Saving Balochi From Extinction
Mah chok’y baloch’ani
Mah chok’y baloch’ani
may thurs’a zameen larzith
may bem’a kalath jask’an,
“We are the sons of Baloch
We are the sons of Baloch
The earth shakes with our fear
The forts shake in fright”
Written by Majeed Gwadri in 1948
Sung by: Faiz Muhammad
I watched with pride as three people chorused this in unison. I was not attending a concert of the 1800s or 1900s when Balochistan was blessed with coveted poets and singers like Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Sayad Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Mullah Qasum, Mullah Fazul, Faiz Muhammad, Atta Shad, Noor Muhammad Nooral, Noor Khan Bezanjo and songs like ,’ kale wale kale wale and Laila o Laila beya tara baran sayl’a ‘ ruled the entire literary circles of Baloch societies. But I was attending a concert on the Second March__Baloch culture day___ in the Balochistan University, Quetta . The program ended there and these words kept ringing in my mind for the whole day. The only thing I could ponder about was, is Balochi language improving? What have we as individuals done for Baloch, Balochi and Balochistan.
With Pakistan having a whooping population of 220 millions( more and growing), only a meagre of 3% speak the Balochi language, according to the recent census. The per cent could be lower due to the wicked systems of roads and the province’s difficult topography.
Since no data is officially recorded, these are guesstimates.
Mr. Fida Shakar ran extra miles to prepare for this 2nd March. Dressed like a real Baloch, with a Balochi Turban on his head, wearing a shalwar of up to 40 yards and a sword in his right hand, he participated in the folk dance performed by the University’s student. He is a student of Balochi department, Balochistan University, Quetta. Covering approximately 782.4 kilometres, he comes to Quetta from the far-flung area of Dasht, Turbat.
“You will be extremely surprised to know that we are merely seven students in our batch in the Balochi department.” He says in despair. ” Learning English is inevitable if someone has to progress. Due to one’s disadvantaged educational background and inability to speak, read and write in English one either ends up in the Balochi department or the Urdu here.”
True, a handful of students who have taken Balochi as their main area of interest have to read general books to pass their exams.Taking Balochi language as a subject is a farfetched dream for many, what they wish for is just that the injustice and suppression of the Balochi language in the country should stop and that Balochi should be introduced as a subject from primary to University level in the province.
On November 2nd, 2020, the Balochi Academy Quetta, an academy for the promotion of Balochi language passed a resolution asking the federal and provincial governments to equally contribute for the promotion of the language. According to the resolution, it was mandatory for the government to introduce standard Balochi syllabus for schools, colleges and universities. It read, ” The Balochi Academy will provide maximum possible assistance to the Balochistan Text Book Board for establishing a standard Balochi language syllabus. The academy may assist the Balochistan Text Book Board in this regard if provided representation.”
” As Sayad Hashmi believed, the mid-19th period and twentieth century are termed as the richest age of Balochi literature when Balochi language was the cup of tea in every mushaira and Balochi gathering. There are harldy Balochi writers in Balochistan except Makran (Turbat, Gwadar, Panjgoor) division.” Says Abrar Rind, a local from the remote area of phullabad, Tehsil Tump.
Abrar Rind who has lately graduated from the reputed Sayad Hashmi High school Turbat, has been taught Balochi by a Baloch intellectual himself, Inam Raza, who authored a book named “Chirag Tembaga ent”___the lantern is dying out__ in 2019.
There are many Baloch authors and poets whose literary works aren’t available in bookstores in the province.
A student in the Balochi department of the newly established Turbat University said on conditions of anonymity. ” As we have reached the 7th semester, we are only 18 students in the Balochi department. ”
Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences (LUAWMS), a Public sector university established in 2005 in Uthal, district Lasbela, surprisingly doesn’t have the Balochi department.” I had a remarkable aptitude in learning Balochi language and wanted to take Balochi as a subject but right after knowing that (LUAWMS) doesn’t have the department of my interest, I ended up in the faculty of Education. ”
Turbat University’s Gwadar and Panjgur campus lack the Balochi department which is deplorable.
The most disturbing factor today is that the average salary of a bureaucrat in the country is about one hundred thousand (one lakh), assuming she or he is proficient in English or Urdu. There are other very handsome paying jobs. You have got only a single choice to continue with, learn perfect English, get technical skills and get a high paying job or learn chaste and pure Balochi and be unemployed in the rest of your life.
With no scope and low-level jobs, this is what Balochi language has been reduced to.
Now the question of the hour is will Baloch who calls himself the shaker of the earth and forts succeed to save his monther-tongue from extinction?
The federal and provincial governments have a lot to do to promote regional lanuages, particularly Balochi. Introducing Balochi as a subject from the pre-primary level is a thing that the government can start with. Since according to studies, children whose early learning is in their mother tongue excel in studies.
Secondly, Balochi is a very old language, dating back to 5,000 years ago. Balochi Academy’s dedicated efforts to preserve the language are of high importance. The government needs to finance the Balochi Academy so that it inculcates the willingness to the younger generation in learning the language.
Thirdly, Balochi reading circles must be promoted and the students should be presented the latest Balochi literature available in the market.
Lastly, Shakar’s last words brought a smile on my face when he wanted to be an expert in Balochi like AR Dad, Raheem Mehr, Mubarak Qazi, Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi (pioneers who worked extra hard to break the glass ceiling). He would work at the ungodly hours of the night to drag the generations’ attention towards their mother tongue. Definitely, change is inevitable if inspirational and motivated souls like Mr. shakar are nearby.