Official Languages Policy & its fallout
Latief u zaman Deva
Addition of precisely & actually 03 more languages to the 01+01 official languages in J&K, the latter having been on the analogy of the position at national level excepting Urdu swapping Hindi, aims at pampering the ultra chauvinists from a particular ethnic & linguistic community representing 21% of the J&K UT population apparently as a vote Bank strategy which is fraught with(a) potential for linguistic polarization inasmuch as these chauvinists getting isolated territorially in face of total unanimity amongst almost all sections of UT for retention of Urdu as the official language and use of the English till Urdu is enabled to replace it fully on the pattern of the position about Hindi viz English at national level and (b) imminent threat to the territorial unity of JK assiduously nurtured since 1846 by successive regimes through various measures including by the use of Urdu as an official language having the attributes of a lingua franca for the State (now UT) followed by mounting demands for inclusion of Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi in the list which are mother tongues of these linguistic Communities forming 10%, 09%& above 2.5% of the population especially the ist & 2nd even holding territories in full in pir Panchal region consisting of the 02 Districts of Punch & Rajouri and in parts of remaining Distts.Sooner the Govtt in response to popular aspirations may yield the better for the reasons of these communities extra- ordinary contribution to fostering of national interests and in that eventuality the no of languages shall shot up to 08.No administration worth its name can afford transaction of official business in 05 to 08 languages except at its peril.Imagine the fallout of correspondence and public services in multiple unknown & unfamiliarised scripts except 01 to 02 languages known to the concerned stakeholders and desirability for translations at various levels in the hierarchy, prima facie a stupendous unproductive avoidable job with diminishing benefits leading to administrative anarchy.The managing of sharpened linguistic backgrounds in UT, with Kashmiri,Dogri and Gojri/Pahari spoken by absolute majority in 13,04,02 Distts respectively & in remaining 01 Distt of Reasi in various proportions, shall be a daunting & hilarious job pregnant with scope for scant satisfying outcomes in an era where quicker and hassle free planks are the buzzwords more so when sizeable numbers of people from these Communities are also spread in Distts of majority of other linguistic societies. However in recognition of total sweep of Hindi in the 04 Distts of Jammu Plains the supply of revenue records & delivery of services in other public utilities could be in Hindi also apart from Urdu as is the position in the matter of electoral rolls for these Distts. (Udhampur, Jammu, Samba and Kathwa).
JK is an embodiment of unity in linguistic, ethnic,geographical and historical diversities unlike the other States in the country being linguistically homogenous and therefore declaration of the mother tongues in these States as official languages has not been as problematic as the position in JK would be in the scenario unfolded in the proposed Bill which even has not addressed the sequential status of the 05 languages.Declaration of Urdu as official language followed by Hindi as 2nd official language in the above 04 Distts would not have acted as something alarming with sinister designs. A somewhat similar dispensation is available in Delhi and UP.Bowing before the ground realities the Dogra regime headed by Mahraja Pratap Singh replaced Persian with Urdu & same carried forward by the Constituent Assembly of J&K while adopting the State Constitution.
The Promotion of regional languages is undoubtedly necessitated but by taking the linguistic profile into account for purposes of interventions by the Govtt which so for have been grossly inadequate to Kashmiri representing 56% of the population and spread across the UT and in absolute majority in Kashmir Valley and Chenab Valley.Be it in Cultural Academy or creation of posts in Higher Education Deptt, time slots earmarked by Central broadcasting organizations for electronic media & in other spheres both at Central level and in the UT under the camouflage of parity the language spoken by more than half of the population has got relegated to levels wherefrom its retrieval is called for to ensure its optimum growth assuaging the hurt sentiments of people spread across the UT.
The Regional linguistic cum ethnic profile of J&K is hereinbelow for appreciation of the readers.