ICBC cracks down on vanity licence plates bearing inappropriate Punjabi words in English

Photo: Baltej Pannu’s Facebook

THE Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) is cracking down on vanity licence plates after being informed of how some Punjabi-speaking Canadians had tricked the corporation by using offensive Punjabi words and expressions written in English.

Baltej Pannu put up a collage of some offending personalized licence plates on his Facebook last Sunday and someone contacted the CBC about it.

The collage included plates that read “PK-TUNN” (completely drunk), NAGNI (opium), PK3PEG (after drinking three pegs), LUCHA (dirty or perverted guy), and DAKU (armed robber).

The last two plates are actually from California and New South Wales (Australia).

Incidentally, the themes of Punjabi songs have been under scrutiny by Punjab authorities in India for some time now because they glorify weapons, violence, drugs and booze.

The Chairman of Punjab Arts Council, poet Surjit Patar, recently told the Indian newspaper, Hindustan Times: “Literature is written to present truth, aestheticism and welfare. But the current Punjabi songs show violence, vulgarity and consumer culture.”

Punjab’s cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu last March announced that the state government had decided to constitute a Punjab Sabhyachaar (culture) Commission to check “obscenity and vulgarity”, and the “glorification of drugs and violence”, in Punjabi songs. The commission will also have powers to monitor content served through social media, too, according to Hindustan Times.

ICBC told CBC that last year the corporation rejected 810 out of the 5,200 applications it received for personalized licence plates.

ICBC revoked one offending licence plate within 24 hours of being informed about them by CBC and told their reporter they were in the process of revoking the others.

Of course, ICBC can hardly be blamed for these lapses as they have a limited staff to try and figure out what some twisted minds come up with both in English and in other languages.

One way of dealing with this is imposing hefty fines – perhaps, $1,000 for a first offence.

Anyone who spots an offending licence plate in English or with words from another language in English, should contact ICBC.

Meanwhile, some Punjabi radio talk shows took up this issue after the CBC’s report by Eric Rankin on Monday.

One South Asian mother complained to The VOICE this week that her son, Shagun (a Hindi word that means ‘blessing’), was denied a personalized licence plate because of the “gun” part of his name!