Punjabi be developed as medium of higher education: Gujral

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New Delhi, Jan 27 (UNI) Felicitating Dr Jaspal Singh on his appointment as Vice Chancellor of the Punjab University, Patiala, former prime minister I K Gujral today said Punjabi should be made the medium of instruction for higher education by the university to promote the state's culture and language which was neglected due to increasing predominance of English in academia.

The Punjabi University should reorient its academic syllabi to introduce Punjabi as medium of science education on the pattern of Maulana Azad Central University which had been imparting higher education in the Urdu medium, said Mr Gujral while presiding over the felicitation ceremony organised here by the Delhi unit of Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD).

Several academicians including eminent columnist and former MP Kuldip Nayar said Punjabi should not be thrown into the backyard in Punjabi Suba (Punjab province) which was re-demarcated on the basis of Punjabi language and where it enjoyed the official language status.

''If public and private schools in Punjab are allowed to continue with their present policy of ignoring Punjabi teaching altogether and teaching only English and Hindi .. then it will take only 30-40 years when Punjabi language will become extinct in its native state,'' said Mr Nayar.

He feared that Punjabi culture too would die or get distorted if 'Gurmukhi script' was not taught in the schools. The bigger Punjabi population in Pakistan's Punjab had also failed to promote the culture and language with the denial of official status to Punjabi and pre-pondering position of Urdu there, Mr Kuldip Nayar said adding now it was an opportune time to raise a movement in favour of Punjabi in Punjab and outside.

The main thrust of several scholars including Dr Jaswant Singh Neki, Dr Kiranjit Singh, Delhi Government's Punjabi Academy secretary Dr Rawail Singh who spoke there was that if Gurmukhi script was given a go-by, Punjabi would die a natural death before the dawn of the next century.

Politicians like Mr Naresh Gujral, Mr Tarlochan Singh, both MPs, and SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra, former MP, and Mr Avtar Singh' Autopin', Avtar Singh Hit and several others expressed their gratitude to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for ending the practice of the former Congress regime of appointing retired bureaucrats as Vice Chancellors of the universities in the state.

Assuring the select gathering of Delhi's Sikh and Punjabi leaders including big industrialists and businessmen that Punjabi would be given its due place in the univesity, Dr Jaspal Singh said he had already put a blanket ban on giving exemption from studying Punjabi in degree courses. ''For acquiring any degree, a student has to pass a paper in Punjabi just as it is mandatory for students appearing in Aligarh Muslim University to clear a paper in Urdu language,'' Dr Singh added.

Already, official intra-university work and notings on official files had been reintroduced in Punjabi language and all other official exmeptions from the language were being withdrawan, he said.

Soon an online certificate course in 'Gurbani' will be introduced. Besides, a Sarb Bharat Punjabi Conference will be organised in the university on April 30 this year to devise ways and means to promote Punjabi and Gurmukhi script in which 'Guru Granth' (Sikh Scripture) had been compiled.

Dr Jaspal Singh, who has also been a Sikh leader in Delhi, was the General Secretary of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Indian Ambassador to Mozambique before joining the university as Vice Chancellor.

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