Born in Handwara area of frontier Kupwara district, Dr Shahida Shabnum was brought up in Srinagar city. Like most of her contemporaries she had decided to choose subjects most sought after at that time.
When she joined Women’s College Nawakadal, she was impressed by a teacher to have a rethink. “I was inspired by one of my teachers after listening to her in the morning assembly speech. Then I opted for Kashmiri as one of my core subjects and never looked back,” she told Rising Kashmir.
Currently, Dr Shahida Shabnum, an acclaimed author of 23 books, teaches Kashmiri as Assistant Professor at Government Degree College Dangiwacha in Rafiabad, Baramulla.
She is on a mission to impart education to the younger generation in the mother tongue through various mediums like radio, books and poetry.
Her books which are entirely written in the Kashmiri language from prose to poetry mainly focus on women-centric issues. She was recently honored with the Sanskriti Award for her literary activities.
About her inclination towards Kashmiri language, she says "Learning Kashmiri language helped me to develop a deep-rooted connection with our unique identity. Mother tongue is the language of our heart and I feel more comfortable in expressing my ideas and emotions through it, she says.
Hailing from a humble family background, Dr Shabnam completed her Masters in Kashmiri at University of Kashmir. She also did her M.Phil and Ph.D. from the same varsity.
“Apart from poetry, I started writing short stories collection (Nabde-baar) when I was in the university and then my other poetry book (Wachuk Waht) was also launched during the same time,” she adds.
She says the present generation is less inclined towards their mother tongue. “Unfortunately Kashmiri language has been losing life in our society and mostly parents are to be blamed for this. It is only because of parental guidance that the present generation does not even know how to speak Kashmiri properly,” she says.
To promote Kashmiri language, the award-winning author and academician also hosts a radio show, Sutro Samro. The programme mainly focuses on issues of women in Kashmir and according to Dr Shabnum is getting a good response from the people.
For her literary activities and efforts in preserving Kashmir language, she has also received Sher-e-Kashmir Gold Medal from the University of Kashmir, Prof. Hajni Gold Medal from Adbi Markaz Kamraz, outstanding merit certificate from the Department of Kashmiri (KU).
Apart from writing books, she has also presented papers on different themes across India.
Dr Shabnum is also a member of Adbi Markaz-Kamraz Kashmir, Sahitya Academy Yuwa Puraskar Sahitya Academy, Delhi and is member of ‘CAUSE’ (Concerned About Universal Social Empowerment) Jammu & Kashmir.
She says the role of civil societies and local media in advocating the preservation of mother tongue is important. “In reality, very few institutions have been working towards saving the Kashmiri language.”
Dr Shabum said both All India Radio-Srinagar, Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar, Cultural Academy, Adbi Markaz-Kamraz and other organizations are doing a commendable job in promoting the young talent of Kashmir and are working for the uplift of all languages.
She says youth should be made aware about the importance of their mother tongue and children should be taught Kashmiri in their homes at least for 4 years.
About her future plans, the author says currently she is writing a book "Kasheer e Pyurus Andey Andi" and poetry collection "Sir Bouwum Naras". Hopefully both the works will be completed by the end of this year, she adds.