Tamil courses have more takers among Dalits
The University of Madras had some time back removed from its curriculum Thunbakeni , a short story by late Pudumaipithan, which portrays a Dalit woman who had left India to make a living as a plantation worker in Sri Lanka.
On the surface, it may seem an “unwise” decision. But the university could no longer afford to allow anything even remotely seen as denigrating Dalits after a major shift in the composition of students pursuing university-level Tamil courses.
“Today, a majority of the students pursuing a degree course in Tamil are Dalits. While I am against approaching a literary work with a coloured view, I must also take into consideration the vicious atmosphere that exists on the campus. A Dalit students will certainly squirm at the pathetic condition of a Dalit character though it is a fiction,” said the former VCK MLA, Ravikumar.
For example, in the Tamil department of the University of Madras, of the 11 students pursuing MA, six are Dalits. Six out of 11 M.Phil students are Dalits. Importantly, all five PhD scholars are Dalits. The fact remains that though the department could admit 20 students in MA, it could not fill the seats.
Ma. Rajendran, former Vice-Chancellor of Tamil University in Thanjavur, predicted that in 20 years from now, all Tamil teachers in schools and colleges and scholars at universities could be only from among the Dalits. He attributed this pattern to the socio-economic conditions in Tamil Nadu.
“Of course, most of the Tamil students are Dalits as students from poor families lack the wherewithal to pursue other courses,” said Dr. Rajendran.