India: ‘Kashmiris don’t know their mother tongue’

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Sep 12 14:25:03 UTC 2007

'Kashmiris don't know their mother tongue'
Tanveen Kawoosa

Srinagar, Sep 10:Faced by contemptible apathy on the part of both the
administration and younger generation, Kashmiri language having a
history of 5,000 years of rich literary tradition, is losing its place
to English and Urdu. The trend is alarming particularly in wake of the
fact that no steps were being taken to restore its pristine glory,
neither by the custodians of the language nor the administration.
Observers feel that only younger generation can not be blamed for this
indifferent attitude towards its own mother tongue. It is tragic that
Kashmiri language has not received the attention and due recognition
from the policy makers.

"There is no language policy in our State. The education department,
from primary level to University, is in utter confusion. The language
formula they have adopted has no place for the mother tongue,"
expresses Shafi Shouq, Head of Department, University of Kashmir.
"State Board of School Education invites either poets or screenplay
writers from television to decide the content of text books. Most of
these books contain mere poetry, which is beyond the understanding of
children. Text books must aim at providing basic knowledge to students
in their mother tongue," he said.

Exonerating the youth for preferring other languages over Kashmiri
Shauq said, "If younger generation gives priority to Urdu over
Kashmiri they are not to be blamed. This indifference stems from the
fact that Kashmiri language has never been taught in schools. They are
not well versed with its syntax and vocabulary."
In 1950s Kashmiri language besides being a compulsory subject was also
the medium of instruction. Ironically in 1953 this language was
excluded from school curriculum "for political reasons". Now for the
last four years, the government has been claiming that it is keen to
reintroduce it at the school level. But lack of administrative and
political will is hindering the move.

Shauq maintains that lame excuse put forward by government that there
is paucity of Kashmiri literature falls flat as there is a repertoire
of books available in this language. He further asserts that
enthusiasm and commitment of the writers to their mother tongue make
them to produce almost 100 books every year. "Sahitya Academy New
Delhi has also published around 400 books in Kashmiri language.
Moreover, with the active cooperation of all experts, the text books
and ancillary teaching material can be developed within no time,"
Shauq reiterates. "I think Kashmiri language has a bright future, it
would not die. Nevertheless, its due status needs to be restored," he

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