World Sikh News – From Panjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in sham­bles

Published 3 months ago – Jagmohan Singh
25 June 2019

As the World Sikh News completes two years of its presence on the internet, we focus on the working in the Sikh world. On the eve of the elections in the Punjab, with deep anguish, we present an analysis of the political canvas of the Sikhs, the Sikh leadership in Panjab and the Diaspora. We will soon follow up with detailed analyses of Sikh social and religious forums.

As India goes to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the hustings, the Sikh leadership from Punjab to the Diaspora is in utter shambles. There is no organisation or individual worth the salt who can lead the situation and take the community forward in these trying times.

The religious, political and religio-political leadership, the traditional and revolution-inclined parties are all in limbo, waiting in the wings for a miracle to happen or a leader to descend from the skies. No party or leader, individually or collecively has framed the Sikh agenda and thrusted down the throat of the political parties contesting the elections.

Once upon a time, the Akali leadership was considered the Sikh leadership. Over the decades, they became Punjabi leadership in name to feed their pseudo-secular stance but in effect they are always at sea, not knowing which side to lean on. Today, the Badal Dal leadership is swinging between the Panth and the BJP, but doggedly pursuing their selfish and feudal politics.

Sikhs in the Congress have been voted to power many a time in the past but they have never qualified nor have been accepted as Sikh leadership by the Sikh population. They do not deserve to be so called, any­way. The present leadership certainly does not deserve to be called Sikh leaders.

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Panjab begins and ends in Sangrur. Though the party raises Sikh issues, the leadership is found wanting on many fronts. The Bharatiya Janta Party, through some nouveau-riche Sikhs has made inroads into the political fibre of Punjab, with active connivance and support of the Badal Dal, but they can never dream of being liked or accepted as Sikh lead­ers.

As for the Aam Aadmi Party, neither the party nor the leadership has any pretence of being Sikh leaders and they have still to make up their minds whether they want to align with the people of Panjab or their wavering leadership in Delhi.

The Taksali Akali Dal wants to be holier than thou and is heavily banking on the leftovers or break­aways from their parent party. They are still making up their mind whether they want to be pro-Panjab and pro-Panth or simply anti-Badal.

The Panjab Ekta Party is an attempt to be secular yet pro-Panjabi. The party leadership is still evolving and so far has only been able to break away from its parent Aam Aadmi Party.

The Lok Insaaf Party is testing the waters as it expands from Ludiana to around the state with their efficient management approach and provoking political mannerisms. Much water has to flow down the Sutlej till the leaders become Sikh leaders of the state and beyond.

Long ago, the Bahujan Samaj Party concluded that the 13 Parliamentary seats of Panjab do not have much significance in the larger scheme of things as it is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar which decides who will get majority in the house of 543 mem­bers. The party has very little interest in the Punjab.

The Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and some extreme left versions continue their ‘botched politics’ of increasing the numbers of their vote count, without making an impact, but certainly siding with the State as opposed to Sikh interests.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Panjab Bachao Morcha of the Chandigarh club is devoid of innovative ideas and continues their anti-Badal rant. It has still to come to terms with what the revolutionary Chandigarh poet Gajinder Singh said years ago, “change and revolution does not come about over endless cups of tea in the comfort of drawing rooms.”

The All India Sikh Students Federation which was once the leadership bank of the Shiromani Akali Dal is now bankrupt; the defunct body has a lineage of sycophants and way­ward activists. They are not leaders and they have no organisation to lead, it is torn apart into so many groups that the body is totally defunct. No­body can lead the body, how will they lead the community?

The Bargari Insaf Morcha shamelessly has now got nothing to do with Bargari, no Insaf is sought and the Morcha has fizzled out. In their love for politics, they do not attend court hearings of top police personnel incarcerated for Bargari and Behbal Kalan police firings and then let off on bails. This morcha has been the biggest let down of the decade for the Sikhs, particularly those who expected the moon.

The Panthic Coordination Committee, working since the last decade has proffered no Panthic agenda; there is no coordination and the committee exists only on paper.

