Written By Rakshit
Just like all their compatriot sub-nationalities sharing the land mass of India, the people of Jammu have their own culture too. The people of Jammu have a totally different culture than that of the valley. They have their own language( Majority Dogri, but Poonchi, Bhadarwai and Gojri are also spoken) heritage, history and ethical Values.
Though mainly Hindus, many Dogras also follow Sikhism and Islam, and some 30 % of the Jammuites are Muslims.
It’s important to mention the crisis of the Dogra mother tongue. After Independence in comparison to other languages spoken in India, it’s level has declined badly and run the risk of being on the brink of extinction.
Though the main culprits for this condition of the Mother-tongue are we Jammuites, Government has also played its role without fail.
On the one hand, where Kashmiri is taught in every school in Kashmir Division up to Matric, there is no such provision in respect to Dogri and Jammu, on the another.
Possible attempts have been made since Independence to replace Jammu and Kashmir with the synonym Kashmir alone. And to dub as Kashmiris and Kashmir the people and the land of both the regions, Ladakh and Jammu, in general, and Jammu in particular.
There is a deliberation to kill the Dogra culture, which would indeed make sure the abrogation of distinct identity and that everybody surrenders to the Kashmiri narrative alone.
It shouldn’t be hard for one to analyse this and understand what this distortion is aimed at. There is no doubt that this deliberation is being practised, to portray to the outer world that the whole state is ‘Kashmir’ and Kashmiri hegemony is established throughout the state.
The situation of crisis in which Dogra culture has landed can only be rescued by some sort of state protection besides public awareness, which would make sure that everything pertaining to the identity is safeguarded against the threat of anonymity and extinction in a generation or two.
It’s high time for Jammuites to reclaim what was their’. We do have Dogri as a subject in our courses, but as optional, which is skipped by most of the schools and the trend in few schools is rather rude, who would never add it to their curriculum citing it just as an illiterate’s and villager’s language. Most of the families have easily given up to the trend and easily buy the biased notion and stop their children from learning Dogri and encourage them to speak Hindi alone. This can be really a pathetical condition for any language, a language whose speakers are persuaded that speaking their mother language would make them look illiterate, is doomed to end. Let’s not buy this, there is no equation to a language you speak and your wisdom, knowledge and intelligence you possess, it’s just a medium and is as equal to what English and Hindi are. Had British fallen to the same disease, we wouldn’t have been studying English today.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir being a multi-linguistic state can not give such institutionalisation to a particular region and its language and culture. So, the only way out seems to be is a separate administrative entity or statehood to be more precise.