My recent visit to Singapore on the occasion of the 14th International Sindhi Sammelan, provided me with an excellent opportunity to interact with my brethren from all over. As a result of various discussions, with individuals and groups, I came to the conclusion that there were primarily two issues of concern, as perceived by the community. First, the obvious - preservation of Sindhyat; and the second; which came as a surprise – need for a state!
My presumption that the desire or demand for a state, had by now, withered or waned proved to be fallacious. I realized, that this yearning, albeit not voiced with vigour off late, remains nevertheless deeply rooted in the community psyche. Perhaps a feeling akin to that of being a tenant but not the owner! And more striking was the perception that this sentiment was prevalent more amongst the NRI Sindhis who may never make India their permanent abode. Perhaps the reassurance that we have a native home of our own in India, was a feeling of comfort sorely missed.
While some voiced that it was too late now to aspire for a state; there were others who countered by giving examples of Chattisgarh, Uttarkhand and Jharkhand. States that came into existence by being carved out from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as recently as November 2000; more than 50 years after Independence. Once and for all the barbs and the pinpricks, like deleting Sindh from the National Anthem, would cease, with the realization of a state of our own.
Now coming to the other issue – while there was agreement that preserving the language was the first basic and essential step for preserving the culture and heritage of any community, the ability to speak and converse in the language held definite priority over the ability to read and write. As an infant one first learns to speak, spontaneously, and is taught to read and write in schools only later. So also with Sindhi, the concentration should be on speaking the language – at home and elsewhere when amongst Sindhis.
This brings us to the next step of reading and writing, leading to the question of script – Arabic or Devnagiri. It was felt, especially amongst the NRI Sindhis that one needs to keep an open mind on the Roman script as a viable alternate option. No doubt appropriate symbols must be standardized to ensure that the issue of phonetics – pronunciations and nuances of spoken Sindhi is take care of; while simultaneously ensuring ease of writing by hand or while keying in. All the major literary classics and works could also be published afresh in Roman script to permit a wider access to Sindhi literature. After all it is the law of nature that one must adapt to avoid becoming extinct.
Do send in your views on these two issues to SINDHISHAAN for further debate and discussions.
Finally, with this issue, I am reverting to the original all - English format. I felt it prudent to stay focused, especially when there are several other publications doing a better job in the Arabic and Devnagiri scripts.
However, to reassure you that I can still read and write in the Arabic script, I sign off as usual…..