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Partition Reading

Oh, spell it out, spell it out:  On August 15th, 1947, at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world.  There were gasps.  And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds…Thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country.  For the next three decades, there was to be no escape.  (Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie)

Partition was the bloody severing of a nation.  From one came two.  And with this birth came fast and steady dissolution of humanity – all that is good and right in the world was brushed aside and replaced with dishonor, deceit and retribution.  But from this time and the decades that have followed, a great mass of literature, histories and tales have grown.  In this session hear excerpts from proclaimed works of the fastest and bloodiest mass exodus in history and discuss the ramifications of Partition on the people of South Asia throughout the last 57 years. Sara Dadlani

Partition of 1947: Real-Life Examples

Panelists: Narayan Malkani, Gul Ramchandani, Kamal Mirchandani

An insider’s perspective into partition! What went on in everyone’s minds as one of the most significant moments of Sindhi History unfolded? Join us as we describe the journey that our brethren had to endure as they made the historical crossing. Now is your chance to find out what it was really like and ask those questions that you have always wondered. Why did they leave everything behind? How come they didn’t fight? Why was it so?  Imagine leaving your birthplace, your home turf, in search for a new temporary home.  Imagine choosing the most important belongings to pile up to take with you and leaving the rest with your neighbors along with your house keys hoping to return soon.  Imagine leaving your longtime friends and neighbors never to be seen again.  Imagine fathers bringing in enormous double-barreled guns nestling in beds of red satin to protect from all the occurring bloodshed.  Imagine people having to disguise themselves, living against their beliefs just to survive another day.  What would have you done?  There were millions of people that were killed and 12 million others that lost their homes in the aftermath of Britain’s clumsy partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. It was the largest mass migration in history, the messiest national divorce as well as the most abrupt division of a country, which took place in just a few months.

Narayan Malkani - Born in Tando Mohamand Khan, Sind, now in Pakistan. Before partition, he was studying in the first year of Science in D G National College, Hyderabad. At the time of partition, he was asked to go to Karachi for social service. He left Karachi on November 2, 1947 for Hyderabad and then to Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. In 1960, he moved to Bombay and joined M.M.K. Commerce College as Professor of Economics and Head of the Department. He became Vice-Principal of the College and also Professor of Economics in Bombay University. In 1977, he migrated to U.S.A. Now retired, he currently teaches Yoga and Meditation. 

Gul Ramchandani - Born and raised in Hyderabad, Sindh. At the time of partition, he was 14 years old and was studying in high school. After partition, he moved over to Jodhpur Rajasthan, India. He graduated with Bachelors in Commerce and Law from Jodhpur, Masters in Commerce from Bombay, and later earned a Professional Management Accountant Charter from London. He was also the CFO at Blue Star Limited Bombay. In 1971, he immigrated to United States and became CFO at Redwood City in the San Francisco Bay Area. He retired in 1998 and thereafter has been volunteering with local municipal governments on various financial projects. He has also been writing short articles on Sindhi culture and history for the Sindhi Community of Northern California. 

Kamal Mirchandani - Born in Hyderabad, Sind. Before partition, he was studying in Mira School in Hyderabad. In September 1947,after the partition, he moved with his parents to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. He did his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Jodhpur and then earned a Post Graduate in Business Administration from Bombay. He was Divisional Manager at Crompton Greaves, Bombay. In 1976, he immigrated to the US. From here, he revisited Hyderabad and Karachi in 1984.  Currently he serves as a Chief Engineer at an Architectural and Engineering firm in the Bay Area. He has actively promoted Sindhyat in the Bay Area for over twenty five years. His goal is to acquaint the young Sindhi Community with the cultural and religious aspects of the Sindhi Sabhyata.

Partition and yesterday’s young Sindhi adult – Sixty years later

At the time the British terminated their occupation of India in 1947, they divided the country into Pakistan (for the Muslims) and India (for the Hindus). Sindh, which was predominantly Muslim, became part of Pakistan. Hindu Sindhis had the choice to leave as refugees, migrate to India or other parts of the globe, or convert to Islam – a lot of those who chose neither of these options were killed. Our parents & grandparents chose to leave and start a new life elsewhere. This is recorded as the largest mass migration in the history of mankind. Beyond the forced migration, the social-cultural fabric of the Hindu Sindhi community was shredded, resulting not only in the displacement of families but also in some of the most bitter and anguished experiences any community has ever gone through. Sixty years later, meet a couple of people who went through this harrowing experience as they recall those days and describe what it was all really like.

