Indian writer calls for end to atmosphere of animosity
Karachi: Saaz Aggarwal, a writer and biographer from India, visited the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday evening.
Aggarwal’s book ‘Sindh: stories from a lost homeland’ was launched at the 4th Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), which ended on February 17.
While Aggarwal refers to herself just as an Indian, with no ethnic trappings, her book is based on accounts of Sindh as her mother was an émigré from Sindh at the time of the partition of the subcontinent.
She said that since she had been born and brought up in post-Partition India amid a very mixed and cosmopolitan set-up, she knew nothing of the culture or the ethnic make-up of Sindh, or, for that matter, its language. All the contents of her book are based on the accounts of the province passed on to her by her mother.
She was interacting with a compact group of journalists, most of whom were Sindhis.
She was candid enough to admit that she knew nothing of Sindh or the Sindh language. What little knowledge she had of the province was either on account of the narratives of her mother or from interacting with people of Sindhi origin back home. However, she said that people of Sindhi origin had integrated very well in Indian society.
As for Sindhi, she said that it was one of the officially recognised languages of India and if a child’s parents insisted that they wanted their child to be imparted instruction in all subjects in Sindhi, the state education authority would be obliged to make due arrangements. However, she said that such a thing had never happened nor were there chances that it would.
She and the hosts concurred that religious extremism and animosity on both sides of the divide must come to an end.
She said that interfaith harmony had always been a tradition in Sindh.
Replying to a question on Hindu-Muslim ties in India, she said that Muslims and Hindus lived like one community in India and there was no acrimony or bitterness between them.
Replying to a question about certain states seceding from India, she said that the question could never arise as India had made remarkable economic progress and prosperity was visibly on the way up. As such, the question of secession just did not arise.
She recommended contacts between the two countries at the level of artistes, journalists, and academicians to mitigate the feelings of acrimony and bitterness, which stemmed from ignorance about each other.