WE THE SINDHIS
By Dr. Nandlal Jotwani
It is heartening to congregated at the International Sindhi Sammelan in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 9th to 14th July 2010 to celebrate the shrinking of the world and to strategize as to how best ‘We, the Sindhis’, cans stay connected so as to network and interact, not only to promote our business and commerce, but also to widen our vision and expand our knowledge of each other, share our experiences and expertise, our sense of history and society and our rich cultural heritage with each other in a pragmatic and meaningful manner. After all, the purpose of life is to live purposefully, preserving our values, wisdom and ‘verso’ (heritage)
It’s a small, small, very small world
The world has shrunk. Every individual, every society, every country has transformed. Distances are shorter and connections are deeper. Barriers have melted and the cultures have strengthened. Conversations are no longer just auditory. Knowledge is not just possessed by the old, wise ones. Inventing new stuff is a serious business. The doors have opened far and wide. Innovations and new ideas cross over the length and breadth of the ‘global village’ we live in.
We, the Sindhis, are indeed the world citizens. Dr. Ram Buxani echoes this sentiment among the Sindhis. He gives his own example, “My blood has the ‘Sindhwarki’ ethos.” ‘Sindhwarki’ ethos implies globe-trotting trait among the Sindhis, who are not daunted by aliens or the alien land in quest of the green pastures across the globe. Ram S. Jawhrani, too endorses the ‘Sindhwarki’ inclination among Sindhis, “Sindhis traversed the length and breadth of the globe to establish businesses and have not just remained content in their country.” In this context, Dalamal Chotirmal, Dhanamal, Kishinchand Chellaram, Dr. Ram Buxani, Murij Manghnani, Dilip Kumar V. Lakhi, Hinduja Brothers, Dr. Kartar Lalwani, Murli Chanrai, Prem Lalwani, Shyam Rupchand Jethnani, Ajay Jotwani etc., names flash across the mental screen with elan and aplomb. As it were, we – the Sindhis – are great networkers. We have been able to interact and network successfully in multi-religion, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-dimensional environment.
Decline and fall of the Indus Civilization
We, the Sindhis, are indeed the proud inheritors of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, as Ram Jawhrani painstakingly reminds us in his book “Global Sindhis . . . .”. It is convenient to speak of the ‘valley of the Indus’, but one should bear in mind that in Sindh, this ‘valley’ viewed transversely, is convex instead of concave, so that longitudinally the lowest lines run along the extremities of the floodplain on either hand, not down its middle. Sir John Marshall’s momentous discovery of the Indus Civilization restored to India three thousand years of its missing history. However, we are still unsure about the authors of this highly advanced civilization of the third millennium BC.
The Mohen-jo-Daro and Harappa phenomenon is called civilization because of its town planning, monumental structures, hydrological systems, artifacts, agriculture and commerce, etc. The river Sindhu – the Indus – indeed gave its name not only to the Province of Sindh but also to the sub-continent. However, the decline and fall of the Indus Civilization is till shrouded in mystery. The city at Mohen-jo-Daro started dying by 2200 BC in the province of Sindh and its death knell had been sounded by 2100 BC, probably by the great tectonic uplift leading to its submergence or some other calamity.
Decline of the Indus Culture in India
It is not my intention to dwell upon the decline and fall of the great Indus Civilization. What perturbs me, however, is the phased decline of the Indus Culture – ‘Sindhyat’ – in India, unless immediate revival strategies and systems are not put in place in time. Within a decade or so, the present generation of Sindhi-knowing, Sindhi-speaking senior citizens may disappear altogether. The emerging generation with its new associations, inclinations, attitudes and aptitudes, mainly driven by market forces, may not carry the cultural considerations.
Sadhu T.L. Vaswani wrote the following inspiring words, “How many of the Sindhis know that the Sumerians derived their culture from Sindh? How many know that Sindh had a share in checking Alexander’s march in India? How many remember that once Sindh carried on commerce with Rome and Greece, with Asia Minor, Babylonia and Egypt? How many know that Sindh sent out her sons to settle in Java? How many know that the Buddha blessed Sindh by his meditations and personal teachings? How many are aware of the fact that her doctors and men of culture influenced the Khalifa’s Court in Baghdad and the Arabs who carried the torch of culture to medieval universities in Europe?” Padmashri Dr. Motilal Jotwani has stated in his classic work “The Sindhis through the Centuries”, “The Sindhi dharma is secularist . . . . the best of Hinduism (advaita Vedaanta), Islam (Sufism) and Sikhism congeal into the Sindhi religion and culture.”
