Members of the Kashmiri Language Union Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday held a protest demonstration in Srinagar to demand Kashmiri subject be made compulsory in secondary level in government and private schools of Jammu and Kashmir. This, according to them, would become a source of employment for the hundreds of Kashmiri language degree holders who are in search of jobs and livelihood. But is an issue of even greater concern. Job opportunity is secondary thing. The first and foremost is that the identity of a people is at risk. The Kashmiri, as language, is at the verge of extinction. It is being thrown out of our homes and institutions like the most unwanted things. This is, genuinely, a matter of greater concern as the very identity of the people of Kashmir is under serious threat. Mother tongue is a fundamental tag that ties people into a particular identity. More than geographical identities, it is the idiom you inherit that makes you a people. Humans tend to dream in their mother tongue and it is the language you speak that shapes up your perceptions. But it is to note with great concern that we are fast losing this peculiar identity.
The Kashmiri language, which binds us into a distinctive character, is dying a leisurely death. The official apathy apart, the people who get identified by this language are no less responsible for its gradual fall. There is hardly any household, more particularly at middle class and upper class levels, where this language is spoken. People take pride in making their children speak other languages than mother tongue. This is true about those too who swear by this language day in and day out. Its natural corollary is that our new generation has distanced from their mother tongue. A feeling of guilt and a complex of inferiority is overtaking them when they talk in their mother tongue. It should not be viewed as exaggeration that many a Bihari labourers speak Kashmiri language better than the progenies of some middle and upper class Kashmiri families. The official apathy has only but added to the demise of Kashmiri language. The entire government machinery is busy with fulfilling political agenda. They measures things, howsoever non-political these may be, only through the thermometer of politics. The southern states of India could have been a great example for the government to follow in promoting Kashmiri language. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have accorded top priorities to their respective languages and the governments there in place have done everything to promote and preserve their languages. Not many years ago, Tamil Nadu government imposed ban on telecast of Hindi news from national network of Doordarshan. In the prime time news, the Tamil Nadu Kendra of Doordarshan, instead, telecast local news in local language. The same is true about Kerala and Andhra as well. These states kept their languages alive through the medium of films, dramas and other prorgrammes telecast from Doordarshan. It would not be going overboard to say that Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar is the primary institution of destroying Kashmiri language. The time slot allotted to Kashmiri language in DDK programmes could not be more than three hours in 24-hour transmission.
The role of civil society and NGOs has been even worse. Dozens of language promotion groups surfaced in mid-90s all across Kashmir, pleading and campaigning for promotion of Kashmiri language. Most of these groups had been formed with limited political agenda. They vanished from the scene soon after completing what they had been formed for. The politics over Kashmiri language is still on. Some groups based in Delhi are trying hard to get the present script of Kashmiri language, which resembles to Urdu and Persian, changed into Devnagri (Hindi). Some time back they submitted a memorandum to the ministry of Human Development Resources (HRD) to change the script. If this happens, it would be the last nail in the coffin of this language. Against this backdrop, the latest demand for introducing Kashmiri language in secondary schools is quite genuine and the government should not ignore the demand for petty political reasons.
