ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Punjab with an ‘a’

A single letter in the name of a university leads to many laughs and some fiascos even decades later.

It is a well-established tradition to name universities after the city in which they are located; this is why the first universities of colonial India were called Calcutta University, Bombay University, and Madras University. However, a university established in Lahore in 1882, by the initiative and contribution of the public, was named not Lahore University, but Punjab University, since it belonged to the whole of Punjab. When the country was partitioned, Punjab University too got split into two; while the one at Lahore stayed, another one was established in Punjab, India. In 1956, the university was officially relocated to a beautiful red sandstone campus in Chandigarh but till the reorganisation of Punjab state in 1966, the university campus was constituted of centres scattered in Punjab (Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur), Haryana (Rohtak), and Himachal Pradesh (Shimla). To distinguish between the two universities, the one in Lahore continued to be Punjab University, while the new one adopted a different spelling and became Panjab University—Punjab with an “a”—though in other languages and scripts like Gurmukhi, there was no difference in spelling or pronunciation.

This name game, having a difference of a single vowel in its English spelling, leads to curious fiascos even decades later. Internet search engines often conflate the two and offer search results for both universities. Unless you are alert, it is only after spending some time and getting frustrated that you become aware of searching for a specific professor’s profile in the wrong university’s website. Similarly, one needs to be careful at international forums to emphasise the spellings when declaring their affiliation, particularly if participants from the other university are participating as well.

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