Kashmir’s ‘stammering’ mother tongue
‘Collective Effort Can Protect Kashmiri Language’
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Feb 22: While seminars and debates marked the International Mother Tongue Day across the globe yesterday, Kashmiri language continues to remain neglected with experts accusing the successive regimes of taking half-hearted measures to revive and protect the lingo.
Though after years of dilly-dallying, the Government in 2009 deemed Kashmiri to be a compulsory subject from Class III to VIII in all educational institutions and maintained that it shall carry a weightage equal to that of other academic subjects for purposes of continuous assessment, experts underscore the need to launch a comprehensive campaign to revive the language.
“Language is considered to be identity of a nation and its people. Children learn the mother tongue from mother’s womb and it helps to develop personality. But among other factors, the official neglect coupled with invasion of western culture in our conservative society has affected Kashmiri language, “Professor Rehman Rahi, recipient of India’s highest literary award Gyanpeeth and Padma Shree told Greater Kashmir.
However, Prof Rahi exudes hope that introduction of Kashmiri at the school level will help revival of the language. “But for this people especially parents have to cooperate and motivate their children to speak in Kashmiri. It is the collective responsibility of Kashmiris as a nation to protect their mother tongue,” he added.
The Kashmiri language is one of the 24 scheduled languages of the country and is a part of the 6th Schedule in the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. “The successive regimes have deliberately neglected Kashmiri language. People are equally to be blamed for shying away from Kashmiri language as most of them consider it inferior and have adopted English and other foreign languages,” noted Kashmiri poet Zarief Ahmad Zarief said.
Elaborating Zarief said the Kashmiri language witnessed a downfall since 1953. “Our mother tongue has been targeted through a conspiracy to destroy our identity. Kashmiri has been confined to few educational institutes and rural places in the Valley. Ironically, the syllabus for Kashmiri formulated for schools is so tough that it is beyond the comprehension of students. There is need to involve concerned experts to evolve a strategy to save Kashmiris from being history,” Zarief said.
“The National Curriculum Framework 2005 had made it mandatory that the mother tongue should be treated as first language and medium of instruction at elementary level. Despite being a mother tongue, Kashmiri language is not given its due status. Government should involve professionals and Kashmiri language experts to revive it from the grassroots level,” said Prof Aziz Hajini, the Convener Kashmiri Advisory Board in National Academy of Letters (Sahitya Academy).
The head of department post-graduate Department of Kashmiri, University of Kashmir Majrooh Rashid, exudes hope that with the introduction of Kashmiri at the middle level, the language will flourish.
“Kashmiris have developed an uncanny hobby to talk in other languages. This may be due to globalization or a mere display of a status symbol. But I see hope that Kashmiri language will not only survive but flourish as it is being taught at the school and university levels. The Government and people need to utilize all resources and make efforts to maintain Kashmiri language as Valley’s symbol of cultural and traditional life,” he said.
Incidentally, Minister of Education Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed during the last Assembly session had announced to extend the compulsory teaching of Kashmiri subject in secondary classes from this session and appoint subject specific teachers. However, despite passing of a year, no formal order has been issued in this regard.
The Education Minister was not available for comment. However, sources said a committee has been constituted to examine the pros and cons of introducing Kashmiri at the secondary level.
“This shows the non-seriousness of the Government towards developing the Kashmiri language. At the middle level, the students are suffering due to lack of Kashmiri teachers,” said a head master wishing anonymity.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 22 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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