Zakir Habib Mir
In the mean of evolution, man has come across many barriers and left behind many traditional marks. Today we are living in a time where man has evolved to a level of imagination and this is accompanied by the innovation and development of new technologies which are making the process even faster. But the cruelty of evolution lies in the fact that it carries with itself the renouncement of one’s identity.
If we introspect and take a look around ourselves, we may find that we as Kashmiris have come a long way hitting ax on the trunk of the tree of our culture called ‘Kashmiriyat’. We are rapidly replacing the Kashmiri concept with different attributes of life, the thing we call ourselves proud of is going away from our lives like sand in a fist. We are watering the leaves while cutting the roots. In every aspect, we are running away from our traditions and choosing their western counterparts. I don’t feel the need of citing any examples here because as Kashmiri we all must be well aware of what is happening. What is even more worrying is the rate at which we are doing these replications.
As a prudent being, what worries me most is the decline of our mother tongue Kashmiri which is the fore sign of our identity and which is on the verge of the worst. The repercussions of modernization have cost us our identity and ‘Kashmiri’ as a language is facing the worst decline ever. While steps are being taken for the revival of the subordinate traditions, the Kashmiri language is experiencing a rapid slump and the population speaking this language is reducing exponentially. This is not to blame a particular area or class of people as the cause of the situation but to generate a realization of the seriousness of the situation and the need to take steps at the earliest to avoid the loss of our identity.
The importance of language representing an identity lies in the fact that when Sir Syed Ahmad Khan took the charge of reforming the Muslim society in British India(post-1857), he first took up the matter of the revival of ‘Urdu’ as a court language: which had faced some severe jolts previously because he was well aware of the fact that if he failed to impart the language into the younger generation he could never restore Muslims of their lost prestige. This is because language is not only the medium of communication but it also serves as a storehouse of the history of the particular community or region it is associated with, the knowledge of which is necessary for every individual for it creates a sense of belonging and the urge of its revival for the greater cause.
Steps, therefore, are needed to be taken at the ground level for the revival of the Kashmiri language to avoid its extinction. For example, parents need to guide their children to use Kashmiri as a medium of conservation on regular occasions right from their childhood because this is the age at which they learn and develop a love for a particular thing, authorities must include the language as a compulsory subject in both government as well as private institutions up to the secondary level and instruct the tutors to teach students the basics of the language and make them aware of its importance as an identity, literary works in Kashmiri must be given due encouragement like every other language and the use of Kashmiri in different governmental institutions must be made an obligation as well.