Banaras Hindu University’s ‘Bharathi chair’ – Modi’s next lie ?

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PM Narendra Modi made the announcement to have a chair of Tamil Studies in the name of Bharathi at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on the 100th death anniversary of Subramania Bharathi.

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A few days post this announcement, Usha Subramanian, an alumnus of the said university has posted on her page that the Tamil chair was established long back in Banaras Hindu University. This post and Theekadhir’s post are viral on social media.

Usha Subramanian’s Facebook post says, “Modi has installed a chair in Tamil in the name of Bharathi in Benaras university makes me laugh. I am a student of this university and studied Tamil for four years under the erudite scholar Dr.Siddalingaiah. I think it’s in 1962 the central govt under Nehru established this chair. Sad I was the only student of Tamil and my teacher taught me so much of literature and grammar. A few years later when I went back to BHU I attended a few classes by Siddalingaiah and Dr.Sivaraman a great scholar of Savara Siddhartha. Tamil has existed in BHU for fifty years and there is no need for establishing it now”.

This created controversial discussions on social media. Followers also asked us to check the authenticity of it.

When searched for Usha Subramanian’s post, the viral post seems to be removed from her page. Banaras Hindu University website lists the details of payments of the special fund capital of the Banaras Hindu University for the year 2003-2004, where it is mentioned as Rs.9 lakhs for Tamil chair.

We reached Jagadish, Assistant Professor of the Indian Languages Department, Banaras Hindu University, “I have seen the controversies on social media after PM’s announcement on Bharathi Tamil Chair. Banaras Hindu University has introduced Tamil studies in 1945. We do not have details on the Tamil chair in the 1960s and Sidhalingaiah. But during the academic year 1977-78 when MGR was the CM, the Tamil Nadu government has provided a fund of Rs.3 lakhs to two universities including BHU.

At one point, the university has raised a request in 2003-2004 due to a lack of funds. I also have seen the document related to the fund received for the Tamil chair in the mentioned year. It is also said that after 2003-04, the Tamil Nadu government Tamil chair was changed to Bharathi Tamil chair. But there are no details on it, so we have requested the details in our office.

Generally, a chair will work for 5 years with any funds received. A professor will take charge of it. Later, it becomes a normal post as a part of the department. The Tamil Nadu government’s fund and Bharathi chair have become a normal post in our department after the period of five years. The name of the chair too gets changed after that. I’m currently in that post.

Usha Subramanian who studied here has posted it by misunderstanding the details. The Tamil Nadu government’s chair is still operating here, and have people working in it. Now, what PM has announced as Bharathi chair is a different one. The funds for this chair will be provided by the central government. This is the basic difference. One department can have even 10 chairs. Tamil studies can have chairs in the name of Bharathiyar, Periyar, Bharathithasan etc.,”, he clarified.

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