02 August, 2021

One Plus One Equals Five

Jammu and Kashmir now has five official languages­—the question being asked is how will these work?

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One Plus One Equals Five

Those who heard the news may have been struck by one fact: Kashmiri was not an official language in J&K till now. A second pang of surprise: neither was Dogri, the major language of Jammu. Both those gaps have been filled now with the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020, approved by the Modi cabinet on September 2, and passed by a voice vote last week in the Rajya Sabha. But as this new regard for native linguistic legacies was celebrated (albeit selectively) in hoardings put up by the BJP across Jammu, the name of another language also caught the eye: Hindi. In all, there are now five official languages for one Union Territory: Urdu, Hindi, Kashmiri, Dogri and English. Don’t let that designation as ‘UT’ mislead you. Because, ‘what exactly does this policy mean?’ is a question you could ask in these parts in a dozen mother tongues—conservatively speaking. This is a policy, therefore, that could also have a domino effect in other regions of high linguistic diversity, like the Northeast: imagine the explosive situation that may...

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