Sindhi community of India striving for a Sindhi TV Channel
Sindhi is the only language in India that doesn’t have its’ own government channel
Native language plays a vital role in documenting the identity. Culture and history are inherent in language.
Sindhi community of India wants the government to set up a television channel in their language since private broadcasters, which operate in all the major languages of the country, have not been successful in sustaining services. The demand for a television channel in Sindhi is around two decades old.
In November 2007, Sindhi Sangat, a cultural group, approached the Delhi high court with a petition asking that the government broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan channels, should provide a service in their language. However, the government’s response to the demand had been disappointing for the community.
In July 2017, the government told the court that Doordarshan did not have the finances, staff, or the spectrum, to start a new channel. The government also said that the last census counted around 2.5 million Sindhi speakers in the country and that a ‘full time’ channel will not be sustainable for a language that does not have many speakers.
Doordarshan runs 17 regional channels, but the government broadcaster told the court that the channels were not aimed at linguistic groups but showcased the cultural heritage of those regions. In 2009, the Ahmedabad broadcasting station, which did a project report on the demand, said that a full-time channel in Sindhi will cost around Rs.20 crore annually. In July 2011, Prasar Bharti said that they did not find the idea of a Sindhi language channel feasible.
After the string of disappointments there was hope for those campaigning for a Sindhi television channel, as the government told the Delhi high court that it can allot a slot in a regional channel for programs in Sindhi.
“They are exploring the possibility of a dedicated slot on an existing channel,” said senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani who is representing the petitioners. “For a start it will not be a 24-hour channel but they will call it DD Sindhi.”
The Sindhi community however continues its campaign for a full-fledged Doordarshan Sindhi. Very recently, an article, advocating the demand, was published in an Indian newspaper. Sindh Courier reproduces the article.
Doordarshan Sindhi channel in India – An urgent plea to the Govt. of India
There are 22 national languages in India. Out of the 22 official languages, three are stateless. Sanskrit, Urdu, and Sindhi are the three national languages without a state. However, out of the three, the Indian Government has a government-funded TV Channel for the Urdu language, and DD has a special news section for the Sanskrit language, but there is no government channel for Sindhis.
Sindhi is the only language in India that doesn’t have its’ own government channel. Native language plays a vital role in documenting your identity. Culture and history are inherent in language. Learning the native language signifies learning the same account and culture of your parents, relatives, and even the generations before and after. Sindhis have a storied past, with much of the history starting from Shri Ram’s son Luv and it is narrated in the Sindhi language. Sindhis worship Varun Devata in the form of Jhulelal. Sindh defeated the Arabic invasion numerous times. The Sindhi Hindus living in India today have paid double taxes for 1000 years and were treated as second-class citizens during Islamic invasions. Still, they never converted or lost their culture despite everything working against them. Invaders imposed numerous penalties on us before 1947, and we lost everything, yet we always learned to rebuild. Now, we contribute to GDP by paying taxes more than any other community in per capita terms in India, and most of us are hardcore nationalists who would live and die for our Bhartiya identity.
However, we have yet to get an official government-backed channel.
The Indian partition uprooted the Sindhi Hindus from our homeland, which was once the most important part of Bharat. We were compelled to migrate to other parts of India, leaving behind our material wealth and rich cultural heritage. Overnight, the inheritors of the 8000 year old civilization, we, the migrant Sindhis, were beggars, financially and culturally.
We all overwhelmed all adversities by sheer hard work and regained our educational, monetary, and social status, but at a hefty price. We started losing our cultural roots and identity. The Sindhi Language is dying, especially with the younger generation. The case for a DD Sindhi channel is in the Supreme Court, and the last hearing is on 16th December. A government-backed TV channel will help Sindhi Hindus learn their language, and understand their rituals.
The loss of language is a loss of that link to the past. Without a link to the past, people in a culture lose a sense of place, purpose, and path; one must know where one came from to know where one is going. This is the last thing we want after the supreme hardships that we’ve faced pre-1947.
A few years back, an article by Chand Punjabi was also posted by Sindhi Sangat.
Why no ‘Doordarshan-Sindhi…?
Television media, without doubt is the most powerful media for promoting any language. Currently, Doordarshan is transmitting programs in various regional languages (viz. DD-Oriya, DD-Gujarati, DD-Marathi etc.) through Satellite TV. Respective State Governments provide the resources for these programs to ensure the promotion of these languages. These programs can be seen in many countries, including in Dubai. There is unfortunately no Sindhi State in India, which can ensure promotion of our beloved language and a DD-Sindhi as part of it
Sindhi language is enshrined in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Hence, the Government of India is duty bound to promote Sindhi language. In the absence of a sponsoring state, DD-Urdu and have been launched directly by the Centre. Sindhi is now the ONLY language in the above Schedule (out of 22 Languages listed in the schedule) which does not have a DD Channel.
Why this step-motherly treatment to our dear Sindhi language? We have posed this question to many prominent Sindhi Leaders including Shri L.K. Advani, Shri Ram Jethmalani, and Shri Suresh Keswani. They all agree that DD-Sindhi is indeed a great idea but …
Since March 2007, Sindhi Sangat has started a 30-minute Sindhi TV program “Sindhi Surhan” on Doordarshan Sahyadri from Bombay. High quality Sindhi TV programs, including new Sindhi Tele-films and Music Videos broadcast on the channel have been well received y one and all, followed by appreciative and encouraging response from thousands of Sindhis. The only common complaint and suggestion has been to increase the program duration.
Making quality Sindhi programs requires dedication, time, effort and money. Many lovers of Sindhyat and Sindhi language have offered valuable support and encouragement by sponsoring the Sindhi Tele-films and other related activities. But much is still needed to be done. We will welcome wider involvement, support and participation from every Sindhi in this field.
Our prime need of the day is to save the Sindhi heritage & cultural identity. Making DD-Sindhi a reality will be a huge step in right direction. Initially, even 2 to 4 hours a day Sindhi program will pave the way. Let us all work at it. We urge you to please come forward and give us your suggestions, comments and your valuable support.
With massive efforts at social and political level, DD-Sindhi can be a reality in the near future.
Courtesy: Times of India (Published on Nov 18, 2022), Hindustan Times (Published on April 14, 2019 and Sindhi Sangat