Official language

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Urdu, the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, is being treated so badly by the system here that its official status is just confined to the official records only. Such is the miserable plight of Urdu here that many a legislators have in the past confessed even on the floor of the Assembly that state has failed to promote Urdu the way it should have been. For instance, in other states those who don’t know the official languages of these states can’t get government jobs, but in Jammu and Kashmir the situation is different. Knowing or not knowing the official language hardly matters in job matters (unless of course someone is seeking job as Urdu language teacher). This may also be one of the reasons why people too don’t feel any attraction towards Urdu. Although on the face of it, even in Kashmir now almost ninety percent of kids are taught to talk in Urdu language, which is being preferred over the mother-tongue Kashmiri, but even this does not auger any well for the language as most of these kids actually only converse in this language and can’t read and write in it!

Not only this, Urdu is steadily vanishing from the government records as well. Earlier, Urdu was the only medium, particularly for the revenue, police and judiciary. But as of today, all the official records of these departments too are being maintained in English language, which seems to have replaced the official language even in the official records and conversations. Although this has a lot of merits as well, but it has nevertheless further reduced the utility of the official language, which ideally should have been a cause of concern fort those at the helm. But it is not. And this is a bigger worry.

It is pertinent to mention here that Urdu which has remained a symbol of what is called ‘Ganga-Jamani Tehzeeb’ (secular-syncretic culture) in mainland India is the only link of popular communication between three major and scores of minor multi-lingual regions of the state. It would be not be an exaggeration to say that if Urdu dies, the three regions of the state would disintegrate as there would be no communication link left. Not many valleyites understand Dogri, similarly Jammuites can’t comprehend Kashmiri, Ladakhis aren’t comfortable with either Kashmiri or Dogri – so on and so forth. It is only the Urdu language that helps regions to communicate with each other. Therefore, had it not been the official language, the state had no other option but to adopt it. But unfortunately the authorities seem unmindful of this reality and that is why the language has started losing its relevance and with every passing day is getting buried in the archives of Revenue department and Judiciary.

It is very disheartening that the government too seems sleeping to the reality and nothing is being done to revive the lost glory of this language. Notwithstanding what politicians speak while lamenting the loss suffered by this language, government needs to explore the methods to revive Urdu and one such step can be making studying of Urdu necessary at least up-to tenth standard in schools. There are certainly hundred and one ways of getting Urdu its due if only the government and its agencies show some seriousness in this regard. Token lip-service won’t help. It needs some concrete policy and equally concerted efforts for then only can this language get what it deserves as being the official language of this God-forsaken land. And if the government can’t do this, then it is better to shun the official hypocrisy in this regard, and officially declare English or some other language as the state’s official language.

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