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Sindhi Language, ready to take off in Roman Script By: Wilmix Wilson Mazarello (From Archives)

Last Updated: 09 March '09

Sindhi Language, ready to take off in Roman Script

                                                           By: Wilmix Wilson Mazarello

         (Convenor, Romi Lipi Action Front)

"Sindhi" is a language of the Sindh region of Pakistan.   Approximately 41 million people speak, read & write Sindhi in Pakistan. In Pakistan "Sindhi" is written exclusively in the Arabic Script In India approximately 12 million people speak read & write Sindhi.

"Sindhi" is also one of the recognized Official Languages of India.
In India "Sindhi" is written in Arabic as well as Devanagari Scripts.
The Government of India recognizes both these Scripts for "Sindhi".
The Sindhis who left Sindh, (Pakistan) at time of partition and came to India in 1947, have neither State nor Land to be called as their own. The Sindhi community is scattered all over India, and now, also scattered all over the World. 
"Sindhi" is taught as a first language in the schools of Sindh and second language in Baluchistan in Pakistan.

In India, especially in the states of Maharashtra & Gujarat, many educational institutions & schools managed by the Sindhi community promote "Sindhi"  either as the medium of instruction or as a subject.

"Sindhi" is a rich language. It has a vast vocabulary.  This has made "Sindhi" a favourite of many writers and consequently much literature and poetry have been written in "Sindhi".

Dialects of "Sindhi" are also spoken in southern Punjab, Baluchistan, Northwest province of Pakistan (NWFP), and also Gujarat, as well as in India (in the Rajasthan state). But alas, in spite of all this, today, many a "Sindhi" Educationist and Social leader, express anxiety about the very existence of the "Sindhi" language and community.  They say, today the Sindhi population living in minority status in various parts of India and elsewhere in the world, lack the availability of "Sindhi" language education in the main stream curriculum of the local schools and colleges.  Hence, the new Sindhi generation has neither the opportunity nor the incentive to learn their own language. 


Earlier, "Sindhi" was the official language of the Sindh (Pakistan), but today it is no more an official language there. Urdu has taken its place as the official language of Sindh.  This alone could be the single biggest blow to the survival of the Sindhi community. Devanagari script has received success in small number of schools located in the pockets where Sindhis started their new life as refugees

In India.   However, the Devanagari Script is not well accepted by the Sindhis themselves.

Sindhis have since scattered all over India and other continents of the world, where Sindhi is not taught in either Perso-Arabic or Devanagari script.

The question therefore arises, will "Sindhi" language survive as a viable language in Arabic or Devanagari script? (except in  Sindh-Pakistan and some parts of India). What will happen to Sindhis who are spread all over the world?  Is there an easy solution?  Can Sindhi" be saved from extinction by introducing once again a new script?  For a change, could the Sindhis consider adopting the Roman Script?

Many a Sindhi Educationist and Social Leader argue as follows:-                          Our new generation learns Roman Script all over the world. The computer knowledge is fast becoming inseparable part of future education and daily life. This field too is dominated by English Language. Should we not therefore adopt Roman Script to teach "Sindhi" to our youth?  Transcription in Roman script using ‘Sindhi" phonics could be a matter of research and development by expert educationalists. 


The Britishers devised present Perso-Arabic script for us in 1853. Why should we not evolve a Roman Script for our dear "Sindhi"? It may be the only logical and practical solution for a Border-less Sindhi Nation of tomorrow.
In the U.A.E, where the Sindhi community is a prominent Indian business group, is already working towards preserving the "Sindhi" language by adopting the Roman script, instead of the existing Arabic and Devanagari scripts.
Dr Ram Buxani, the managing trustee of Ram and Veena Buxani Foundation (U.A.E), says "If many western communities can adopt the Roman script to preserve and promulgate their languages, why can't our small community do the same?"

Shri Govind Chandiramani a language expert from Mumbai, with the help of tireless volunteers has already started preparing the "Sindhi Phonetic Roman Script".

So, do the Sindhis know what they are doing? May be they do know what's best for them.

What the Sindhis are doing now, was done a long time ago by some Muslim Countries. After the First World War, these Muslim Countries under the Russian Rule discarded the Arabic script, which they used for their number of languages, and replaced it with the Roman Script.  The reasons :- a) To save their languages from being extinct. b) To make their languages globally acceptable.

Turkey abolished the Arabic script in 1928, and replaced it with modified "Latin-Script".  Somalia followed it a few years later, also replacing it with "Latin Script".
Swahili, the most widely spread languages in Africa, gave up the Arabic Script for the Roman Script.

By about the mid 19th century onwards, the Arabic alphabet was completely ousted by the  Latin-script (Roman).

With the European invasions came the missionaries who introduced a Romanized script called "Rumi". This has become the alphabet of both Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesian, virtually the same tongue - today the most widespread language in Southeast Asia.

From the latter half of the 19th century, Roman or Latin script also replaced "Malay"-script of Indonesia, and by the early years of the 20th century it had effectively displaced the "Jawi" script.

The Turkic languages (Uzbek, Turkmen & Tatar) of  Uzbekistan,  Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Lithuania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China & Romania which earlier used the Cyrillic or Arabic Scripts, have all been replaced by the Roman Script. 

In the Fiji Islands the entire population of Indian Origin (approx.400,000), reads & writes Hindi in the Roman Script.  Yes! Hindi in Roman Script.

Finally, coming back close to home, a Cultural Society registered at Tardeo, Mumbai,  "Roman Lipi Parishad", ( Regn.No. 349/84/GBBSD dated 1 June 1984 and Public Trust F-9594 Bombay dated 19 July 1984 ) under the leadership of  Madhukar N Gogate of  Pune,  is working tirelessly, to give Roman Script as an additional Script for Marathi.

Need I say any more, as to why this is happening?   With technology developing at such a fast pace, the World is fast becoming a global village.
World-wide Communication is the need of the hour.  Regional languages are facing a threat of extinction, unless they take measures to change their Script to a globally accepted script.

As against this National & International backdrop, we Goans here, are fighting with some Devanagari fanatics to retain our Global Script (Roman Script) for Konkani, a Script which has already been there with us for almost 500 years.

Just when the world is preparing to take a step forward, some of our Goans are bent on taking Goa & Goans, two steps backward.  How sadist of them? Is it not?

Sadists or not, history has shown us, Roman Script has taken languages to newer heights. Roman Script will take Konkani too, to newer heights.

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