Kashmiris don't know their mother tongue

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Jan 7 13:54:21 UTC 2008

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

Srinagar, Jan 06: Faced by contemptible apathy on the part of both the
administration and younger generations, 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. The 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," says
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 added.


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