MORE ON THE LANGUAGE ISSUE
We Sindhis . . . . . . . Our Language is English
by Dr.Hiro G. Badlani
I read with considerable interest the article 'We, the Sindhis' by Dr Nandlal Jotwani. I also read all other articles on the same subject. . In my opinion, any effort of reviving Sindhi language by changing its script, or by forceful motivation to use it in reading and writing, will ultimately be fruitless. As it is, many other languages, which are placed in highly advantageous position, too are facing the language crisis in one way or other. We Sindhi Hindus are a small community scattered in all parts of India and almost the whole world. But I am very confident that we will of course bend and adopt, but we will not break and perish as a community! We have the heritage of the most ancient civilization; we shall sustain. Languages have the habit of changing; the original Indus language, the script of which is still not fully deciphered, Brahmi, Sanskrit, Pali, and so many others had their say in time, and then made way for others including our own sweet mother tongue Sindhi in its present form.
60 years after the independence, Sindhis in India are experiencing a great sense of apprehension. Is Sindhi language going to survive or is it likely to wither away gradually? Are we, as Sindhi community, to remain a separate entity or shall we be disintegrated and dissolved into various other communities in India and abroad? Will our culture be lost to these forces of destruction, once the language is gone or shall we withstand the turmoil and overcome it? Let us look the problem into the eye and grapple the same with both hands courageously and intelligently.
We Indian Sindhis comprising of migrated Sindhi Hindus are a very small community of about 30 to 40 lakhs people who are scattered in all different parts of India as well as in many countries of the world specially U.S.A., Dubai, Hong Kong, U.K., Canada, etc. We Sindhis are truly the world citizens now. The most important need of the hour is to remain united. We must inevitably find a common medium through which we can interact and link together all over India and abroad – a sort of strong thread which will hold all the beads together. No other language except English can take this responsibility in modern times. I am submitting this thesis with utmost humility for an objective and unprejudiced consideration.
First and foremost, it is essential to search out own roots. Sindhi community is one of the oldest, if not the most ancient civilization in the world! The excavation of Moen-jo-Daro of Indus civilization is a brilliant testimony of this. Five thousand years from now, it was a perfectly prosperous community! This unparalleled growth turned the people from warrior into more cultured, peaceful and civilized society. They naturally became home for repeated attacks and loots over the centuries. They were enslaved, converted and driven away from their homes to rebuild their destinies all over again. But these people of Indus belt were not ordinary people. They were people of great vision, courage, adaptability, and resilience. They had highly evolved complex brains. They had practical approach, progressive nature, and a positive way of looking at life. They were the people whose forefathers compiled the eternal Vedas, and other holy scriptures on the banks of Sindhu-the Indus River. The wisdom of man invariably overcame the brute of the beast! The last such massive onslaught was at the time of independence of India in 1947, when 11 to 12 lakhs of Sindhi Hindus were uprooted from their prosperous holdings for absolutely no fault of their own. They never grabbed anybody's territory, they never invaded and yet they were targeted to be hurt and destroyed. Hurt they were very abundantly but they never got to be destroyed! Never!! Only six decades from this situation of being penniless immigrants, they turned to be amongst the wealthiest people. Not just in Mumbai and Calcutta, but also in Hong Kong, Dubai, New York, Los Angeles, London, and almost every place in the world they scattered and established themselves with their hard work, diligence, perseverance, and patience. However the single most important contribution towards this spectacular success is the mind of man. There has been a great evolution of this mind through centuries. We Sindhis are very proud of our glorious heritage, and we shall preserve the same with all our might. We simply cannot afford to lose the most invaluable treasure of our culture and civilization.
Culture is a very large picture. Briefly stated it is the sum total of all our behaviors patterns, our literary and artistic collections, out religious beliefs, our rituals and ceremonies and our fairs and festivals.
Even though language plays a very important role in the making and preservation of culture, it is still the tool in this mega task. Human mind is the fundamental centre of activity. It is this intellectual and spiritual aspect of the genesis of culture, which we may keep in mind while dealing with this vital issue at hand.
History of man has witnessed great many changes in all languages. The original writings of Indus civilization are yet to be deciphered by the historians and scholars. Afterwards came the golden period of Sanaskrit and Pali, in which many of the epics were written. With advent of time there were more transformations. Arabic, Hindi, and other influences dominated with emergence of new languages in different parts of the country. Our Sindhi language was thus born in the cradle of world's oldest culture and no wonders it turned out to be one of the most beautiful, rich, and resonant languages in a short span of time. It has an unmatched vocabulary and style of its own.
Great classics were produced specially by the poets like Shah Abdul Latif, Sami, and Sachal.
The arrival of English has changed the course of literature all over the globe. The translations of Gita, Ramayan, Mahabharat and other epics in English language have made these scriptures readable not only by people outside India but surprisingly even inside the country. More people have read these great classics in English than in any other single Indian language including Hindi. We Sindhis feel that our language is losing its grip because we do not have state of our own nor we have enough members in legislative bodies to protect our interests. But when we look at the state of affairs of all the other languages including Hindi, the situation is similar, even if not so bad. It is indeed shocking to see that even the schools run by religious and Indian cultural organizations now impart education mainly in English. The advent of computer, where only English language is usable has sent shock waves to advance countries like Russian, Japan, Germany, and France etc. In the next one decade, the educational status of a person will be judged by the computer efficiency level. It may not be then surprising if most countries prefer English as a medium of instruction in many of their educational institutions. These are the tides of time no one can stop!
It must also be clearly understood that when we see a newspaper like Times of India or books like Gita etc., though written or translated in English, are basically Indian literature publications, depicting our culture. It would be indeed incorrect to label these as English or foreign literature, since all the contents pertain to our people, their ethos, and their philosophies. However, even as we are talking of adopting English as our new language of communication, there is no intention whatsoever to abandon and disregard our original Sindhi language. Undoubtedly we shall all continue to talk and express ourselves at home and outside in Sindhi. We shall sing our songs and organize our fairs and festivals in Sindhi. Those who have literary flair will take to learning and teaching Sindhi at the highest level to do the literary research as well as contribute towards the monumental work of translating the Sindhi classics in English for the benefit of posterity. In fact this may turn out to be the greatest service to Sindhi language and culture, in the same way as we Indians have regard and respect for Sanskrit. We shall always cherish our Sindhi language with greatest love and fondness, but let us not get obsessed with the idea of promoting Sindhi in schools, let us not expect our children to read and write in Sindhi, let us stop forcing our youngsters to learn Sindhi alphabets only to forget the next day. We also need not call English a foreign language any more in the same way as computers and atomic energy are not foreign to us. Let us shed our inhibitions about such things and get ready to build our new empire of Sindhi culture.
At present our most eminent and versatile poets and authors are still writing mostly in Sindhi language. Their talent is heavily underutilized and nearly wasted as there is sharp decline in the readership. They are not well-compensated either in terms of money or recognition. Their writings should be translated in English, gradually and partly at least. This way they will start to create their very own new Sindhi literature in English language. It will also be of immense value if they would bring about translations of our most precious Sindhi literature in English which would be of greatest help to our youth and the future generations.
Let there be a beginning.
Dr. Hiro Badlani is the author of Hinduism: Path of the Ancient Wisdom. All 65 chapters of the book are uploaded on the website www.hinduismpath.com