Vidya Bharati Punjab, an RSS affiliate, highlighted a 1960 statement by RSS’s Golwalkar, affirming Punjabi as the mother tongue of all Punjabis. Social media posts emphasise Punjabi literary works and the school’s role in the education of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala. The controversy reflects longstanding language identity tensions in the region, as the organisation employs various platforms to assert its commitment to promoting Punjabi in schools.
In the aftermath of the recent controversy at its Rampura Phul school, Vidya Bharati Punjab, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is vehemently defending its stance on promoting the Punjabi language in schools. The controversy erupted when activist Lakha Sidhana alleged that children were being discouraged from conversing in Punjabi, among other objections. Vidya Bharati Punjab has turned to historical statements, particularly one from RSS’s second sarsanghchalak, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, in 1960, asserting that Punjabi is the mother tongue of all Punjabis.
Sidhana, a gangster-turned-activist who raised concerns, was arrested a day after a heated exchange at the school. In response, Vidya Bharati Punjab has been using various platforms, including social media, to showcase its commitment to promoting Punjabi. The organisation emphasises its publication of books in Punjabi and the observance of important days in Sikh history within its schools.
RSS and BJP supporters have taken to social media to underline that Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala, known for his contributions to Punjabi music, studied in a Sarvhitkari Vidya Mandir school in Mansa, attributing the institution’s role to his success.
Vidya Bharati Punjab’s defence relies significantly on a statement made by Golwalkar in 1960, during a period when there was a concerted effort to persuade Punjabi Hindus to disown Punjabi in favour of Hindi in the 1961 census. Golwalkar’s declaration, “Punjabi is the mother tongue of every Punjabi,” was aimed at countering the prevailing propaganda, particularly during the ‘Save Hindi Agitation’ of 1957, which saw provocative anti-Punjabi slogans.
Navdeep Shekhar, a representative of Vidya Bharati Punjab, vehemently denies any discrimination against Punjabi, highlighting the observance of important Sikh historical events and the recitation of Gurbani in their schools. The organisation has also shared videos of Sarvhitkari Prakashan Punjab president Honey Sangar showcasing Punjabi literature and historical works published by them.
As Vidya Bharati Punjab continues to counter allegations through social media posts and messages on platforms like WhatsApp, the controversy underscores historical tensions surrounding language identity in the region. Golwalkar’s decades-old assertion remains a pivotal point of reference in Vidya Bharati’s defence against accusations of neglecting Punjabi in its schools.