Saturday, June 24, 2017

Save the Language, Save the Identities!

“The wisdom of humanity is coded in language. Once a language dies, the knowledge dies with it.” - Lyle Campbell

Why should you save the languages?


Nelson Mandela once said, “You talk to someone in the language they understand, the message goes to their head. You speak to anyone in their language, the message goes to their heart.”

Today, the world is at the verge of losing almost 7,000 regional and local languages just because they are overshadowed by a select few languages. With a loss of so many languages, millions of people would tend to lose their identities; as our mother tongue forms a crucial part of who we are. If this were true, then the world would soon start resembling an expressionless world; or a world where your identity is no more relevant. Could you imagine the predicament if you are asked not to converse or express in your local dialect because no one identifies with it anymore!?

Protecting languages should therefore be everyone's concern.


Dogri: Dying a Slow Death 


India is witness to many languages dying a slow death in contemporary times. Even a language like Urdu is losing its original essence and is adulterated by the western culture. The amalgamation of the East and the West isn't bad; what's bad is the effect that the West is bringing with it. Regretfully, Dogri is among the many languages that is today dying a slow death. 

Many of us might not have even heard about this language or it maybe limited to the social studies course book and forgotten as we grew older. Spoken by about four million people in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Northern Punjab; the language that served as a source of livelihood for many and defined the socio-political relevance of the region is desperately clutching on to its lost glory for a fleeting existence.  Unfortunately, J&K’s languages do not even have that ecosystem, so that we can get acquainted by the languages of this region. With the dominance of Hindi and English, and no mass speakers or cinema or literature in these languages, the condition is pitiable. They have no space to flourish and therefore are slowly declining.  While the caretakers of the language attempt to revive Dogri and other languages through traditional mediums, the youth consider it 'unpopular and unattractive', shunning it for its perceived lack of relevance, viability and sustainability in today's changing times. With masses speaking in either Hindi or English, who would care about learning languages like Dogri; let alone be fluent in it. 

The Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust 



The Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust is working persistently in the direction of Saving the Language. In the memory of acclaimed Dogri writer and Sahitya Akademi Winner, Late Group Captain Randhir Singh or Kunwar Viyogi, the Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust has been formed with the task to revive these languages via popular culture by giving a platform to young artists as well as financially support students who undertake research work in J&K’s regional languages. “Our mission is to keep pushing, keep innovating, and do whatever we can to promote J&K’s talent and culture. My father was a celebrated poet, but he didn’t have the financial support or patronage to promote his craft beyond Jammu. The rigours of life almost snuffed out his talent. I do not want that to happen to the future Kunwar Viyogis of the world,” says Poonam Singh Jamwal, the Founder-Chairman of the Trust and the daughter of Kunwar Viyogi.Since its foundation in September last year, the Trust has held multiple poetry symposiums in Jammu and New Delhi with multi-lingual artists including celebrities like Piyush Mishra, collaborating with Jammu University, the Oxford Bookstores as well as other promoters of the arts.

The Trusts feels deeply towards the degrading use of regional languages, especially Dogri, and thus organises and supports various events to spread awareness towards this cause and involves the youth as much as they can for carrying this cause forward through their works.  The Trust strongly believes that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future and hence tries to spread awareness of this cause more among the youth. This is undertaken so that the future comes together today and contributes in saving their languages through various art forms - singing, dancing, theatre, literature and the likes. The Trust has undertaken many activities that have tried to give an impetus to the people, especially the youth to take forward the cause of saving the language.

You can check their website (www.kvmtrust.com) for more updates on what is being done. Some of its activities are highlighted below.

Research Scholarships and Awards 


The KVM Trust provides scholarships to those who research in Dogri language and especially about Kunwar Viyogi in the academic level. Some of the scholarships initiated by the Trust are : ‘Kunwar Viyogi Merit Scholarship‘, ‘Prem Jamwal Kunwar Viyogi Merit Scholarship‘ and ‘Kunwar Viyogi Research Scholarship‘. These scholarships are in association with the University of Jammu. Giving the students a scholarships is providing them encouragement to delve deeper into the research scope of this disappearing language.

