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SESSIONS AT PREVIOUS RETREATS - SINDH:


The History Of Sindh 101 & The History Of Sindh 102

Two back to back sessions, one examining the history of Sindh up until Partition and the other examining the history of Sindh from Partition to the present day. Presented by Dr. Gul Agha, a Professor of Computer Science and a faculty affiliate in the South Asian and Middle-Eastern Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Agha's late father was a poet from Shikarpur and his mother is a physician born in Hyderabad, Sindh.  As a child, he lived in both cities.  Dr. Agha has also traveled extensively in Sindh, written numerous short essays about Sindh and lectured at many Sindhi gatherings about the history and culture of Sindh, including several International Sindhi Sammelans, Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) Annual Meetings, World Sindhi Institute conferences, as well as at literary meetings at Sachal's anniversary in Daraza, Sindh.  He was Guest of Honor at the millennial Sindhi New Year (Cheti Chand) celebration organized by the Bharti Sindhu Sabha in Thane (Mumbai, India).  He has a particular passion for classical Sindhi music and poetry, and for promotion of animal rights and environmentalism.


An Interview With A Sindhi Political Activist

Kanchan Chotrani of Fox News (Memphis) interviews Munawar Laghari  - a former political prisoner. Born in 1964, he spent most of his life fighting for human rights and humanitarian causes. In the process of his struggles, he sacrificed his academic career, family relations and even ties to his land - he has been granted political asylum by the US government and currently is the Executive Director of the World Sindhi Institute in Washington DC. Mr. Laghari is a founding member of The Torture Abolition and Support Survivors Coalition (TASSC). He is also a member of United Nation Association - National Capital Area (UNA-NCA).  He received the1999 Blue Ribbon Award presented by the UNA-NCA on behalf of World Sindhi Institute. Mr. Laghari testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on International Day in Support of Torture Victims. He also testified before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, House Committee on Appropriations.


Where Peacocks Dance 

View this explosive 1992 Sindhi language documentary (with English subtitles) directed by Karachi born Sabiha Sumar, and was broadcast by Channel Four Television in London. The movie was produced by Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan, a documentary filmmaker whose publications and research interests cover national movements, democratization & nation building in South Asia, and covers the cultural roots of Sindhi nationalism in Pakistan.


Indus Design Revisited

Sandhya Panjwani, a London based professional in the Commercial Design Industry brings us an exploration of the style, color and creative techniques of the Indus Valley, a hotbed of creative influence and inspiration more visible today than ever before. From the dye in your hair to the laces in your shoes, all these products in our environment are the result of centuries of thought and industry. Sindh has made a particularly significant contribution to the world of ideas - does this come as a surprise, given its location at the crossroads of ancient trading routes between the East and the West?


Victoria’s Sindhi Secrets –

A unique opportunity to dig through the dusty archives of the Victoria & Albert Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of decorative arts, and celebrate the best of Sindhi craftsmanship.  Together we will focus on a cozy collection of selected images of objets d’art, which spans the centuries and unites the steadfastly functional with the extraordinarily ostentatious.  We’ll see a bird and her babies, a sarong for all seasons, our version of the Russian doll, the sport of kings plus many more secrets from the land of Sindh unveiled and brought into the public domain for the first time ever. Presented by Sandhya Panjwani; with kind thanks to the V&A Museum, London, England.


Portfolio Capitalism, Investment Banking and Global Trade in Early Modern Sindh

While studying the history of early modern Central Asia, Dr. Scott Levi, professor of History at University of Louisville, stumbled on an intriguing commercial network of Indian merchant-bankers. On investigating further, Dr. Levi was surprised to find that the epicenter of this network was the city of Shikarpur in Sindh, from where competing family firms operated a vast network of communities which stretched from East Asia to the New World. Dr. Levi had stumbled on one of the most expansive merchant diasporas of the pre-modern world. This talk will explore the early emergence of this Shikarpuri merchant diaspora and their extremely impressive commercial system. The discussion will address the Indian family firms’ rise to a prominent position in the Indian economy in the medieval era, their initial attraction to the frontier city of Multan (at the time a small province wedged between Punjab and Sindh), and, as the firms became more prosperous, the family firm directors’ decision to dispatch agents to markets beyond the boundaries of the subcontinent in the sixteenth century. Those who have looked to Europe for the roots of Asian capitalism will be impressed by the diverse commercial portfolios that these Indian family firms maintained long before the European companies arrived in the Indian Ocean. Over the course of the seventeenth century, this diaspora grew to nearly 35,000 individuals living in a vast, interconnected network of communities dispersed across Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus and much of Russia.


