Volume - 3 : Issue - 1

Published : Jan. - Mar. 2004

Group : Revival

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By Arun Babani

How does a culture, a society and a language develop? How does it grow and prosper? The answer is simple; when the subsequent generations, its younger members make it their own, and add salt and spice to the culture. When the young generation belongs to any community, when the youth takes to any language and culture, that society is bound to have a flow, which grows into a richer and younger culture. Instead of being a dead pond, that community becomes a flowing river, which invites and includes many streams and rivulets into its fold, thereby soon becoming a strong current with a force to reckon with.

Unfortunately the Sindhi society lacks this vital living force of its younger generation. The Sindhi youth has, over a period of time, gradually left its own mother culture and adopted a borrowed culture of the place where he happens to be.

Laments Mr.Kirat Babani “The very first signs of this typical Sindhi malady were felt around mid seventies when slowly the Sindhi schools began to feel the pressure and had to close down. The choice for the educators of those days was a hard one; either to move with the times or to get stuck and to retrogress. For us it was a painful decision and keeping a rock on our souls we had to get on with life.”
That was the period of Perestroika and Glasnost. The Indian economy was opening up to satellite T.V and super computers. They was an upsurge of technology and for the first time there was a talk of a global village. Local ethnic cultures were fast disappearing, or getting fused into one earth, one world and one humanity. And the Sindhi was no exception to these massive gigantic strides of universal change.

Remembers Mr. Babani “There was a time around the mid eighties, we gave the first call to our Sindhi youth. We realized then that having lost everything, our youth are our only asset, our only hope.”
In the last quarter century or so, Sindhi elders have been inviting, cajoling, and calling the youth to come and join the Sindhi Kaafla, the caravan of Sindhyat, but with little success. Says Mr. Ranjit Butani “Sindhi youth is just not interested in Jhulelal or Mohen-Jo-Daro. Many young people come to me and say ‘enough of your Sindhu nadi and Sindhu Desh. Give us something we can relate to. Give us real stuff, not memories.’

Offering an insight into Sindhi youth, Prof. (Mrs) Sabita Babani says, “Sindhi youth is not interested in Sindhyat maybe because these elders of Sindhyat are not really interested in Sindhi youth. They do not want to make place for the youth by leaving their positions. They are only interested in themselves and their images. Who really bothers about the youth, or for that matter about Sindhyat itself? It is all just hogwash. Sindhyat is like a haggard great grand aunt from Adipur, living a posthumous life.”

So what do the young Sindhis want? Or let’s ask what do the elders have to give to the young Sindhis? Sindhi language for instance. Teaching Sindhi language through language classes has not been effective so far perhaps because of lack of a Sindhi atmosphere. Confides Mr. Jairam Rupani “My son did the Sindhi language course along with his friends. But in the absence of practice and follow-up, it falls flat. Even the Sindhi language CD-ROM, is only suitable for computer literates and not for ordinary townfolk. In fact, such efforts being too serious and hard work for youngsters, alienates them further from the fold.”

Do the elders, who have been looking forward to the young presence in the Sindhyat team have a concrete plan of action to offer them? Even a Lions’ Club has realistic programs and achievable targets. Do the Sindhi elders have any such strategic steps for our youngsters? Political programs for the Sindhi youth have not many takers. Liberating Sindhu Desh or a demand for a Sindhi MP doesn’t appeal to them. Social programs like marrying within the community, or banning the dowry system, are other such issues, which the Sindhi youth does not identify with. That leaves the cultural field where the Sindhi youth can be profitably involved. Sindhi culture being rich and vibrant and is alive and throbbing in many parts of India and abroad. This area of acclimatizing the Sindhi with the traditional Sindhi culture can be a viable and practical plan of action for the coming generation. “Meeting of youth with Media, with the Arts, is the only answer” concludes Mr. Rupani.

“The youth can be attracted to Sindhyat only when Sindhyat is made attractive for them. Through various art forms, poetry, drama, songs and dances, the Sindhi youth can easily be attracted to Sindhi culture. What are these dry dull and drab seminars for? Where majority are in their seventies and eighties. A criminal waste of government funds. Instead the same money can be better utilized in the Sindhi art which speak the language of a young twenty first century Sindhi”

As we can see, we Sindhis haven’t much of a choice, nor can we afford to waste any more time. If we have to connect with the Sindhi youth, the missing link of Sindhyat, we must begin pulling up our socks. Set up a time-bound, concrete plan for our scattered and helpless kids or else get ready to answer their accusations when they turn around and ask us “What did you do for me papa?”