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, January 6, 2010

Preserving Koshur Language

Iqbal has some good suggestions, but there is also a need to introduce the language in multiple scripts, including the original

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

‘Koshur’ is not just a language but our identity too

Koshur - A language with a history spread over many centuries and a distinction for its rich and peculiar vowel system craves for reintroduction in the schools and also faces tough times at the hands of those who, otherwise, should have been busy promoting and patronizing it. Spoken by majority of people in Kashmir valley and commonly termed as Koshur, Kashmiri language is one among the 22 scheduled languages of India, which according to George Abraham Grierson is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a rich literature. Grierson expressed this view n 1919 and also praised the language for its rich intonations and strong vowel system.

Ironically Koshur has been struggling for its re-introduction in schools in Kashmir valley and it won’t be wrong to say that such a maltreatment in the hands of its own people hints at the building dilemma that is sure to rob the people of this beautiful language, if things are not pondered over immediately.

The authorities while reacting to the demand for reintroducing Koshur at school levels had set up a mechanism to do so, at least in the primary level education system with proper arrangements undertaken in order to enable its staff to teach kashmeri in the schools. While the state government had undertaken measures to revive the syllabi in of primary schools in Kashmir valley and reintroduce Kashmiri language, much requires to be done in order to add impetus to the campaign. The move would also be beneficial for those few Kashmiri language graduate and post graduates who would be employed in the schools to undertake the subject.

Two prestigious institutions-Radio Kashmir Srinagar and the Cultural Academy have been taking care of kashmeri language and literature and making a prompt attempt to keep the language in its original form and texture. The academy has a great credit in documenting the kashmiri culture and its rich traditions while as Radio Kashmir too does a similar job by promoting people associated with the linguistic development of the language and also bringing forth literary figures.

It is also a positive sign that education department has also come forward to promote Koshur and there is a hope that similar decision shall be followed regarding teaching of Kashmiri literature and philosophy in schools and colleges. Most of Kashmirian poets, critics and philosophers have remained unread while as great Sufi saints and poets are yet to reach to our forth coming generations.

Observers feel that there is also need to implement Kashmir history as a separate subject into the schools given that most of the people of Kashmir, particularly the young generation is ignorant of their rich political and cultural history. It is pertinent to say that the indigenous literature produced in Kashmir would not be understood properly if the history of the place is kept at bay. History would certainly provide ambience and much required context for better understanding of things. Therefore for an in depth know how of literature history of their land, its people requires to be taken up side by side. History and language are the basic identities of a nation.

It is a known fact that nations known as civilized nations are only those where there is a proper patronization and promotion of history and language. Arabs, Iranians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Japanese and few other advanced countries have always taken due care of their respective identities. Grecian and Romans, which once controlled most of the ancient world, carried their home language to far-flung areas. The ancient culture materials revealed form Grecian controlled areas carried Grecian linguistic evidences. Almost all coins and epigraphs of that period found in sub-continent areas are inscribed in Greek scripts. The language is said to have been the language of the ruling class, where the language of the subjects was prakit, which was written in Khroshti. This language was also placed side by side to the official language to regard the sentiments of their subjects.

The tradition continued during Persian and Arab occupations wherever they went to rule the land. They, with them, carried their language and cultural traditions. Their respective histories and languages are well documented even in our lands too. But we are the people that we have not only neglected our glorious history but our languages too. While neglecting our rich traditions we opted for forign cultural traditions.

It is not bad to welcome the new traditions but that should not be done at cost of our own culture. It has been observed that many people dislike their own culture and language and have been following new cultural trends. There are also many parents, which have ignored the local dialect and talk with their children in foreign dialects. They either speak in Urdu or English. On the other hand the language has lost local terminology and provided space for new non-Kashmirian dialects. Mo’j from Mummy had reached to Mam, Mo’l from Dady to Dad and Abuji. The other terms are uncle for Cheche Aunty Ag, Bj, Ani etc. for Peechin, Ded has become Grand Ma while Bedbab as Grand pa, Sula Kak, Gula Kak like names have become outdated ones. This new terminology first got introduced in urban areas in upper middle class families and gradually reached to other families. The rural population also is welcoming it. Few olden traditions and terminology of the language is only preserved in those poor families who despite of well-education backgrounds did not loose it to their new environments.

Now as the government has introduced the kashmeri in lower classes let us to cooperate and encourage our forth-coming generations to learn the language and its script properly. So that in later classes they can read the philosophy and literatures preserved in this language and available in bulk.

Besides promoting its written aspect what is needed is to promote and encourage its spoken tradition too as the language, more or less, has been the most popular spoken dialect of this land. We should revive its classical terminology and various names which were very familiar in our homes. Why should we hate our culture and traditions when it is the basis of our identity? We should love our culture and try to cultivate it in other lands as well.

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