Moments after receiving the Punjab Rattan Award from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, noted writer Khushwant Singh startled the audience by using Punjabi expletives to cite the use of foreign expressions in English dictionaries.
"I would ask the chief minister to set up an institute for the languages of North Indian languages that would enrich their vocabularies," Khushwant said.
He added that the only place where they are frequently used are when two sardars are fighting or by a taxi driver.
There is no point in being puritan and not allow other words to be included into the language, he said.
"What is good should be assimilated," he said.
Addressing a galaxy of eminent personalities from different walks of life at the Imperial Hotel, the chief minister said that the Punjab government had instituted the Punjab Rattan Award to felicitate personalities whose eminence in the field of art, literature, culture, transcends national boundaries and frontiers.
Noted writer Amrita Pritam was the first recipient of the prestigious award.
"The choice to bestow this year's award on Khushwant Singh was unanimous," he added.
"Sardar Khushwant Singh, who has become a legend and icon in his lifetime, is the sub-continent's most prolific writer and it is a humble effort on the part of the state government to bestow this honour on the great son of India who has ruled the hearts of millions of his readers across the globe for his candid and unique style of writing," he said.
In his address, Pakistan People Party leader Aitzaz Ahsaan, former federal interior minister of Pakistan and a member of the National Assembly described S Khushwant Singh as a versatile writer, besides being a staunch believer in human goodness, secular and democratic values.
He appreciated his masterpiece A Train to Pakistan that portrayed the pangs Partition.
He said the writings of Khushwant Singh still bind the common cultural affinity of the people of India and Pakistan.
The function was attended by Sports Minister Mani Shankar Iyer, former chief election commissioner Dr M S Gill, Sir Mark Tully, Bishan Singh Bedi, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.