Punjab Notes: On campuses: Punjabi language and literature.

Byline: Mushtaq Soofi

Institutions such as colleges and universities apart from imparting what is traditionally known as education can play the role of a catalyst in raising literary and cultural awareness. This is especially true in the context of the West Punjab where people's language under the influence of colonial and post-colonial project has been shamefacedly demonised and consequently kept at bay from the schools, colleges and universities like a contagion.

Muslim majority region in Punjab has been and still is killing fields for its soul because the hatred of indigenous language and culture has been here a part of syllabi for quite some time. It's perhaps the worst case of Stockholm syndrome in modern history.

Self-loathing is considered a hallmark of culture with the result that what was valuable in the traditions and history has been jettisoned as jetsam and flotsam, the weight that was conceived a hurdle in the way of becoming what the colonists wanted the 'native' to be, the 'master's shadow'. And at the end of the day, in the parlance of the world of espionage, the unwitting agent proves to be the best agent. So Punjab is an unwitting agent of self-destruction; in its self- delusion it vandalises its cultural assets in apparent good faith. And this dehumanising process started with the occupation of the sovereign Punjab in 1849. It was in fact schools and colleges started by colonial administration that initiated the process of alienation; they educated and prepared students to disown what was bequeathed by generations of their elders. This act of deculturalisation proved to be much more than mere disowning as it equated the people's dynamic language and culture with intellectual backwardness and social poverty. So logically it's going to be schools and colleges that would play a decisive role in reversing the process and they would be the final battle ground in reclaiming that which has been lost through their being used as an instrument of colonisation leading to alien hegemony.

The Government College, Lahore, now Government College University, an emblem of colonial advancement and vanguard of co-opted elite, has been in the limelight for good reasons. Its vice Chancellor Dr. Amir Hassan Shah, an enlightened educationist and scientist, has very wisely expanded the Punjabi department by inducting a sufficient number of experienced and young teachers. The department, it appears, is turning into a happening place by devising...

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