Former MP and former chairman of the National Minority Commission of India, Sardar Tarlochan Singh, delivered a lecture on ‘The Importance of Mother Tongues’ at the Department of Guru Nanak Sikh Studies, Panjab University (PU), Tuesday. Vice-Chancellor Professor Arun Kumar Grover was the chief guest on the occasion.
With sponsorship from the University Grants Commission (UGC), the lecture was organised by the varsity under an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote awareness about the role of mother tongue in the development of individuals as well as the society.
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Referring to the pre-Independence history, Singh said that even though Punjabi never enjoyed the united Punjab government patronage, its spoken form thrived due to the love of the people. “Even during the Sikh rule of Ranjit Singh, Punjabi was not the official language. However, Punjabi is not the language of the Sikhs alone anymore. It is equally popular amongst various other communities as well. Even people such as Farooq Abdullah, Bansi Lal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda are well abreast of the language,” he said. Explaining the role of mother tongues in fixing political boundaries, Singh also laid out an action plan to promote Punjabi.
Professor Arun Kumar Grover highlighted the concept of equality adopted by UNESCO in the case of languages. Stressing the establishment of a School of Languages at universities, he said, “World-level projects involving different countries should be taken up for the promotion of regional languages.”
Eminent journalist Baljit Balli spoke about the various challenges being faced by Punjabi language at the hands of globalisation and dominance of English.
Professor Jaspal Kaur Kaang from the Department of Guru Nanak Sikh Studies announced that more such programmes would be organised by the department in order to solve the challenges faced by oriental languages.