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‘Global effort to save Punjabi Language from getting Extinct’
Sikh Council of Central California vows to help

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
According to a UNESCO report, within fifty years, the Punjabi language will disappear from existence. The extinction of this thirteenth major language spoken world wide before our very eyes should server as a wake up call for Punjabis all over the world.

Similar concerns have been made about the future of Punjabi since partition in 1947 by intellectuals, scholars and distinguished writers from both sides of Punjab but nothing of substance has ever materialized. Under the guise of modernization from bureaucrats, Punjabi was and still is being decimated with languages like English and Hindi being given preference by its own songs and daughters. In the now tiny Punjab carved our purely on the basis of ‘Maa-Boli’ or “Mother-Tongue,” nothing remained further from the truth all these years. Since the study and revelation of this ticking time bomb in the UNESCO report was made public by a noted journalist and M.P. Kuldip Nayar, a serious discussion amongst the people had started in Punjab. High level meetings and ‘Ma Boli Divas’ were organized in many places demanding action to save the mother tongue from getting extinct in its own home.

Embarrassment and shame pushed the Punjab government to finally muster enough courage to make the right move amongst all of these belated and frantic activities trying to preserve in Punjabi language. Enforcing Punjabi language courses in every school in Punjab and demanding its use in all state functions was announced by the Punjab Government recently and will go a long way to help reverse the damage. The current Punjab government’s sincere effort in this direction, however belated, deserves appreciation. Substantial number of people spoke Punjabi in neighboring Haryana and Himachal Pardesh during the joint Punjab. Chandigarh was specifically designed as the new capital for Punjab. These neighbors should be persuaded to give Punjabi its due place at least as a second language in their domains.

Significance of Punjabi Language:
Punjabi language like any other language is the mother of a distinct culture and a proud heritage. It is this unique ‘Punjabiyat’ that produced countless martyrs and patriots who made all kinds of sacrifices not only for Punjab alone but for their motherland, India. When a language dies, its culture and traditions die with it leaving behind a world that is much poorer.

Equally significant is the fact that the Punjabi language and the Sikh religion, the fifth major religion of the world, are inseparably intertwined. The disappearance of the Punjabi language could endanger the very survival of this young religion rooted in upholding the principles of universal brotherhood, equality and justice for all under one God.

Flowering of Punjabi Language abroad:
In view of UNESCO report, it is crucial for Punjabis living at home in Punjab or in their adopted continued and long term effort to save Punjabi from extinction and keeping their heritage alive. Fortunately, in some adopted countries with its forward looking governments, Punjabi has started to blossom. In Canada, for example, Punjabi is the fourth largest spoken language and is being taught as a subject in high schools thanks to the tireless efforts of the Punjabi community starting with those pioneer immigrants who brought the Punjabi culture to these shores a century ago. Similar steps have been taken in the United Kingdom where there are also positive signs. In Singapore Punjabi commands a better position in the education and employment system than in afforded in the current Punjab. In California, the future for Punjabi language is ever brighter. Apart from being taught in high schools such as in Yuba City and at the City of Kerman, Punjabi courses are being offered at top universities such as University of California, Berkley and California State University, San Jose. Starting up a similar course at California State University, Fresno is also under discussion by the Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC).

Learning more Languages server American interests better:
English is the language of the land in the United States of America as well as the undisputed International language. With the globalization on the march and in order to empower the future Americans to compete with the outside world, it is only prudent for the U.S. Government to encourage the young Americans to learn more languages in addition to English. From that stand point, Punjabi is already considered as an important language to be taught in high schools and is recognized statewide. The SCCC’s understanding of the current position is that is districts with Punjabi population where 15 or more students wish to learn Punjabi as subject, the respective School District will make every effort to provide it. More significantly, after passing a recognized test in Punjabi, a government employee is now eligible to receive a ‘bilingual pay’ in addition to the regular salary in government departments needing a reasonable communication service in Punjabi language districts having a Punjabi population.

Sikh Council of Central California: Objective and Appeal
Tapping into the existing Education system with the constitution of California, The Council’s Main Objective/Appeal to the Local Punjabi Community is as follows:

  • To aim for a Singapore like arrangement where by every student of Punjabi origin should learn Punjabi language before leaving High School and accordingly get a preference as a ‘Bilingual’ when applying for a Government job.

  • To take advantage of the ‘Bilingual Pay’ facility mentioned above at the same time saving the proud Punjabi Heritage by learning Punjabi, parents/grand parents with kids in high schools should motivate them to sign up for a Punjabi class in schools.

  • To help the SCCC, organize fund raisers for a endowment found of approximately $500,000 required to start up a Punjabi course in the Fresno State University on similar lines as in the State University San Jose and UCLA Barkley.

  • The SCCC has been lending a helping hand in such community efforts statewide since its inception more than a decade ago. In order to further strengthen its hands it appeals to all Punjabis as individuals and in organizations to please contact the Sikh Council of Central California with suggestions, comments or questions at:

    Sikh Council of Central California, 860 E. Almond Ave., CA 93637
    Tel: (559) 673-0511 or (559) 673-5955


    Note: The Sikh Council of Central California is a nonprofit, democratically elected organization, representing main Sikh Temples in the Central Valley whose common objective includes the development and promotion of the Punjabi language.
©Jas Singh