Ritu Anand’s second book – I Am My Language is scheduled to come out in early Spring 2024.
Her inspiration for writing I Am My Language is the book – History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab Since Annexation and in 1882 by linguist G.W. Leitner, L.L.D.
Leitner’s book was first printed in 1883 and reprinted in April 1971 by the Languages Department Punjab, India.
In his book, Leitner states that Punjab was one of the most educated places in the world before the arrival of British colonizers. He provides an eyewitness account that “there is not a mosque, a temple, a dharamsala that has not a school attached to it. The British made a special effort to search every house of a village and to burn every book.”
Taking advantage of the social unrest of 1857, the British concocted a plan to put Punjabis ‘in line’ and campaigned to burn their Punjabi qaidas (books).
Leitner provides, prior to 1857, the Punjab had an estimated computation of 330,000 pupils learning all the sciences, oriental literature, oriental law, logic, philosophy, and medicine. Women were more educated than men. But, after the events of 1857, the Punjab by 1880, had a computed estimation of just 190,000 pupils. “An entire tradition, far superior to what Europe had to offer, was destroyed.”
Leitner adds, “the true education of Punjab was crippled, checked and nearly destroyed…our system stands convicted of worse than an official failure.”
There is nothing more precious to a culture than its language. Ritu stands by her language. She attended an all-girls Catholic school and spoke the English language as her first language, but wished she could read, write, and speak the language of her heart. At the age of seven, Ritu came into her own, and with the aid of a translator, taught herself her own language. This book hopes to inspire children from multilingual backgrounds to embrace the language of their heart and ensure it is carried to future generations.