Lose your Language, Lose your Culture

Lose your Language, Lose your Culture
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Language and a given culture have an indelible and an inextricable link with each other. While the nature of causality might be debated but the link is so powerful that each is nothing without the other. If language is lost then culture is lost too. This has a searing resonance in Kashmir where the Kashmiri language is gradually but inexorably losing its salience in our quotidian lives, especially in and among the younger generation. The trend started years ago with the upper classes of Kashmir instructing their wards to speak in Urdu and over the years, it has percolated to all classes and sections of society. In the nature of a very unfortunate development, which can only hollow out our culture, there has neither been debate on the issue nor any serious introspection. Given the serious nature and import of the issue, it is high time society mulls the issue of the dissipation of Kashmiri language and its potential extinction sometime in the distant future. This exercise must begin with asking the most pertinent question: why is our language on the decline? The answer that yields itself is that we suffer from some deep inferiority complex which appears to be manifested in the disavowal of our language. Where this inferiority complex stems from is unclear but what is clear is that by virtue of this we are marauding our language and thereby our culture. This alarming state of affairs needs a course correction, with immediate effect. This review cannot entirely come from merely employing Kashmiri as a medium of instruction in schools or more accurately, as a component of the syllabus. The course correction and imbibing of Kashmiri and elevating it to a pedestal can only come from within. That is, it has to come from our hearts and bosoms. It is only when mothers impart Kashmiri to their young infants, when women feel a certain dignity and pride in speaking in Kashmiri among themselves and when we don’t wholeheartedly take recourse to vulgar and poor imitation of other languages and cultures. This is not to say that other languages are bad or that we should abstain from learning these. Nay, learning other languages opens up the world and curiosity about other cultures can only enrich us but all this cannot and must not come at the expense of our language and culture. Let this be taken to heart and let Kashmiri bloom once again!