The Sikh Sewak Army, professedly non-political, but has not moved an inch on the ground to change the functioning of the SGPC. Unless it catches the bull by its horns, sweet-mouthings in the media will not fetch results.

On the side­lines, those who do not directly participate in the elections yet claim to be religious and religio-political leaders have failed to show initiative and dash.

The religio-political leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is too content to serve langar to candidates and supporters of the Badal Dal and wherever possible send employees in mufti as volunteers of the party. There is hardly any dividing line between the party and the SGPC, prompting the Sikh Sangat to paint both with the same brush.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leadership has sold its body, mind and soul to the Bharatiya Janta Party. It would be naive and stupid to expect anything from them.

The Takht Harmandar Patna Sahib Committee and the Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Committee is always ready to be manipulated either by the government of the day or by the SGPC. So engrossed in their own worlds, it is a far cry for them to pro­vide leadership to the community on any front.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan, throwing the idiom, wisdom, vision and historical work of its founder Bhai Vir Singh to the winds, is now a ‘private limited company’ of Amritsar-based rich Sikhs, who are engaged in changing the course, nomenclature and ownership of the properties of the organisation. For them Sikh leadership as an issue ceased long back.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Damdami Taksal have lost their political voice. They are either silent or aligned to some individuals here and there.

The Gurmat Missionary Colleges selectively become ‘religious’ and ‘semi-political’ or ‘political’ depending upon canddate and the times. Their leadership is too barricaded and without a world view of the Sikhs or the Sikh world. They are so engrossed in ‘pro­tecting’ the religious dictum as per their thinking that they end up creating more divisions than bridging those already there.

For the political forums in Panjab and elsewhere dedicated to up­hold the sovereignty of the people of Punjab, the elections in Punjab offer no ground for work. So they think.

The Dal Khalsa cadres are on a three-month sabbatical, free to pursue any political party or person of their choice, as the party has taken the stand of not contesting any elections under the Indian dispensation.

The Sikh Federation UK, the American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the ‘June 1984 groups’ and the World Sikh Organisation of Canada would hereto­fore take keen interest in the religio-political developments in Panjab. Not anymore.

Now Sikhs are left to fend for themselves. These bodies are too entrenched in their own political canvasses to worry about the Panjab, except a human rights violation here and there. The same is the situation with other groups in other coun­tries.

The Diaspora bodies in all the countries where Sikhs now have sizable numbers and those numbers are increasing with the flight of Sikhs from the Panjab, these bodies are more concerned about local problems and their solutions.

The Sikh Referendum 2020 team in the Diaspora is desperately waiting for 2019 to pass. If you want to believe them, in the year 2020, notwithstanding whatever kind of referendum they will be able to manage, all problems of the community will be solved.

Sikhs will be in the seventh skies and Sikh sovereignty which we lost on 29 March 1849, will be restored in the year 2020. Does their leadership look, speak and function like Sikh lead­ers?

The can­di­da­ture of Paramjit Kaur Khalra has given a lit­tle fil­lip to the Di­as­pora Sikh bod­ies to iden­tify with hu­man rights as an agenda.

Oth­er­wise from UK to Canada to Aus­tralia to the US, they would have re­mained silent spec­ta­tors, first al­low­ing things to hap­pen with­out in­ter­ven­tion and then ru­ing that ‘look this is hap­pen­ing in Hindu In­dia.’ Re­gur­gi­ta­tion is their forte.

The Pak­istan Sikh Gur­d­wara Par­band­hak Com­mit­tee will do well to fol­low the trail of Sikh her­itage ex­perts and look af­ter the huge spec­trum of Sikh legacy wast­ing by the day in that coun­try. It will do well to look af­ter the eco­nomic needs of the poor­est of the poor Sikhs in Pak­istan and Afghanistan.

The Diaspora miserably failed in its assessment of the Aam Aadmi Party in the last elections, funding the party to the teeth and giving false high hopes of political power to their Sikh candidates, with many waiting in the wings to become the Chief Minister of the state.

