The Kashmiri language, called “Koshur”, is spoken by more than 7 million people in the Kashmir region. It is also spoken in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Its main two dialects are Kishtawari and Poguli. In ancient times it was written in Sharda script but the script is not being used for a long time now. The Perso-Arabic script is currently the main script used for Kashmiri. The Roman script is also used to write Kashmiri online. In 2020, Kashmiri became the state’s official language along with other regional languages. It is also scheduled in the Indian Constitution along with other 22 languages. In November 2008 the Kashmiri language was made compulsory up until secondary level in government schools in Kashmir.
Despite all of this, this beautiful and unique language is on the decline in today’s Kashmir. Urdu and English have become the preferred medium of instruction in schools as well as of common use. Although attempts are being made to revive this language, little inclination is seen in students to pursue the Kashmiri language in higher studies.
As John Ciardi said, “Tell me how much a nation knows about its language, and I will tell you how much that nation knows about its own identity”. To prevent this unique language from going extinct, and to preserve our identity, this language needs to be revived. This can be done by normalising speaking Kashmiri at public places like schools, universities, and offices. Parents should prefer speaking in Kashmiri with their children at home. We can also contribute to its revival by making content available in the Kashmiri language on the internet.
In this digital era, the content available on the internet in and about the Kashmiri language and its literature is abysmal. However, a group of native speakers is making efforts to keep this heritage alive by launching a project on Wikipedia called ‘Kashmiri Wikipedia’ dedicated to the Kashmiri language.
Kashmiri Wikipedia is the Kashmiri language version of Wikipedia which is a non-profit project hosted by Wikimedia foundation, the same organisation which hosts the English Wikipedia. Kashmiri Wikipedia is run by volunteers who create pages in the Kashmiri language to provide free information to all. Kashmiri Wikipedia was started in 2004 by some volunteers. It has been in an underdeveloped stage since, but the activities regained momentum during mid-2020. As of March 2022 there are more than 1,000 articles on Kashmiri Wikipedia
“Our main aim is to keep Kashmiri language alive in digital world,” says user 511KeV, who has been working for Kashmiri language for more than a year now.
Kashmiri Wikipedia can be accessed at https://ks.wikipedia.org
• Who can edit Wikipedia?
Everyone with a basic knowledge of Kashmiri and an accessible internet connection can edit Wikipedia. Even the registration on Kashmiri Wikipedia is optional.
There are currently 8,900 registered users, out of which only 30 users are active. All the users who contribute to Wikipedia do it on a volunteer basis.
• Why Wikipedia?
“The volunteers have preferred Wikipedia for the development of the Kashmiri language because it is accessible to all and it is a non-profit project,” says 511KeV.
• Other languages:
Currently, Wikipedia is active in 213 languages all around the world. Indian Language Wikipedias include Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Manipuri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Newari, Odia, Pali, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and Tulu.