BA Tamil course finds more takers, thanks to TNPSC rule, financial aid
Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission has set fresh cut-off marks for the language paper; better designed courses, education incentives for female students add to the interest in BA Tamil
After the Tamil Nadu government made passing a Tamil language paper mandatory to secure a state government job, there has been a surge in the number of students majoring in Tamil Literature in college.
The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) rules were changed in 2021 and require Group-I jobs aspirants to clear the Tamil paper with 40 marks. Those applying for Group-II and II-A jobs should secure 75 marks in general Tamil or general English in the preliminary exam, which is held for 300 marks. They should also score 40 marks in Tamil paper in the main exam.
While the preliminary papers have objective type questions, the Tamil paper in the main exam requires descriptive and detailed answers.
“This development has attracted many students who cleared their Class 12 exams this year towards the BA Tamil course,” said Prof G Radhakrishnan, head, Tamil Department, Government Arts and Science College, Mettur. This trend was seen last year, too, he told The Federal.
“Due to the COVID-induced all pass’ decision by the government, last year, 20 per cent seats were increased in all the state-run colleges. Normally, there are 40 seats available in science streams and 60 seats in arts streams. Last year, all the seats were filled. This year, the counselling and admissions are still going on. We hope this year too, the seats would be filled, particularly in the Tamil course,” Radhakrishnan said.
He added that he was hoping the government would again increase the number of seats for the course.
Prof Siva Vetrivel, head, Tamil Department, Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute University, Chennai, said the state government’s financial assistance of ₹1,000 to girl students in government and private colleges is another reason for the Tamil literature course gaining traction.
He noted that this and the mandatory clearing of Tamil paper for government jobs are likely to ensure every seat for the course in every college is filled.
Focus on employability
Going a step further, a private college affiliated to Bharathiar University in Coimbatore has introduced a new course called BA Creative Tamil.
“We have designed this three-year course in such a way that the students are trained and employable in five different streams like public service commission jobs, media, publishing industry, film and theatre, and documentation and archiving,” said Prof A Ramasamy, Tamil Department, and Associate Dean, Kumaraguru College of Liberal Arts and Science, Coimbatore, who designed the course.
The course has three layers — fundamentals, university syllabus and electives.
“In the first layer, we introduce students to the basic ideas about understanding society from different fields like economics, sociology, anthropology and history. In the second layer, the students study the Bharathiar University syllabus including literature and grammar. In the third layer, the students can choose any two streams out of the five as electives. We will bring industry experts and train the students,” he said.
The fee for the course is ₹5,000 per year. The course recently got the approval from Bharathiar University and admissions are going on.
“Similar to how engineering colleges sign MoUs with industries, in a first, we are taking steps to have MoUs with industries exclusively for the Tamil department,” said Ramasamy with justifiable pride.
Modernising the language
Tirunelveli-based Dr S Shanmugam, a physician who writes on medical science developments in Tamil, told The Federal that the ultimate aim of modernising the Tamil course should be employment and the process should start immediately.
“In the late 1990s, renowned Tamil scholar KP Aravanan was serving as the head of the Tamil Department at Pondicherry Central University. He modernised the Tamil literature courses by bringing in subjects from various fields like journalism and tourism. The Tamil literature students of that period got placements immediately after their graduation. The concept of ‘campus placements’ was not heard at that time,” he recalled.
Unfortunately, the state government and the university did not show any interest in carrying that initiative forward after his departure from that university, Shanmugam added. Aravanan later became the vice-chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli.
“Our state had a chance of making ground breaking research activities in the nanotechnology field. An amount of about ₹100 crore was allocated to the University of Madras. But it’s not clear what happened to that project. Now, the government should not miss the bus in modernising the Tamil literature course, otherwise it would also meet the same fate as nanotechnology,” he added.