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J. Ahmedunnisa, studying LKG, speaks Sanskrit fluently. So does her mother Sabiya, who developed interest while dropping her child at the spoken Sanskrit camp.

There are 540 children like her in Tirupati with no prior exposure to Sanskrit, who can now speak the language with ease, thanks to the social responsibility initiative by the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha (RSVP), a deemed university under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The programme was launched last year with a mere 30 students, which grew to 120 in a week and branched out to 17 centres across the city, with a strength of 541.

Children keen

Sanskrit suffers from three-pronged stigmatisation — that it is the language of a social sect, difficult to learn and is a “non-living” language. “By reaching out to children of diverse social strata, we have cleansed the negative image with one stroke”, RSVP Vice-Chancellor V. Muralidhara Sharma told The Hindu. The idea was originally conceived by Samskrita Bharati, a pan-India voluntary organisation working to revive Sanskrit, which RSVP has implemented at the micro level with impeccable perfection.

Divided into two groups — below Class V and above Class V — the children are taught spoken Sanskrit through hundred-plus rhymes, animated cartoon series, language games, drama, skits, group dance, etc,. “The teaching is based on speaking and listening, just like how one’s mother tongue is learnt. The focus is not on reading and writing the script at this stage,” says coordinator Prahlad Joshi. Students, including many from Muslim and Christian families, visit the ‘Bala Kendra’ during weekends with great interest. The ‘infectious enthusiasm’ spread to several parents, who are also learning the language.

“All the inmates speak Sanskrit at least in seven houses in Tirupati,” confirms Kiran Bhat, who is in the team of 20 trainers formed to take the language beyond the campus.

Focussing on vertical as well as horizontal expansion, Prof. Sharma wants to launch new batches to accommodate more children, even while exposing the “young achievers” to higher aspects of Sanskrit to sustain their interest.

SVBC Chief Executive Officer N. Muktheswara Rao, Sanskrit Promotion Council (New Delhi) Director Chand Kiran Saluja, Samskrita Bharati Secretary Dinesh Kamat and its State head Upadrashta Venkataramana Murthy (Vijayawada) were floored by the kids’ eloquence at the first anniversary held on Wednesday.