MA (Hindi), Presidency College, Class of 2005… The 2003 academic session will find Presidency College becoming the first in Bengal to offer a post-graduate degree in Hindi.
“We are generally encouraging colleges with adequate infrastructure to identify the demand for studying languages like Hindi and open courses accordingly,” said Nirmalya Banerjee, deputy secretary, state council for higher education.
Echoing Banerjee, senior education officials said the government favoured Presidency as the a centre for higher education in Hindi as the 185-year-old college was “probably the finest in terms of infrastructure”.
The move to introduce the post-graduate department comes two years after Presidency first offered an under-graduate course in Hindi.
The Presidency experiment with regard to Hindi is not an isolated one, observe education officials. If anything, it represents a larger government initiative towards expanding teaching of the three major languages — English, Hindi and Bengali — at the higher education level.
“Such courses will be opened in more colleges in the days ahead because more students are opting for Hindi at the undergraduate level. If we had been given the permission to set up the post-graduate department earlier, many students would have benefited,” said Subrata Lahiri, head of the department of Hindi at Presidency.
The college will also introduce a post-graduate course in applied economics from the next academic session.
Senior education officials, requesting anonymity, said that the government, noting the increasing trend of students opting for higher studies in Hindi, has recently allowed four more colleges to offer undergraduate courses (both honours and pass) in Hindi.
This, they trace to the changing demographic profile of Calcutta and the rest of Bengal. Proposals for honours courses in English and Bengali, from four colleges each, have also been cleared.
The demand for MA (Hindi) seats is high since post-graduate courses in the subject are offered by only Calcutta University (CU) and Burdwan University.
At present, seven colleges in and outside Calcutta teach Hindi at the under-graduate honours level, while the language is taught as a pass subject in 27 out of 66 CU-affiliated colleges.
“We approached the government for permission to introduce honours and pass courses in Hindi after we noticed the increasing demand among students for the subject,” said Ajita Acharya, principal of Calcutta Girls’ College, where Hindi has just been introduced as an honours as well as an elective paper.
Acharya said she would shortly ask the government to allow her to shift certain teaching posts in not-so-popular subjects to the Hindi department. “We need teachers to fill the vacancies in Hindi,” she admitted.