The need for networking and staying connected acquires added importance vis-à-vis the formidable challenge of decline, and possible extinction, of our language, literature and heritage, which is hanging like ‘Sword of Damocles’ over our head. Like the proverbial ostrich, we cannot, and should not; keep our eyes shut and stay in a self-deceptive ‘all-is-well’ idiosyncrasy while the prevalence of the Sindhi language, literature, customs and traditions declines steadily. If, in the given circumstances, our Sindhi youth do not or cannot obtain formal education in Sindhi language or are unable to read, write or speak Sindhi language, we just cannot remain silent spectators and allow our ‘Sindhyat’ to slip by imperceptibly. We need to move the proverbial ‘Mohammed’ to the ‘Mountain’, that is if it is unreal in the real world to attract our Sindhi youth to ‘Sindhyat’, let us attempt to impart non-formal education to him in the Sindh arts and culture – Sindhyat – in an attractive and motivating environment of virtual world where he is encouraged to learn Sindhi language and literature, too. This way, we will be, at least, preserving ‘Sindhyat’, the Sindhi festivals, traditions and culture in an agreeable environment, which in turn may pave the way for development of our language and literature.
The world is 72.8% water and 28.2% digital
We now live in the knowledge society and cyber-age times. The internet-savvy, the 3-D cell phones flaunting youth and the distinguished Sindhi Diaspora should join hands to develop programmes not only for e-commerce, exchange of ideas and socio-cultural interaction but also for propagation of language, literature and culture by means of digital and electronic media with multi-sensory audio-visual impact. Indeed, electronic and digital media has sparked off a human and technological revolution. We, the Sindhis, are fortunate enough to be rather well-off materially and intellectually, endowed with great qualities of entrepreneurship and innovation. The digital media implies electronice media that works on digital codes. While some enterprising businessmen may join their hands together to focus on developing programmes and user generated content for electronic media, say, television, others can concentrate on propagation of ‘Sindhyat’ by such products and services of digital media as internet and mobile phones. The lofty efforts of the Sindhi media and NGOs, e.g., Sindhishaan, Sahyog Foundation, Akhand Sindhu Sansar, Revive Sindhi, Sindhi Samvaad, Indus Canada, Dil-e-Sindh, etc., are indeed laudable in this regard. The government organizations like NCPSL and the Sindhi Academies, too, are performing and delivering in their own ways. The recent release of the postal stamp depicting Sant Kanwar Ram Sahib by the President of India on 26 April 2010 augurs well towards revival of Sindhyat and the Sindhi culture. However, such efforts can best be meaningful if these percolate to and involve the youth of the community, which alone can launch and sustain such mass movement of cultural revival and cultural renaissance in the country and overseas. As it were, the Sindhi youth today is caught in the cobweb of the challenges posed by imperatives of economic survival in the increasingly competitive world driven by demand-and-supply syndrome wherein the demand for Sindhi language and literature is unfortunately diminishing and dwindling day-by-day!
We, the Sindhis, must strive to stay connected, especially because we are scattered in our country and the sizable section of Sindhis constitute Sindhi Diaspora across the globe. The tweets are flying and social networking is flourishing – LinkedIn, Twitter, Face book, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, etc. We must rise to the occasion and judiciously put the technological progress to our profitable use not only for promotion of our e-commerce but also for preservation of our language, literature and culture. We must also amicably resolve the issue of script of our Sindhi language and swim with the current of the times by adopting Devnagari script, which is also the script of our national and official language Hindi.
Some sceptics may however feel that my proposition tantamount to flogging the dead horse. I am however hopeful that some brilliant brains and entrepreneurs will surely sit up and come up with the mind-blowing digital products, designed for the Sindhi youth, in particular, and the community, in general, that will help sustain our ‘Sindhyat’ to the extent we love it and would passionately strive to keep connected. The funds can be raised through philanthropy and by online advertisements, et al.
While our efforts ought to be ‘on’ to obtain our legitimate socio-cultural and political rights, we need not keep lamenting and breast-beating about the persistent official apathy. The dynamic Sindhi Diaspora and the Sindhi residents, who are passionate about preserving ‘Sindhyat’, must rise to the occasion and create an environment where We, the Sindhis, can connect direct with one another for all-round development of head (intellect, entrepreneurship), heart (language, literature, culture) and hand (vocational and life skills) through well thought-out, customized digital content. Indeed, I anxiously look forward to it and am willing to lend a helping hand in it. The wise say, ‘something is better than nothing’. Hence, we, the Sindhis, must strive to do something to stay connected and save our identity, ‘Sindhyat’, which may eventually help save our language and literature, too. Amen.