Indian Businessmen Pledge Grants for Israelis to Study Hindi

Celebrating World Hindi Day, businessmen from diamond exchange will help support travel expenses of outstanding students to go to India.

Hindi Day
Participants at the Hindi Day event at Tel Aviv University, June 1, 2014. Shlomi Mizrahi

Indian businessmen are putting their money where their mouth is to promote Hindi in Israel, announcing at Tel Aviv University on Sunday a grant for students learning the language, according to the Press Trust of India news service.

They were at Tel Aviv University to partake in the World Hindi Day celebrations being hosted there. The Indian embassy in Tel Aviv told Haaretz that India's Ambassador to Israel, Jaideep Sarkar, announced that NIS 20,000 would be allocated annually to send a group of six to seven outstanding Hindi-language students to India, and noted that the Indian Diamond Traders in Israel contributed to the scholarship fund.

The Indian diamond dealers said the grant would support travel expenses of students who excel in Hindi at the varsity level and "to enable them to visit India to sharpen Hindi language skills during the next five years," according to PTI. Hindi alumni of TAU will accompany the students

"It is a matter of pride for us to see so many people learning our national language in Israel and to see such enthusiasm for Indian culture. It is an effort from our side to promote a resurgent India in Israel," said Ranjit Barmeja, a leader of the Indian diamond community at the exchange, according to PTI.

Barmeja added, "We have been living here since 1980s, before the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and we hope this contribution will help in strengthening our bilateral ties."

Prof. Eyal Zisser, dean of humanities at TAU, announced his school would create a fund to support trips to India for Hindi students.

The Hindi Day celebrations, which included an essay competition, poem recitals, short plays, quiz and Hindi songs, drew about 160 participants. Attendees included students, teachers, members of UNDOF and Hindi poet Mrs. Balli Singha. The event concluded with an Indian classical art performance by a local Israeli artist followed by Indian cuisine.

"Those who know Hindi do have an edge while doing business in India," Ambassador Sarkar told the audience during the event, PTI reported.

According to the Indian embassy, some 800 million people know Hindi either as their mother tongue or as a second language. Hindi is the native language of most of the people living in Northern Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

"We believe that since India is a very popular travel destination for young Israelis, these awards would result in a significant increase in the number of students enrolling in Hindi programs in TAU, and also promote people to people linkages," the embassy stated in an email to Haaretz.