A panel, chaired by former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, in its report suggested that IITs may facilitate study of science and technology as reflected in Sanskrit literature along with inter-disciplinary study of Sanskrit and modern subjects, HRD minister Smriti Irani said in a written reply in the Lower House. Sanskrit in IITs is going to be an elective subject, as per the latest  news.

Sanskrit In IITs:

So, what does it mean for a prospective engineering student at IIT? Will you have to write code in Sanskrit? Will SEO work in Sanskrit? Will the study of these courses be mandatory? Will it in anyway interfere with the present curriculum? Lots of questions are being created by media and panicked students? And if you are a good citizen of social media, you have had exposure to myriad such misnomers.

First of all, this notion that IITs are somehow totally engineering-focussed is totally absurd. IITs, at least the old ones, have a humanities and social sciences department where subjects like economics, philosophy, logic, literature, history etc. are taught. Extensive researches are conducted in these fields too.

No provision to make Sanskrit mandatory for students has been recommended to the IITs yet. It will only be an elective course as are other humanities courses. It will not interfere with the core curriculum of the various departments. Students will have an additional option to study Sanskrit as an elective. A certain number of inter-disciplinary courses themed on Sanskrit and other modern subjects are also bring formulated. We already have courses in humanities which teach the Scientific Techniques in Indian History, Indian Logic and Philosophy etc. So addition of Sanskrit in IITs is no big deal but just a hype created by media.

Extensive studies on linguistics have been conducted at Harvard University which reveal that the ‘Indian language is as objective as the dissection of the body by an anatomist.’ And we already have proof that Sanskrit can be programmed for computing. The richness of Sanskrit comes from the fact that everything is pre-determined and derivable. “There is a derivational process, and so there is no ambiguity. You can explain everything structurally. There is a base meaning, a suffix meaning and a combination meaning. The base is the constant part, and the suffix is the variable part. The variables are most potent. With suffixes one can highlight, modify or attenuate” says Dr. P. Ramanujan, a Sanskrit scholar and now a retired professor of Physics from IIT Madras, who joined Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune in 1990.

While in Pune, he developed DESIKA, a comprehensive package for generating and analysing Sanskrit words. What does DESIKA do? “Given a Sanskrit word, it gives you the hidden meanings, the meanings with which it is packed. Key in a word (into the DESIKA) and DESIKA gives you the noun attributes like paradigm, ending type, noun base, number and case, and similarly for verbs.” In 1994, C-DAC began work on Vedic fonts and today, all the Vedas have been rendered machine readable, searchable, analysable with value added features such as retrieval as words.

While most of the high-school Sanskrit stuff that we come across, if we ever, is concentrated on rote learning, we can dilute the memorising part and concentrate on the analysis. We need to make this kind of study monetarily attractive as well for more students to have an affinity for it. As long as the courses are not thrust upon students,  it can be an effective way to expose students to Indian culture and tradition. And may be it will help our Education Culture too.


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