The Kunwar Viyogi Sahitya Puraskar has been instituted by the Trust, in association with Dogri Sanstha, Jammu. The purpose of this award is to push young writers to publish in Dogri. Every year, the best Dogri writer becomes an awardee of this prestigious prize.

Furthermore, the Prem Jamwal Youth Art Innovation Award PAN India is instituted in the memory of Kunwar Viyogi’s wife Mrs Prem Jamwal. It is awarded to an upcoming new talent in the field of art and culture. It invites entries from across the country, but most importantly, offers artists the support to hone their craft as well as a stage to enthral. This year it was awarded to Aarushi Thakur Rana for adapting Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night's Dream to Hindi.

Hindi Sahitya Utsav 


Earlier this year, The Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust in association with Oxford Bookstore , New Delhi organised the Hindi Sahitya Utsav. Much that the trust promotes the Dogri language, it also takes an initiative to make people aware regarding the various other languages that are dying today- Hindi being one of them. Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu are near dead as the speakers of these languages are switching their beliefs. Not only that, but the languages are being crushed and crippled by giving them new forms like Hinglish! Thus organising the Hindi Sahitya Utsav explored the reasons for the death of this language and solutions to revive them.


Cultural Cocktail: Cultural Event at Kingdom of Dreams



The grand cultural event at the famed Kingdom of Dreams in the National Capital Region was called ‘Cultural Cocktail: Youth for Art’. This event was curated by Ayushman Jamwal along with the help of young artists whose roots go back to Jammu and Kashmir. This event formed the stepping stone for the launch of the Save the Language Campaign by the Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust.


There were two shows (Show 1 at 5:30 PM and Show 2 at 7:15 PM) so that a larger audience could be reached. The show started with lamp lighting and a short film on Kunwar Viyogi, depicting his life. The Trust gave a platform to distinguished Kathak dancer Sanchita Abrol who created a beautiful dance drama titiled ‘Ghar: Prem Ki Gaagar’ about love and loss, inspired by Kunwar Viyogi’s poem ‘Ghar’. The event also showcased Anmol Jamwal, a brilliant jazz dancer who set the stage on fire with his dance production ‘Taboo’. The evening was topped off by a mesmerising Hindi production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ directed by Aarushi Thakur Rana of Jammu’s very own Natrang theatre group.


The performances were amazing and therefore, it's hard to pick the best one. I missed the classical dance performance but the jazz dance performance made up for the loss. It was great to see how language was connected with theatre and dance performances. It is a widely known fact that every art form has a language of its own and is therefore, a part of the culture. It was spectacular to see the art forms coming to life to give a push to the Save the Language campaign. The diversity of art forms was another striking feature. How a classical dance performance was followed by a jazz dance performance and an English play was adapted in Hindi was amazing! The essence of culture was kept intact in the adaption too. The event was well-organised and everything ran smoothly.

'Save the language' Campaign



Language is not only an expression of culture but it is a driving force behind promoting art, literature, education, innovation, etc. Language is a powerful tool that conveys traditions and values related to the identity of every society, it binds people, gives them a strong sense of belonging and contributes majorly towards a region’s economic growth. If the language is unable to flourish in its universal form, it threatens the stability of a society, crushes its spirit and hampers economic growth. This is the primary basis of launching the Save the Language Campaign by the Trust. It aims to mobilise the youth through art and culture by providing a platform and curating events for the audience.


The Save the Language Campaign is about to undertake a 5-City tour spreading awareness regarding the dying languages especially Dogri. Further, such events are bound to develop a feeling of belongingness and identities among the youth and in future guide them towards taking small steps in reviving their mother-tongue.

India has always been the centre of cultural confluence, its diversity its biggest strength. The KVM Trust wants to do its part to support a ‘Vishwa Kutumb’ of art, provide energy and encouragement to talent and in the process preserve the dying languages of J&K and the culture they protect. You can check their website (www.kvmtrust.com) for more updates on what is being done.

Hope we all get inspired and do our bit to save the languages, save the culture, save the identities!

P.S. Kolkata Bloggers is an online partner to KVMT Trust and has been following and supporting the mission closely!

2 comments:

  1. very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback :) keep reading!

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