A premeditated murder
Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president who was later ousted from power, passed away on Tuesday. The 67-year old Muslim Brotherhood leader collapsed and died in a court during a session. Reports said that Mursi had just recorded his statement in the court during his trial on espionage charges when he collapsed. He was rushed o hospital where doctors declared him dead. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice political party said in a statement published on its website Monday that Egyptian authorities are responsible for Morsi’s “deliberate slow death” because they “withheld medication and gave him disgusting food. They did not give him the most basic human rights.” The group called for masses to gather at his funeral in Egypt as well as at Egyptian embassies around the world. Morsi was elected president in 2012 in Egypt’s first free elections following the ouster the previous year of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Morsi promised a moderate Islamist agenda and a new democratic era, but his time in power proved difficult, with critics accusing him of trying to amass power and impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative brand of politics on the country. He was ousted from power under a military coup. Egypt’s army chief Gen Al Sisi led the coup. He is now the country’s president elected through sham elections which is o less than authoritarian rule. The country’s complete reversion to authoritarian rule has been overlooked by the world community. The United States, once a full-throated supporter of Egypt’s fledgling democracy, quietly acquiesced to the country’s authoritarian revival. Then President Barak Obama lifted an arms freeze against Egypt and told Al-Sisi that the White House would support resuming $1.3 billion in annual military aid “in the interest of U.S. national security.” American stooges, the Saudi Salafies and United Arab Emirate were other accomplices involved in criminality against Mursi, his Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian people. Saudi Kingdom, which symbolizes the monarchy in the region, has shown its horrendous face by not only supporting the carnage of Brotherhood but also declared the socio-political organization as ‘terrorist”. Egypts so-called Salfis, who feed on Saudi charity, too have rejoiced over the brutality against Brotherhood. What they and the West forget is that by persecuting and banishing dissent, they are forcing democratic movements to go underground and become violent.
More than 5000 people were killed and thousands others wounded in the military crackdown against Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Thousands others were arrested and jailed where they were subjected to worst means of torture. Amnesty International (AI), in a report said that 16000 people were arrested and jailed after Mursi’s removal. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights initiative WikiThawra stated that more than 40,000 people were detained or indicted between July 2013 and mid-May 2014. Morsy and his co-defendants were accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to break into several prisons across Egypt in January 2011 and of facilitating the escape of Morsy and 20,000 others. The jailbreak came amid the chaos of the January 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak and led to Morsy’s election the following year. After his arrest, Morsi gave angry speeches in court and continuously insisted he remained Egypt’s legitimate president. His speeches led judges to order him kept in a glass cage during court sessions where they could turn off his audio. He was later sentenced to death. However, the apex court of the Egypt stayed the death sentence and ordered re-opening and re-hearing of the case. Turkey’s President RecepTayyipErdogan, who was a strong ally of Morsi when he was in power, paid tribute to the former president on Monday calling him a “martyr,” while calling current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “cruel.” Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, another backer of Morsi, tweeted his condolences, saying he received the news of Morsi’s death with “deep sorrow.”
Governor’s plain talk
Merely a few days after Governor Sat Paul Malik dismissed the notion of autonomy as achievable goal, the National Conference has reiterated its commitment with the state’s autonomy and said that the party would continue to struggle for the restoration of autonomy. After party patriarch Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah, the NC general secretary Al Mohammad Sagar has joined the party’s autonomy song. Sagar, on Sunday, said that his party was not demanding anything new or outside the gambit of India constitution but what the state had been granted under the country’s constitution. The NC’s call for restoration of autonomy comes just with days after Governor Sat Paul Malik called the proponents of such slogans as “fraudsters cheating people”. Malik minced no words in condemning the political establishment of the state (both anti and pro mainstream) and said that Kashmiri politicians were cheating the people of the state by raising fake slogans. The NC’s reiteration of commitment with the autonomy comes at a time when the party is almost in election-mode. Though no date has been fixed for the assembly elections and the President’s rule has been extended for another six months, there are speculations that the assembly elections could be held by the end of this year. After winning all the three parliamentary seats in the valley in recently held general elections, the NC is dreaming of a great comeback in the assembly elections. The party has activated all its leaders and cadres to reach out to the people ahead of elections. In most of the constituencies, the party has nominated its possible candidates while search for candidates in other constituencies is going on. There are reports that the NC is trying to woo some PDP leaders and former MLAs to its fold to make most of the coming elections. In coming days, the party is going to raise its pitch on restoration of autonomy to the state. analyzing Governor’s dig on the NC with regard to the autonomy, one finds a merit in his statement.