Partition and today’s young Sindhi adult – living reality or fading memory?

As a direct result of all of the upheaval of Partition, the connection to our ancestral land was extinguished and today, our language, our traditions, our history are on the verge of extinction. But is Partition regarded today the way it was 30 years ago? And, will it even be remembered 30 years from now? What can we do and what should we do?  Our discussion will focus on our knowledge of partition, and the relevance our generation places on it – is it an event our kids will know about or will its memory and relevance fade with the passing of our parents and grandparents? And, do we have a responsibility to the generations before us, and if so, what is it?  Do we also have a responsibility to the generations following us, and if so, what is it?

Sarah Singh’s The Sky Below

This courageous and moving award-winning film on the Partition of India evokes both painful memories and raises powerful issues that continue to trouble the sub-continent. Lyrically shot on both sides of the Indo-Pak border, with a strong local ethos communicated through the music, the language and the people--the film should be watched both by those who care about the legacy of the Partition as well those trying to understand the complexities of fighting wars in those lands. Critically and academically as the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ of documentaries, it has been screened at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (DC), Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), Foreign Policy Association (NY), Asia Society (India), Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), Queensland Gallery of Art (Australia); and several prestigious film festivals. A sampling of the reaction to ‘The Sky Below’:

• “A comprehensive look at the Indo-Pak issue” — Georgina Maddox, THE INDIAN EXPRESS

• "A one person tour-de force! Audience was in awe"— Masood Haider, DAWN (NY Bureau)

• "The Sky Below is a film that will not please those who are looking for easy answers. It does, however, raise all the right questions." —Tehmina Ahmed, NEWSLINE MAGAZINE

• 'The Sky Below' has added fresh dimensions to the long-debated Indo-Pak partition." — Aditi Tandon, THE TRIBUNE

• "In order to understand Pakistan, you have to see this film"— Gazala, viewer in Karachi

• "The pace of a music video and the depth of a Sufi poem"— Victoria Woo, INSEAD

Leaving Their Land: The Untold Story of the Sindhis

As a community, we have risen over adversity and become one of the most successful communities in the world.  Sadly, as we lose our elders, we are losing parts of our history and culture we will never be able to get back. In an effort to retain some of the Sindhi culture we love, a group of young Sindhis adults interviewed 15 Southern California Sindhi seniors who lived in Sindh and experienced the Partition; and documented those interviews on film. As the digital generation, we must start recognizing and preserving the stories of our elders.  The producers hope this is the first chapter of their larger vision -- to capture our rich heritage for future generations by creating an expansive collection of stories about life in Sindh, the Partition and the Sindhi culture. Special thanks to the Sindhi Association of Southern California for supporting this effort. Kavita Tekchandani, Anjali Butani, Kanchan Chugani

A Gandhian Witnesses Partition - Dr. Ron Harris

Born in 1918 to British diplomatic parents in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dr. Ron Harris’ early years were spent in the British military. Dr. Harris was posted in India after completing his tour of duty during World War II. After an encounter with Mahatma Gandhi in 1946, he resigned from the British military to follow him and was with Gandhi the day he was assassinated in January of 1948. Dr. Harris was also in Marwar, one of two railway stations that served as gateways into India from Pakistan, where he witnessed the mass Sindhi refugee crisis. Through his actions helping the Sindhi community during partition, he gained a conversational fluency in Sindhi. Join us as Dr. Harris speaks of his firsthand experiences with Nehru, Jinnah, and Gandhi and discusses the British and Sindhi contributions during that period. Dr. Harris believes that the Sindhi community sacrificed the most for India’s independence – more than Gandhi himself. Our Sindhi community sacrificed land, language, heritage, religion, culture, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons/daughters, and his vision and goal is to one day see a New Sindh for the global Sindhi diaspora community.

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