Woes of Telugu diaspora

Woes of Telugu diaspora

Delegates from various parts of the country attending the ongoing World Telugu Conference continue to narrate their struggles in keeping alive Telugu, their mother.

Hyderabad: Delegates from various parts of the country attending the ongoing World Telugu Conference continue to narrate their struggles in keeping alive Telugu, their mother. Telugus living in other States have urged the Telugu states to come to their rescue. For, other states have their native language in education, which their children must learn at the cost of Telugu.

Speaking to The Hans India, Saveem Ramesh, from Udumalpet village in the Udumalaipettai mandal of the old Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu, said, “We live in a place bordering between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Here, only ‘Dwibhsha Sutram’ (two language formula) is being followed. And, Telugu children must study only English and Tamil.

Likewise, 63-year-old B Nageswara Rao from Chennai, said, “Earlier, there were about 140 schools teaching Telugu in Chennai city alone. But, their number has fallen to about 14 now. An electrician by profession, Rao has to his credit the feat of publishing 500 small books storybooks to make Telugu interesting to children.

“The State government there says lack of students is forcing them to close down Telugu teaching schools. But, non-availability of teachers is the reason for students not opting Telugu. The future of Telugu learning in Tamil Nadu has become bleak,” he said.

Rohini Satya, a writer from Bangalore, said several schools teach Telugu in Bangalore city. Annually, the Telugu Vignyana Samithi hosts a get-together during Ugadi. Besides, the Krishna Deva Raya Puraskaram is presented annually to those who have contributed to Telugu language, she added.

Rohini has translated Telugu books into Kannada and vice versa. She said that people living in the border areas between Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka pick up both Kannada and Telugu. However, there are issues like lack of teachers to teach Telugu language, she said.

Sangamanenvini Narendra, from Dombivili in the Thane district of Maharashtra, is among those attending the WTC. He said that there are an estimated 14 lakh Telugu people living in Mumbai, Sholapur and other places. Earlier, there were about 52 schools teaching Telugu language. But, now they have come down to 40 and the numbers were falling further. The closure of these schools is attributed officially to lack of students, but the real reason is lack of teachers.

Requests made to State Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao for starting a Telugu Department in Mumbai University have not yet yielded results. Offering courses such as B.Ed and D.Ed will help us get trained teachers, he said. But, the only solace is that the Andhra Education Society has been running seven primary schools and a junior college.

“There are places like Kannada Bhavan, Kerala Bhavan and the like. A Telugu Bhavan will help the Diaspora a lot. We submitted a memorandum to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao when he had come to Mumbai seeking help to construct a Telugu Bhavan in Mumbai.

However, nothing materialized in the last one-and-half years, he said. The situation with regard to Telugus living in Odisha State has been going from bad to worse. Dr. Turlapati Rajeswari, a writer regretting not being able to attend the conference, said, Telugu people are living mainly in places like Berhampur, Parlakimidi, Jaipur, Rayagada and the like.

Like in other places, schools teaching Telugu have been closed and the reason remains the same. We get only Telugu book for the first standard. The Potti Sriramulu Telugu University (PSTU) washed away its hand, citing that it cannot translate Odia medium books to Telugu medium without permission from the Odisha state government.

“Now, people collect donations ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 to get the Odia medium books translated locally, and to provide material to Telugu students,” she added. It was a lost battle to the Telugu fishermen in Gopalpur in the area. They have now almost shifted to Odia and even changed their surnames with that of local Odia people.

PVPC Prasad, from Ahmedabad, said that the Telugu people live mainly in Ahmedabad, Surat, Navsari, Kandla Port Trust and the like. There is no discrimination towards the Telugu language and there are about 21 schools running in Surat. But, the main problem is that students are not getting the translated books as and when the syllabus is updated here.

To address the problems of the Telugu diaspora, the delegates suggested:

  • Offering scholarships for those intending to study Telugu, like Karnataka offering Rs 2,500 per month to those studying their mother tongue anywhere in the country.
  • Appointment of teachers.
  • Both AP and TS should come up with a specific vision and policy to address the issue of Telugus living in other states.
  • TS and AP should share the responsibility for addressing the issues of Telugus in other states.
  • Both the States should sink their differences and scoring points against each other when it comes to Telugu language.
  • Help establish Telugu Bhavans in other states.

By V R C Phaniharan

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