Tamil Nadu

Tamil department in German varsity facing closure threat

A screenshot of Institute of Indology and Tamil Studies, University of Cologne.  

The Tamil diaspora in Europe has launched a fund-raising campaign to save a department teaching Tamil in the University of Cologne. The department is facing closure threat for want of funds. Started in 1963 by Klaus-Ludwig Janert, the department has 12 students at present and offers undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D programmes in Tamil.

According to the Tamil diaspora, the department is unique as it focuses on Tamil language unlike other European universities that focus on Hindi or Sanskrit. Two of its alumni are teaching the language in the University of Chicago and one is in Berlin University.

A financial crisis in 2018 across the world hurt the university as well, which has led to the current crisis. The Tamil department’s current head, Ulrike Niklas, whom the Tamil Nadu government honoured with the G.U. Pope award for translating classical Tamil texts to German, will retire in 2022. No one has been identified to take over from her for want of funds.

The department has one lecturer — Sven Wortmann. The financial crisis at the university may result in him losing his position, the Tamil diaspora fears.

During a similar crisis in 2005, the Europe Tamilargal, an organisation that unites Tamils living in Europe, stepped in to raise funds to save the department.

The organisation’s spokesperson Abdul Jabbar said Prof. Janert, then head of the department at the university, had convinced his student Ms. Nikolas, who was teaching in National University of Singapore, to take up the position in Cologne University.

On February 20, Europe Tamilargal wrote an e-mail to Tamil Valarchi department here and are approaching the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi.

Mr. Jabbar said they had approached the Tamil Valarchi department as in 2018. The State government had allocated ₹5 crore to fund foreign universities to teach Tamil.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 8:20:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-department-in-german-varsity-facing-closure-threat/article33986587.ece

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