A particularly thought provoking session on the final day of Literati 2014 saw the topic of how the youth in Punjab was disconnected from its literature.
Playwright and director Pali Bhupinder Singh, author and teacher Balwinder Grewal, playwright Atamjit Singh and author Baldev Singh Dhaliwal, spoke about the Punjabi youth’s disconnect from their own mother tongue and the reasons for this decline.
“The Punjabi language writers’ inability to connect with the youth and the government’s indifference in promoting literature is a major reason for this disconnect,” said Atamjit Singh.
The speakers’ major concern was that the Punjabi taught at school level was not good enough. Young children are made to learn hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib while there was a severe lack of children’s literature. “The child is removed from his language from a young age, so he is never able to connect to it,” rued Atamjit Singh.
“Is it really our wish that our youth is even connected to literature?” questioned Pali Bhupinder Singh. A relevant point was raised as to how parents nowadays would rather gift their children an iPhone over a book. It was the set up at home according to Bhupinder Singh that discouraged any sort of connect.
“Literature is not disconnected from the youth, the youth is disconnected from literature,” he said.
Baldev Dhaliwal raised an important point that it was not only the youth but people of all ages, who were far more attracted to the medium of audio-visual entertainment as opposed to the written word.
“Song and dance is far more relatable to the youth as all they have to do is watch and not write anything down,” he said, adding, “The advent of globalisation has made information available so easily that no one would take a book out for research.”
So, it seemed that it was not only the youth’s fault; it was also the fault of their parents and the set up these days that did not encourage reading in any form. Who wouldn’t choose a new phone over a new book? Who wouldn’t log on to Facebook to find out the latest news instead of opening a newspaper?
To all adults out there, remember, the love for the written word starts with your desire to teach your child at home.