''IN HER, I see the birth of a brilliant scholar who will contribute to the knowledge of a Kamboj, which will help build bridges between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.''

''IN SCHOOL, every joke is about a Pakistani. The news constantly showed Pakistan and its people as the enemy.

We would go the border between India-Pakistan and shout to the other side during parades. In that environment, it is easy to believe that one is indeed very different.''

And that is Student Sushmita Kamboj

STUDENT SUSHMITA wrote a strong piece about the Quaid-i-Azam and Mahatma Gandhi titles : ''Building Bridges with the Other [ed], which was published in the Huffington Post.

During my conversation with Sushmita, I became particularly intrigued by her ancestral history as a member of the Kamboj of India, which she often spoke about with great enthusiasm.

I advised her to dig deeper into her tribal lineage and encouraged her to pursue a study of the Kamboj through the anthropology. Initially, she was hesitant.

However, as she worked on my research team, she began to see the discipline ideally suited her interest in studying South Asia.

She additionally took great interest in my work on the Pakhtun People Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which helped her build the necessary confidence to pursue a study of her own heritage.

Sushmita son began to focus research interests on the modern day descendants - kom, kamboh and kamboj people - of the ancient kambojas spread across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

These descendants still carry remnants of their original name and ancestral occupations, but live separated by national boundaries, linguistic traditions, and religious identities.

By studying them, Sushmita seeks to help in identifying their shared features and cultural connections.

I was impressed by how she quickly began to zero in on what I consider to be a viable topic for further anthropological study, and I encouraged her excitement in and dedication to uncovering the history of this tribe and how political divisions have altered their tribal customs throughout history.

I asked her to explain why this project is so meaningful to her.

She replied, ''It has always pained me as a lover of history that no clear picture emerges of the social history or development of the people across the territories of eastern Afghanistan to New Delhi and beyond.

There is no other populated region on the world in the recorded times in respect to which we have to mark so astonishing a gap in knowledge.'' 

The Operational Research Publishing continues to Part 3. The World Students Society thanks Professor Akbar Ahmad, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, Washington DC.


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