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.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kashmiri Language - II

Khayal thinks it is about time

(Mr. Ghulam Nabi Khayal, 70, was born in Srinagar. He received his schooling and college education in Srinagar, and completed his Masters degree in English. Mr. Khayal is considered a doyen among Kashmiiri journalists, having worked for both Indian and international newspapers like the Statesman, India Today, the Guardian, Voice of America, and others. He is also a topnotch Kashmiri writer having bagged numerous awards at local, national and international levels, including the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975. Mr. Khayal has published 24 books in Kashmiri, Urdu and English languages. He is the owner of a journal, Voice of Kashmir, published weekly from Srinagar.)

Kashmiri is Back

Finally, the State government had to concede the popular demand made by the people of Kashmir for years together. Now Kashmiri, the largest language spoken all over Jammu & Kashmir, is also taught in 9th and 10th classes in public and private schools in the Valley and in those areas and pockets in Jammu region where Kashmiri is used by the people as their mother tongue.

This decision taken by the authorities deserves great appreciation in view of the fact that Kashmiri has all along been thrown into the background in many ways and its growth and development has not been taken seriously by any of the successive State governments.

Up till now the language is taught at primary and also on post graduate levels but the gap in the middle had yet to be bridged accordingly. This positive act towards this language has been an outcome of relentless efforts put by true and dedicated lovers of the language particularly Adabi Markaz Kamraz which lost no moment to push this demand forward whenever it had an occasion to do so.

Along with some oldest languages in India like Sanskrit, the classical language of the Hindu scriptures and Tamil, the oldest living language in the south of the country, Kashmiri has also been reported to be nearly 5,000 years old. This claim is testified with the excavations in Burzahama where the first Kashmiri inhabitants lived in dwelling pits during the Neolithic period of the history. Obviously, these people spoke the language which could be rightly described as Kashmiri for, they would not be in know of any other dialect or language except the medium of expression originated from their own land.

Kashmiri Language is spoken primarily in Kashmir Valley. According to the 2001 census, India has about 5,554,496 Kashmiri speakers. Even about 105,000 Kashmiri speakers in Pakistan are mostly the immigrants of 1947 and 1965 from the Valley.

Kashmiri Language basically belongs to the geographical linguistic sub-grouping called the Dardic part of the Indo-European Language Family. It is also one of the scheduled regional languages of the Indian Constitution and is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the History of Kashmiri language, “Kashmiri has an interesting linguistic history. Like the other North Indian languages, it branched off from the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit, but had another ancestor before that- the Sheena languages of the Indo-Iranian family. But when mighty Sanskrit came, Sheena was thickly overlaid. From about the 14th century, medieval Persian too started creeping into Kashmiri. With such foreign influences, the Kashmiri language boasts of peculiarities like certain vowel and consonant sounds which no other Indian language has. Kishtwari is the most popular dialect of Kashmiri. It is said that Kashmiri is the only Dardic Language with a literature.”

Kashmiri has a recorded literature covering about seven centuries. According to Abdul Ahad Azad, the literature created by Lalla Arifa and Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani in 14th century, could be a refreshed chapter of a glorious past of the Kashmiri literature which has been lost with the passage of time. In his view, the poetry composed by Lalla and Sheikhul Aalam cannot be adjudged as the beginning of any cultural era because it has all the ingredients of maturity, impressive communication, high standard of poetic excellence and a very pleasant diction and treatment of the subject.

The national Curriculum Framework-2005 is a very important document about the educational system in India. According to this document, in the educational institutions, the top preference is to be given to the regional language followed by Hindi, Urdu or English.

In 1953, when the then State Prime Minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was dethroned, arrested and put behind the bars, the language of the people of Kashmir being taught as medium of instruction at the primary level was also dragged out of schools and its continuing in the educational system banned. This was obviously done by successors of Abdullah to appease their masters in New Delhi where a sizable number of fundamentalist bureaucrats are still out to suppress Kashmiri to deprive the people of Kashmir of their identity and the icon of their national pride.

In comparison with other contemporary Indian languages, Kashmiri has the privilege of having a rich treasure of literature both in prose and poetry of a very high standard. This has been acknowledged by the country’s linguists from time to time. For instance, when the Sahitya Akademi brought out an anthology of modern Indian short stories a few years ago, one of the Western critics opined that the best story in the collection was that of Akhtar Mohiuddin’s Bride’s Pyjama.

Kashmiri has the distinction of having in its vast literary treasure renderings and translations of world’s great classics and books by outstanding authors including Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, Kalhan Pandit, Imraul Qays, Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Gogol, Henrik Ibsen, Maxim Gorky, Kalidasa, Tagore, Iqbal, Maulana Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Sheikh Sadi, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Lord Byron, Nazim Hikmat, Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi, Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Ghalib, Sumitranandan Pant and many others who are worldly known renowned writers, poets, philosophers, chroniclers and historians.

Our literature is one of the richest in India but our readers are very small in numbers. This is mainly due to the bitter fact that Kashmiri was not accorded the status at the level of masses which it deserves as the largest language of Jammu & Kashmir state.

With the proposed introduction of Kashmiri in 9th and 10th classes, its readership shall grow in lakhs of students who would then love to learn more and more about it and make themselves into real citizens of their motherland. They will also get rid of those languages which they are forced to speak in schools though most incorrectly and without any grammatical requirements because even their teachers cannot try successfully at Urdu or English if they are not well versed with their own language.

There is a very small number of trained Kashmiri knowing teachers available with the directorate of school education. The need of the hour is to train the required number well in time so that the decision of the government is implemented in letter and spirit without any further delay.

In case the teaching of Kashmiri is made compulsory when taught all over Kashmir, tens of thousands of our students would better understand all other subjects which they hardly can when taught in wrong Urdu or any language other the language of their own mothers.

Sheikh Abdullah was eager and enthusiastic to promote Kashmiri language. In the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, he could make his Kashmiri audiences spell bound for long hours and mesmerize it only when he delivered his forceful speeches in Kashmiri language. The tide of cruel time turned against him and it is now Omar Abdullah who should be appreciated for giving green signal to this most welcome decision.

In this context one may say with some alteration made in a famous saying, “What grandfather couldn’t, the grandson did accomplish.”


waniaslam said...

It is impossible to say which existed earlier Rigvedic Sanskrit or Kashmiri. Both are Aryan origin languages though due to the advent of Islam some Arabic words have been added to Kashmiri. The Kashmiri spoken by us Muslims does include few Arabic words.

But most Kashmiri words that we use are certainly related to Rigvedic Sanskrit.

Aslam Wani

MagicalTouch said...

I wanted to buy a Kashmiri script book. Written by Sri Rehman Rahi Sir. (Jnanpith award winner).
1. Nawroz-i-Saba
2. Seyah Rudi Jerean Manz

Please tell me how can I get one. I couldn't get one from Delhi. I am in bangalore and, getting it directly from srinagar is almost impossible. I am trying for this from 2 years, no success. Somebody please help...