Here is an ethnic group, abruptly displaced by the Partition of India in 1947, who lost everything. Role-model refugees, they went on to achieve pinnacles of success in every walk of life, contributing significantly to the communities in which they settled, in countries around the world.
Having fled a homeland that was quickly occupied by others, their history lapsed. Their language and culture dissipated, and their identity grew nebulous as they merged into adopted homelands, while tenuous connections to places they would never see sometimes lingered.
The dispersal and the aftershocks resulted in a lack of political representation. Their hard work, enterprise and material success faced them with prejudice and resentment in their adopted hometowns in newly independent India. Unflattering caricatures arose, and these served to distort perceptions others had of them, creating a diffidence within them about themselves and the past that had shaped them. Firmly putting that past – including its language, poetry, philosophy, art and music – aside, they faced their challenges resolutely. As they established themselves, many even grew to extraordinary wealth – an unexpected outcome that only served to enhance the negative stereotypes.
In 1947, India was partitioned, and Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion. The Hindu Sindhis, rendered homeless by this act, scattered and settled in different places where they established themselves as an enterprising and hardworking people and became financially successful in a surprisingly short period. Behind this façade, the history of this ethnic community was obscured and has only recently begun to be investigated, and many fascinating facts have emerged.
About the contributors
The 60 contributors to this anthology range in age between 24 and 93.
34 live in India, 25 in other countries around the world, and one (the one with the highest number of pages in this book) in Sindh. Most are ethnically South Asian – but we also have an American, a Frenchman, a German, and a half-Filipino. Most of the contributors are academics or in creative professions, but there are also three doctors, three engineers and two from the armed forces. 31 have postgraduate degrees, and 16 are PhD. Quite a few, across this mix, are in business. Of the 60, 30 identify as women and 30 as men.
This distribution over age, location, and gender, has yielded a collection of essays that range from actual memories of pre-Partition Sindh; epiphanies of self-recognition; efforts at locating one’s cultural legacies while living in countries around the globe; affectionate remembrances of real characters who embody Sindh and Sindhiness in so many different ways; patterns of worship, of hospitality, of ways of relating that stand out; all kinds of little-known, or little-remembered, historical realities that fell prey to Partition – and more. What happened in Sindh after the Hindus left? Read that, and much more, in this book.
Anju Makhija, Aroon Shivdasani, Atul Khatri, Dr Bindaas Rolu, Bob Ramchand, Chandra Jethanand Asoomal, Deepak Kirpalani, Devendra Kodwani, Dharmendra Tolani, Dirven Hazari, Dr Ali Gul Metlo, Gitanjali Kalro, Jai Alimchandani, Jurgen Schaflechner, Kajal Ramchandani, Kishore Mandhyan, Kusum Chhopra, Lou Gopal, Mamta Rughwani, Matthew Cook, Maya Khemlani David, Menka Shivdasani, Michel Boivin, Mohan Gehani, Mona Melwani, Murli Melwani, Mushtaq Rajpar, Namrata Asudani, Nandita Bhavnani, Nandu Asrani, Natasha Raheja, Nijram Bhagwanani, Nikhil Bhojwani, Nina Sabnani, Parmesh Shahani, Pir Mohammed Metlo, Pratap Kirpalaney, Raaj Lalchandani, Radhika Chakraborty, Ram Gulrajani, Ravi Tekchandani, Rita Kothari, Ritesh Uttamchandani, Roma Kirpalani, Ruve Narang, Saaz Aggarwal, Sajni Mukherji, Sanjay Mohinani, Sapna Bhavnani, Shakuntala Bharvani, Shiksha Sharma, Smriti Notani, Subash Bijlani, Subash Kundanmal, Sundri Parchani, Tarun Sakhrani, Trisha Lalchandani, Uttara Shahani, Vimmi Sadarangani, Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro