Volume - 3 : Issue - 2

Published : April - June 2004

Group : Language


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National Council For Promotion Of Sindhi Language

The Lighthouse

By Mahesh Vaswani

“Even the Adivasis, Nomads and Tribals have their culture…then why can’t the Sindhis?”
Jhamatmal T. Wadhwani

While being a dedicated and crusading RSS soldier in Karachi of undivided India, he was taught in a school for building strong roots of a nation. A generation later, at 83, he is the most dedicated missionary working hard to save the Sindhi language, culture and community from near extinction in the post independence era. As a Vice Chairman of the National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language, he wants to sensitise the community that is fast losing its cultural values, ignoring the heritage and is indifferent towards even learning the Sindhi language.

From the times of stalwarts like Hashu Advani, Ram Panjwani, Sadhu T.L.Vaswani, Gobind Mahli, K R Malkani, Bhagwanti Navani, Barrister Hotchand Advani, K.T.Shahani to those like Ram Jethmalani, Popati Hiranandani, Thakur Chawla, Dada Jashan Vaswani, Kirat Babani, Nari Gursahani, Lal Kishenchand Advani and many others – Shri Jhamatmal T. Wadhwani has scripted a lifeline for the community by swearing to keep the culture and heritage of the Sindhi community alive not only in the various socio cultural organisations, Councils and Academies but also in the bloodstream of every Sindhi on this planet.

“Lack of interest in our own mother-tongue can wipe out the very trace, identity and the roots of the parent tree (Sindhi community) of which every Sindhi is a seed. It is ironical that even the educated and literate of the Sindhis do not bother to teach Sindhi to their children, or send them for learning the language, he says with a heavy heart. The Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi have given tremendous support for the programmes and activities being carried out to keep the Sindhi culture alive. Shri Joshi who is also the Chairman of the NCPSL has allocated an amount of almost 50 lacs for the annual schemes being conducted by the NCPSL all over the country”, says the doyen.

The need of the hour is to have more and more people who can read, write and speak Sindhi language. The children must be given top priority, because if they start young, say at the age of 5 years then they pick up the language very fast, feels Shri Wadhwani. The mere honouring of Sindhi poets, writers, academicians and others is not going to help. The publishing of books by great Sindhi writers (in Sindhi) is useless if there are no Sindhis who can read them and understand them.  Shri Wadhwani revealed that such books get published and mostly remain unread in godowns of the organisations that finance them just because there are no buyers. There are no buyers because there are not many Sindhi people who can read Sindhi.

“Therefore we (NCPSL) have spread out in the country, recruiting Sindhi teachers and conducting Sindhi classes for a three-year course. This is the second year of such a course. Sindhi Bhasha Prachar Samitis have been set up on the lines of Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti and there is a good response so far. But more is needed from the community in the form of generating interest in their roots, culture and heritage. Even the Adivasis, Nomads and Tribals have their own culture, tradition and language; and even they very much keep it alive with pride”, says Wadhwani. “Then why the Sindhis don’t feel proud to learn their own language”, he asks. This is precisely what the National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language is trying to accomplish.

The NCPSL has its head office in Baroda at Gujarat and is currently involved in teaching Sindhi language through educational, cultural and social programmes in Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. These activities often have to be conducted in coordination with the local state level Academies involved for promotion of Sindhi language. But, most of these states give meagre financial support to the cause and even that is not free from political strings. Maharashtra, he reveals has a very large number of Sindhis living within the state, many of them in Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Kalyan, Pune, Kolapur, Thane and Mumbai. But, says Wadhwani, the Maharashtra Government’s contribution to the Maharashtra Sindhi Academy is merely Rs. 65000/= annually, which is only enough to fund an office peon’s salary for one year! The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti has assured additional support from her government and even accommodation to conduct the classes to teach Sindhi free of cost.

“In a shocking development the schools all over Maharashtra stopped teaching Sindhi following a state government circular, making the rootless community suffer further”, says an angry Wadhwani. “Though protests by the Sindhi community compelled the Maharashtra government to withdraw the nasty circular, damage just could not be undone. The NCPSL is involved in conducting not merely classes, but a full fledged three year course, involving the conducting of exams and giving certificates recognised by the government of India. There are several organisations and institutions with Sindhis at the helm, but they have failed due to lack of organisational skills”, he laments, adding that these institutions usually are a one man show.

To preserve and keep alive the Sindhi heritage, Culture and Language for the generations to come, Wadhwani has plans to set up a massive 70,000 square feet museum like a Sindhu Bhavan at Chembur. He plans to make it a state-of-the-art information centre, fully computerised, internationally networked, having the genesis of the community since the days of Rig Vedas, Mohen-jo-Daro, books, magazines, events, personalities, history etc. all will be archived.

Having regional coordination committees in the various states and cities is being presently worked out for better implementation of the NCPSL schemes and programmes. Refusing to talk about the honours, awards, recognition and appreciation he may have received, he says that his highest honour will be when the Sindhi community will realise the importance of their own language, life styles, cultures, traditional values, heritage and feel proud to speak and read Sindhi language.