Lest we repent!

Hamidullah Dar

Slowly and steadily, Kashmiri language is losing its ground in the very land that happens to share its name. Although dozens of the languages world over extinct every year and nobody notices their vanishing, the case is extremely different with Kashmiri. With speaker strength of more than eight million people, its extinction, as thought of in not far away future, may be a disaster for a people who have no other identity than their language.
Nations with its people sharing the same language are doing everything to preserve their language and ensure its perpetuation by transferring it to their children through day to day interaction, formal education and other means. China, for example, has adopted an aggressive policy to broaden the speaker base of their own languages by thrusting them on the minor linguistic groups. China is doing the same in case of Mandarin Chinese (mother tongue to the highest number of people in the world) over people like Uyghur. Despite being the most difficult (written) language in the world, progressive Chinese made every effort to make their mother tongue computer friendly which has arrested the trend of English usage in China.
World over, billions of dollars are spent on the proliferation of languages to exhibit dominance and instil a sense of inferiority among gullible people like Kashmiris about their languages. At a time when language imperialism is going on globally, Kashmiris are hell bent to offer their identity for destruction. What an irony! Psychologically speaking, a child who is unaware of his mother tongue suffers from inferiority complex, though visibly there may not be any signs of it.
Kashmiris’ love-lost towards their language can have enormous political implications in the future. A people speaking a stinking mess of words from different languages with no standard structure will have nothing common to hold together except the geographical unit they live in. And this will rob the next generation of their identity and political aspirations. Almost equal in number to Kashmiris, Jews dug a dead language from the pages of ancient books to adopt it. The thread of language and the zeal with which it was spread among Jews bore the fruit and today there is no Jew in the world who does not know Hebrew, an archaic language almost dead like Sanskrit just a century ago. Blended with a dose of Zionism, Jews dictate the terms to the world, especially Muslim world.
Kashmiris on the other hand have a language that is one branch of the Aryan like Sanskrit and not part of Sanskrit as was promoted by scholars of a certain motivation. Having long history that precedes modern languages like English, there must have been no qualms in speaking it. Unfortunately, Kashmiris are generally unaware of the treasure they posses in the form of language. The indifference is not limited to common man even those who claim to be its champions proved its worst enemies. Having eked out their livelihood in the name of promoting this language, they were the first to teach their children other languages than Kashmiri.
J&K Cultural Academy which was meant to lend succour to the languages spoken in the state has done little in their promotion except publishing a few books which are accumulating dust on the shelves of some ‘champions’ of languages. It is astonishing for any linguist that more than 90 percent of Kashmiri school children are not taught Kashmiri language in their schools. Hardly a few thousand persons, among eight million Kashmiris, can write this language which manifests Kashmiris’ insensitivity. Nation states took shape mostly due to linguistic bond among people of a geographical unit. And when Kashmiris, without any direct coercion from any quarter, lose their language, an identity crisis will be eminent.

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