With an intention to promote Kashmiri language and Sufi poetry, a medical student from south Kashmir's Anantnag district has become an inspiration for many. Saadath Mohi-ud-din Bhat is the CEO and Founder of Kashmir's first podcast app, "Aao Unhe Yaad Karai-Waliv Tem Karhoukh Yaad", which intends to promote the poetry of Kashmiri Sufi saints internationally.
Bhat, who started the app last year, said the point is to save the rich language and Sufi culture of Kashmir and draw individuals, particularly the youth, towards it.
Preserving The Mother Tongue
"To speak in my mother tongue is my fundamental right, and I need to observe the variations in the behaviour of an individual. There is an increasing number of people who don't have any interest in our mother tongue (Kashmiri). Looking at the way we prefer speaking In English over our own mother tongue, there will be no existence of it and the culture if this attitude continues. That is the reason I am attempting to save the language and literature and make it popular among individuals," he said.
He got the idea from his Jaipur-based friend who was already in the field of podcasting during the first wave of COVID last year. "When I started the podcast, it was a new thing in Kashmir, so people showed their love and affection towards my initiative. I got a good response from even international audiences, including people from Germany, London, USA, France etc," he added.
From Video Creator To Podcaster
Bhat is the first podcaster from India to get a knowledge panel (an information box that displays key information about people, places, organizations, and things already in Google's knowledge graph). He started his journey in 2015 by creating short videos of acting, dancing, and poetry for YouTube. He said the central issue of starting the venture was creating the app itself, for which he took help from his friend Sheikh Asif. "Since then, we haven't stopped as we are releasing a podcast every week with subtitles and translation. Now I have a team of 30-40 like-minded members who are working day and night to create a podcast with the subtitles and translations," he told The Logical Indian.
"We also provide voiceover advertisement services to the clients, particularly in the Kashmiri language. We recently launched our Blog website "AUYK Blogs" in which we share the inspiring stories of artists, entrepreneurs, authors, calligraphy Artists, etc. with our readers and help them rank on Google. We also publish these stories in our e-Magzine 'AUYK Blogs E-magazine'," added Bhat. His work is available on digital audio platforms like Spotify, Apple Music Radio Republic, Pocketcaste, and Jio Saavn.
The young entrepreneur says his family loves his work and feels pleased with his accomplishments. Being a hard-working student, his parents have always supported his decisions. "My father feels glad when he sees my work. However, for quite some time, he feels I have been attempting to put the Kashmiri language at the bleeding edge for a long time," he says.
Bhat believes Kashmir's young generation, mostly teenagers, feel inferior while speaking in their mother tongue. "They feel that speaking in Kashmiri makes them inferior or backward. So, this is my minute contribution towards the Kashmiri culture and language," he added.
The 20-year-old has also recently authored two books namely "Why online presence matters, it is time to make your online presence" and "Aao unhe yaad karai" (Let's recall them), which is an e-book of his podcasts. Both the books can be bough on www.aaounheyaadkarai.in. "Aao unhe yaad karai" is all about Sufi poets and their poems, especially the poems of Wahab Khar and Shamas Faqir- the renowned Sufi poets of Kashmir.
Saadath said he funds the venture using his own money. At first, he was able to find a local sponsor but it was for a short period. He was unable to buy a web hosting and domain as there was a lack of resources. "I put my own money to buy hosting and domain for the website, I purchased a condenser mic and some pieces of equipment used in podcasting," he said.
He later employed a scriptwriter, graphic designer, and a few others for running his venture. "We approached Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department as well as J&K Academy of Art Culture, and Languages for support, but we didn't get any response from them. We request the government to support us," he added.
Sending out a message to the young generation, he said that the youth should be proud of their mother tongue and culture. They should not hesitate to talk in their mother tongue as it is the only available tool to preserve one's culture. He also said that parents should guide their children because every language has its beauty and no language is superior to the other.