Kashmiri Language: Problems and promotions

Published at November 10, 2017 12:12 AM 0Comment(s)8199views

There are no hoardings, sign boards, and advertisements in Kashimiri language, particularly in the Valley 

Kashmiri Language: Problems and promotions

Altaf Hussain Haji


Kashmiri or Koshur, is a language from the Dardic subgroup of the Indo-Aryan languages and it is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley and Chenab valley of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Kashmiri language is traditionally written in the Sharada script after the 8th Century A.D. This script however, is not in common use today, except for religious ceremonies of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Today it is written in Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts (with some modifications).

There are approximately 5,554,496 speakers in Kashmiri throughout India as per census of India 2011. Kashmiri is close to other Dardic languages spoken in Gilgit, Pakistan and in northern regions of Kargil. Outside the Dardic group, tonal aspects and loanwords of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit, especially its northern dialects.

The Kashmiri language is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India,and is a part of the eighth Schedule of the constitution of India   as per articles 344(1) and 351.

There is also recognition of Kashmiri language along with other regional languages mentioned in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Most Kashmiri speakers use Urdu or English as a second language.

Since November 2008, the Kashmiri language has been made a compulsory subject in all government schools in the Valley up to the middle level and recently government of Jammu and Kashmir extended the Kashmiri language up to secondary level as one of the compulsory language subject.

The government at present thrusts the learning of Kashmiri language in the current curriculum with the hope that Kashmiri language will survive in future for day-to-day business of life. But it is not the solution to learn language Kashmiri. It needs strong programme and policy at all levels in Jammu Kashmir where Kashmiri is part of development and promoted.

There are many ways in Jammu Kashmir where a substantial improvement can be brought about in Kashmiri language, for instance tourism is sector where the government of Jammu Kashmir and people of hesitate to promote Kashmiri in many linked sectors of tourism in Jammu Kashmir. This hesitation also effects badly with our culture, business and other matters.

There is hardly any hoarding, sign boards, and advertisement in Kashimiri language particularly in Valley Kashmir. The government office are not able to implement Kashmiri language in office for sign boards, hording and advertisements.

Every office is having sign boards either in English or Urdu. Everywhere we see the hoardings and advertisements in only English and Urdu language.

The media sectors including Doordarshan (DD), All India Radio (AIR) Srinagar and local media society are not able to do justice with the Kashmiri language. The print and electronic media is dominated and overloaded with the materials in English, Urdu and Hindi languages.

There are provisions of act and rules as per Constitution of Jammu Kashmir where we can stress for improving and implementation of Kashmiri language. Although, there is government set up by the name of Jammu Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages was set up by provision to Section 146 of the Constitution of Jammu Kashmir in the year 1958 to foster and coordinate activities in the spheres of letters and languages, visual and plastic arts, music, dance and drama and of culture generally, in the State of Jammu Kashmir and to promote through them all the cultural unity of the State with the other states of the country. 

There is hardly any matter available in Kashmiri language on internet in websites etc. Irony, of the fact is that the home page of the website for Jammu Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, is in English language with no translation option. It shows how much injustice is being done with Kashmiri language.

Also, there are hardly any write-ups, orders, discussions and workshops government side in Kashmiri language.

Recently, having an opportunity to attend 38th Conference of Adbee Markaz Kamraz Jammu Kashmir held at Bandipora from 15th to 16th October, 2017 in which great scholars, experts, teachers and other eminent persons were present.

The management of Adbee Markaz Kamraz Jammu Kashmir did nice arrangement for all the participants that show the discipline and decorum of the federation. 

The Adbee Markaz Kamraz Jammu Kashmir is a federation of 25 literary and cultural organizations from north Kashmir, referred to as Kamraz in literary terms.

The conference was attended by eminent persons, scholars, writers, teachers, and students irrespective of caste, creed, religion and colour.

The conference was purely on the Kashmiri language, its impacts on day-to-day life and its promotion at different level. 

During deliberations of conference it was surprising to see impressions regarding promotions and improvement of implementing Kashmiri language in day-to-day life. 

