Bengaluru, Sept 29: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman regretted on Thursday that learning of Sanskrit is discouraged in Tamil Nadu.

She said in her early schooling and going till college, learning Sanskrit was not easy at all because of the "political environment in which we lived."

"And it's not as if I lived in a foreign country. I lived in Tamil Nadu. Sanskrit was discouraged and I think even today they discourage," Sitharaman said.

In spite of that, she said her parents insisted and she found a good teacher and privately learnt Sanskrit "somewhat".

"Learning Sanskrit or learning Hindi was not encouraged at all (in Tamil Nadu)..," the Minister said.

Sitharaman was speaking at a function organised by 'Karnataka Samskrit University', on the occasion of Pre-graduate Convocation and 'Sanskrit week celebration'.

She said she is very proud to know that Karnataka as a State is encouraging learning of Sanskrit.

The Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka said she was very impressed to know that more than 35,000 students all over Karnataka are learning Sanskrit.

Sitharaman said in the last seven-eight years, since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, several steps have been taken to develop, encourage and cultivate India's rich and ancient language, including financial assistance to research projects and publications.

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Moscow, Dec 4: About 2,500 seals have been found dead on the Caspian Sea coast in southern Russia, officials said Sunday.

Authorities in the Russian province of Dagestan said it was unclear why the mass die-off happened but that it was likely due to natural causes.

Regional officials initially reported Saturday that 700 dead seals were found on the coast, but the Dagestan division of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment later raised the figure to about 2,500.

Zaur Gapizov, head of the Caspian Environmental Protection Center, said in a statement that the seals likely died a couple of weeks ago. He added that there was no sign that they were killed or caught in fishing nets.

Experts of the Federal Fisheries Agency and prosecutors inspected the coastline and collected data for laboratory research, which didn't immediately spot any pollutants.

Several previous incidents of mass seal deaths were attributed to natural causes. Kazakhstan, which has a long Caspian coastline, reported at least three such incidents this year.

Data about the number of seals in the Caspian vary widely. The fisheries agency has said the overall number of Caspian seals is 270,000-300,000, while the Caspian Environmental Protection Center put the number at 70,000.