Published: 11th February 2018
Free language classes to preserve Jawaharlal Nehru University's Kannada Studies Chair
With no hope from the administration, Prof Bilimale has begun translating classical and non-classical Kannada literature into English
Jawaharlal Nehru University's (JNU) Kannada Study Chairperson Purushothama Bilimale has begun free language classes for university students and outsiders with not a single MPhil and Phd seat allocated to the JNU's Kannada Studies Chair since its institution in 2015.
Bilimale, who had strived to set up a library with more than 12,000 books crowd-sourced from Karnataka apart from preparing prospectus and curriculum, has also taken up the translation of Kannada classical literature into English.
"Presently, 40 students are attending basic Kannada classes for free of cost. Outsiders, as well as students doing comparative studies, have shown interest," he said. He said no certificate will be provided for the course, however. In six months, they will go to advance levels. The classes are being held between 4 pm and 6 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, he added.
Aim to teach: Bilimale was a professor of Kannada working in American Institute of Indian Studies. He quit his job and joined the JNU to head the Kannada Studies Chair in October 2015 with an aim to start MPhil and PhD programmes within three months | Keshava Vitla
The Chair was instituted after a MoU was signed between the Karnataka government and the JNU. It was planned for MPhil or PhD programme with Rs 43 lakh per annum contribution from the state. It was a decade-long dream of the Kannada Development Authority and the Department of Kannada and Culture to have a Chair at the university.
Seat cuts, however, announced by the university in December 2016 "violated" the MoU by not announcing even a single seat. "It was a violation of the MoU and this continued for the subsequent admissions too, so far," Bilimale said.
"This process has been initiated with the translation of three major texts of the 10th century - Kavirajamargam of Srivijaya (completed), Vaddaradhane of Shivakotyacharya and Sahasa Bhima Vijayam of Ranna," he said.
The future of the Chair appears to be at stake with the tenure of Bilimale ending this December. Even if he gets an extension, according to the clause, the prospects for the Chair appears bleak with no positive sign yet from other quarters.