The Story of the Shikarpuri Diaspora

Our second discussion will turn to a more detailed survey of the Shikarpuri diaspora’s social organization, paying special attention to the complex relationships that these communities shared amongst themselves and with their host societies. At first glance the Shikarpuris’ ability to maintain thriving diaspora communities in such foreign lands as Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran appears to be an unlikely historical phenomenon as the vast majority of the diaspora population consisted of Hindu merchants in Muslim states, individuals technically unprotected by Islamic law. Still, it is a hallmark of this diaspora that, with only a few notable exceptions, the Shikarpuri merchants enjoyed the steadfast protection of the administrators of their host societies. This is largely because the Shikarpuris were widely respected as large-scale trans-regional traders whose fortitude, technical knowledge, and commercial connections were a commodity unto themselves. Yet even more important than their trans-regional trade was their deliberate money lending activities. In Central Asia, and wherever else they were found, the Shikarpuri agents wielded the strength and resources of the Indian economy as an engine for early modern agricultural and industrial production. The final component of this discussion will connect the historical diaspora with the Indian diasporas of the modern world by illustrating how certain traumatic periods in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries fractured the Shikarpuri diaspora and motivated certain communities to explore newly emerging opportunities in other corners of the globe. This culminated, of course, with the partition of India and the establishment of Pakistani control over the province of Sindh. Dr. Scott Levi is a professor of History at University of Louisville. He earned his PhD from University of Wisconsin- Madison. As a student, Dr. Levi studied Hindi at Mussouri in India and Urdu in Lahore, Pakistan. He has traveled through most parts of Central Asia. He is the author of the book ‘The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade’. He has also contributed a chapter titled ‘Shikarpuri Merchants in Durrani Afghanistan,’ in Y. Rosser and A. Singh, eds, ‘Voices of Sindh’, vol. 3, ‘Sindhis in Diaspora’.  Needless to say, he is a subject matter expert on the Shikarpuri diaspora and we are very lucky to have him speak at our Retreat.


My Sindhi Heritage: A Young Sindhi Adult’s Perspective

Sindhi Pride. Our community heralds from the dawn of civilization - We have a priceless heritage enriched by the gifts of those before us: beyond a time line filled with culture, language, art, and history, our fore fathers made critical, founding contributions to civic planning, commerce and finance.  As we explore our history in this visual presentation, we will aim to spark a feeling of pride that leads to the spirit of preservation.  The Partition left us without a land, and tragically, effected us into perpetuity.  A well-informed community means that the sacrifices of our grandparents, and the contribution of our fore fathers are not forgotten.  That we offer them the dignity of hearing their and our history is our mandate, and that we carry on their legacy is our responsibility. Neil Butani resides in Los Angeles and specializes in neurology and interventional pain management.  Besides medicine, Butani has numerous other interests including promoting Sindhi pride and preserving Sindhi heritage.


Why You Should Care About Today’s Sindh

You're Sindhi, but you don't live in Sindh, your family left after partition and never looked back, let alone went back. Does what happens in Sindh today matter to you? Should it affect how Sindhi you feel? Is it possible to be Sindhi and be detached from your ancestral home? Taking things a step further, does the existing political situation in Pakistan affect the way you think and fee about Sindh? And switching gears, given the chance, would you want to visit your ancestral home? Join us as we explore all these questions and several other perspectives of this issue in a panel discussion. Panelists: Dr. Gul Agha, Dr. Jennifer Cole, Dr. J Mark kenoyer, Dr. Steven Ramey


Why The Past Is Important: Major Themes in the Archaeology of South Asia.

This illustrated lecture will critically examine the history of archaeology and how it came to be used in South Asia. It will re-examine many of the current models for the origins of humans and human culture in light of recent discoveries in South Asia. The earliest human populations in South Asia date to more than two millenia, as early as other regions of the world. The origins of agriculture, technologies and various symbolic traditions can also be traced to multiple places in South Asia. In addition to the archaeological evidence, there are oral traditions preserved in various Puranas and later Epics that help to understand the earliest periods of human existence in this region and how culture changed over time. A special focus will be on discoveries in the greater Indus valley region – Sindh. Contemporary archaeological interpretations provide a new perspective on this region and its contributions to later cultures of South Asia and the world. Finally, this session will explore the issues of why the past is important, how we can use the past to better understand the present, and how the past can help us plan for the future. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Professor in Anthropology, teaches archaeology and ancient technology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


The Indus (Sindhu-Saraswati) Civilization: Traditional views and new interpretations

