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  • Writer's pictureAkasha Usmani

The growth of Punjabi language in Australia

As its diversity grows, Indian languages are spreading across Australia. Here's how Punjabi is growing.

Australia is one of the most successful and vibrant multicultural countries in the world. An important reason behind Australia’s successful multiculturalism is the migrants. Taking into account the India and Australia relationship, the Indian community is rapidly growing in Australia. The Indian diaspora in Australia is successfully contributing to the economic growth of the country.

With the growing immigrants in the country, Australia has embraced different cultures and their traditions. The Sikhs, who adhere to Sikhism, an Indian religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, appears to have lived in Australia since the 1830s. Due to their farming ancestry, the early Australian Sikh population served as indentured laborers on farms and sheep stations. They have served in the Allied armies during both the World Wars. During the Gallipoli military campaign as well, the 14th Sikh Regiment served in the campaign. With only four survivors, this Regiment is said to have had the highest casualties.

Sikhism is one of Australia's fastest-growing religions, although they make up only 0.8 percent of the country's population today. The number of Sikhs in Australia has tripled since 2011, with over 2 lakh people now identifying as Sikh.

Sikhs have lived in Australia for more than 150 years, they have a rich and vibrant history. However their contributions in the country had gone unnoticed.

The year 2017 made a considerable impact for the Sikh community in Australia as the Sikh history was included in the curriculum in Western Australia schools. The students in standards 5, 6 and 9, now have access to the proud Sikh history in Australia.

With the Sikh history being taught in Australia, now the language, Punjabi will also be taught in schools of Western Australia. Punjabi has appeared to be the fastest growing language in Australia. According to Census 2021, there are now more than 80 percent more Punjabi speakers than there were five years ago. The language will be a part of the school curriculum from 2024 onwards.

Amarjit Singh Pabla of the Sikh Association of Western Australia (SAWA) has played a significant role in advancing the inclusion of the language in the curriculum. He stated "The Australian government is helping to keep our culture alive through this decision.”

Education Minister Sue Ellery, stated, “I am pleased to see the ongoing expansion of language curriculum for Western Australian students, and the development of Punjabi curriculum is particularly fitting given it could support students in key future employment opportunities.”

The cultural diversity has increased in Australia. The country is accepting the migrants' culture and integrating their way of life, culture and language in the country. Language is one of the most important part of a culture. Every culture needs its language to be expressed. It facilitates the feeling of ‘shared’ identity and solidarity. The expression of culture through language is essential for maintaining and promoting cultural variety. Languages are essential for development because they promote intercultural communication and cultural diversity.

The migrants are usually the ones who accept the country's culture and adapt to their way of life. It is remarkable to see how with time, the countries are accepting their migrants’s culture and integrating it into their society.

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