Role Model Society of Tharparkar By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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Role Model Society of Tharparkar
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

Whenever we hear the word “Thar”, it automatically resonates the image of a under-developed, backward, remote, and unfortunate deserted place in our mind, where newly-born children are dying due to famine, poverty, hunger, and lack of food is very much common there. This is quite true at some extant but the Thar desert also has potential to become regional hub for peace and prosperity. Thar, having rich civilization, strong cultural values, and interfaith harmony being practiced since hundreds of years, is one of the world’s largest deserts and only fertile desert, where about 85% is in India, and the remaining part is in the Sindh province of Pakistan.

Tharparkar is my region and I feel good to tell that people of Tharparkar are pure at heart. Though they belong to different religions, sects and castes but the smell of peace, love, impartiality and brotherhood can be felt by anyone. The harmony with which they are living in that deserted area of Thar can be seen through their rich multifaceted colorful culture. Their heritage, folk music, folk poetry, folk tales, and dances all are unique. Thar is that part of Pakistan, where Hindu Muslims are living together since hundreds of years without any religious prejudice, and intolerance. Even in 1947 when a wave of blood shedding initiated by both Hindus and Muslims in eastern and western part of the Indo-Pak subcontinent, life in Tharparkar region remained smooth and calm.

The name “Thar” is derived from Thul, the general term for sand region while “Parkar” means “to cross over”. The region was known as Thar and Parkar in the past, which now merges as one word “Thar Parkar”. The Thar Desert has long historical and cultural ties with the Hindusim as well. The ancient religious literature, including “Ramayana” calls this region as Lavanasagara (Salt Ocean). The holy book “Ramayana” narrates that when Rama was going to attack Lanka with his army, he used his Agneyashtra-amogha, a fire-weapon to dry up the sea named Drumakulya situated north of Lavanasagara, today’s Thar Desert. Similarly, the Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic holy rivers mentioned in the Rig Veda. The river has been identified by modern scholars as flowing through northwestern India and Thar Desert in Pakistan. There are also a number of temples which show the importance of Thar Desert in the eyes of Hindu followers.

Under the British rule, Thar Desert was merged in to Katchh political agency in Hyderabad collect-orate in 1843 which led the area to become part of Hyderabad. Two years later, it was renamed as “Eastern Sindh frontier” with its Headquarters Umerkot, controlled by Political Superintendent. In 1882 it was declared as district and in 1906 Headquarters of the district was shifted from Umerkot to Mirpurkhas. In 1990, Mithi was became the capital of Tharparkar District by separating it from Mirpur Khas to form a new district. It is worth to mention that Mithi is one of very few towns of Pakistan where Muslims do not have majority.

According to last census, population of Hindus and Muslims was almost equally. The recent national census will reveal real facts as there were reports in the past years that average 5000 Hindu citizens are forced to migrate towards Indian part on annual basis. The main occupations of Thar people are agriculture and animal rearing where scarcity of water is a major challenge. People still live in that old styles hut, and away from today’s life necessities like water, electricity, Sui gas, etc. Improper health facilities are the reasons of newspapers headlines where children deaths are reported.

Rain is the source of happiness for Thar people as for them natural rain brings back life in the deserted area of Sindh. Because of Climate Change and Global Warming issues, Thar climate is also changing rapidly, which is resulting in to long duration of dry weather. According to a census report 2013-14 of Reform Support Unit of Education and Literacy, issued by Department of Sindh Government, number of registered schools are 4045, total teacher are 5230 and total children who attend schools are 164974. But in reality thousands of children are unable to even read their name in Sindhi language. Much has been reported on ghost schools and ghost students in the media. I personally informed CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah about the ghost schools in my area but unfortunately no action so far. Pakistan Hindu Council is running 13 schools in district Tharparkar.

People of Thar have so many hopes with the Thar Coal Energy Project which is associated with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as many roads, preliminary infrastructure and residential complexes for labors are under-construction. They truly expect that CPEC would also to serve as a fortune changer for them. The coal reserves located in the Thar are supposed to be sufficient to meet the energy needs for next 400 years. The people are looking toward the government to brought lights of prosperity in to Tharparkar so that it will become regional hub of peace according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam. The role model society of Thar must also be studied as case study to promote interfaith harmony across the country.

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