When I was studying Buddhism at the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1967-68, there were about ten students in my first-year Sanskrit course for Buddhologists and Indologists. What intrigued me greatly was that there was another beginning Sanskrit course being offered at the same time. It had many more students than the class I was in and was offered by the Linguistics Department. The rationale for encouraging (I can't remember if it was actually required) linguistics students to take Sanskrit was that the foundations of the scientific study of language had been laid by Panini, Patanjali, and other ancient Sanskrit grammarians around two and a half millennia ago, so that it would be good to have at least a basic understanding of the roots of the tradition.
Still, there was always something antiquarian about the study of Sanskrit. After the rise of the vernaculars such as Hindi-Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Sindhi, Sinhala, Nepali, and Assamese, especially when they developed written literary forms, Sanskrit was relegated to the position of a dead, classical language, studied mainly by priests and pundits.
Now, however, Sanskrit has somehow managed to remake itself as a living language. Universities around the world (including Penn), schools, and summer camps offer courses on spoken Sanskrit that are well attended, and there are villages in India where most of the people are conversant in Sanskrit.
The reason I bring all of this up now is that BBC News Asia just published an article entitled "Why is Sanskrit so controversial?" which focuses on the political aspects of the spread of Sanskrit in recent times. One thing that I think needs to be made clear is that the modern rebirth of Sanskrit began long before the ascension of the BJP to power.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well disposed toward Sanskrit and that this venerable classical language can expect to see additional gains in the coming years.
There's no danger of this ever happening with Literary Sinitic (Classical Chinese), since it has not been a spoken language for two millennia, if ever.
[Hat tip Jim Breen]