Decline in Kashmiri language usage threatens our cultural identity

Decline in Kashmiri language usage threatens our cultural identity

Raja Syed Rather

Srinagar, Jan 01 : In a worrying trend, the Kashmiri language is experiencing a significant decline, especially among the younger generation, with civil society raising concerns about the erosion of cultural identity.

For them, the importance of language as a vital cultural bond and a means of effective communication cannot be overstated. They said the apparent drop in Kashmiri language proficiency needs urgent intervention.

Speaking with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), renowned poet and writer Zareef Ahmed Zareef highlighted the historical significance of the Kashmiri language, saying it has served as a language of culture for over 5000 years.

He acknowledged the impact of English-medium schools on the language but cautioned against the total adoption of languages other than Kashmiri, terming it a cultural loss.

“Kashmiris used the language correctly around fifty years ago. By then, the use of Kashmiri had been impacted by the presence of English-medium schools. It included vocabulary from several languages, including Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit,” Zareef said, adding the “total adoption” of languages other than Kashmiri is “essentially a cultural loss”.

Social activist Bilal Bhat from Ganderbal expressed concern over the diminishing use of Kashmiri among children. He said that during visits to various schools, it was observed that many kids were unable to speak or understand Kashmiri.

Acknowledging the importance of English proficiency in a global context, he stresses the need not to neglect the teaching of the Kashmiri language.

“It is the responsibility of parents and elders to ensure that future generations inherit this linguistic gem, which plays a crucial role in preserving the vibrant culture deeply embedded in the language,” Bhat said.

Bilal advocated for incorporating Kashmiri language learning into school curricula and extracurricular activities. “The goal of such initiatives is to instill a sense of pride in Kashmir’s linguistic history and counter the language degradation observed in recent years,” he said.

Tauqeer Ashraf, a science graduate from Pulwama, has taken to various social media platforms to promote the Kashmiri language. He said urgent measures are needed to transmit the language to future generations.

“Preserving the language is not only about linguistic heritage but also about safeguarding the cultural richness encapsulated in Kashmir’s tales, rituals, and distinct identity,” he said—(KNO)

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