Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our mother tongue is expressive and melodious and yet it has no takers

Nida argues that Kashmiris stand to lose a lot if they let go of their mother tongue

(Ms. Nida Rafiq Shiekh, 22, was born in Srinagar. She passed her Matriculation from the Presentation Convent High School and completed her 12th grade from the Mallinson Girls High School, both with distinction. She recently graduated from the Women's College, Srinagar, and is enrolled in the Media Education Centre (MERC) of the University of Kashmir pursuing a Master's degree in mass communication. She is a free lance writer who likes writing about the Kashmir issue and other topics like communal violence that have torn apart the Kashmiri society with tragic consequences. She loves writing and reading, and hopes to become a serious journalist and a documentary film maker some day.)

A language is a dynamic set of visual, auditory, or tactile symbols of communication and the elements used to manipulate them. Language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon. Our language that is Kashmiri is also unique in itself. Kashmiri, popularly known as Koshur, is an Indo-Aryan language. Even the opponents of this linguistic classification of this language, grouped it with Dardi, Shrinya, Khowar dialects, which are spoken in the areas adjacent to the valley in its north and north-west.

Language historians and linguists have often, however, concurred on the theory that the above-mentioned dialects fall in the category of languages that bear resemblance to the Indo-Aryan as well as to the Indo-Iranian languages. In 1919 George Abraham Grierson wrote that “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. Kashmiri literature dates back to over 750 years, this is, more-or-less, the age of many a modern literature including English. We are lucky to have such a wonderful language as our mother tongue.

Kashmiri language, at present is loosing its charm as the youth of the present day Kashmir hesitate in using it as a language for their normal communication. More than the youth, the children in schools and pre-schools are not even allowed to learn Kashmiri because their parents think if they will communicate in Kashmiri then they will not be regarded as children of good and educated families. “Not knowing our mother tongue” has become a status symbol for us which is very unfortunate. The first words that a child speaks are generally words from his mother tongue but, it’s not the case in Kashmir. Here, it is very embarrassing for a modern Kashmiri mummy if her children communicate in Kashmiri.

Language is a part of an identity of a human being in any part of the world and we Kashmiris are loosing an important part of our identity in the form of our native language. It is very important for the youth of any place to carry forward the traditions and culture of the particular place he belongs to. So, the Kashmiri youth should also play an important role in promoting the Kashmiri language. They have to stop looking down upon it and feel proud about not only their language but also about other indigenous things of Kashmir. That way we can preserve our culture and language.

The college and school students feel embarrassed to talk in Kashmiri with their friends and teachers. They normally speak in Urdu but, also communicate in English even informally. At least when people are chatting informally they should talk in their native language so that it doesn’t vanish from our state. We need to use it as often as we can so that it is carried on safely to the next generation.

There are people who go out of the state for their education or jobs and then even tend to forget the Kashmiri language. Some pretend they have forgotten it just to brag and boast that they have been working or studying outside state. If this attitude continues then things will really go worse as this clearly shows that there is a section of society who considers it thwarting to know their own language. They look down upon it and believe Kashmiri language is for the communication of uneducated and under-privileged people.

However, the reality is different. Kashmiri is a beautiful language and most importantly it belongs to us. So, it deserves respect from every Kashmiri since Language is something that everybody should respect and revere. We need to feel proud of it rather than look down upon it. Let’s speak Kashmiri and give it the same respect as other people give their respective languages. Let’s try to make it popular among all sections of society and make the use of Kashmiri language the style statement for today’s youth. Let all the modern Kashmiri mummy’s know that learning Kashmiri language is as important for their children as is learning other languages.

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