Punjabi going off signboards sparks anger at Panjab University

Updated on Oct 16, 2017 10:28 PM IST
The students have submitted an application over the issue to the vice-chancellor, Arun Kumar Grover, and the deans of university instructions and social welfare
A sign board in English at Panjab University, Chandigarh.(Anil Dayal/HT)
A sign board in English at Panjab University, Chandigarh.(Anil Dayal/HT)
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByArshdeep Arshi

Students of the Punjabi department at Panjab University, Chandigarh, have started a drive to “save the status of the language” as the administration has not been using it on signboards while English and Hindi are used.

Mehtab, a student of the Punjabi department at PU, is one of the leaders of the movement against the new signboards on campus. He stresses, “Chandigarh was created on land acquired from the farmers of Punjab, but the condition of Punjabi here is very poor. Most students come here from Punjab, most of them speak Punjabi. But still there are efforts of oppressing the regional language.”

The students have submitted an application over this to the vice-chancellor, Arun Kumar Grover, and the deans of university instructions and social welfare. Mehtab said, “Around four years back, too, the same thing had happened, but Punjabi had then got its place back after protests.”

And this language movement is not on the campus alone but also in the state of Punjab, and across the border in Pakistan’s Punjab. In Punjab here, the language is seen at the third place on signboards after English and Hindi, something that Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi is also campaigning against.

Echoes across border

Punjabis across the border are fighting for “official status” to the language in Pakistan even after 70 years of Independence and the partition. Hundreds of poets, artists, students and journalists sat on a hunger strike on Friday outside Lahore Press Club, asking, “Punjabi da kasoor ki e? (What is Punjabi’s fault?)”

Maqsood Saqib, a journalist from Lahore, has a study circle where university students are taught Punjabi and the writings of Waris Shah, Shah Hussain, Bulleh Shah, and Guru Nanak Dev, among others are discussed. “Punjabi is considered the servant’s language,” he said. It is spoken by 44% people in Pakistan.

Ahmed Raza, president of a group called Punjabi Parchar in Pakistan, explained over phone, “Punjabi is an optional subject from Class 6 onwards here, but there are no teachers for this optional subject.”

Why it matters

‘Moi Dagestan’, a book written by a Russian poet-critic Rasul Hamzatov from Dagestan in his native language Avar, has been translated in Punjabi as ‘Mera Daghistan’ and used to stress the importance of the mother tongue. In it, talking about cuss words in his mother tongue, he writes how women in his area would say, “May your children be deprived of the language that their mother speaks!”

Shakespeare stresses upon it in ‘The Tempest’ when Caliban tells Prospero in Act 1 Scene 2, “…The red plague rid you/For learning me your language.”

Poet Surjit Patar, who chairs the Punjab Arts Council, says in one of his poems that a single word, ‘time’, has eaten away so many words of Punjabi used to decsribe the time of day, such as ‘amrit vela’, ‘waada tadka,’ ‘pauh futala’, ‘dhammi vela’, ‘tiki dupehar’, and more.

New mode of protest

Students at PU are now organising a workshop outside the V-C office to teach Punjabi where they have invited him and other teachers too. Panditrao Dharennavar, a native of Karnataka who has learned and propagated Punjabi for years, and teaches here at the Post-Graduate Government College in Sector 46, is part of it: “We will teach Punjabi at PU where the regional language is being given no space at all.”

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • HP chief minister Jai Ram Thakur flagging off a Tiranga rally to commemorate 75 years of Independence from Shimla Railway Station on Sunday. (HT Photo)

    HP cabinet gives nod for setting up 76 model wellness centres

    Himachal Pradesh cabinet has given the nod for setting up 76 model health wellness centres. The state cabinet met on Saturday evening wherein it decided to open patwar circle Spilo in Pooh tehsil of Kinnaur district to facilitate the people of the area. It also decided to create patwar circle Shikroha under Sadar Bilaspur tehsil. It gave its approval to create Kanungo circle Kelodhar under Chachiot tehsil of Mandi district.

  • Farmers in Himachal, where apples account for 13.5% of the state gross domestic product, fear that the opening prices offered by Adani Agri Fresh Limited may impact the fruit’s prices in the local market. (Aqil Khan /Hindustan Times)

    HP apple growers dissatisfied with opening prices announced by Adani

    Sanyukt Kisan Manch, an umbrella organisation of different farmers' unions, have rejected the prices announced by Adani Agri Fresh – a company that imports fruit. Sourced from farmers in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. The fruit supply chains in Himachal have announced a marginal increase in the opening price for A-grade premium apples for Rs 76 per kilogram against Rs 72 it offered last year.

  • A gunfight erupted between militants and security forces in Kandra Hill area of Rajouri, officials said on Sunday. (ANI image for representational purpose)

    Gunfight breaks out with terrorists in Rajouri

    A gunfight erupted between militants and security forces in Kandra Hill area of Rajouri, officials said on Sunday. Defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, “Today, around 7.30pm, an operational contact was established by troops of Indian Army, Rashtriya Rifles and SOG with terrorists at Kandra Hill in Rajouri.” A senior police officer said that a team of police and army launched a cordon and search operation in Kandra Hill on a specific input.

  • Final touches being given to a multiplex ahead of its opening, in Srinagar on Sunday. (PTI)

    Kashmir’s first multiplex set to open early next monthin Sonawar

    Come September and film aficionados in Kashmir will be able to watch the latest movies on the big screen as the Valley's first multiplex is set to open in the Sonawar area here. The multiplex, being developed in collaboration with leading theatre chain INOX, will have three movie halls with a total capacity of 520 seats, its owner Vijay Dhar told PTI. It will house several food courts, where Dhar plans to promote local cuisine.

  • The Clock Tower at Lal Chowk illuminated on the eve of 75th Independence Day in Srinagar on Sunday. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

    J&K enthusiasm breaking all records: LG Manoj Sinha on Har Ghar Tiranga drive

    A walkathon was organised on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar on Sunday in which Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, along with many senior civil, security officials and hundreds of security personnel, besides people marched holding Tricolour in hands. The walkathon, a part of the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign, was organised by the Border Security Force from the Lalit Ghat to the Botanical Garden.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, August 15, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now