Shafiq R Khan


An Itroduction of SANSIBOLI

About sixty thousand speakers in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi states of India speak Sansiboli, a dialect of Rajasthani language of Indo-Aryan family. Regarding the origin of the name "Sansi" there are several views. Some say it has been taken up from the Hindi word Sahasi meaning courageous. Some derive it from the Sanskrit word Svasa, breathing, or Srasta, separated.Sansiboli is a highly endangered dialect of Rajasthani language of Indo-Aryan family. It is spoken by about sixty thousand speakers mainly in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Delhi states of India. As a language, Sansiboli is not confined to any particular geographical boundary. It has benefitted from various sources, absorbed regional colors, and imbibed influence from neighboring languages and dialects. Thus, it has numerous phonological and morphological borrowings from Punjabi, Hindi, and Gujarati.Sansiboli is not effectively being passed on to the next generation and is on the verge of extinction. Very few people below the age of forty are fully competent in the language, and probably none of them will become active speakers. Many of the Sansis are likely to mix Hindi, Punjabi, or Gujarati elements in their speech depending on their geographical location.Sansiboli is the language of the people who are spread in the various parts of India. Some Sansis live a settled life, while some of them are nomads and always on move. In the census of 1891, the speakers of the Sansiboli were 90% of the total population of 5, 915 Sansis. However, according to the provisional data of the 2001 census, it only 10% of the Sansiboli speakers of the population of 60,000 are Sansis. More than half of the speakers of Sansiboli live in Rajasthan. Sansis speak in the Sansiboli with their kin and relatives and in Hindi, Punjabi or Gujarati with others. Those who can write it use Devanagari script.2. CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF THE SANSISSansi is a wandering tribe and does not have any special habitat, nor apparently any permanent interests or connections anywhere. In the past, they were very actively involved in criminal activity and so became known as a "criminal tribe". These wandering tribes are from Rajasthan. In an unprecedented move in the world of jurisprudence, they were put under the Criminal Tribes Act formulated by the British in 1871. Sansis have fought very hard for their freedom even after the British left India in 1947. They tried hard to free themselves from the grip of the 'Criminal Tribes Act' imposed by the British rulers. After a long fight finally they were freed (de-notified) from the label in 1952.Sansi tribals are endogamous with an ethnic identity. They are conscious of their ethnic homogeneity. They recognize the social distance that keeps them from other tribes or castes. Irrespective of the past legal status as a "criminal tribe" they live more in conformity with their social, economic, and cultural institutions than with the institutions widely established and followed around them. In short, they live in seclusion governed by their own social norms, and economy. Their social and economic conditions are at a less advanced stage than the stage reached by the other sections of the communities around them. At the same time, while they are in the process of losing their tribal characteristics, they are not yet integrated into the national mainstream.Since Sansis have no other permanent or traditional source of livelihood, most of them are presently involved in the business of making "country" liquor. Even their children are involved in some or the other way in this work, as the business is run from the house and everything is done in front of them. They also earn their livelihood through auto-rickshaw driving. Children of poorer parents work in tea stalls or automobile repair shops. They don't have proper civic facilities to lead a normal life. Above all, their health problem is very severe. People around the Sansis see them as a criminal tribe. Outsiders do not dare to speak with them. People around them perceive the Sansis to be very quarrelsome and consider that their fighting attitude is a basic barrier for any communication with them. This attitude or perception has always excluded the Sansis from having any meaningful contact with others, and has kept the Sansis aloof from the other segments of society. But, of course, Sansis have a traditional caste panchayat to maintain social control and deal with all disputes. They have their own rules and regulations, and people of the community are firm in following the rules under any and all circumstances.(cont.)
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