SPECIAL OFFICER FOR SINDHIS
J. T. WADHWANI Asks Deputy P. M. TO INVOKE ARTICLE 350-B OF THE CONSTITUTION
From teaching students in a posh Karachi school to steering the Vivekanand Education Society in Mumbai, the mission is to keep the Sindhi culture, language and heritage alive on the face of this globe. He is actively associated with the R.S.S., the former Janta Party, The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha and several other cultural and educational organisations besides being correctly connected with the high and mighty of the Sindhi community. Jhamatmal T. Wadhwani — The Sindhi Lion of 82 summers, has the steel, fire, dedication and determination to get Sindhis their due from the government and the society. After the partition in 1947, the Sindhis have been reduced to being stateless citizens and continue to be a linguistic minority. It is high time that the President of India appointed a Special Officer for the welfare of Sindhis under Article 350 of the Indian Constitution, he says in an exclusive interview to SINDHISHAAN Associate Editor - Mahesh Vaswani.
How should the community keep the Sindhi language alive?
Being a Vice Chairman of the Government of India’s National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language, I feel a lot needs to be done for promotion of the Sindhi language. We need to work on lines of the Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti, a body that has successfully been propagating the Hindi language. The government spends about rupees 50 lacs alone in Mumbai on this. Sindhis must realise the importance of educating their children. Today we are not only stateless citizens in India but also reduced to a linguistic minority. The Sindhi psyche needs to be awakened for preservation of their language and heritage. The importance of Sindhi language for their very own survival has to be realised by the community members. Today’s generation should compulsorily be taught Sindhi language.
But is it relevant to learn Sindhi language in present times?
Well, there are lots of Minority Educational Institutions being run by the Sindhi community. The Government gives benefits and special concessions to these institutions only because those who run them are a linguistic minority in India. However, lack of knowledge of Sindhi will make them non Sindhis, and may be one day ineligible for the benefits the community gets. What is the importance of other regional languages? Most of these languages are learnt at schools because the respective state governments force them to do so. The Vivekanand Education Society has made it compulsory for all Sindhi students to take Sindhi language as a subject. Those who refuse to do so are refused admission. We have thousands of students now learning their mother tongue and even scoring up to 93% marks. If we do not inspire the young blood to learn Sindhi today, then the day is not far when we will only have Sindhi surnames left to identify with! In course of time if Sindhis do not speak, write or speak the language, then we will lose the linguistic minority status itself.
What is the NCPSL doing for promoting the language?
So far the things being done by the National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language (NCPSL) include seminars, bulk purchase of books, awarding cash rewards to writers and so on. But these are not directly promoting the promotion of Sindhi language. As soon as I had become a member of the NCPSL about three years ago, I suggested to conduct Sindhi classes throughout India on the pattern of Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samiti. A first book or a Reader book has been published for the course. Academics and other social organisations have been taken into confidence for awakening and motivating the people. Motivation campaigns have been also undertaken and Mr. Jetho Lalwani has been appointed as the director of NCPSL for giving greater thrust to the efforts. The central government has allotted NCPSL a budget of Rs. 10 lacs to be spent this academic year on the promotional programmes. About 100 classes will conduct Sindhi diploma courses throughout India.
Why did you join the RSS ?
It was way back in 1939, when I was living in Karachi, the Sindhis faced the terror of the Hurs (Hurs were armed robbers who would even kill if anyone resisted)menace. There used to be prohibitary orders in force and we were not allowed to have RSS meets. So we used to collect in small groups in private for self defence and these groups were the buds that is today the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Then, in 1941 I had graduated in Law from the S.C. Shahani Law College. In 1944 I moved to Hyderabad (Sind) and joined legal practice in the chambers of renowned Jurist Hotchand G. Advani.
Do you think the Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani will do something for the community?
In 1942, at one of the meetings against the Hur attacks, a young boy came and expressed his inclination to join the RSS cadre. The boy today is the Deputy Prime Minister of India, Mr.Lal Krishna Advani. I am certain that he shall put up the community’s demands to the President of India. I have already demanded that he (Dy.PM) should request the President of India to appoint a Special Officer for the Sindhi community in India who are a linguistic minority. The Article 350 –B of the Constitution of India provides for Special Officer for linguistic minorities. Mr. L. K. Advani has been doing enough for Sindhis in a quiet and silent manner. He attends major Sindhi functions, visits places of Sindhi Darbars and temples and makes it a point to meet Sindhis and know their views and feelings wherever he happens to meet them in or out of India.
What exactly is this Article 350 – B ?
Article 350 – B 1} of the Indian Constitution says, “There shall be a Special Officer for linguistic minorities to be appointed for the President” and 350 – B 2} requires “It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under this Constitution and report to the President upon those matters at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each house of Parliament, and sent it to the Governments of the States concerned.” But it is a tragedy that since independence, successive Governments in India have failed to consider the plight of the Sindhis till date. In the 55 years of independent India why has no government ever thought it necessary to get such an Special Officer appointed for the hapless, stateless and rootless victims of a cruel partition.
So you feel the present Government will request the President for such a Special Officer for the Sindhis?
I am hopeful. At an exclusive Sindhi community gathering in Mumbai organised by the Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha on the 19th September this year, I had put forward such a demand before the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Advani. Things are expected to start moving soon. Time will tell (smiles)!
How would the Sindhi community benefit from such a Special Officer?
Sindhi community is bound to benefit from Special Officer being appointed by the President in connection with safeguards of linguistic minorities. Matters related to language and minority status will have to be looked into by him and problems of Sindhi community will be tackled at higher level. Sindhis will have a forum to ventilate their grievances through the President of India and then referred to various ministries.
Do you think the business community and the rich Sindhis have done enough for their community?
Sindhi business community has done a lot for the Sindhis. Khubo & Gulab Watumal, Kishanchand Chelaram, Dassi Budhrani, Lakshmi & Inder Shivdasani, Kewalram Ghanshyamdas, K.T. Shahani, the Hindujas… and the list of Sindhi philanthropists is quite long. They have financed first the temples and then the educational institutions and hospitals throughout India. A number of Dharamshalas and Sindhu Bhavans have also been financed by Sindhi community. Most of these are not only for Sindhi community but also for all other community people. However Sindhi community is missing a focus of keeping themselves alive as a community.
So, one day the Sindhis will be extinct from the face of the earth?
Yes, we certainly will become extinct if we continue to ignore our language and culture. They have no interest in learning and reading their own language and literature and preserving the legacy of 7000 years old Mohen-jo-Daro in Larkanas, Sindh, and the Vedic literature written on the banks of Sindhu. They are woefully ignorant of the necessity of preserving their mother tongue, the Sindhi language and the legacy. Large civilizations and linguistic groups have vanished because of neglect by their own peoples. Of the 6000 languages, 3000 are in peril of vanishing soon. Every week or two one language becomes extinct from the earth. Rich and intelligent Sindhis should apply their minds to this aspect and see to it that they speak and learn Sindhi in their homes and motivate and finance the communities to run Sindhi classes in every nook and corner of the world where even there are 50 Sindhi houses. They should emulate the examples of some determined communities who have survived because they have looked after their language and heritage.