This year's seminar of the Institute of Sikh Studies had two different topics viz (i) Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Present Era, (ii) Punjab Waters — SYL Canal. More than twenty papers were received on both the topics and were presented in the well-attended gathering. The proceedings of the Seminar have also been divided into two parts.
Importance of the Teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Present Era
The seminar started with the Keynote address by Prof. Dr. Jodh Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He eloquently emphasized that love for God was one of the cardinal principles of the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib and one should make an effort to attain spirituality through shabad. At the end he analysed the factors leading to apostasy among the Sikh youth.
Dr Kirpal Singh asserted that Guru Arjun, the fifth Guru gave the simplest possible definition of religion on the basis of which all religious denominations of mankind could unite. In this way humanity can be integrated. Maj Gen Jaswant Singh gave the teachings of Guru Granth in the simplest form by quoting Gurbani at various places. He emphasised oneness of God, truth and truthful living equal status for women, standing up against tyranny, Sarbat Da Bhalla besides other teachings. Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur asserted that Guru Granth was different from other scriptures of the world. By giving quotations from Gurbani he stated it was the eternal Guru, embodiment of the spirit of Gurus. Prof Gurbax Singh Shergill forcefully argued that Guru Granth’s teachings are against asceticism and advocate house holder’s life with Kirat Karna, Vand Chhakna and Nam Japna. Sardar Bhagwant Singh Dalawari stressed that one of the cardinal principles taught by Guru Granth is universal love and all human beings belong to the same God. Sardar Surjan Singh of Singapore emphasized in his paper that the principles of Guru Granth Sahib advocate cooperation and understanding between the people of diverse religious background and different nations of the East and West Besides this, they are against gender discrimination and abuse of drugs. Dr Harbans Lal of USA after giving an account of socio-economic evils of society asserted that interfaith dialogue and universal love in Guru Granth Sahib are the only solution of present day problems. Dr Gurbakhsh Singh USA in his paper emphasized that Guru Granth gives message of universal love and a person belonging to any faith can be benefitted by its teaching. T Krishna Nathan of Maduari Kamraj University, Madurai in his paper on Asa Di Var stressed on Guru Sikh relation by stating that Guru inspires divine love in the Sikhs and helps them to serve God.
Section B (Punjabi Section)
Dr Harnam Singh Shan emphasised that the Guru's bani is revealed one which has been addressed to all mankind. We have to fight against evil to realise Him. Dr Man Singh Nirankari brought out that Guru Granth is a unique treasure of divine hymns. God is same for all and we can realise Him by remembering his name. Advocate Kartar Singh stated that Guru Granth's teachings spell out equality, fearlessness and to share one's wealth with the needy.
Sardar Gurdev Singh, Sardar Hardev Singh Mattewal and Dr Gurmit Singh have eloquently and forcefully pointed out the unconstitutionality of sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 and consequential invalidity of subsequent legislative and judicial proceedings. Sardar Hardev Singh Mattewal stated that in October, 2001 when he was Advocate General, Punjab, he had advised the Punjab Government to challenge the vires of sections 78 to 80 ibid. and also the Eradi Tribunal’s Interim Award but no tangible steps have been taken so far.
Sardar Sukhdev Singh has revealed the murky dealings of politicians and bureaucrats and pleads for the rejection of all illegitimate / unconstitutional dispensations regarding Punjab Waters and desires that the people should put pressure on the State Government and the opposition parties to take a principled stand on the water and power issue of Punjab and not to be influenced by short term gains of politics.
Dr Gurbir Singh Dhillon has explained that Punjab has no water to spare; Haryana is already making use of 1.62 MAF water from Nangal pond through Narwana Branch and there is no justification of operation of SYL canal to supply more water.
Dr Kharak Singh referred to his article published in the Abstracts of Sikh Studies, October, 1995 as also to Sardar Harbinder Pal Singh article in the Abstracts of Sikh Studies of January, 1997 wherein both of them had long back dealt with the issues pointed out by the various speakers. Dr Kharak Singh emphasized that any cleverness to strip Punjab of its legitimate right over its rivers will only encourage the feelings that the state is being exploited as a colony.
Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon observed that the problem has been compounded due to the failure of the government to find a solution to the river water issue as per constitutional, national and international norms and laments that the story presents a sordid tale of political trickery, discriminatory politics, deceptive accords, murky intrigues, confrontation, morchas and blood shed.
Shehbaaz Singh asserts that non-riparian states have no claim on Punjab river waters nor is there any surplus water with Punjab, which is being deprived of its waters due to the weakness of the politicians at the helm of affairs who were incompetent or busy filling their on coffers.
Dr Rajinder Singh Bajwa gives a short history of how riparian doctrine has been legislated and interpreted in the United State. He explains that the owners of the lands contiguous to a river have been considered by the laws of most civilised nations as the owners of the watercourses.