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Institutional Failure of Sikhs in other
Indian States


Nanak Singh Nishter

Without the fear of any contradiction it can be said that outside Punjab, Sikhi appears to be in original form. The simple reason is, in Punjab the Sikhs are in large numbers; their faith is always under severe attacks from psychological, economical, social, political and religious sides. The root cause is our own weakness for not adhering to the religious values of Sikhism and increasing interfaith marriages with the non-believer’s (so-called Sehajdhari or Hindu families). It has polluted our belief in Sikhism and resulted in gradually losing our independent identity. Whereas outside Punjab, the Sikhs living in less numbers with the fear of assimilation with other faiths, have preserved and prevented their separate identity by practising Sikhism with strong belief, despite physical attacks. The Sikhs outside Punjab have always suffered and paid heavy prices for preserving their institutions.

Regarding the institutional failures, let us analyse the causes for their failures. Individuals make the society and the society forms institutions. While discussing the problems of the institutions, let us take a start from individuals. At this occasion I recall a story of two quarrelling men. Upon asking the reason for the dispute one said that, the other did not drive away the dog which was licking his face. When asked the reason for his inaction the second person said, when he himself did not attempt to drive away, why should he ? This is the same case with our individuals and institutions. They blame each other, forgetting that they jointly are an integral part and responsible for the failures. When nobody feels it necessary to shoulder any responsibility and take any initiative, will blaming each other solve any purpose?

Sikhism itself is an institutional organisation and was so even in the days of the Great Gurus. Though all the Great Gurus in an individual capacity were leaders of high order and had successfully led and guided the community, even then they had always given due regard to the opinion of their Sikhs. In 1699 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji while giving the final touches to the organisational set-up of Sikhism, had endowed the responsibility of physically guiding and leading the community in the collective leadership of the Guru Panth. This is a unique experiment to keep the community alive, alert and functioning eternally, so that it should not become defunct or obsolete at any coming period of time.

From 1708 the abode of Sri Guru Granth Sahib i.e., the Gurudwaras have become the focal point of the Guru Panth. Whereas foresight of Guru Sahib has bestowed the spiritual succession in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, it should have been the focal point of Sikhism. But the priesthood in Sikhism for its own survival, and vested interests has converted the Gurudwaras i.e., the august body of the Sikhs into lifeless buildings of brick, mortars, marbles and Gold Plates. This has severely damaged the institution of Guru Panth, making its concept almost extinct, and reduced to formally addressing at congregations as “Guru Roop Sadh Sangat Jio”. Now, nobody is able to understand the purpose of addressing in such a fashion and meaning of this slogan.

We, the individuals, are the ingredients of institutions. When we speak about the failures of institutions, let us be fair enough to fix the responsibility on ourselves. We should always keep in mind that an institution may consist of either some right thinking and working group of persons or some of self-projecting people with vested interest. Generally it is observed that the second type of people overshadow the first type because of their united efforts of lobbying and common personal interests. So the institutions in every society are facing the same crisis throughout the world. Only individuals who are committed, value based, result oriented and driven with the object of life for service under any unfavourable circumstances without anticipating any praise or place in the society, are successful in accomplishing some work.

1. Better late than never, let us realise our duty to adopt the spirit of Sikhism in our life and spread it on one-to-one contact basis.

2. Poverty is a universal phenomenon in every community. Let us sincerely admit that there are a lot of less-fortunate people in our community also. Just one sentence by Justice Puttu Swamy, Chairman, Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Backward Classes is sufficient to open the eyes of any Sikh of conscience. I represented before this commission to include “Sikligar Community” in the list of Backward Classes. The commission made physical verifications of all the claimants at different places of the State. He said, “it is an unbelievable experience for me to see the Sikligar people in such a distressed condition. I know the Sikhs spend crores of rupees on temples and festivals. Why don’t they take care of these few people?” This problem is not confined to only this particular community of the Sikhs. A sufficient lot in the community is suffering the worst possible conditions and living below poverty line. School dropouts, child labour, maids, servants and all other evils of poverty do exist in every section of our society throughout India.

I am mentioning following few organisations and departments who extend financial assistance and free vocational training to the minorities. For detailed information brochure, a request can be made to the concerned authorities. A registered organisation with the objectives of serving the minority gets handsome grants to carryout their projects. Individuals having an annual income below rupees thirty thousand (the ceiling differs from scheme to scheme) are eligible for all sorts of financial assistance for education and for starting any type of business right from pushcarts to manufacturing industry. For such schemes the Bank advances 80% of the cost of project at concessional rate of interest. Out of the remaining 20% portion, half of the amount i.e., 10% is advanced as margin money by the Minorities’ Financial Institutions on still lesser rather nominal rate of interest. Under some schemes a portion of this amount is waived as subsidiary grant. With only 10% of the cost, a project can be taken up. Women are given preference and incentives.

We are in a mad race of raising new Gurudwaras at exorbitant cost of construction, out numbering the Sikhs themselves. But we could not make the Sikhs to believe in Sikhism. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj has clearly said in Jap Ji Sahib that Dharam is the son of Daya (mercy-compassion) - Dhaul dharam daya ka poot.. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj has given the name of Daya (Bhai Daya Singh Ji) to the First Panj Piyare Sahib and the name of Dharam (Bhai Dharam Singh Ji) to the Second Panj Piyare Sahib. But now in our life style, Daya is eliminated, yet we claim to practice Dharam. Let us sincerely take into accounts our venues of contributions, where the money is getting siphoned off and ascertain whether it is for any community welfare project? If not, why the Daya of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s concept of Dharam has been driven out from the life of his followers?

Yeh aam baat hai, Bhagwan banane ka hunar.
Baat to jab hai ke, insan bana kar dekhen

(To make Gods is a common art of the people.
It will be an achievement if you could make a human being.)




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