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Kashmiri language matters

The disconnect between Kashmiri language and our younger generation is disturbing
12:00 AM Feb 23, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
kashmiri language matters
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Every nation deems it the moral responsibility to safe guard its culture by promoting and preserving its vernacular. It is but natural that everyone loves his birth place and his mother tongue.
Kashmiri is one of the oldest languages.

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A journey that saw its rise, spread, progress and overall development. The irony is that a language having such a glorious past is undermined by its own people. Kashmir was once considered as the seat of learning and the people from other parts of India used to bow heads as a mark of respect towards it.

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It was by virtue of educational and the spiritual growth that resulted in reaching the height. Indeed credit goes to the wisdom of Kashmiri language that flourished to its prominence. Languages are not merely means of communication, but are reflections of culture, history and identity. Kashmiri language is in no way less than other languages and has a proud history of rich culture and traditions . Kashmiri like some other languages has the capability of accommodating the lexicon of other vernaculars and is adorned by a blend of linguistic elements from Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic.

The irony is that this language faces a disappointing non allegiance from Kashmiris. It is a fact that in the contemporary times, our contribution towards enriching our language is dismaying. The language that has given us identity is being alienated in our homes and we are proudly teaching our new generation other languages like English and Urdu.

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The process of introducing other languages was initiated for social recognition and pursued carelessly. Some people even face identity crisis.

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People coming from across the country to the valley might be taken by a surprise to see all the sign boards, and hoardings in English, few in Urdu or in Hindi, and none in Kashmiri. Last month I had the opportunity to visit Gujrat and I found almost all signboards are in Gujrati and very few in English and Hindi.

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I had the notion that Kashmiri students are better in speaking English
because our students right from nursery classes are admitted in English Medium schools. But, I was proved wrong, when I found students from Gujrat speaking English in a global educational conference with confidence and fluency.

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On interaction with those students I found them well connected with their local Gujrati language, speaking good Hindi and well conversant in English. The students were from government schools. My point is not to discourage anyone from learning other languages, but for understanding any other language mother tongue has a pivotal role. One can understand anything better in his local language and it helps understanding the concepts in other languages easily.

Learning other languages without having a clear understanding, do not make clarity of concepts. The irony is that we do not know Kashmiri well and as a result we intermix words while talking in Kashmiri. Our language is rich enough to accomodate the changing scenario and needs attention to meet future challenges.

The richness of our language is depicted in the poetry of our most revered poets and scholars like Shaikhul Alam, Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon, Rasul Mir, Mahmud Gami to name a few.  We must be proud of this literary heritage and get inspiration from the invaluable assets.

What is at stake? Kashmiri language has not betrayed us. It is Kashmiris who prioritized other languages. The ethnic and cultural bond is shaken.

The Way Forward: In order to preserve our social, cultural and moral values, we need to educate and aware our younger generation by setting examples.

No body can help his/ her children to understand our great ethos in a better way in any other language. Publishing more newspapers in Kashmiri can help a lot in the promotion of Kashmiri.

That is possible only if the locals prefer to purchase and read those newspapers. Our ethos is directly proportional to our language, the more one understands his mother tongue, the more he understands the reality and importance of rich heritage.

New Education Policy has emphatically advocated for teaching in mother tongue to achieve the desired goals. Teachers working at different levels have the legal and moral responsibility of using mother tongue as a medium of instruction.

By Guest Contributor

Mir Gulzar, Director, Oasis J&K

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