In the present times, in the Diaspora and within Panjab has emerged a string of social media warriors who spare no opportunity to pick up Sikh issues and raise their voice against injustices by the state or union government.

They relentlessly expose the political renegades in the community. They are happy in their cocoons and would not like to become leaders of the Sikh community.

The religio-political leadership of the Jathedars, recognised by the SGPC to those recognised by the Sarbat Khalsa has miserably failed to provide direction to the existing parties or to anyone else. They are too involved in pursuing their own agendas only.

In the sixties of the last century, Pettigrew wrote her path-breaking analysis of politics in Punjab in her book Robber­man Noble­man and said that politics in Panjab is everything about ‘palty­baazi’. The group is more important than the Panth. The stance of the group is more important than the cause. The party is more important than Panjab. The party leaders are more important than the Sikh masses.

Out of the political party sphere, no individual has either aspired or volunteered or worked to shake the old foundations of the political systems in Panjab and prove Irish anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew wrong.

In such times, with such a situation, what will happen? Nothing. No individual or party from the present sphere has the capacity, capability and vision to nurture and throw up Sikh leadership. As has happened in the past and as it stands, there will be a major up­heaval in the Indian subcontinent and some kind of Sikh leadership will emerge. Will it be ready to take the situation head on and guide the destiny of the community?

The freedom and the opportunity that the West provides to the Sikhs settled there should enable them for a more benevolent, visionary and effective interaction with the Panjab and Panth and not limit only to religious dogma and dictum.

Many of these groups and individuals have the interest of the Panth and Punjab at heart. However that is not enough. The context and perspective has to change. Repeating the same dialogues, the same arguments, yearning for funding is not going to help. The huge monster of Indian democracy cannot be wished away or fought with merely sloganeering and crying hoarse.

Soul-searching, adoption of new technologies, adaption of new world political thinking, developing Sikh leadership from amongst the youth from scratch, giving up old hyperbole, stopping to drum discrimination, engaging with the people of all castes, class and shades, reorienting the teachings of the Gurus and making it part of our lives and changing the social and religious fibre to be more inclusive and visionary.

All this needs to hap­pen and hap­pen fast.

From Punjab to Diaspora, Sikh leadership in shambles

The Tribune – ‘Rooftop garden’ to enhance greenery at Golden Temple

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 23 June 2019. To enhance greenery at the Golden Temple complex, the SGPC has initiated to plant special vines that would eventually fall on the inner walls of the existing structures located on the periphery of the ‘parikrama’.

Named as ‘rooftop garden’, the initiative was being done with the expert guidance of Punjab Agricultural University. It will be in addition to the vertical garden under which 35,000 plants prospered in the shrine complex and an exclusive greenbelt that has been proposed on two acres of land located between Guru Ram Das Jee Langar Hall and Gurdwara Manji Sahib.

To raise the ‘rooftop garden’, 4-ft-high cemented pots have been built along the projection of the existing gallery that runs along the ‘parikrama’ on four sides. The shrine is known for its rarest centuries-old ‘beris’ (jujube trees), but there was negligible scope for greenery inside the complex.

With the marbled entrance plaza outside, the green area was drastically depleted, barring the “galliara” surrounding the shrine.

Keeping in view the space constraints, SGPC chief secretary Dr Roop Singh said the idea of ‘rooftop garden’ was to enhance the greenbelt. “It is true that the greenery in the shrine complex is the need of the hour to counter the effects of heat and reflection generated from milky marble all around,” he said.

In the first phase, 400 rare varieties of green vines would be planted in the specially made cemented vessels, Dr Roop Singh said.

“Our aim is to make the parikrama surrounding greener. We have started from the administrative block roof. The same concept will be introduced on rooftops of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Niwas, Sri Guru Hargobind Niwas and other inns.

These plants of various varieties have been arranged from Kolkata and Saharanpur. They produce different colour flowers. Once they grow up, they will fall towards the inner side and will give mesmerising view to people standing in the parikrama. It will give greener look from inside all over,” he said.