I have learned many things as a local officer of Central Civil Services. Being the only local Kashmiri officer of Indian Statistical Service (ISS) and headed by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Regional office Srinagar.

The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has been in service to the nation since 1950. It has been instrumental in developing a strong database on various Socio-Economic parameters through its countrywide sample surveys, which have helped the Central as well as State Governments in development planning and policy formulation.

The success of these surveys thus critically depends on the quality of the response from public. The officers of NSSO may be approaching public for collection of necessary data. Without co-operation and necessary support from local households and enterprises, it will not be possible to get required reliable data.

NSSO, therefore, appeals every time before starting survey to all in the jurisdiction of regional office Srinagar which includes Kashmir region to extend your kind co-operation to our officers approaching for various surveys and to spare your valuable time to provide them correct and complete information. It shows that NSSO have direct link with local language Kashmiri.

Here, I want to say that local employees and officers of this office have not any difficulty to collect data in local language and converted into prescribed formats. The non-local employees and officers of this office having difficulty to collect data from local households and establishments with a problem of local language which effects the quality of data collected by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) under the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Government of India regional office Srinagar. 

Due to this problem addressed at higher quarters and they advised and instruct to impart local language training to the non-local employees so that they will able to collect quality data.

We have approached to the local government authority including Directorate School Education Kashmir, Department of Kashmiri University of Kashmir and Academy of Art, Culture and Languages of Jammu Kashmir regarding the basic learning training of Kashmiri for non-local employees of the NSSO.

The non-local employees are not yet able to learn local language due to poor response. The non response from Kashmiri related institutions is due to following reasons:

  • There is not any separate training institution at government level or private custody.
  • The department of concerned language lacks the mission and vision to learn others.

There is no doubt that language Kashmiri is thrown out from our homes and we prefer to learn other language.  We the Kashmiri are ignoring the mother language to speak at homes and public places.

It is fact that Kashmiri language is used in day-to-day life, culture, heritage and others matters but we are not yet able to promote our culture, heritage and other links sectors of daily life with the help of Kashmiri language.

The government of Jammu Kashmir is trying to keep Kashmiri language alive by forcing and stressing which is not the way. Every sector in Jammu Kashmir from any walk of life has direct or indirect relation with language Kashmiri but we are not able and ready to promote it.

We the people of Kashmir valley now ought to learn, speaks and promote language Kashmiri by not only depending on government but private sector as well should be equally involved and in fact every individual as well.

In the backdrop of the above problems some suggestions given below, if implemented can give a boost to Kashmiri language.

  • Technology: The present era is the era of technology. Any kind of growth in any field is possible only if supported by technology. The fate of Kashmiri language in this regard is very ugly as there is no solid technological support to Kashmiri language. The need of the hour is that technology should be fully utilized in its promotion. Irony, of the fact is that in the 21st century there is neither website in Kashmiri language nor there is any bilingual website with the translation to Kashmiri language.
  • Training: The well equipped full-fledged training institutes for training the adults in Kashmiri language are nonexistent. The government and concerned agencies should take up this issue very seriously as there is a good number of non local (non Kashmiri) people working in Kashmir. For instance the non local (non Kashmiri) staff working in different departments of Central Government are very keen to learn the local (Kashmiri) language so that they can deliver their best. For instance National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) keeps a sound provision for training of staff posted in Kashmir region for conducting of various surveys with the help of local language so that better quality data could be collected at the grass root level.
  • Publicity Measures: It is suggested that all the road side hoardings, kiosks, departmental signboards and name plates should be written in Kashmiri language as well and the use of Kashmiri language at public places should be appreciated. This should be initiated by the government and subsequently made compulsory for the Private sector. For instance the methods used by Department of Tourism for promotion of tourism should use Kashmiri language as well like Captions etc. just like other states in India.
  • Translation: It should be made mandatory by the government that all the rules /orders/notifications including gazette notifications etc in any language should have a translation in Kashmiri language just like for hind language promotion in government of India.
  • Capacity Development: Further there should be compulsory periodic Capacity Development Programmes for in-service all employees and officers of Jammu Kashmir government.


Author is Director National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Field Operations Division (FOD) Regional Office, Srinagar.


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