Westernization Threat To Kashmiri Language, Says Literati

3 June 2014
Rising Kashmir
Manzoor-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: Writers, poets and other literary experts Tuesday expressed a serious concern over the 'negative impact of aggressive westernization on the indigenous civilization and language of Kashmir.' They were speaking at a Literary Meet 'Power of words' at Delhi Public School Athwajan here as a part of art and literary week. 'There is a strong and nasty wave of westernization coming which has a serious impact on indigenous culture of Kashmir. However, people especially young students should not remain as mere slaves of westernization. They must firmly hold their own culture and language even while becoming conversant with the global language,' prominent poetess Naseem Shifai, said. Referring to the 'callous attitude' of people towards the Kashmiri language, she said it raised serious questions about the future of languages, and about the profound lacunae at different levels in the society. 'This is quite unlucky for the identity of Kashmir as a society,' she lamented. Shifai stressed the need to revive the past oral traditions of Kashmir to enrich knowledge of students in the folklore. 'They should read poetry and prose of local poets and writers including Sheikh-ul-Aalam (RA), Lal Ded and Rasool Mir,' she recommended. 'We need to encourage new writing in our own languages or else, our concern for culture will amount to nothing but tokenism,' she said, and hoped that the school would provide a forum for such development. Senior academician and linguist, Prof GR Malik highlighted the phenomenon of evolution of culture through literature and performing art. He spoke about different forms of literature and challenges thereof. 'There is no doubt that literature and language has faced different challenges in different periods. However, we can triumph over all of them if we recognize our own language as a window to our culture, history and identity,' Prof Malik said. 'Many people are now drifting from their mother tongue, but unsure about English. There is nothing great about those who spoke English with right accent and pronunciation. They are not the only who scale heights of social order,' he said. Kashmiri scholar Dheeba Nazir, spoke about the challenges in keeping alive local languages, saying there was no guarantee a language would survive the test of time. 'The languages that are likeable to win out in the due course are the ones employed in the corridors of power,' she said, adding that Urdu and Kashmir have lingered by virtue of their wider communication as compared to regional languages. Dheeba, who writes short stories in Kashmiri, said: 'Language and culture are the most intimate things one can have. They can be best preserved by teaching them in schools and introducing them in course books,' English Literature student, Huzaifa Pandit stressed the importance of subaltern literature and bringing it to the forefront to encourage young writers. He offered a poetic perspective rather than a structural one while speaking about area of his study. He underlined the need for literary forums to enlighten locals about their history and culture. Notable the literary meet was organized by the Department of English, DPS under the leadership of its HoD, Saira Raza. On the occasion Naseem Shifai alleviated the audience with her poetry. Students also enthralled guests and other participants with musical performances singing poetry of Samad Mir and Abdul Ahad Azad. Principal of the school expressed gratitude to the students and guests for their participation in the program.