He said in the second phase, the cavities on the lower ceiling of the verandah would also be filled with plants that grow identical colour flowers in abundance.

Since May last year, after razing the 26-ft stretch that divides the existing grassy area near langar hall, a new greenbelt is being developed with all seasonal floral and herbal plants. Besides, special fountains which will operate in consonance with light and sound effects.

Brussel Noord – Gent Dampoort

Brussel Noord
11 June 2019

This train is six minutes late

Siemens engine pulling or pushing a DoubleDecker train

This P train via Denderleeuw is not very fast

This train is now nine minutes late

First fast train to Gent-Sint-Pieters

Gent Dampoort
12 June 2019

To Antwerpen for Voem meeting
Their Antwerp office is near Antwerpen Zuid station

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Taxi driver may be stripped of his licence after Huddersfield Sikh temple attack

Karamjit Singh was convicted of assault at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Springwood

Emma Davison

Huddersfield – West Yorkshire – UK, 24 June 2019. A taxi driver faces losing his licence after assaulting a man at a Sikh temple in Huddersfield.

The attack happened at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Prospect Street, Springwood, on February 3.

Karamjit Singh, 60, pleaded guilty to assault on the day of his trial.

The cabbie now faces a court hearing to determine whether he will be allowed to keep his licence.

Singh, of Mount Avenue in Mount, was fined following his conviction for the offence on June 5.

Kirklees magistrates also ordered him to pay £50 compensation to the victim.

Tahir Hanif, prosecuting on behalf of Kirklees Council, said that pending the outcome of the court hearing Singh’s hackney carriage driver’s licence was suspended.

He then launched an appeal with the authority against this decision.

Taxi driver found guilty of refusing to take blind woman’s guide dog in his cab

Mr Hanif said: “It was thought prudent to adjourn the matter because the assault trial was listed for June 5.

“He has been convicted by way of a change of plea.

“He’s submitted an appeal against the original decision to suspend his licence and is allowed to continue driving during that time.

“Now he’s convicted the licensing authority will look at that and make a decision, either to revoke his licence completely or allow it with conditions.”

A full hearing will now take place at the Huddersfield court to determine if Singh is a “fit and proper person” to continue working as a taxi driver.

Singh will give evidence at the hearing on July 18.

Dawn – PMTA ‘cancels’ metro train O&M contract on legal, technical grounds

The Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) which is headed by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is learnt to have cancelled the multi-billion rupees O&M (Operation and Management) contract of the Orange Line Metro Train after reportedly finding irregularities in it.

Intikhab Hanif

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 23 June 2019. According to sources inside the Chief Minister House on Saturday, the Rs 60 billion contract awarded to a Chinese company for running and managing the train for around 10 years was cancelled on various legal and technical grounds given by different departments and agencies concerned.

The contract was reportedly designed by former PMTA managing director Sibtain Fazle Haleem whose own term in office expired six months ago. He was nevertheless given an extension in his contractual service mainly on directions by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Insiders claimed that the RFP (Request for Proposals or in plain terms Terms and Conditions) of the bid were publicised without seeking approval of the competent authority. The approval was sought after selecting the contracting party, they alleged.

They claimed that the legality and financial aspects of the bid were got checked by the authority from different departments and agencies. The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Ppra) had rejected the bid last week, while the Punjab advocate general also did the same.

A committee under planning & development chairman too pointed out some issues in the bidding process, they said.

The insiders said the authority under the chief minister, nevertheless, rejected the bid on various grounds. One of them was that the contract required to have five-year duration but was given for 10 years, while its operational cost was also high despite the fact that everything of the train project was owned by the provincial government.

“Even the train is owned by Punjab,” an official said.

The authority which has been reconstituted recently comprises provincial transport minister, two MNAs, four MPAs, secretaries of the finance and transport departments, P&D chairman and a former transport secretary.

They said the authority was going to place an advertisement in newspapers soon to select a suitable candidate for the post of its managing director in place of Mr Haleem, a retired bureaucrat. At present, the post is lying vacant and the additional charge is with the transport secretary.