Tuesday December 10, 2019

Koshur language – Carrying forward Kashmiri culture

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By Harshmeet Singh

There aren’t many better examples of India’s diverse culture than its linguistic diversity. The country is home to 780 languages with over 120 of them holding the ‘official’ status. But the other side of the story is that India currently heads the list of UNESCO’s world’s languages in danger. The constitution, in its eighth schedule, lists 22 languages as the official regional languages in the country. This series of articles is an attempt to focus on these 22 languages, their pasts and present, and cherish our linguistic diversity. After discussing about Assamese and Bodo in the previous write-ups, today, we shift our focus towards the Kashmiri language or Koshur.

Popularly known as Koshur, the Kashmiri language has over 5 and a half million speakers in India, with most of them residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The language is also spoken by over 1 lakh people in Pakistan, most of whom migrated to the country from the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri is one of the most prominent Dardic languages.

koshur table

In fact, Sir George Abraham Grierson, the Irish civil servant who conducted the Linguistic Survey of India, famously wrote, “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. He also said that the Kashmiri language is “an essential preliminary to any inquiry”.

Last year, with an aim to preserve Kashmiri language and culture, the Jammu Kashmir Cultural Confederation was formed after more than 50 small organizations carrying a similar aim came together. Well known poet and the Jnanpith award winner, Prof Rehman Rahi was appointed the chief patron of the confederation while acclaimed writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal came on board as the patron.

Kashmiri was first introduced as a medium of instruction in schools in the 1950s. But it was soon banished owing to an inelegant script. As a result, like most other regional languages in the country, Kashmiri has also witnessed a steep decline in popularity over the past several decades. To arrest the decreasing popularity, the state of J&K made the language a compulsory subject in all the schools of the state till the secondary level in November 2008.

Kashmir’s modern history has been burdened by conflicts. A number of locals in the state of J&K also accuse the central Government of neglecting the state’s indigenous culture. Maybe by helping in preserving Koshur and the Kashmiri culture in the state, the Government would be able to convince them that it wishes nothing but the best for them.

 

To read more in this series –

Bodo Sahitya Sabha – Trying to revive the language

Assamese – a bright spot in Indian regional languages scene

 

Next Story

YouTube India to Focus on Regional Languages For Driving Creator Growth

According to the company, for the past several years, video has increasingly been a medium that inspired and fascinated Indians and also became the canvas for their imagination

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YouTube
YouTube creators have become effective storytellers, with more than 1,200 Indian creators crossing the one million subscriber milestone, while just five years ago, there were only two creators with a million subscribers on the platform. Pixabay

Google-owned YouTube, which has more than 265 million monthly active users in India, will focus on regional languages to drive the growth of creators on the platform in 2020, a top company executive has said.

According to Satya Raghavan, Director, Content Partnerships, YouTube in India, the company’s focus on Indian languages will continue and it will encourage more creators to find success on the video sharing platform in the next year.

“In the last three years we saw good growth in regional languages, especially Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. We saw uptake for content in Tamil initially, and Telugu and Malayalam picked up later too,” Raghavan told IANS on Friday.

Other languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi started to evolve on YouTube India in 2016.

These Indian languages continued expanding their verticals, from comedy to gaming to beauty, and today they have a full range of content on the popular video sharing platform.

“In the twelfth year of YouTube’s journey in India, 2019 has proven to be a coming-of-age year in more ways than one,” he noted.

This year, genres such as farming, gaming and learning, grew into categories worth mentioning on YouTube, and hit massive reach and engagement.

According to the company, across categories, women creators were seen leading from the front.

YouTube
Google-owned YouTube, which has more than 265 million monthly active users in India, will focus on regional languages to drive the growth of creators on the platform in 2020, Pixabay

While 2016 had just one woman YouTube creator with a subscriber base of over one million, this year saw that number shoot to 120 women YouTube creators with over a million followers.

Asked if women creators did particularly well in a specific genre, Raghavan replied: “They did well in almost every category.”

To further encourage the engagement of viewers and also the growth of creators and content, the company will focus on learning and gaming verticals in the next year.

“We expect to focus more on growing the learning vertical, and especially gaming which will continue to see uptake among people,” noted Raghavan.

Earlier this year, the company, at its annual flagship event Brandcast, had said: “India is now both our biggest audience and one of our fastest growing audiences in the world. YouTube today has become the first stop for users to consume content, whether they’re looking for entertainment or information.”

YouTube
Other languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi started to evolve on YouTube India in 2016. Pixabay

YouTube creators have become effective storytellers, with more than 1,200 Indian creators crossing the one million subscriber milestone, while just five years ago, there were only two creators with a million subscribers on the platform.

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According to the company, for the past several years, video has increasingly been a medium that inspired and fascinated Indians and also became the canvas for their imagination. (IANS)