classical vocal music, I felt the need to master Hindi also. Initially I learnt from an Indian friend, but later did a Prathmik course of the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha and also got a Diploma from Kelaniya University.”

Among Sri Lankans, it is the Sinhalese rather than the Tamils who have a passion for Hindi. This is partly because of the hold of Hindi films on the Sinhalese and partly because the Sinhalese language is a Sankritic language like Hindi. But there is at least one Tamil, Kausalya Thyagarajan of Kurunegala, who speaks Hindi flawlessly and teaches Hindi both in a government school and privately.

“I have seventy students in all and they come from three towns, Kandy, Kegalle and Kurunegala,” Ms. Kausalya Thyagarajan said proudly.

“I have been a Hindi film fan since the age of eight, and I love India,” she said when asked what drew her to Hindi.

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