CHANDIGARH – March 30, 2008: The First World Punjabi Conference began on an impressive note at P.U. Campus here today. The Conference was a confluence of V.I.P.s and eminent persons from all over the globe who shared the same sentiment of preserving and promoting Punjabi culture and its heritage.
The Chief Minister S. Parkash Singh Badal inaugurated the Conference and also laid the foundation stone of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Bhawan to be built at a cost of Rs.5 crores. The Chief Minister announced a grant of Rs.25 lakhs for its construction.The inaugural session witnessed honouring of eminent persons which included Jaswant Singh Kanwal, S.S. Noor, Surjit Pattar, Dr. K.K. Talwar,Amrik Gill, Dharminder (in absentia) Dr. Rawail Singh, C.R. Moudgil, Pammi Bai, Dr. J.S. Bajaj, Sh. H.S. Hanspal, Kuldip Nayar, Mrs. Harjinder Kaur and G.S. Sidhu Damdami, Editor, Punjabi Tribune. A Souvenir was also released.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister complimented the Vice-Chancellor for taking the initiative to hold World Punjabi Conference, for having conceived the idea of building Guru Teg Bahadur Bhawan and for inviting delegates from over twenty countries. Punjab can legitimately take the credit for having given the concept of secularism to the world and referred to the concept of “Awwal Allha Noor Upaya, Kudrat De Sab Bande” and the gift of “Pangat and Sangat in Langar” and recalled that the foundation stone of Sri Harmander Sahib was laid by a muslim saint and its four doors symbolizes secular values. He also highlighted the role played by Punjab in the development of country, its role in the growth of the nation, the patriotic leadership and entrepreneurial qualities of Punjabis. He exhorted the scholars and writers to support and promote Punjabiat and Punjabi.
The Chief Minister lamented that the methodology of Central Grants were not proportionate to the contribution of the State to the Nation. As a consequence the development was getting affected. There is a need to get more Central Grants for overall sustained development of the State. Shri Kuldip Nayar, the veteran and renowned journalist in his Keynote Address on “Punjab’s Identity in the Global Context” emphasized the need to inculcate a sense of pride in owning Punjabi as their first love.They should not be diffident in speaking the language. He expressed his concern for the language by quoting from a UNESCO report which referred to those languages including Punjabi which faced a threat of disappearing in next 50 years. Ironically Punjabis settled abroad speak and teach Punjabi in their homes whereas affluent Punjabi families in India seem less enthusiastic. He advocated that the Assemblies of India and Pakistan end hostility by asking for forgiveness from each other thereby attempting to improve the relations between the two countries. He also suggested setting up of a Museum on the aftermath of Partition which would remind the masses of the consequence of divisions, he added.
Earlier, Dr. R.C. Sobti, Vice-Chancellor in his welcome address informed that the University had completed its sixty years and solicited Chief Minister’s support for the University. He also announced setting up of a Chair on ‘Kuka Movement’ and informed that the University would do its best to propagate the concept and philosophy of Sikh religion to the world.The idea of hosting First World Punjabi Conference was aimed at bringing together Punjabis to a common platform to enable them to share their experiences, achievements, dreams and to put them into an action plan for the betterment of society.
Shri H.S. Hanspal, former Member Parliament presented Rs. One Lakh for the Conference and called for carrying out research into the role of Punjabis in the struggle for independence.Shri H.S. Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab explained the symbolic meaning of the concept of Panj Piaras. Dr. J.S. Bajaj emphasized the need of inculcating love for the language right from the formative stage. He also suggested to have a common Website of both the Universities of the sub-continent in Punjabi Language itself. Efforts should be made for hassle free exchange of students and faculty of the two universities.
Dr. (Mrs.) Jaspal Kaang, Organizing Secretary of the Conference welcomed the guests and informed that Shri S.S. Bhatti, had designed the Bhawan. Dr. Deepak Manmohan Singh, President of the Conference in his vote of thanks complimented the visiting delegates for their magnanimity and for
their love for their motherland.