‘Saap aur Sindhi dikhe, toh pehle Sindhi ko maro’
You must have heard this before. There are various stereotypes about Sindhis. We wear a lot of gold, eat a lot of papad and are ‘kanjoos’ and money-minded businessmen. The actual reality, although widely prevalent, lies mysteriously buried under the awful misrepresentation, courtesy Bollywood.
After the partition in 1947, many Hindu Sindhis fled from Pakistan and settled in India, leaving behind their shops, lands and wealth. Some families were separated and some killed. While the Muslim Sindhis stayed back in Pakistan, Hindu Sindhis started to rebuild their lives from scratch in unfamiliar lands. They quickly got used to reading left to right instead of right to left.
My grandfather was born in Sukkur, Sindh in the year 1940. After the partition, he was forced to flee from his homeland by train. There was no place to sit, people even traveled on ‘the roof’ of the train to escape. He had nothing except the clothes he was wearing and so did his parents and 10 siblings. He tells me stories of how they temporarily lived in tin-sheds and were often drenched in rain the entire night.
Like many Sindhis, he did any job that he could find to support his education. My grandfather graduated with a law degree from K.C. College but was employed in a construction company. While working there, he once clicked a picture with the car his boss owned and dreamt to ‘someday own a car of his own’. A few years later, the man with a ‘law’ degree started his own ‘civil construction’ company.
Today, he has more number of cars than fingers. In December 2017, the Builders Association of India (BAI) honored him with the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award. From rags to riches, he made a living through sheer hard work and philanthropy. There are many such Sindhi refugee success stories. Numerous Sindhis like L.K. Advani, Niranjan Hiranandani, Ram Jethmalani and Ranveer Singh have made a name for themselves in their respective industries. There are a great deal of Sindhi colleges, hospitals, and trusts.
In India, there are 3.1 million Sindhis (i.e. less than 1% of the population) who contribute to 8% of India’s GDP. Indias largest Sindhi dominant region is Ulhasnagar in Mumbai. Sindh gets its name from the river ‘Sindhu’ (Indus). Sindhi Hindus tend to have surnames that end in '-ani' (derived from the Sanskrit word 'ansha', which means 'descended from'). The first part of a Sindhi Hindu surname is usually derived from the name or location of an ancestor.
So yes, you can call a Sindhi kanjoos, blingy or papad but don’t forget that he/she belongs to a community that in 1947 was abruptly made homeless and penniless. But there was no whining or complaining. They turned displacement into determination and seamlessly integrated.
Further reading: https://herald.dawn.com/news/1153837