It may come as a surprise, but a recent UNO sponsored report released
has clearly stated that Punjabi [currently the 10/12 most widely spoken]
language is likely to die out within the next fifty years.Many reasons have
been given for this.
There are many causes, some social inferiority on part of thecurrent speakers , lack of command or understanding of the language,or political venom from some other quarters.
But,it becomes quickly noticeble in the Punjab that when one starts a journey from any corner in the state and reaches another corner, the number of shop boards in Punjabi with Gurmukhi letteriing are very few and easily countable.
They are not as numerous as English or Hindi sign boards.The Punjab government after lobbying for years for Punjabi state , does not in spirit seems to be committed to ensuring all the work is carried out in Punjabi.The recent Punjab Government act to increas the taxes and fees for only Punjabi books and lessen the taxes for Hindi/English books reflects the current non chalent mentality of the state to support the mother tongue-Punjabi. Current statics from the state show there are more children/people attending English and Hindi schools than Punjabi schoolseven at primary levels.
The increase of taxes for Punjabi books, becomes harder to understand esspecially in the light of past continous struggle by the Akali Dal, when out of government to get recognition for the Punjabi language in the state from 1950.The number of people that were shot and injured and the thousands that went to jails and suffered.All for the cause eof teh Punjbai language.
Far more shocking was the speed with which one Tota Singh, Education Minister of Punjab introduced English into primary schools upon the return of the Akali Dal government.In my personal interaction with him, he could not explain the rationale of the actions in choosing English over Punjabi.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/controversies/38946-punjabi-language-on-the-decline.html
It is assumed to be fashionable to speak in English or in Hindi than in the mother tongue,Punjabi.This is a very noticeble trend among those in the urban areas,as they wrongly assume and feel that the alledgedly rustic Punjabi language is pendu [village]based therefore is not as diplomatic or sweet as the more "sweet sounding and fashionable Hindi"; or English for that matter.
No doubt the bollywood cinema has played a major part in bringing about this unkind thinking.Bollywood has also effected Punjabi communities living abroad.I have seen in Malaysia/Singapore among the younger Punjabis, who try to emmulate the language into some form of Hindi, but they sounded so silly as they have neither the correct pronounciation in Punjabi or Hindi.I wondered what is the point they are trying to prove, while casting aside their mother tongue.
It is a matter of grave concern that the Punjabis settled in other parts of India have totally taken to Hindi,so much so, I have seen and heard Sikh children in Sri Ganganager, Jaipur,Mumbai, Darjeeling and Kolkatta and Bangalore/ Chennai speak only Hindi and almost no Punjabi.Even though many of them understand Punjabi.
This is also true in areas that are heavily populated by Punjabis, like the Traai region of UP/Utrakhand, Jamshedpur, Warangal,Hydrabad, Secundrabad,Rajasthan Hariana,Jammu, Ahmedabad or Mumbai.It becomes very noticable, Punjabi is only confined to the first generation,
as the second generation are abandoning it for Hindi or any language local
language or English.In Chennai, recently I met Sikh children speaking
Tamil fluently , with many also unable to speak Punjabi or understand it fully.
From every angle, if one observes, the Punjabi language is fighting an
uphill battle.In Delhi 70 % of the population is Punjabi originally.Yet one hardly sees posters in Punjabi.
In Hariana everyone understands and speaks Punjabi , yet they try to
project themslves as Hindi speakers, and perhaps many have just become new hindi speakers, after years of neglect and discriminative policies against Punjabi.
In Pakistan 60-65 % of the population is essentially Punjabi speaking
but apart from recent few attempts to promote Punjabi, it is absolutely
almost a dead language there.It cannot be spoken in the Pakistan Punjab
Assembly, where they speak Urdu.Urdu is official language of
Pakistan [ironically that holds 75% of the Punjabi speakers].
Again only recently they have come to recognise the Gurmukhi script and some groups are trying to impress the need to teach in Gurmukhi script in
Pakistan;they use Shahmukhi script widely.
The Hindus of the Indian Punjab , although at last have accepted the Punjabi language as their mother tongue within Punjab; are
more happy in using the Devnagri script.This is one of the reasons the
Punjab government has not religiously impresssed upon all work to be done in Punjabi Gurmukhi, perhaps trying appease this section of the "Punjabis"
For the diaspora Punjabis, new lands and challenges has caused to sometimes neglect their own mother.Although many efforts are in place or being started to ensure the younger genertaions remain connected to their mother tongue, but the efforts are not at the sacle the need is to ensure continuance of the language both in study,and practice in the homes.
Simply teaching the langauge within he four walls of a class room is no gurantee for its continual survival.Farsi and Urdu were the state languages in the pre 1947 East Punjab, but today they are non existent in that part Punjab.This is because they only remained within the walls of the class room and were never adopted as the everyday language of the people of the Punjab.Somehow, I get the niggly feeling the same is about to happne to the current Punjbai language if we do not make more effort to ensure we speak it every day, in the home, in the school, among the community, where ever they are and in the formative years of the child.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=38946
Otherwise, a fifty year period is not too far away, when Punjabi language may also go on the decline.
For Sikhs alone, this could be a great problem and an issue of unpredented dificulties as without our Punjabi mother tongue, we may never remain connected to The Universal Truth -The Gurbani of Nanak -Guru Gobind Singh, which has been originally written in simple language of the day, by the Gurus themsleves.
Gurcharan Singh, Kulim,