REQUESTING FOR RIGHTS – Urging the Community to unite
By Raj Daswani
The Black Law dictionary defines the term “NATION”, as people or an aggregation of men, existing in the form of an organized rural society, usually inhabiting a distinct portion of the earth, speaking the same language, using the same customs, possessing historic continuity while being distinguished from other like groups by their racial origin and characteristics, and generally, but not necessarily, living under the government and sovereignty. Accodingly, we Sindhis believe that we are a separate and full-fledged “NATION” due to our recognized political, social as well as cultural principles. We are proud of our past, our language, our culture, our literature and our folklore. We exude extreme pride on the role of our forefathers and their resistance against the Greeks (Alexander The Great), The Achaemenids (Darius-1), the Arabs, the Taghlaks, the Mughals, the Arhuns, Nadir Shah and other Afghan Marauders like Shah Shuja and lastly the British in 1843. Sindh was the last province of Western India that was annexed to the British rule. Our forefathers also played their part along with other Indians in India’s fight for freedom. It is time for everyone to know that the ‘Sindhi Nation’ has come to ‘Indian Nation’, not for refuge nor for any merciful shelter, but for a ‘Merger.’
TREAT US AS ONE NATION WOULD TREAT ANOTHER NATION.
GIVE US OUR DUE RIGHTS TO EXIST. THIS IS OUR DEMAND.
DON’T LET ONE NATION EXTINCT IN THE HANDS OF THE OTHER.
99% OF Sindhis are educated, 99% of Sindhis are well established, 99% of Sindhis are self-reliant (Correct me if I am wrong)
There are more teachers, doctors, engineers, shopkeepers, scientists, businessmen, professionals, industrialists, artists, film producers, financers, film and drama artists, writers, publishers, thinkers, politicians, culturally conscious and philanthropists that pre-partition.
There are hundreds of leaders, calling for unity amongst Sindhis and shouting out for the rights of Sindhis. Although these demands are coming from different platforms their ‘Goal’ has been the same. What’s been missing is the ‘Link’ factor. No one has attempted at linking the Sindhis together. Who are they, where are they, what are they doing, who is their spouse, how many children they have, what is their age or what conditions have they been leading their lives in. A lot has been said and written on the traumatic experiences that were inflicted by the catastrophic partition of India. The Sindhi community was made a scapegoat and compelled to flee from their beloved homeland. Their subsequent scattering around the world resulted in the dilution of their culture and has placed them on the threshold of an identity loss. It is hight time for the missing link factor to be established.
In our days at the former Sindh, marriages were arranged on the basis of families and districts, such as Hyderbadi with Hyderabadi, Shikarpuri with Shikarpuri, Amil with an Amil, or a Bhaiband with a Bhaiband. Unfortunately, in today’s circumstance that seems to be a thing of the past, what with inter-caste marriages being the norm. The misfortune for the community is that if a Sindhi girl gets married to a non-Sindhi, then invariably their children become non-Sindhis too.
Every effort or survey looking towards giving recognition to the Sindhi community and keeping it alive has happened on Indian infrastructure. There is so much more to be said, done and written on Sindhis. Since being uprooted from their soil, the community has withstood indescribable ups and downs. As an enterprising community, each Sindh is a story by himself. A lot has been written on their culture and history, but not much has been mentioned about the survival aspect. How did they survive after the partition of India?
Each Sindhi has a story to tell about the apathy and sympathy that the community has undergone.
The effects of the partition on Sindhis were no less than the holocaust of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. But only because the Jews were part of the Americans, and Europe (which happens to be the follow-man of America), Jews were given extensive publicity throughout the globe. The partition of India was an act of vandalism by the Anglo British and the subcontinent politicians. The main sufferers of the partition were not given justifiable exposure. There are distinguished portraits of nearly four million Sindhis, depicting their struggle for survival, financially and culturally. Portraits of those members of the community who have survived despite the odds. They did not flock together, but survived individually. They made Swami Vivakanand’s saying a reality. They stood up, boldly with complete strength, took the entire responsibility on their shoulder, and proved that they have it in them to make their own destiny. They created their own, new roots, wherever they went.
Today, in spite of their global scattering they have emerged as successful shopkeepers, businessmen, industrialists, singers, writers, dancers and their contribution to various fields, building up colleges, hospitals industries and remain active in cultural activities. Even on the religious front they have revived a Patron God for themselves ‘Jhulelal.’ Earlier, there were not many temples of Jhulelal with the main Samadhi or Dhero being in the small village Uderolala. Today statues and pictures of Jhulelal are in most of the community’s temples, shops, and homes and also in many purses and wallets. Chetichand, the birth anniversary of Jhulelal has become an auspicious day for Sindhis. And is being celebrated every year in most of the countries throughout the world and especially in India. The world should understand that under such trying circumstances, most other communities would have become extinct. Sindhis have survived despite being uprooted from their soil.
The Sindhi community has now further progressed in all respects in comparison to the days before partition. Today a Sindhi is not merely a Sindhi. He is a Bengali-Sindhi, Assamee-Sindhi, Gujarati-Sindhi, Maharashtrian-Sindhi, Tamil and Telugu-Sindhi, British, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and American-Sindhi. But he is a Sindhi. His way of Sindhi life has not changed. His behaviour, eating, clothing, and habits are Sindhi. Papad, Sai bhaji, Koki, Loli, Seyun, Tahinri, Seyal maani etc. are still an integral part of his diet. The adaptability characteristic has made him unique among others. Wherever there is a Sindhi, there is a Sindhi life.
