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Partition, Diaspora and Culture: Decadence of Sindhi Community

After the partition and creation of Pakistsn, Sindhi Hindus came straight to Kalyan and other parts of Maharashtra as refugees

August 25, 2016: It was after the Partition of India, the largest human resettlement in the world, that many communities — large or small, migrated from across the borders. Hindus and Muslims were now refugees and ‘kaafirs’ — but the silent partition of the province of Sindh and the struggle of the Sindhi community has gone unnoticed since the onset of the 1947 tensions. Sindhis are a socio-ethnic group of people that belonged to Sindh, today in Pakistan.

After the partition, people from this ethnicity migrated to India and non-Sindhis resettled in Pakistan, which reshaped the demographic semblance of the province of Sindh. Like Punjab has predominantly Punjabi speakers, and Bengalis got Bengal, the problem of the Sindhi community doubles up due to no homogeneity of Sindhi speakers and residents in a particular state. Sindhis were not rehabilitated to a state to suffice their linguistic and socio-cultural needs and therefore, the stress of homeland shall always prevail.

The province of Sindh (marked red) Source: Wikimedia Commons
The province of Sindh (marked red), Pakistan
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Problems with finding a new shelter:
Sindhi as a language was used for cultural purposes, in literature and local administration during the British colonial rule. Post the partition and the creation of Pakistan, Sindhis as a community got divided up as Sindhi Hindus and Muslim Hindus. The exodus resulted in Sindhi Hindus segregated in different parts of India, majorly in Adipur and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Ulhasnagar (Maharashtra) and some parts of Rajasthan like Jaipur and Kota.

This refuge resulted in a sense of dislocation and displacement among Sindhis and people from both the nations as a whole, which has been widely written about in literature. Sindhis, who before the partition were largely businessmen and earned their bread well, left all their riches in their homeland that resulted in their mundane lives in India— which they are recovering from, while they wash the terrors of migration with their unending determination.

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The Sindhi language had been recognised as one of the official languages of India in 1967, with over 3.8 million Sindhis presently living in India. They have originated from Sindh but have travelled and settled overseas for business and settlement, which brings up the issue of Sindhi diaspora.

Today, Sindhi merchants are known worldwide for their entrepreneurship skills and began settling in many countries like Hong Kong, UAE, the United States, UK and more. But by late 1990s, the Sindhi diaspora was classified into two groups: the merchants and traders in Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of Asia, and the second category of people more diversified as professionals, especially in Canada, UK and US.

image
It is unknown to many that Sufi music had originated from the province of Sindh, and Abida Parveen— one of the biggest faces of Sufism— is a Sindhi. Image source: pakium.pk

Collective efforts to preserve the culture and one’s mother language:

To diversify and familiarise others, Sindhis have vividly contributed in literature. Some of the most notable post-partition Sindhi literary artists are Motilal Jotwani, Moti Prakash, Narayan Bharati and many others. Their literature talked less about the lamentation and grief of partition, but rather put forth a more optimistic portrayal: the writer’s sweet recollection of his homeland and childhood, strong attempts to preserve the Sindhi language, and also sympathised with Sindhi Muslims who were constantly at war with the government for their rights.

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World Sindhi Congress is a UK registered non-profit human rights organisation for Sindhis and their homeland Sindh. Their main objective is to preserve Sindhi culture and stop Islamization of the Sindhi culture and Sufi music tradition. Besides this, they also provide informative material to the public regarding the community, their silent protest for human rights in Pakistan, organise conferences and lectures and also participate in conferences sponsored by the United Nations Organisation. Apart from working towards the betterment of Sindhi community as a whole, they also advocate for separation of Religion and State, women empowerment, denuclearisation and environmental rights.

Another human rights organisation named World Sindhi Institute (WSI) is set up in the Washington DC, to serve the same purpose. A constitutionally acknowledged NPO in March of 1997, the objective of WSI is to bring Sindhi community to the light of the international audience. It brings together Sindhi diaspora descending to Southeastern Pakistan and other parts of the world and also supports the issues of Decentralisation, Demilitarisation, Secularism and Nuclear Disarmament in Pakistan.

– by Chetna Karnani of NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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