The sweet mother-tongue
Encourage your children to speak Kashmiri at home
TAVOOS HASSAN BHAT
A language is not just a tool for communication but is connected to anything we do. Our mother tongue carries thousands of years of civilization, our identity, spirituality and our value system in a community we live in. Los¬ing lan¬guages means los¬ing knowl¬edge. If we lose our language we will also lose our links with our tradition, the history of who we are, and the feeling and sense of belongingness to a community. The most embarrassing thing for a nation or a community could be losing its language.
Currently this problem is being faced at global level. Languages around the world are losing their speakers. While there are an es¬ti¬mat¬ed 6,000 lan¬guages spo¬ken around the world to¬day, one of them dies out about eve¬ry two weeks ac¬cord¬ing to lin¬guis¬tic ex¬perts, and with it thousands of years of knowledge and culture vanishes. People around the world are struggling to keep their languages alive and sadly Kashmiri language seems to be one of them, which is on the verge of an unfortunate demise if the current trend continues.
The literature of Kashmiri language is older than some of the international languages, including English. And quality of Kashmiri literature is also rich taking into consideration the thousands of years of rich culture and history of Kashmir.
We need to introspect and as ask ourselves why we are losing our mother tongue and how we can rescue it? We can’t blame anyone in particular for the decline of the Kashmiri language as we all are responsible at some level. However government negligence, indifferent attitude of elites and bureaucrats, who have a feeling of inferiority complex towards Kashmiri language, has had its impact on the Kashmiri language. In private and English medium schools a child is being judged not on the basis of intelligence, talent or knowledge but on the basis of fluency of Urdu or English language. This pressurizes the parents to teach kids Urdu or English at home instead of our mother tongue and this results in the disappearance of our mother tongue from our homes. The sad part is that in Kashmir a child can complete his whole education without even learning his mother tongue, which is not the case with the other communities proud of their culture and language.
The introduction of Kashmiri at the primary level seems to be a half hearted step as first of all we need to decide whether we really need Urdu and Hindi language to teach our children. Teaching our children three languages (Urdu, English and Kashmiri) at a time will put more burden on a child. While English is an international language and a medium for science and technology, fair knowledge of English is necessary for higher education and carrier development and jobs. However we can leave Urdu or Hindi like some of the south Indian states have done. They teach their children their mother tongue and English language only. Government has to really take a bold step in this direction if it really wants to save the Kashmiri language. We need to also take into consideration the demography of J&K as we have three regions. The Jammu region can choose to go with the Phari/ Dogri or Hindi, and same is the case with Ladakh.
However, the good thing which is emerging in these difficult times Kashmir is going through is that our new generation is realising the importance of mother tongue, our culture and our identity.
A collective effort is also required with all the seriousness from the government side as well. More posts should be created for the Kashmiri language teachers, more research fund granted for the students who want to go for the higher studies and do research in Kashmiri language and culture. Media can also make things early if people are educated that the mother tongue is very essential for the overall development and self-confidence of a child. And at individual level we have to encourage children to speak Kashmiri in their homes.
Government can also send clear instructions to the private and government schools, making it mandatory that up to the primary level the medium of communication in the schools should be in Kashmiri language besides teaching English language and other subjects. If these measures are implemented there will be space for more Kashmiri dailies as well and a demand for Kashmiri literature will also grow.
Kashmiri literature should also be translated into English and other languages so that people around the world can know about our language, culture and literature.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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