The High Commission of India is an important agency to foster interest towards Hindi in Trinidad, according to Sunita Pahuja, second secretary, Hindi and Culture. Under its various schemes for promoting Hindi, the High Commission has been running Hindi teaching classes for the past 20 years, and during this period more than 10,000 people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds have become graduates who can now speak, understand, read and write Hindi. Two new centres will be opened in September as well. They are the Kabir Updesh Ashram in Freeport, and Bharat Seva Sangh Ashram in Felicity, Pahuja said.
At present, the High Commission of India is running seven centres across Trinidad. These are in Port-of-Spain, Caroni, Divali Nagar, San Fernando, Sangre Grande, Valsayn and Debe. Two more centres are likely to open this year-at Kabir Updeshashram, Freeport, and Bharat Sewa Sangh Ashram, Felicity. Classes are held in the evening to facilitate the working people who aspire to learn Hindi, Pahuja added. Teachers at these centres have been imparted training at the High Commission of India over the past years by the Hindi professors sponsored by ICCR, India, and these teachers have been teaching for approximately 20 years now. Some India-based teachers also render their services voluntarily for strengthening the conversation aspect in the classes, Pahuja revealed.
The High Commission of India provides resource material for these classes such as Hindi books, CDs, online programmes, etc. Competitions for various activities to promote Hindi learning are also organised and prizes are distributed on Hindi Day (September every year) and World Hindi Day (January every year). The certificates for these exams are given away at a grand celebration at India House on Hindi Day. The best three students are also awarded cash prizes by Bank of Baroda. Students of these classes also get an opportunity to showcase their Hindi singing, speaking and comprehension abilities during these celebrations. Pahuja said: "Hindi classes are conducted at three levels, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Those completing the Advanced level become eligible to apply for a scholarship course of Hindi study in India for which international fares are borne by Government of India."
Two students-Alisha Khan and Vasudev Seeram-have availed this scholarship and completed their Hindi study successfully in the year 2010-11. Four candidates have been selected for the year 2011-12 under the scheme of "Propagation of Hindi Abroad." The scheme is administered by the Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Students can also apply for correspondence courses from Central Hindi Directorate, India. which are offered at four levels: certificate, diploma, advanced diploma and post advanced diploma.