Many factors continue to be hurdles in efforts towards the promotion and revitalization of the Kashmiri language, the biggest among them being the choice of script. A socio-historical account of the situation can help clarify some of the complexities in understanding the controversy around the question of the Kashmiri script, which has become the focus of intense debate between Muslim and Hindu Kashmiris recently following the HRD Ministry's proposal to introduce an "alternate" official (Nāgri-based) writing system for the language.
Sadaf Munshi is a US-based academic, writer and artist born and raised in Kashmir. She started her professional career as a small-time playwright for the state television Doordarshan in 1990’s while still pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science from the Government College for Women (M.A. Road, Srinagar). With little scope for artistic and cultural activities amidst armed insurgency in Kashmir, Munshi decided to leave her hometown in pursuit of higher education. After four years of post-graduate training at the University of Delhi, she went to the United States to conduct her doctoral research. After completing a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, she joined the University of North Texas as a faculty. As part of her documentation work on the endangered languages of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, her studies on language and politics, and her multi-disciplinary interests, Munshi has travelled extensively in India and Pakistan. A leading expert on the Burushaski language (an endangered language of Gilgit-Baltistan and parts of Srinagar), she has received many laurels for her research, which include two prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation. Her research on has been published in many international journals in Europe and in the United States. As a writer and social critic, she has published numerous articles on various topics related to Kashmiri society, culture, language and politics. She has written regular columns for many Kashmir-based newspapers, including Kashmir Observer, Rising Kashmir, and Kashmir Times among others, besides contributing to some news outlets and/or magazines elsewhere in India from time to time. She has written social and political critiques and personal accounts on a wide range of topics including gender and politics. Besides creative writing and poetry, Munshi has a great obsession for painting. A self-taught artist, she has produced numerous pieces of art in oil, watercolor, and multimedia.
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