Punjab Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa Monday wrote to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann expressing concern over "no funds being earmarked in the state budget for promoting the Punjabi language". Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema presented the state budget for 2023-24 in the Punjab Assembly last week. Referring to suggestions given to the chief minister, Bajwa, the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, said at least Rs 2 crore should be allocated in the budget for Punjab Kala Parishad.
"At least Rs 1 crore should be given to the Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab. Apart from this, the judicial hurdles that have arisen regarding the conferring of awards to litterateurs, artists, and journalists by the Bhasha Vibhag for the past several years should be removed by drawing up a transparent policy on awards and a separate amount should be given to the Bhasha Vibhag for continuing with these awards," the Congress leader said.
In his letter to the chief minister, Bajwa said, "I would like to let you know that no funds have been earmarked for promoting the Punjabi language in the budget presented by the AAP government for the year 2023-24. It is a common concern of all of us to uplift the mother tongue of three crore Punjabis to keep Punjabi alive." He also suggested that a minimum amount of Rs 50 lakh each should be given to the Punjabi Sahitya Akademi, Ludhiana, and both the Kendri Lekhak Sabhas. Bajwa also sought framing of a cultural policy while emphasizing that songs and music promoting drugs and weapons should also be strictly banned.
"It is a matter of grave concern that a large section of the youth in Punjab is becoming directionless. The rise of gang wars, drug abuse, and sometimes the involvement of youth in violence and heinous crimes are the symptoms of this disease. "Lewd songs have also given a boost to this trend. Therefore, a cultural policy should be formulated by talking to writers and intellectuals into account and should be implemented at the level of schools, colleges, and universities," Bajwa wrote in the letter.
He pointed out that Punjab is the only state in India where there is no Library Act. "Due to this, Punjab has to be deprived of grants given by the Center from time to time. Steps need to be taken to enact a Library Act and build libraries at the level of blocks, tehsils, and districts," the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly suggested. Bajwa praised the Bhagwant Mann government for making it mandatory to write information in Punjabi above all sign boards in the state. "If there is a need to frame a law, our party will give full support," he stated. He dubbed the allocation of Rs 990 crore for universities and higher education in the state budget as "very less".
"Punjabi University, Patiala, is stuck in a debt trap. The salaries of teachers and employees have also been frozen. Last year, a grant of Rs 200 crore was given to the university. This time, the amount has been reduced to Rs 164 crore. There is a need to increase the budget for all state universities," he said. Bajwa also stressed the need to set up a Punjab State Language Commission to give the Punjabi language its due place in the field of education, administration, and judiciary.