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Punjabi is 10th most spoken language in the world but losing its importance in Punjab itself
HARISH DIDO | 31 Jul 2013

Honestly speaking, Punjabi lovers have to do a lot of home work to make the Punjabi language of Punjab and at the global level in this internet age. But its survival in Punjab itself is most important, which is in danger and every Punjabi has to put his contribution, by speaking in Punjabi, Punjabi based education, doing official work, publications especially the science and technical books and to start with making it mandatory for all Punjabis to use Punjab language at all levels.

There are over 6,000 languages in use today and roughly 30% are spoken by 1,000 people or less. The number of individual languages listed for India is 461. Of these, 447 are living and 14 are extinct. Of the living languages, 75 are institutional, 127 are developing, 178 are vigorous, 55 are in trouble, and 12 are dying.

 With approximately 90 million speakers, Punjabi is the 10th most spoken language in the world and although it is the primary language of the Indian state of Punjab most of its  speakers reside in Pakistan which once used to be a part of Punjab of India. As far as having global influence, Punjabi hardly compares to some of the other languages on this list but with so many speakers it was bound to end up here somewhere.

In this tech-era, Punjab’s mother tongue Punjab is losing its importance not only at the global level but in its own country.  No-doubt, language is considered as the medium of communication and English is being importance being communicator at the global level but one cannot have mental growth without knowing the mother-tongue which one learns at home right from his birth from one else than the mother.

In the recent incident at Chandigarh, the anti-Punjabi language activities have started which was noticed while giving advertisement for recruitment of drivers by the Chandigarh Administration.  In the advertisement, it was clearly mentioned tht Hindi language is compulsory for the candidate applying for the post apart from specific mention that in case the candidate is Punjabi pass in Matric, his application will be rejected.

 On the other hand, the administration in Chandigarh at all its notice board and other public places, only Hindi and English language has been used by ignoring the Punjabi language.  The Punjabi language lovers of Punjab are now protesting on the attitude of the Chandigarh Administration. This is most unfortunate the treatment being given to the Punjabi language by the Governor of Punjab in Chandigarh as Administrator.

On the one hand, the Governor is demanding to transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and introduction of Punjab in Chandigarh, in his address in the Punjab Assembly whereas on the other hand, he himself as Administrator of Chandigarh is playing mockery with the Punjabi language to keep Chandigarh as Union Territory. It appears as if the Centre is trying to establish Hindi language area by removing the Punjabi from Chandigarh.

When in 1966, Punjab and Haryana were separate, the Chandigarh on the basis of language, was not separated from Punjab rather it was Indhira Gandhi’s was her own political decision, which itself was a discrimination with the Punjab.

 The most surprising factor is that Punjab Government, even after passing the resolution for Punjab language is still sitting mum over the issue.  There had been number of demonstration, protests in the Chandigarh in Matka Chowk for anti-Punjabi decisions by he Punjabi lovers, writers apart from submitting number of memorandum to the Governor, Punjab Government, Administrator but there had been no fruitful results so far. Despite all these actions, the Chandigarh Administration has not stopped the anit-Punjabi activities.  Not only is this, in government offices, majority of work conducted in English whereas the whole recruitment is done with Punjabi language as compulsory. 

 I still recollect when one of the Election Observer asked me as to why there are no English speaking and writers in Punjab as during the elections, they were not finding any official, who could write in English the reports to be submitted to the Elections Commission of India.  More-over, the Language Department, Punjab had been making number of visits to the offices in routine for checking as to whether the work is being done in Punjabi or not but there has not been a single, noticed so far, for any punishment to any official/officer for not doing the office work in Punjabi.

Another incident which has come to my mind is when there was carvan of Punjabi scholars and on my asking during the discussions session to the 40 scholars, as to whether any of their children is studying in Punjabi language school and having the name plate outside the house in Punjabi language.  To my surprise, none could raise his hand rather I was later asked that I should not have asked these questions.  I confidently asked these questions as my children had studied in Punjabi based school and my house is having the name plat in four languages – Punjabi, Hindi, English and Urdu.

Despite all this, Punjabi language is still not finding its due place in Punjab itself perhaps due to the fact that the still the concept of uncivilized, uncultured and unmannerly is still finding a place in our minds and government, as well.

Honestly speaking, Punjabi lovers have to do a lot of home work to make the Punjabi language of Punjab and at the global level in this internet age.  But its survival in Punjab itself is most important, which is in danger and every Punjabi has to put his contribution, by speaking in Punjabi, Punjabi based education, doing  official work, publications especially the science and technical books and to start with making it mandatory for all Punjabis to use Punjab language at all levels.