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International Mother Language Day :‘We love Punjabi, but English can provide us jobs, social status’

Youngsters feel they cannot access adequate literature in Punjabi to enhance their knowledge.

punjab Updated: Feb 21, 2018 15:58 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
International Mother language day,Patiala,english language
Students taking an english language exam in Patiala. (Representative image)

Though writers and intellectuals from Punjab have been staging protests demanding Punjabi be given the status of first language in Chandigarh, youngsters from Punjab feel that the mother tongue has failed to provide them good jobs and social status.

Also, they cannot access adequate literature in Punjabi to enhance their knowledge, they say. And it is not only the youth who say this. Their parents also say the use of English has increased in daily and professional lives and it determines their social status.

“Punjabi is being projected as an essential part of Sikhism but only its association with a religion cannot save it until it provides world-level knowledge and job opportunities.

Therefore, I decided to pursue English literature which can provide good job and social security,” said Bhagwinder Kaur, a second-year student of MA English at Government Ranbir College.

Upper and middle-class Punjabis prefer to enrol their children in private schools instead of government-run institutions.

“I passed my matriculation from a government school and I tried to clear International English Language Testing System (IELTS) after my graduation but failed to sail through the test.

Then I joined master’s in English literature keeping in mind matrimonial aspect. I hope after my postgraduation, I will be able to find a good match abroad or in Punjab,” said Sukhpreet Kaur, 22, from Dhuri.

Rajesh Sharma, 50, from Badrukhan village, sent his 21-year-old daughter to Canada last month for higher education and bright future. She selected English literature subject instead of Punjabi in her graduation.

“There is no employment and job security. The government gives contract jobs. Even the young doctors and professors have to work two or three years on probation while getting very little salary,” said Sharma.

In danger zone

Prof Sukhdev Singh Sirsa, president, Punjabi Sahitya Academy, Ludhiana, said as a UNESCO Atlas survey, 196 Indian languages, including Punjabi, are in danger zone .

“We cannot save Punjabi until it becomes a language of employment, knowledge and technology. The valuable literature from across the world should be translated into Punjabi. If the government does not focus on Punjabi, Punjab’s talent will move to other countries”, said Professor Sirsa.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 15:53 IST