This illustrated lecture presents the most recent discoveries of the Indus Valley Civilization in Pakistan and western India.  Important topics will include the emergence of village cultures and eventually towns (3700-2600 BC), and the urban expansion of the Indus or Harappan Period (2600-1900 BC). New discoveries on the development of writing, seals, and the use of standardized stone weights will be presented along with a discussion on Indus art, symbol and technology as well as the enigmatic undeciphered Indus script. The decline and reorganization of the Indus cities (1900-1300 BC) will also be discussed along with the gradual emergence of Indo-Aryan cultures in the northern subcontinent. Throughout the presentation the important contributions of the Indus culture to later civilizations in South Asia and other world regions will be highlighted.  Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Professor in Anthropology, teaches archaeology and ancient technology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has taught at Madison since 1985 and is currently Director for the Center for South Asia, and also serves as President of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies.  His main focus is on the Indus Civilization and he has worked in Pakistan and India since 1974.  Dr. Kenoyer was born in India and lived there until he came to the United States for college. He has a BA in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and completed his MA and PhD (1983) in South Asian Archaeology from the same university. He speaks several South Asian languages and is fluent in Urdu/Hindi, which is the major language used in Pakistan and northern India. He has conducted archaeological research and excavations at both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, two of the most important early sites in Pakistan, and has also worked in western and central India. Since 1986 he has been the Co-director and Field Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project in Pakistan, a long term study of urban development in the Indus Valley. He was Guest Curator at the Elvehjem (Chazen) Museum of Art, Madison for the exhibition on the Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, which toured the U.S. in 1998-1999, and was a consultant for the Indus section of the First Cities exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003. His work is featured on the website www.harappa.com.


A Virtual Journey Through Sindh - Your Motherland Revealed

Hindu spiritual masters strive to attain self-awareness. So integral to spiritual development is knowledge and mastery of one’s self that sages proclaim it to be a precursor to personal growth on other levels. Thus, knowing one’s self involves knowing thy people, thy culture, and thy land. However, for Sindhis knowing one’s land and even culture and heritage is a difficult feat given the limited access to our motherland and poor instruction of geography. Join us on a virtual journey through Sindh as Dr. Viju Sidhwani takes us on a tour of the current state of Sindh – photographs of major cities, villages, sites of historical significance, and even people. Let’s take a trip back in time to a place far, far away, yet so intimate, familiar, and modern at the same time. Buckle up friends, we’re going to Sindh!


Today’s Pakistani Sindhi Refugees

What happens to the 5-10 thousand Pakistani Hindus, most of whom are from Sindh, who leave their homes and relocate to India every year?  What struggles do they endure and what are their hopes and fears? Hear Lalit Hemnani (of YSA) and Saket Mani (UN Youth representative) talk about their very recent visit to refugee camps near the India/Pakistan border in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. From their personal visits to the camps, the stories they heard from the refugees, and discussing possible solutions and how we can help, Lalit and Saket will walk us through their life changing experience visiting the refugees. They will also be showing recent footage and photos of the camps, then will open up to an audience Q & A.  This is a human rights collaboration of ideas and bright minds from the young Sindhi community, and a session you do not want to miss. YSA Ambassador & Retreat XI (Charlotte) Host Committee member Lalit Hemnani, proud of our Sindhi culture and heritage, explored and observed the horrific conditions with Hindu Pakistani refugees this past winter in India.  His aim is to bring awareness of this situation to the rest of the world and assist in this ongoing humanitarian effort. A Children & Youth Representative to United Nations & Agencies and a Global Youth Advocate for My World 2015 & World We Want 2015, Saket Mani is a member of the Steering Committee for the meeting on Global Partnership and Post-2015 in Berlin; a Global Youth Ambassador for UN Special Envoy on Education and former Prime Minister of Great Britain Gordon Brown as well as a Youth Champion for ‘Ending Child Labour’, as appointed by Government of Brazil and ILO.


Building Bridges To Sindh

The International Sindhi Women Organization shares insight into the vibrant Sindhi culture of today - showing glimpses of history, Sufi music, and the enthusiastic young generation eager to take up the challenge of reviving cultural traditions and contributing to human rights relaying this message through music clips, short videos, pictures, and slides. We then will delve into the role of diaspora Sindhis, especially women, in strengthening and synergizing the voices from Sindh in promoting the culture of peace and equality for all by demonstrating some examples of the projects undertaken and underway by International Sindhi Women Organization. An officer of International Sindhi Women's Organization and co-founder of the Pakistani Hindu/Sindhi Refugee Fund, Attorney Kavita Tekchandani has volunteered with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the India Centre for Human Rights and Law. She has also assisted with human rights campaigns in regards to Sindhis, including providing humanitarian assistance to Sindhi refugees, and drafting legal human rights appeals. Hailing from Shikarpur in Sindh, Ms. Sobhya Agha is currently researching Human Trafficking with the Department of Homeland Security.  Having previously worked as a Project Officer with Sindh Police Department's Project by the UNDP, UK Aid & UNOPS, she was responsible of supervising 23 district Human Rights Cells carrying out training of police, and intervening to protect honor killing, rape, and domestic violence victims. During these years, Project was successful in saving lives of 21 potential victims of honor killings. In 2011 the U.S. State Department invited her for their “Combating Gender Based Violence” leadership program. Ms. Agha is a member of several organizations including: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ASIS International (Advancing Security Worldwide), Sindhi Association of North America, Citizens’ Sindhi Scholarship Fund, South Asian Network, and International Sindhi Women’s Organization. Sobhya Agha also anchors TV shows in Pakistan since 1999 and in 2010, was awarded Pakistan Television's prestigious 'Best Compare Award.’

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