Volume - 8 : Issue - 3

Published : Jul. - Sep. 2009

Group : We The Sindhis

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By Dr. Nandlal Jotwani

At a seminar on Sindhi Language, Literature and Culture, organized by the Indus Valley Research Institute at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on 27th December, 2008, I had, inter alia, posed a question to the distinguished audience: whether we would be able to convene such a seminar in 2020, in view of the declining use of Sindhi language among Sindhis, the native speakers. My main concern about the declining use of Sindhi language among the Sindhis in India was then widely shared by many litterateurs, scholars and prominent Sindhis present on the occasion.

Past, Present and Future

Prior to the discoveries of Moen-jo-Daro and Harappa, the notion prevailed about the start of civilization in Greece and Rome. But now we Sindhis have the proud privilege of being acknowledged as those who belonged to the most ancient known civilization dating back to 2,500 and 1,500 years B.C., as revealed by the archaeological remains of Moen-jo-Daro, in Larkana - 180 miles N.E. of Karachi, Sindh.

Consequent to the unprecedented partition of India, I left Sindh when I was in my teens. Sixty one long years have elapsed since, and I have not been able to visit Karachi – the place of my birth, or Rohri, the place of our ancestral abode, known for having produced great Sufis. Sufism symbolizes synthesis of religions, interfaith harmony, human compassion and a life of spiritual divinity.  Alas! Today, we are very much worried about preserving the great contributions of Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Sami and our great cultural heritage – the sindhiyat, of which our young generation is sadly not very much conversant with or aware of, owing to lack of literacy in Sindhi.

The great Hindi poet Maithali Sharan Gupta had given a clarion call to the nation to sit up and ponder over its past, present and future, in a different context though: “hum kaun the, kya hon gaye hain, aur kyaa honge abhii, aao vichaaren baithker ye samasyaaen sabhii.”, meaning, who were we, what has become of us, what will happen to us, let's ponder over all the problems (we confront). In the same spirit, we need to dispassionately ponder over problems and prospects of our mother tongue Sindhi. It would serve us no purpose if we were to shut our eyes from reality and refuse to see the writing on the wall or choose to stay in a make-believe world of our passionate creation. At a recent national seminar on “Sindhi Education in India”, this writer had underlined the disturbing and declining trend discerned among the Sindhi students of opting for their mother tongue Sindhi, as a subject in their undergraduate and graduate studies in the country, let alone choosing Sindhi language as a medium of instruction. A section of the Sindhi scholars, however, preferred to turn a blind eye to this disturbing trend and pleaded to be prudent about voicing our views publicly!

Going down memory lane, I have had my primary and secondary level school education through the medium of Sindhi language and pursued my studies in Sindhi to the level of postgraduate research in Sindhi linguistics at the famous Deccan College, Pune, where I worked as the Research Fellow on the U.G.C.-sponsored lexicographical project of bringing out the unique “Sindhi-English Dictionary – with phonetic transcriptions”, way back in 1964-65, during which period my short story “Qaidi”, in Sindhi, was also published in “Rajdhani-a ja Sahityakaar” - an anthology of Sindhi short stories. My father Shri W. K. Jotwani had established a Sindhi-medium School named “Sindhi Academy” in the national capital in early 1950s and had headed some of the well-known Schools in Delhi till mid-1970s. My brother Padmashri Dr. Motilal Jotwani was a legend in Sindhi language and literature.

It is unfortunate that the nation is now left with only a few institutions, which impart education through the medium of Sindhi language or teach Sindhi language as a subject in the school or college curriculum. The sad story obtains in under-graduate, graduate and post-graduate levels, too, wherein the number of students opting for study of Sindhi language has been on the decline. The number of students enrolled for studying Sindhi language has been markedly declining with the over-all decline of use of Sindhi language among the Sindhis, even in their own homes. The Sindhis, in general, perceive lack of employment opportunities as a stumbling block on the path of study of Sindhi language, even though Sindhi language figures among the recognized languages in the VIIIth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It is sad though that this recognition came through as late as 1968 after great efforts of the community and its leaders. I cherish my active participation, inspired by my elder brother Dr. Motilal Jotwani, in our persistent mass movement in 1960s for obtaining recognition of Sindhi language in the VIIIth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, under the over-all leadership of Dr. Jairamdas Doulatram, et al.

Are We Flogging a Dead Horse

Narayan Shyam, the noted Sindhi poet, had exclaimed, in anguish: “Alla iien na thiye jo kitaaben mein padh'ije, huii Sindh ain Sindh-waaren jii b'olii”, meaning, “O God! It should not happen that we are reduced to read in books about Sindh and its Sindhi-speaking people.” At the National Symposium of Sindhi Poets, held in January 2009 under the aegis of the Sindhi Academy, Government of NCT of Delhi, I too had cried out, “dapu atham ta muinhinjii Sindhii b'oli d'ukhiyo saahu khan'ii rahii aahe”, meaning, “I have fears, my Sindhi language is finding it hard to breathe”.

Indeed, I develop a depressing feeling when I find that the Sindhi language is hardly spoken by Sindhi children and Sindhi youth in India. With the passing away of the present surviving generation of the Sindhi-speaking senior citizens, it is hard to believe that the Sindhi language, literature, arts, culture – the sindhiyat – will survive the onslaughts of the competing times and competitive environment wherein the study and use of Sindhi is hardly a motivating or lucrative factor in terms of employment and commerce. However, I have not given up. I still believe that if we are able to motivate our children and youth to learn Sindhi language and speak in it, our language, literature, arts, cultural heritage – sindhiyat - will surely thrive and survive. The language gets extinct owing to its continued disuse for decades. We need to bring this home to the community and ensure that we use our Sindhi language in our homes and hearths; and encourage its study and its use amongst ourselves and our families. After all, charity begins at home. We are sure, that non-Sindhis too would then get attracted to our rich language, literature and cultural heritage..

