The plan to set up a Shahmukhi centre of learning at Panjab University (PU) in the new session is likely to be delayed as the syllabus is yet to be approved by four statutory bodies – the Board of Studies, Academic Council, Syndicate and Senate. It will not be possible to induct students in the course during the ongoing admission process for the main courses. Admissions for certificate and diploma courses, however, begin in August.
While the syllabus has been put together, it still needs to be submitted to the Board of Studies. Once the board gives the nod, it will be submitted to the Academic Council and tabled at the Syndicate and then the Senate. The next Syndicate meeting is on July 7, but there is no information whether the syllabus will be tabled that day.
“There has been a little delay in putting the proposal together due to the vacation, but we’ll push it through by the end of the month. The aim is to start the course this session and we will request the board to pass it as soon as possible,” said Lt Gen (retd) K J Singh who will chair the independent centre.
The plan is to launch a pilot project for a six-month certificate course in the Shahmukhi script. The first batch of students will be taught free of cost and classes will be held from 4pm to 6pm.
“We’ve put the syllabus together. Now, let’s see if the statutory bodies of the university approve it,” said Prof Yograj Angrish, Chairperson of the Department of Punjabi. The Handbook of Information for the session 2018-19 was released on June 4. However, there is no mention of the course in this handbook or on the official PU website.
He added the courses passed up to October are mentioned in the handbook. “But in case of an emergency, diploma and certificate courses can be introduced in August as admissions for these courses start only then.”
He further said the Syndicate, however, could also table the agenda in their July meeting if the Academic Council was on board.
Earlier this year, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal talked about the importance of learning the Shahmukhi script to restore Punjab’s cultural heritage. He also promised to create five faculty posts to start the learning centre.
“We formed a committee and submitted a proposal as soon as it was announced by Manpreet Badal. After that, we were expecting that it will be cleared when the Budget was announced in March. An annual lump sum will be provided by the government, but there is no official communication on this yet,” added Prof Yograj.
The committee has proposed Rs 2 crore for the project. The university already has two faculty members to teach the course. Prof Madhukar Arya, former head of Department of Urdu, and Assistant Professor Ali Abbas have agreed to teach the students.
“There is no such official communication from the Punjab government on this. It’s like a start-up housed in a garage and it’s no rocket science. You have to take a primer and teach people. We’ve found an innovative way to teach it through Gurmukhi unlike the Pakistanis who teach it through Urdu,” added Lt Gen Singh. He further said the primer was already available, so there was no need to create syllabus content. Later, a corrigendum will be taken out to include it in the PU handbook, he added.
The introduction of the Shahmukhi course at PU comes at a time when Pakistan has also introduced a diploma in Indian studies with courses in Gurmukhi and Devanagari at the University of Lahore. Punjabi is spoken on both sides of the border, but it is divided only by the script. While Gurmukhi is used by Indians, Pakistan has adopted the Perso-Arabic script, Shahmukhi.