The University Grants Commission (UGC) has started giving approval to job-oriented courses linked to Indian culture and traditions, in a move that has been welcomed by many. Some of these include courses on Karam Kand, Vedic mathematics, yoga, astrology and Vidyapati Sangeet.

The UGC, in an RTI reply, has said it has also approved certificate and diploma courses in performing arts in many colleges in the country; Telugu folk performing art forms; Yakshagana and drama; and Temple Tourism, which has been introduced in a college in Madurai.

The fresh move has brought cheers to those who have long been demanding the inclusion of components of Indian culture and traditions in educational institutes. The RTI was filed by Gopal Prasad, an activist. Those demanding such courses feel that the move will not only promote ancient Indian culture, but also provide a means of livelihood to the young generation.

Karma Kand is the study of performing rituals as per Hindu traditions by chanting mantras in Sanskrit. These rituals are performed especially after the death of a person. The course also includes the study of astrological charts or kundali. The colleges that have introduced these courses are in Deoria, Kushinagar and Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, a course in Vedic mathematics has been approved by a college in Porbandar, Gujarat.

Several courses related to yoga, like Yoga and Mental Health and Yoga and Health Management have been approved by the UGC. These are being offered by a few colleges in Punjab’s Fazilka, Chandigarh and Kerala’s Thrissur. Holistic Yoga Therapy has been approved in a college in Ernakulum in Kerala. A course in Jyotish Shastra (astrology) has been approved in a Varanasi college.

Vidyapati Sangeet is a folk song form popular in Darbhanga and Madhubani in Bihar. It is based on the poems of the great Maithili poet Vidyapati. The course is being offered by a college in Bihar. The UGC has also approved a course in Translation Skills in Arabic and English, as well as courses in Arabic for Tours and Travels, in Darul Uloom Arabic College, Malappuram, Kerala.

Activist Dinanath Batra, who has been demanding the inclusion of components of Indian culture and tradition in educational curriculum, said this would encourage the youth to take up these courses as a career option.

Cultural activist Anshuman Pandey said the move would encourage “Indianness” among the young generation, which has a “tendency of aping the West”. Unless courses are linked to livelihood or jobs, Indian culture will not be able to sustain in the long run and hence the UGC decision is quite welcome, Pandey said.

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