It all started with the ‘Treaty of Amritsar’ in March 1846 when direct link was established between the two regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Only time when people of Jammu as well as Kashmir were on same page was in 1920s when a combined opposition was launched in the erstwhile Princely State against the induction of officers from outside, resulting in the state subject laws of 1927 (PRC). Quit Kashmir Movement which coined the slogan “Kashmir for Kashmiris” created a divide between Jammu Dogras and Kashmiri Muslims and ultimately gave way to creation of Paraja Parshad and later Jan Sangh. The terms of integration with India, based on the terms of the accession, had been negotiated by only Kashmiri leadership for over five long months and ended up with Article 370. After decades of discrimination, once a ’21 Gun Salute’ erstwhile State with borders once touching Afghanistan and China directly, now has been reduced to a UT with Ladakh as separate UT and Jammu’s major portion is with Pakistan as POJK. Dogra legacy right now limited in ruins of Mubarak Mandi and few palaces or forts. Gone are days of ‘One leader’ (Abdullah), ‘One party’ (National Conference), however, ‘One programme’ (Naya Kashmir) it seems still continues.
Dogri in Jammu University
Dogri is dialect of over 3 million ‘Khandh mithae Dogras’ with earliest reference found in Nuh Siphir (The Nine Heavens) by Amir Khusro in 1317 AD. Once written in Takri or Dogra Akkhar by Princely State got replaced by Devanagari script during twentieth century. University of Jammu has the honour of being one and the only University in India, which offers PG Programme in Dogri. The Post-Graduate Department of Dogri started its functioning in the University of Jammu in form of Dogri Research Cell from the year 1971 with one post of Senior Fellow in Dogri. Later in August 1983, the Dogri Research Centre was upgraded as Post-Graduate Department of Dogri with research work on various aspects of the language, literature, culture, history and folklore are now being carried out by the department.
Dogri as official language
All said and done it took 56 years to finally recognise Dogri and was included vide Ninety-Second Amendment Act, 2003 which included four languages in the Eighth Schedule viz. Bodo, Maithili, Santhali and Dogri. With this, the total number of constitutionally recognised languages increased to current 22. Of these languages, 14 were included in the constitution itself , Sindhi added in 1967 and thereafter three more languages viz., Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali were included in 1992. Even Google recognizes potential and importance of Dogri as it included Dogri in list of languages used in Google Translate.
Doordarshan Kashmir (DD Kashir)
Though the first television service of the world was started in 1936 by BBC, India started it’s TV revolution on September 15, 1959 in Delhi with the help of UNESCO , broadcasting one hour programme only twice a week. In 1972 a second television station was opened in Bombay, followed by stations in Srinagar and Amritsar in 1973 and in Calcutta, Madras and Lucknow in 1975. Right now UTs of JK and Ladakh have 4 studios (Srinagar, Jammu, Rajouri, Leh), 20 HPTs and 3 LPTs.
Government is duty bound to promote all these regional languages as such Prasar Bharati which has been operating Doordarshan Srinagar since 1973 launched DD Kashir in 2000 to promote Kashmiri language and culture of the region. From 1973 DD Kashmir operated from Srinagar but when terrorism erupted, operations were shifted to Delhi in 1989 till year 2006 when Centre shifted the operations of Doordarshan’s ‘Kashir Channel’ back to Srinagar after more than 17 years since the outbreak of terrorism. With the advent of terrorism, Jammu also got a local DD Studio and had the privilege to produce programmes in Dogri, Gojri and other languages for a four and half hours content slot.
In Jammu and POJK no impact of DD Kashir
Fact is that Jammu province has an area of 26,293 sq.km as compared to Kashmir’s 15,948 sq km only. Jammu is breeding ground for multiple languages like Dogri, Gojri, Bhaderwahi, Kistwari, Panjabi and of course for Mirpuri, Poonchi and Muzaffarabadi, majority of these languages have cultural bases also in Jammu itself. It is also a fact that 78,114 sq. kms. are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and 37,555 sq. kms. under China and all this area belongs mainly to Jammu region only with public speaking languages of Jammu division only and not Kashmiri, as such it is beyond anyone’s application of mind how nefarious propaganda of Pakistan will be countered by DD Kashir only. Despite onslaught and mushrooming of satellite channels still Indian Doordarshan is main source of entertainment and information for border areas. But the problem is Kashmiri is neither spoken nor understood in this region as such practically DD Kashir makes no impact. Though the present ‘Kashir Channel’ is supposed to make programmes to counter propaganda of Pakistan but terrorism in Kashmir Division simply doesn’t allow free participation of artists and almost all artists except Kashmiris are in Jammu division.
