SINDHIS : A Wounded Community
By Arun Babani
It is a well known fact that Sindhis suffer from low self esteem. They not only don’t take pride in being Sindhi but are, in most cases, ashamed of belonging to the community. On the other hand, other communities also don’t carry a positive impression of the Sindhis who are viewed as children of a lesser God, an inferior race. They are quite notorious wherever they happen to reside.
Both these aspects, the lack of pride and being infamous are inherently related to each other. I believe I’m not good enough so the others too get those vibrations from me and start believing I’m not good enough. When did this ‘downfall’ occur in Sindhi psychic history? What were the factors responsible for things to pass this way? How did it all happen? Or was it always the case with Sindhis?
Due to the immense hardships that they went through following partition Sindhis had to struggle very hard for the initial thirty – forty years. In this tremendous struggle to find their feet they perhaps did not bother about such niceties as refinements and good values. Most often they did not even get a decent education and upbringing. When there is no money in my pocket and I’m badly wounded I can’t care too much about fairplay and morality and honesty. This seems to be the crux of the matter that because of long and hard struggle for survival, Sindhis of those times had to keep aside fineries of life and behaviour. And so they became famous as an untrustworthy community, not to be relied upon. From this came their lack of self-esteem and pride.
Dr. Satish Rohra, an eminent ideologue of the community feels that Sindhis were exploiters and cheats even before partition, while living in Sindh itself. “They exploited poor Muslims by manipulating accounts. They were the Zamindars and money lenders and they exploited most of the poor communities living around them. In fact, you will be surprised to know that the now infamous Hawala deals originated in Sindh by the Sindhis.The Hundi is a Sindhi creation which enabled the Sindhi moneylenders to fraudently charge illegal interest amounts.” Dr.Rohra says that even after partition, Sindhis behaved dishonestly in many cases. It was a cruel game of survival. “They would occupy one room on rent and eventually take over the whole house. Most of them were uneducated and adept at cheating. That’s how they became notorious and untrustworthy.”
Today, how does it feel when we look back at those forgotten hard days of survival? Does it bring up anger or a sense of shame or what? “Now, sixty six years later, things are better but not good enough. The situation for the community has changed drastically. We have an educated class from the second and third generations and the Sindhi pride is slowly coming back. But pride needs to stand on some quality and some substance. It may be either culture or political power or industry, something to fix the pride on. We Sindhis now have wealth and education and now we must build a strong foundation on a healthy culture and human values. That would seem a solid ground for self esteem and it is on its way. But, sadly we have not been able to earn positive respect from other communities around us yet.”
That may take a long time and another long struggle to earn. We have yet to prove our worth and our qualities to earn a positive acceptance from others. “We must collectively work towards building back our lost pride as well as our lost reputation.” says Dr. Rohra.
Sindhis survived the loss of land. They survived the loss of language. But the question is whether we will be able to survive the loss of pride and the loss of respect from others around us. That is an emotional scar and a crippling inferiority complex that we are victims of. We are known to be a tough community, resilient to pressures and shocks. But without a healthy self respect and positive feelers from others around us we may not be able to survive long. We must do all we can to build a strong character in order to once again become a healthy, wealthy and wise community. AWAL KHAIR.