The department of journalism, languages and culture at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) that was once famous for Punjabi language course has now been limited to just 15 students and two professors.
The reason behind decline in the popularity of the language course is believed to be PAU’s decision to make it an optional subject.
Though Punjabi Culture 101 and Punjabi language 101 are the two courses being taught at PAU for those who do not study the language till Class 10, not many students show interest in these courses.
Experts also believe that the university has done little to popularise the language. They say the PAU that deals with farmers and their issues, has not taken much interest in improving Punjabi language skills of students.
Punjabi writer NS Tasneem said, “It is ironical that PAU is doing little save the language. If one does not know how to write or communicate in Punjabi, it is impossible to understand farmers’ needs, who mostly speak in Punjabi.”
Narmal Singh, writer and founder of Punjabi Saath, an organisation that aims to save Punjabi language, said, “Punjabi is spoken even at airports and many public places in countries like Canada and the England. The subject should be made compulsory till the graduation.”
Kiran Dhaliwal, a PHD student in Malwai culture of Punjab, said, “Despite studying Punjabi till Class 10, youth these days don’t know how to write Punjabi. The university should even hold Punjabi classes for scientists who deal with farmers’ issues.”
“The university is giving more emphasis on agricultural research. It’s true that agricultural students should know Punjabi but for the moment, we have no plans to make it compulsory,” said BS Dhillon, vice-chancellor, PAU. When asked Chander Gaind, secretary, higher education and languages, avoided commenting.
“I strongly feel that Punjabi classes must be made compulsory not only in PAU but in all universities and colleges in the state, which is the only way we can keep it alive,” said Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala.
‘Magazine full of errors’
Farmers during the kisan mela at PAU had also lamented that articles published in PAU magazine in Punjabi- Changi Kheti- lacked enthusiasm and is full of grammatical errors.