A great " generosity" to be offered by the Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry. Kashmiri language will be honored the status of a classical language and grouped with six Indian classical languages like, Sanskrit, Tamil, Malyalam ,Telugu, Kanad and Odia. But there is a rider. Kashmiri language will have to be skinned off its present script and cast into Devanagari script.
The question is why should Kosher (Kashmiri language) be changed from the existing nastaliq (Persio- Arabic) script to Devanagri? After all the language has retained its grandeur in the same script for the last one thousand years. The aura of the Koasher literature keeps wafting from the time of Alamdari Kashmir – Sheikh Noor-u-din, the great Islamic scholar and preacher- and Lala Arifa, the mystic Hindu poetess. They expressed in the same Nastaliq script. Seven hundred years have neither muddied their penetrating appeal nor the script has become obsolete. Entire existing literature of the Kosher is in Nastaliq script. And not difficult to comprehend and write. Despite the apathetic attitude of the various governments towards it, the Kashmiri language is vastly spoken in the valley and in parts of Jammu and across the LoC. The difficulties the language faces are not per se in its script, it is indifferent attitude of the government towards it. Instead of helping to promote the language, the HRD ministry's move is malicious in content and dangerous in implications and politically motivated. It is to kill many birds with a single stone.
When Kosher is changed to Devnagri, Urdu is not faraway to meet the same axe, as the script of that language is also in Persio-Arabic script. That is how cultural hegemony is brought about, finally leading to cultural assimilation. Serious repercussions won't remain confined to language only. Faith will not escape the onslaught.
With Nastaliq script we have a direct easy access to Holy Quran and the Ahadees. You reach to the roots of the divine language. The very synthesis of Urdu owe a lot to Arabic, besides Persian. Then there is a huge treasure of Islamic literature, history, arts, calligraphy, teachings, culture, Ahadees (sayings of Prophet), all in Urdu. In one go we are deprived from our spiritual bonds and a treasure house of knowledge. The loss is irreparable.
Having said that, there is other equally condemnable, that from our side. In elite sections of the society talking in Kashmiri with the kids is considered below the dignity of the 'enlightened and privileged' family and hence discouraged. Those who have flattened egos of being the awardees of certain literary academies on their contribution of ' promoting' Kashmiri or running and heading some academies too are dichotomous in precept and action. It has to be noted that despite lack of patronage from government side, Kosher maintained its spoken language status simply because it is spoken in the homes, at the pulpit, in the political speeches, at the public gatherings. Perhaps it never enjoyed the patting of the Durbar, but still it thrived.
Urdu is equally not holding its glory it once held. Today a pass percentage of students in matric exams is a sufficient index to tell us how we are drawn to this language and what position we have relegated it to. A decade or two before, there was nearly 100 per cent success rate in the subject, now today it is easy for a student to pass math or science than Urdu. English has completely choked Urdu and has elbowed it out from nearly all institutions and departments and power centres. Medium of instructions used to be Urdu, now even in government run schools the medium is English. Officially Urdu is state language, but in practical terms nothing 'official' is done in this language. From legislative houses, courts, revenue, police, administrative offices and JK Bank Urdu has been shoved away. All the road mile stones, sign boards, hoardings, name plates hung on offices or engraved on marbles of residences have no attraction for Urdu. It is all- English.
In india Urdu has been identified with Muslims and banished. But in Muslim- majority Kashmir its plight is not better, though we have not chased it with trishuls. We smile on it , but deny the hospitality. I am sure with our frigidness to the language keeping the same momentum, tomorrow HRD ministry will have need to offer ' classical' type baits. We are ourselves strangulating it and taking it to Shamshan gaat. We have developed a special temperament. A slow but sure death to the language from our own hands we don't complain, rather we enjoy. We protest (rightly so) when others strike, but relish own follies.