Synergizing the Sindhi Endeavor

There are several organizations working for promotion of the Sindhi language, literature, arts and culture – both governmental and non-governmental. We need to synergize their efforts and mobilize the community, especially the youth, to work in tandem and in unison, to accomplish the common aims and objectives.

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

We all know that our strength is: entrepreneurship, business acumen, philanthropy, Sufism and sindhiyat. Let us put our strength to its optimum use to attain our legitimate aims and objectives, e.g.:

1.       A separate state for Sindhis, which may be carved out of areas of Gandhidham, Adipur and Kandla in Gujarat. It will promote day-to-day use of Sindhi language in homes and outside, and also promote a sense of unity, oneness, common good amongst its inhabitants.

2.       Sindhi studies may be encouraged and promoted in the school and college curricula.

3.       The needy and meritorious Sindhi students should be aided and encouraged by the Sindhi social entrepreneurs.

4.       There should be a separate Doordarshan channel in Sindhi language. The electronic media is a powerful source to preserve and promote language, literature, arts and culture – the sindhiyat.

5.       Sindhi language should be recognized as the medium of taking various competitive examinations in the country.

6.       The localities, which are predominantly inhabited by the Sindhis should be named as Sindhunagars.

7.       The Sindhi festival of Chetichand should be declared a national holiday.

8.       A tableau depicting Sindhi culture – sindhiyat – and the Sindhi folk dances may be made integral part of the Republic Day celebrations.

9.       The success stories of the Sindhi entrepreneurs, e.g., the Hindujas, the Buxanis, Khemanis, etc., need to be incorporated in the curriculum of the Business Schools.

10.     The universities should encourage Sindhi scholars to pursue their research in Sindhi language, literature, arts, culture, etc.

11.     We, the Sindhis, should bury the hatchet of our family feud about the script of our Sindhi language: Persio-Arabic or Devanagari? In view of the changed situation wherein our children have to learn Hindi, the national and official language of our country, we need to adapt ourselves and adopt Devanagari as the mainstream script of Sindhi language to enable our children to learn Sindhi, unburdened by learning additional Persio-Arabic script.


There is an oasis in the desert of sadness. There is light at the end of tunnel. With our perseverance, we can ensure that our language, literature, arts, culture thrives and survives with dignity in our country. We have hope and trust that the Sindhi youth will indeed take up the challenge and turn it into an opportunity to mobilize the community into a mighty movement for survival of sindhiyat in India and abroad, as the dynamic Sindhis have  national and international access, outlook and presence. We need to redeem and reinforce our self-esteem as Sindhis. We are proud of our Sindhi origin and civilization. The great Sindhis have several success stories and accomplishments to be proud of. We Sindhis are second to none in any field of human endeavour and surely we are capable of preserving our sindhiyat  On this happy note, let us rise, dance and sing, in chorus, my following lyrical composition in Sindhi, reproduced here in Roman script:

aseen aahiyun Sindhi
aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan Sindhi sad'aaiindasiin
painhinje pucce iraade saan
aseen sindhiiyat bachaaiindaasiin

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan Sindhi sad'aaiindasiin
painhinjii poori koshish saan
Sindhi b'olii bachaaiindaaseen

asaanjii b'olii Sindhi aa
asaanjii lolii Sindhi aa
asaanjii likhn'ii Sindhii aa
asaanjii chavn'ii Sindhii aa

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan iho chavaaiindaasiin
painhinjan b'aaran khe aseen
Sindhii parhaaiindaasiin

asaanjii suthii Sindhii aa
asaanjii mithii Sindhi aa
asaanjii nyaarii Sindhii aa
asaanjii pyaarii Sindhi aa

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan Sindhi sad'aaiindasiin
painhinje pucce iraade saan
aseen sindhiiyat bachaaiindaasiin

munhinjii aahe mithrii b'olii
jainh mein maau d'inii aa lolii
mithran b'olani mein ii muun
painhinjii akhi aahe kholii

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii
Hindu mein Sindhu vasaaiindaasiin
painhinje pucce iraade saan
aseen sindhiiyat bachaaiindaasiin

asaanjo sachalu Sindhi aa
asaanjo shaahu Sindhi aa
asaanjo Saami sindhii aa
asaanjo chhahu sindhi aa

aseen aahiyun sindhii
sindhiyun jo shaanu wadhaiindaasiin
aseen aahiyun Sindhii
fakhur saan Sindhii sad'aiindaasiin

moen-jo-daro Sindhii aa
asaanjo maanu Sindhii aa
ag'un'o aarya Sindhi aa
puraan'o shaanu Sindhi aa

aseen aahiyun Sindhii
shaana saan Sindhii sad'aiindaasiin
sadiyun saan saandhiyal suhinii
aseen viraasat bachaaiindaasiin

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan iho chavaaiindaasiin
painhinje pucce iraade saan
aseen sindhiiyat bachaaiindaasiin

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan Sindhi sad'aaiindasiin
aseen aahiyuun Sindhii
aseen Sindhii g'aalhaaeendaasiin

aseen aahiyuun Sindhii …
fakhur saan sindhii chavaaiindaasiin
painhinje pucce iraade saan
aseen sindhiiyat bachaaiindaasiin.