When Ranjit Singh established a sovereign Punjabi kingdom in 1799, he did make serious efforts to encourage the teaching of Punjabi. According to some accounts, he ensured that every household was supplied with a free qaida, a primer of Punjabi language. As a result, there was massive increase in literacy, especially female literacy, in Punjab. One estimate, perhaps an exaggeration, suggests that there was nearly 100 per cent literacy by the end of the Punjabi kingdom in 1849. However, even Ranjit Singh did not give the official status to Punjabi in spite of it being a highly developed literary language. The Persian language continued to be the language of the court and official administration. Since no formal explanation of this contradictory approach by Ranjit Singh to Punjabi language — promoting its use but not giving it an official status — is available, we can merely speculate that it could be due to sheer administrative convenience that the use of Persian continued for official purposes.
From: When future of Punjabi language was secured
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“the Punjabi language became for the first time in history the official language of the administration and a necessary subject for passing school and college examinations. At least two new generations of Punjabis have grown up reading Punjabi whose parents and grandparents had never studied Punjabi. These new generations are discovering the beauty of Punjabi poetry and the richness of Punjabi prose. The enormous strides Punjabi is making in music, cinema and popular culture could not have been possible without the official state recognition and support.”
This is an important point. Languages become important because of state patronage, which, above all creates a large market of consumers for various kinds of literary expressions. I cant think of any language which has developed a substantial modern literature without enjoying a period of state patronage.
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