Chandigarh: The Punjab assembly Tuesday passed a resolution making Punjabi the compulsory first language in all schools from Class 1 to Class 10.
This comes almost a week after the Maharashtra legislative council passed a Bill making Marathi a compulsory subject in all schools of all boards in the state.
The resolution in the Punjab assembly was moved by Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and was then passed unanimously with the support of the opposition Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The resolution stated that functioning of courts and government offices should also be done in Punjabi and that laws will be brought in to punish those “working against Punjabi language”.
Punjabi was already compulsory in government-run schools since 2008, but private schools functioning under the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) offered an option of studying Hindi in place of Punjabi to the students.
A source in the government told ThePrint that although the resolution does not specify the boards that need to follow the rule, the government will make sure that all schools — functioning under the CBSE, CISCE and others — make Punjabi the compulsory first language.
Commission to be set up to implement govt resolution
Channi, in the House, referred to a UN report and said Punjabi is spoken in 150 countries across the globe. He said Punjabi ranks 12th out of 7,000 languages worldwide.
But there is a threat to 2,000 languages that would be extinct in the next 50 years and Punjabi is one of them, said the minister, citing the UN report.
He also expressed concern over the fact that children speaking in Punjabi are being punished in some schools, and that it should be dealt with strictly.
The minister added that to give Punjabi full honour and to strictly enforce the government’s resolution, a commission would be set up.
Channi said his department has already taken a decision to translate textbooks of all subjects in Punjabi.
At the same time, he appealed to Higher Education Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Medical Education Minister O.P. Soni to provide textbooks in Punjabi.
Efforts to make Punjabi first language in Chandigarh
Channi also said in the House that concrete efforts should be made to make Punjabi the first language in Chandigarh schools.
He also advocated for joint efforts with neighbouring states — Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan — to make Punjabi the second language in schools there.
Channi also appealed to the Speaker to ensure that all proceedings of Punjab Vidhan Sabha are done in Punjabi.
Speaking in support of the move, Akali MLA Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said a generation that forgets its mother language becomes “culturally orphaned”.
Another Akali MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra said the Punjab government should revive the various awards given by the language department to Punjabi scholars and poets.
AAP legislator Kultar Singh Sandhwa suggested that the speech of the governor and the chief minister in the House should be made in Punjabi and not in English. He also suggested that politicians should sign files in Punjabi.
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