It is a well known fact that the restoration of autonomy or pre-53 position to the state is an old demand of the National Conference but this, too, is a fact that the party had never been serious and sincere about the demand. Whether autonomy is a solution to the issue of Kashmir or not is a separate debate but the very question is whether National Conference (NC) is serious in what it demands. Had the NC leadership been sincere in their demand for pre-53 status to the state, the eruption of militancy had provided them a great chance to barter it with New Delhi. Government of India was desperate to ink a deal with any political party in Kashmir to get the state back on peace rails. Then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao in 1996 promised ‘anything short of Azadi’. “Sky is the limit”, he had said. But the NC leadership again faulted here and they accepted power against the wishes of common people without making any political or constitutional bargaining with government of India. The most humiliating moment for the party came in 2000 when its resolution on autonomy was summarily dismissed by then BJP-led government. The resolution was passed by the state legislature in a specially convened session in June that year. Given the NC’s history of compromises on its political agenda it sounds quite bizarre when its leaders talk of autonomy. The NC never talks of autonomy when in power. That is sufficiently known to the people of the state and the men and managers in New Delhi as well. It is sheer political hypocrisy to demand a thing the party does not believe in. The NC leadership knows it well that the party was never serious in demanding autonomy. They raise the slogan of autonomy only to bargain power with the centre.
India and Pakistan have missed yet a key opportunity to build relations. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting held last week at Bishkek had brought together the Prime Ministers of the two countries. They could have turned it into a historic opportunity by laying foundation for a road to peace and friendship in the subcontinent. But the two leaders demonstrated the immaturity and juvenile behavior of college naughties by avoiding each other during the meeting. Both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, along with other leaders, attended the opening ceremony of 19th meeting of the council of the heads of state of the SCO. Imran Khan and Narendra Modi entered the hall together however, they avoided each other while entering the meeting hall. Both the leaders also attended the dinner reception hosted by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov in honour of leaders participating in the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). But they allowed this opportunity to go waste. Both the leaders were sitting a few seats apart at the dinner in the Kyrgyz capital. However, both of them didn’t exchange any pleasantries even as they greeted other world leaders at the multilateral engagement. It was on the second day of the meeting that Khan and Modi found some moments to shake hands and exchange some pleasantries. The two Prime Ministers had meetings with the leaders of all other participating countries on the sidelines of the meeting but avoided what could have proved crucial and historic. In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. He underlined the need for Pakistan to take concrete action in order to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Imran Khan is reported to have raised the issue of Kashmir with Russian President Putin during sideline meetings. This is sheer childish and infantile that the two Prime Ministers talked to other leaders but avoided talking with each other.
It goes without saying that India and Pakistan have some simmering problems that are weighing heavily on their relations. These issues—Kashmir being the main one—have potential of pushing the two countries to a devastating war as was seen in February in the aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack. But the leaders and people of both the countries know that they cannot afford war. Since both the countries are nuclear, there can be no limited war. It would be full-fledged nuclear war. Recent warnings by some keen experts have said that, at least, 10 crore peoples with die in a war between India and Pakistan. They have also warned that besides mass death, there could be a nuclear winter for at least three to four months in the subcontinent which could have furthermore deadly consequences. When war is not an option, the Indian and Pakistani leadership have to realize the importance and urgency of dialogue. They cannot live with problems for ever. Problems are to be sorted out and resolved through sustained dialogue. It is unfortunate that despite knowing the importance of dialogue, the two countries are avoiding it. Some recent gestures when Pakistan opened its air space for over-flight of former Indian foreign minister Suhsma Swaraj and its willingness to open the space again for Prime Minister Modi on way to Bishkek, had generated a glimpse of hope that the two countries were opening up for each other but Prime Minister Modi avoided to use Pakistani air space that further dampened the already murky atmosphere. India and Pakistan have to rise above the domestic requirements and compulsions of politics and realize the importance of dialogue in larger perspective. It is anybody’s guess that this compulsion will force the two countries to sit on the table. But earlier the better
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