Taking stories to children in Kashmir valley

NEW DELHI, Feb 25:
Stories of colourful butterflies, big bears, wicked witches and merciful angels -vibrant fiction from various parts of the country are now being translated into Kashmiri language to reach children from the Valley according to the National Book Trust.
“Children in the Valley want to read stories by authors from various parts of the country and want to know what someone sitting in say Kerala or Andhra Pradesh is reading,” NBT Director M A Sikandar said.
Also, the NBT in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir State Government has also been conducting workshops for children in the Kashmir valley, bringing out narratives from storytellers among them, to ignite ingenuity among the young generation in the conflict-torn region.
A recently set up Kashmiri Advisory Panel comprising of experts in the language from Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi have taken the initiative to generate fiction from local authors too.
“There is a lack of initiatives in the publication of books in Kashmiri. We are trying to create that initiative with the help of the State Government,” Sikandar said.
He said youth in the Valley can read Urdu, Hindi and English, but there are efforts being made to make books of other languages available to them in translation.
“Kashmiri children’s literature was not given too much attention earlier. Since authors from the Valley have started to be recognised for their work, more and more writers have emerged,” said senior author Gulam Nabi Atish.
Over workshop and interactions with young writers and established authors held in Srinagar with Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in 2010, the NBT has developed nine stories in Kashmiri language and published two books, namely “Dana Tser” by Suraiya Rasool and “Chalak Gagoor” by Showkat Shaan.
These books were released by then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 2010. The books were again translated into Hindi and English.
“Sales of these books does not matter. What matters is that these books must reach children in the Valley,” Sikandar said.
Echoing Sikandar’s sentiment, author Gulam Nabi Atish said the books must reach the children through schools, public libraries and other mediums, adding  that several English classics are now being translated to Kashmiri language for the children.
The NBT is also releasing three books this month namely “Haput Ti Tangi Hatchi” (A bear and dried slices of pear) by Irshad Ahmed Shah, “Ghahun Chitti Pompur” by renowned Kashmir writer Ghulam Nabi Aatish and “Vwzaj Raantas” by Muntazir Niyaz Ahmad. All of them are supported with illustrations.
After nearly a gap of 25 years, the book trust organised book fairs in Jammu and Srinagar, workshops in Jammu and Srinagar for the children and young writers, panel discussion in Srinagar, ‘meet the authors’ in Jammu and Srinagar, and a book exhibition in Leh.
“Since 2004 Kashmiri language is being taught in primary school which is a good sign for the language and its literature. We can now say that children’s literature from the Valley has a bright future,” Atish said.
Special workshops will be carried out by the National Book Trust at refugee camps too said the NBT Director. (PTI)

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