Letter from Founding Director
Sindhi on the moon?
Dear Friends of AIS,
A dear old lady, who I had the pleasure of knowing, remarked upon Neil Armstrong’s dramatic landing on the moon, “Amazing he found no one there, not even a Sindhi trader!”
Amazing because the Sindhi community, which was uprooted following the 1947 partition of India, now straddles the globe. But this should come as no surprise as globalization is hardly a new concept for Sindhi traders, commonly known as SindhWorkis, who for centuries established themselves in practically every major world city throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Following in their steps, I travelled the world building relationships with the Sindhi community for Air India. My family and I lived in Spain, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris where I witnessed first and second generation Diaspora Sindhi straddling two worlds. On one hand, they quickly assimilated into their new home countries, earning local trust and building profitable enterprises. On the other, they remained steadfast to their family, social and cultural roots and religious identity
Life in America
After a long and rewarding career with Air India, I retired to Evanston, IL in 1985. Having lived and worked throughout Asia and Europe, my family and I were intrigued by the prospects of life in America. We adapted quickly. Drawing on my Air India connections, we set up a small travel agency specializing in international travel.
Birth of AIS
I turned over the business to my sons in 2000 and opened the American Institute of Sindhulogy. Finally, I was able to dedicate my full-time to the preservation of the ancient Harappan (Indus) Civilization by spreading awareness of its glorious achievements and contributions to world civilization.
It’s important to pass on our culture, tradition and heritage to our children, their children and theirs. It’s of great concern that third and fourth generation Sindhi are born and educated in foreign cultures, marrying out of the community and losing touch with their past.
Sharing Lessons from the Past
But it’s of equal concern that most of the world knows so little about one of the world’s oldest and most advanced civilizations. Research tells us that the ancient Sindhi realized democratic rule, equitable distribution of wealth and equality of the sexes thousands of years ago. Over 5 million people inhabiting parts of modern day India, Pakistan and Afghanistan lived in peace, without any evidence of armed conflict for hundreds of years.
Whether we can learn from the past or not, it is remarkable to realize that one of the most war-torn and divided regions in the world was once the cradle of a large, peace loving civilization.
Today AIS is cooperating with Deccan College of Pune to spread awareness of our nonviolent heritage through joint sponsorship of several programs including:
- A study abroad program for American college students who spend a semester excavating an ancient Harappan site at Rakhigarhi.
- Development of a Sindhu Swarasati Museum, which will house the first permanent collection of Harrapan artifacts on Indian soil.
- A virtual map of Mohenjo Daro, one of the world’s oldest urban centers and seat of one of the world’s first democratic societies.
AIS is also pursuing the development of:
- An online social media site for the Diaspora Sindhi community.
- Nonviolent video games inspired by the lessons of Harappan civilization.
AIS Welcomes Your Support
As a non-profit organization, AIS relies on the generosity of its members and donors to support these important programs. Like the SindhWorkis of old, you can embrace your heritage and support these worthwhile causes by making a tax-deductible contribution.
I assure you, your support is most needed and deeply appreciated.
AIS, Founding President
Thanks to Three Great Men
Three key players inspired my lifelong interest and dedication to all things Sindhu:
Dr. Vatanmal G. Gidwani, a devoted son, loving husband and my caring father, who set an early example for my siblings and me by standing up for freedom. Arrested by the British government several times since 1917, he was an indefatigable freedom fighter who walked beside Gandhi during the long nonviolent march toward Independence.
Ram Jethmalani, (Sindhu Rattan Ram B. Jethmalani), high-profile criminal defense attorney, famously outspoken Indian politician, former minister of Law and Justice, member of parliament and lifelong best friend, who encouraged and supported the founding of AIS.
Bhagwan Gidwani, former Indian civil servant and brilliant author of The Sword of Tipu Sultan and The Return of the Aryans, who takes a close and daring look at the origins of Indian culture and the birth of Hinduism along the banks of the Sindhu River.
Without these three there would be no AIS. In turn, they provided the inspiration, motivation and support I needed to undertake the great and humbling task of reviving and preserving the legacy of Sindh.