INTERNATIONAL SINDHI SAMMELANS
And GLOBAL SINDHI COUNCIL
by - Ranjit Butani
Having taken the plunge with 'SINDHISHAAN' in 2001, I decided to personally test the waters and familiarize myself with the Sindhi ethos.
The 8th International Sindhi Sammelan held in Los Angeles in July 2001 presented a fortuitous opportunity to experience and absorb the sense of belonging felt by the members of my community settled outside India, and in particular the USA.
The one and only point of reference or contact was Dilip Butani who was the General Secretary, Sindhi Association of Southern California, which emboldened me to attend and participate in the Sammelan. Not that I knew him from earlier but the common family name provided a sense of comfort, although later we realized that we were closely related.
I reached LA absolutely clueless and totally ignorant about what actually transpires at such meets. Moreover I felt myself an outsider and isolated, initially, in the midst of the bonhomie witnessed in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel when I checked in. But this feeling was short lived and the boisterous greetings and back-slappings between groups of friends and relations communicating in Sindhi was truly contagious and I was soon smiling and nodding at total strangers. It suddenly felt great. Verily a reunion of friends, relations and colleagues from across the far flung distances of the USA and across the globe.
Later I met late J. T. Wadhwani, Ghansham Vaswani, Suresh Keswani and a few others from India and began to feel more at ease and less apprehensive. By the time I left LA lifetime bonds of friendship had been established with Dilip Butani, Kishor Lala, Prem Lalvani, Mohan Dadlani, Murli Tolani, to name a few.
These bonds were only further reinforced at the 10th International Sindhi Sammelan which I attended at Las Vegas in July 2003. By this time I was a veteran and my circle of relationship expanded to include Dr. Dayal Meshri, Bhagwan S. Gidwani, Gope Gidwani, Kamlesh Moorjani and off course Raj Daswani who co-ordinated the 11th International Sindhi Sammelan, which was hosted for the first time outside the USA, in London in July 2004.
I will always remain grateful to the Alliance of Sindhi Associations of Americas Inc. whose office bearers Vimla Tewari, Prem Lalvani, Kishor Lala and Nand Belani, reposed their trust, faith and confidence in Ram Jawhrani, Chander Manghnani and myself and encouraged us to host the 12th International Sindhi Sammelan in Mumbai in Dec. 2005.
NOW, COMING TO THE CRUX - right from 2001 when I attended the 8th International Sindhi Sammalen till Dec. 2005 I have been a victim of sporadic bouts of criticism from some members of the community in India and overseas, for my unstinted support to the Sammelans via my publication and website. The grounds for their ire were:
§ WHAT DO THESE SAMMELANS ACHIEVE?
§ WHAT ARE THE OBJECTIVES IF ANY?
§ WHAT ELSE BESIDES EATING, DRINKING AND ENTERTAINMENT IS ON THE AGENDA?
§ IS THE SOLE PURPOSE – MATRIMONIALS?
A few more disgruntled and cynical ones have even gone steps further; which is obviously not in good taste to print – so I leave it at that.
I have in most cases, succeeded in silencing their hysterical outbursts and fended their criticism with a logical and justifiable retort:-
“Do you realize how difficult it is for Sindhi families living at vast distances from each other, living in a country which makes the severest demands on their time and finances, who slog 24x7, to get an opportunity to come together over a weekend once a year for some bonhomie and merriment, partake of Sindhi cuisine, enjoy Sindhi music and revel in the Sindhi cultural and entertainment programmes while simultaneously arranging matches for the kids – all these things that we take for granted here in India. So what if that's the only objective. Who are we to grudge our brothers living outside India their few moments of joy and revelry in the celebration of Sindhyat. Try to appreciate and view the situation from a broader perspective.”
A few however countered with “Then why are lofty proclamations made, grandiose plans announced and road maps drawn for the revival and sustainance of SINDHYAT at each Sammelan when there is no monitoring, follow up, or reporting subsequently. This was a valid argument – either call a spade a spade and boldly declare that Sammelans are for reunions, fun and amusement and discard the practice of lofty pledges and promises made from the dais; or formulate a methodology for accountability and responsibility.
This is what was achieved at the 12th International Sindhi Sammelan. Responsibility and Accountability was unanimously placed into the hands of a single individual. Sindhu Ratna Ram Jethmalani was entrusted with the task of creating an umbrella organization that would encompass in totality, the aims and aspirations of the entire worldwide Sindhi community. A unified approach that could give the requisite strength and credence to the voice of Sindhis which is otherwise not heeded, scattered as we are without a state of our own.
GLOBAL SINDHI COUNCIL, has since been incorporated as a Trust, registered with Charity Commissioner, Greater Mumbai under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 vide registration No. E-23727 on 17/10/2006 with Shri Ram Jethmalani as the Managing Trustee and President.
The main objects of the Trust are:-
1. To promote continuous interaction between the globally scattered Sindhi diaspora.
2. To uphold, preserve and promote globally, Sindhi culture, its language, script and its secular attitudes and conduct.
3. To promote social, cultural, educational and employment of Sindhis in India and overseas.
4. To provide medicare for the health and wellbeing for the aged and needy.
5. And generally do all that is deemed good and beneficial for the members and the community at large.
Do visit the website www.globalsindhicouncil.org – a community portal, for more details and information, and actively participate in demonstrating unity and projecting solidarity to the entire world in the cause of SINDHYAT.
CHETICHAND this year marked the 1000th birth anniversary of our Ishtdev JHULELAL. Let's nominate this year as “YEAR OF THE SINDHIS”.
Let's bring about a dramatic revival in the fortunes of the SINDHYAT cause. Let's bring about a decisive change by putting a stop to lamenting over Partition and bemoaning the loss of property and homeland. Let's once and for all stop the wallowing in self-pity and constant harping on the trials and tribulations experienced. Without belittling or undermining the hardships endured post partition, the continuous repetition about those traumatic times, besides imparting historical knowledge, generates minimal interest in the post partition generation which is definitely in the majority today.
Let us rather jointly together – the youth and stalwarts of the community asses the current scenario pragmatically and develop a plan for – the need of the hour. How do we, under present circumstances, spread all over the globe, preserve and sustain our heritage, culture and identity while interacting with the rest of the world on professional and social levels on an equal footing. THIS IS THE ESSENCE AND GOAL OF GLOBAL SINDHI COUNCIL.