A government schoolteacher's innovative effort to recreate the Punjabi Varnamala into an audio-video song has earned him recognition from a global non-profit organisation.
American India Foundation (AIF) has honoured the work of Lalton's Karamjit Singh Grewal as the best in Punjab under its project, Digital Equalizer. The project aims to advance the use of technology to engage, enrich and empower the country's underserved children.
The 35-year-old teacher at Government High School, Kheri Jhameri, had released a single in January titled 'Aao Punjabi Sikhiyen'.
Ehde Akhar ne Iktali
Gurra Piran ne jo Pali
Sadi Boli Bhaggan Wali
Uda Uda Uda
Maa Boli Punjabi de Naal Rishta Sada Gurha
This is how the lyrics go, weaving alphabets of Punjabi Varnamala into an engaging audio-video song.
Supported by his savings, Grewal has so far managed to record it up to the first five alphabets of the 41-alphabet Varnamala.
The non-profit organisation has awarded him a cash prize of Rs. 30,000 to complete the project.
Talking to HT, an elated Grewal said, "The honour is motivating. It will help me achieve my dream of completing the song that I hope will draw the youth to Punjabi language, which is gradually dying in popularity."
"Children today pay more attention to music than the written word. My work exploits this very trait," he added.
Notably, the effort is one of its kind in the state. Grewal, who has been teaching for a decade-and-a-half now, said he always felt disappointed and troubled with the way his students entered the classes.
"Reluctant, crying and sometimes howling, the children were just not interested in learning. I then came up with the idea to create a song releasing how children today were fond of music and videos. I hoped the music would arouse their interest in learning, and it worked," he said.
Sharing the journey of his project, Grewal said he began with narrating the lines to students in the form of "boliyan". This was an instant hit, and seeing the warm response, local music company GPM Studio approached the teacher and recorded the lyrics into a song. The song has been on air on major Punjabi music channels since. The video of the song was shot at the school Grewal teaches in and features his students.
Besides this, Grewal has a number of recorded singles to his credit. The lyrics of his tracks are often about social causes, such as female foeticide. A recipient of the best teacher award in 2009 by the state government, Grewal has also penned seven children books. His debut book of children's plays in 2005 won the Best Children Literature Award from Punjabi Sahitya Academy.