Janaki Amma, 72, enjoying her newfound love for Hindi in a small village in Kerala, repeats the short phrase she was taught as part of a panchayat’s effort to achieve 100 percent Hindi literacy.
At a time when Kerala, along with Tamil Nadu, oppose any attempt at ‘Hindi imposition’, and netizens engage in heated debate on the issue, Janaki Amma is overwhelmed by the articulation of the phrase “Ek tandhi andheri raat sadak pe ja raha hai” (going down the road on a cold dark night) and the excited granny repeats several times what the instructor has taught her.
The need to communicate with the large migrant labor population in the village seems to be the spark for such an initiative.
The aim is to declare Chelannur a complete Hindi-literate panchayat on Republic Day next year, the first such civil society organization in Kerala and likely the first in South India, authorities in the Congress-ruled village of Panchayat said. in Chellanur.
The priority of the authorities was to carry out a unique project with limited resources, making use of the human resources in the village panchayat.
But the practical reason that persuaded them to complete the Hindi literacy program was the massive presence of migrant workers in the panchayat.
Of course, long before a parliamentary panel’s recommendations to make Hindi the language of instruction in higher education institutions sparked political controversy in the country and states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu vehemently opposed the proposal, the Chelannur village panchayat began efforts to completely change themselves. Hindi literate.
Janaki Amma, 72, would repeat the phrase every now and then, perhaps out of excitement to learn something new in the twilight of life, said her daughter Athmini, a neighborhood volunteer.
Like Janaki Amma, hundreds of villagers across age, gender and education barriers are learning Hindi in the village of Panchayat, where there has been a huge presence of migrant workers from northern states for some time as part of the civil society body’s ambitious mission. to 100 percent literacy in the language.
The huge participation of people in the program was certainly due to the fact that the project would help them learn basic Hindi skills to communicate and deal with the guest workers, who are now an integral part of their social lives. , the authorities said.
Panchayat President Nousheer PP said the project aimed to make every villager between 20-70 years Hindi literate.
“There is no connection between our project and the recent Hindi controversy. The conceptualization and other foundational works of the project started last year. Prior to its launch, a survey was conducted to identify those who are not well versed in Hindi and those who who are interested in learning the language,” he told PTI.
A series of workshops was conducted and an expert panel of instructors was formed from the village panchayat itself to train the aspiring students.
In addition to Hindi teachers, former military personnel, returnees from the Gulf and housewives who speak the language fluently were also identified and included on the panel, he said.
“With the support of the Hindi teachers of the village schools, a module of teaching and study materials was prepared. Thus, Hindi study classes in all 21 districts of the panchayat started using this study material and these instructors,” explained the president of the panchayat out. .
Even the time available between the weekly meetings of the women’s network “Kudumbashree” and the lunch and tea break during the MNREGA activities is now used for Hindi education in Chelannur.
Buildings of village houses, courtyards and other communal platforms in every neighborhood began to buzz with Hindi words and customs.
Certain departments ran 8-10 lessons per week to achieve the target and evening classes were even organized to help both instructors and students to ensure that their working hours were not affected.
“The response from the public was indescribable. Although we only focused on people up to the age of 70, now even people aged 77 and 78 are part of our project. For people like Janaki Amma, learning gave a new enthusiasm and energy,” Nousheer added.
Janaki Amma said she really enjoyed attending the evening classes with her daughter, son-in-law and friends.
“I had to drop out of my studies in the fifth grade. Then I’m back to learning. This is really good… They teach us necessary words and phrases that we can use in everyday life. My grandchild, a Plus Two- student, also occasionally goes to class,” she told PTI.
In addition to his love of learning a new language, Abdul Salam, another elderly person, finds that it was the need of the hour to know Hindi to make everyday life easier.
“In the local victuals shop here, the delivery man and the helper are migrants. Hotel and construction workers are migrants. The person who comes home for menial jobs is a guest worker. I thought it would be good if I could ask him in Hindi if he is So I decided to continue this learning program,” he said.
Panchayat Saksharatha Prerak, Sasikumar said an organizing committee was formed in the beginning, with people from different walks of life including leaders of political parties as members.
“According to the door-to-door survey we conducted, more than 9,000 people were unable to write Hindi. Nearly the same number of villagers could not read the language and more than 15,000 people do not know how to write the rashtra bhasha ( national language) should speak. ),” he said.
The majority of survey participants demanded from the panchayat authorities that they would like to receive training to hone their speaking skills in addition to reading and writing, as communication with migrant workers is a major issue, he said.
The Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority, the block resource center under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha gave all the support and assistance to the initiative.
“As a pilot program, the first class was held in the eighth division of the panchayat on August 15. Based on the feedback from there, classes started in the later days in other departments. Currently, 94-96 classes are held in all departments of the panchayat. panchayat,” explains Sasikumar, also the program’s panchayat coordinator.
The preparatory work started last year. A total of 25-30 people participate in each class and three-four sessions are held each week in each ward.
All the instructors offered service voluntarily and the panchayat has reserved only limited funds for the project at Rs 25,000 last year and Rs 50,000 this year, authorities added.
Chelannur, located about 12 kilometers away from the city, was the first fully literate panchayat in the Kozhikode district when the state was fully literate in 1991, the Prerak added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)