A Sindhi knows how to live a honourable, respectable and gracious life. His only failure has been on his language front. And the language is the prime identity of any community. Sindhis are aware of the fact that, they should use their language in homes and outside, while meeting each other. The younger Sindhi generation is keen to learn Sindhi, be it through the Arabic, Devangri or Roman scripts. He is on the lookout for a social-cultural literary identity.
One of the reasons for the fading away of the Sindhi language has been due to the fact that Sindhi community, after the unsystematic migration had to settle amongst the non-Sindhi population of India. At that time, the community’s main priority had been its economic survival. It was for this economical reason Sindhis had to use the respective provincial language, to communicate with local population. Sindhi remained as a group language, to be spoken at home and amongst themselves. The youth did not find counterparts in their day to day routines. This left them with the opportunity of conversing in the mother tongue only with the elders in the family. In certain part of India, where Sindhis existed in large scale, such as Ulhasnagar, Pimpri, Adipur, Gandhidham, Ajmer, Baroda, Mumbai, Ahmedabad etc. Sindhi was taught in the schools.
Even the great Mahatma Gandhi and Bhai Pratap, in their hope of giving Sindhis an alternative homeland conceived Gandhidham and Adipur. They insisted upon the Sindhi community to be emotionally in tune with Gandhidham and exhorted them to not feel shy of being homeless or stateless but rather feel proud to say that they too have a land and state, which is Gandhidham. But they failed to give Sindhis a purpose and motive to look at Gandhidham-Adipur, as their newly built homeland across the border. The motive and purpose could be created for Sindhis to link them with their new homeland. Just like Mecca is for the Muslims and Kashi is for the Hindus, similarly Sindhis must feel duty bound to visit Gandhidham-Adipur at least once in their life-time.
I would suggest, we consider the making of a Sindhuwall, which could house the plaques of prominent Sindhis and their families. Gates in the names of our beloved heroes like, Hemu Kalani, Sadhu Vaswani, Kishinchand Bewas, Dalpat, Sami and many alike should be made with their statues and bio-data. Plaques of writers, artists, dramatist educationist, industrialist, philanthropists and other prominent personalities from different spheres of life should be placed on the wall funded by their families. I am sure by creating this memorable wall, our Sindhi brothers, and the coming generations will consider visiting this wall once in their lifetime and feel proud to see their fathers, grand fathers, great grand fathers, mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and other near and dear ones. Responsible organisations could take this project, and funds could be collected on an international level.
As of today, Sindhis in India and the world are settled mentally, financially and culturally. They are in a much better condition than they were in Sindh. A Sindhi has become a universal Sindhi. But, since a large number of Sindhis are in India, they should concentrate on getting political rights in India from all sources. Be it from central and provincial governments or from local communities.
We certainly deserve our right to exist!
I remember, when we first landed in India after partition, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then welcomed us and said, “India is your mausi’s (mother’s sister) house.” Mausi means the same as mother. Were we not children of Mother India? Didn’t we contribute to the freedom struggle? Was that struggle to free our Mausi or mother? These questions must be haunting each one of us. Yes they do haunt.
Today the situation has changed; we have contributed on every front. Be it educational, be it health, or be it industry. Our contribution, if not more, is as good as the others. We merely ask from our Indian brothers, State Governments, Central Government our right to exist. Right to live on equal footings with our other Indian brothers. They have to care for us, if we make them to do so. Being the only community who has lost their province, our demand has a valid value. Prof. Arjan Shad, our well-known poet, in the first issue of Sindhishaan voice this. To have a province / state means to have a political voice. We do not ask for a separate province, but we certainly ask for a voice. There are 28 states and 7 Union Territories and to increase one reserve seat in the assembly for Sindhis will not be unjustifiable.
Let every political party nominate its own member for that reserved seat, as long as he is a Sindhi. The authorities could divide India in five parts, Central, North, South, East and West India respectively. There also must be one Sindhi overseas representative. The Lok Sabha has 545 seats of which 543 are elected by popular vote and two appointed by the President. This number could be increase to 551, and the members elected from the five zones and one from overseas would represent the additional six seats. The Rajya Sabha has 250 members (This could be increased, if required). The President of India appoints for 12 of these seats. We only want five reserved seats, elected fromt eh respective zones and the one member elected from overseas Sindhis. We are not asking for a share from the already existing seats for the local population, but definitely insist on our rights to exist among our Indian brothers.
OUR PEACEFUL CHARTER OF DEMANDS
This charter of demands from the Sindhi community is not the first charter. Over the years Sindhis have been pleading peacefully from various platforms for the acceptance of their demands. But we have never agitated force. The time has now come, for agitating with full force and unity. Many a government has come and gone, many a central and state minister has promised solicitation, but nothing has been done as yet in practice. They have been blaming the community for not being united, for not having a leading voice, for not have a dominant vehicle through which they could place their demands to the government. They always cite the example of the dispute over the Sindhi script. They say, “We are not united on our Sindhi script, whether Arabic or Devanagri.”
Let us come together, with one voice, from one platform, under one leading force and once again appeal to all the Ministers, all the members of the Rajya Sabha, all the members of Lok Sabha and to all the Ministers and MLA’s of all the states. Sindhis, who were the worst sufferers of the partition, deserve the utmost support from the Indian Government and Indian brothers for the rehabilitation of their cultural heritage and their identity.