Scuttled Duggar Channel
Jammu Doordashan Kendra has all the necessary equipment to start a full fledged satellite ‘Duggar Channel’ but what politics is involved to deny Jammu Division a Dogri Satellite Channel is beyond one’s imagination. The infrastructure available at DDK Jammu can be used for better propagation of local culture, different languages and promote tourism in addition to countering Pakistan propaganda. Public Broadcaster Parsar Bharti in 2014 had planned to convert five Regional Doordarshan Kendras namely Uttarakhand, Himachal Pardesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Jammu into round the clock cable and satellite channels. Truth is all other four got converted to 24×7 satellite channels except Jammu for reasons better known only to present GoI. A letter F.No 9/23/1013-PI dated 1-01-2015 in reply to letter written by Ashok Koul, State General secretary (Org.) of BJP J&K erstwhile state, is a testimony that till 2015 it was agreed upon to grant 24×7 channel to Jammu DDK but what transpired after that is an unresolved mystery. What can be more tragic than the fact that even after the lapse of more than 19 years since Dogri language was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Government had no plan to start any exclusive Duggar channel for Jammu region. Further two orders dated 29 June 2020 (F.NO. 01/07/2020-P1) and 21 July 2020 (F.NO. 01/07/2020-P1) issued by Prasar Bharati, New Delhi spell further doom for Dogra Culture and Dogri Language as four and a half hour programme time slot has been reduced to now 30 minutes only which includes mandatory daily news.
Even then Defence Minister A.K.Anthony had ensured 24×7 Duggar Channel to Jammu’s DADAA (Doordarshan Approved Drama Artists Association) but then who acted villain after that is an unresolved riddle which public of Jammu are still trying to solve. By merely distributing free DTH kits GoI cannot counter Pakistan 24×7 propaganda, after all content has to be created. Ultimately all this also lead to unemployment of about thirty thousand artists, producers, directors and technicians associated with local regional programmes. It is quite clear that the local languages like Dogri, Pahari, Poonchi, Gojari, Bhadewari etc are dying slow death as these languages have no electronic platform to produce for, perform to promote and preserve for the sake of next generation.
Scope of Duggar Channel
Present is the age of showcasing and selling. More than one and a half crore pilgrims come for Shri Mata Vaishno Devi darshans but how many are diverted to other destinations of Jammu. Dogri is not a language but a treasure to showcase to world, the marriage rituals with dresses of different regions of Jammu Division, folklores of different occasion, Chef competitions for different cuisines of the region, exquisite art and craft, Chinjj (wrestling competitions), superstitions observed, fairs and festivals like Sankri Mela, Moungri Mela, Baisakhi Mela at Udhampur, Sudh Mahadev Mela, Jhiri Mela, Thamdey, Raade Minjraan, Bach Dua, Dhrubri, Rakhri with kite flying, Lohri, Bhugga Vrat. Who is showcasing right now Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Bawae Waali Mata, Chountra Mata, Devika, Buddha Amar Nath, Purmandal, Shiv Khouri, Sarthal Mata, Mela Putt of Kailash Kund Yatra, Machail Mata Yatra to name a few along with galaxy of protected monuments of Akhnoor fort, Mubarak Mandi, Samba fort, Gen Zorawar Singh palace, Jaganoo fort, Samba fort, Chenani palace, Ramnagar palace, Krimachi, Thial , and 22 Naags empire (Kul Devtaas of Jammu Division)? Who is telecasting tales of our heroes Mian Dido, Baba Jitto, Brig Rajinder Singh, Gen Zorawar Singh, aura of Dogra rulers? Who is electronically promoting right now Basohali Paintings, Dogri Pagri, our Doona Pattal dhaam, old wooden comb/manji (charpai), binna or pakhi, bawlis or ghrats (water mills) of our region? Answer to all this is in just ‘no one’.
Business prospects of Duggar Channel
Television penetration in India is currently at 64% only as such still significant scope for tremendous growth. Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%. Growth for digital advertising in India is projected to be the fastest around 19%, while television advertising is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12%. In the absence of any official channel operating in Jammu Division this whole share goes to small time cable operators who neither have ability to produce nor intent to create world class programmes to promote language, traditions, culture or tourism.
We, the people of Jammu, are fighting discrimination right from day one of independence, thousands of artists of Jammu region have given their entire life to promote culture , language and values of Jammu region and in the absence of 24X7 local Duggar Channel they are on verge of starvation now. Fact is Dogri and other languages of Jammu Division along with culture and rituals are dying, it is just question of time, maybe next generation will not be able to see or know all this. Absence of local 24×7 Satellite Channel is major obstacle in Jammu’s growth. Will GoI act now, correct the mistake and give a give a go ahead to long pending 24×7 Duggar Satellite Channel for Jammu region or act like Dhritarashtra, totally ignoring Jammu region, only time will tell.