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Sikhs – Education and Empowerment

A Review by Gajindar Singh

Author: Nanak Singh Nishter
Publisher: International Sikh Centre for Inter-faith Relations, a project of Guru Nanak Dev Educational Trust, Hyderabad
Price: Not mentioned

The author is the well known social activist Deccani Sikh who has genuine concern for the well being of the Sikh community all over the globe, wherever they have settled. Following the partition of the country in 1947, when the Sikhs had been torn out of their roots and left destitute, without much support from the government and the people of the land, the proverbial sacrificial lamb at the alter of freedom but unrecognised, they dispersed wherever they landed and made homes to start life anew. They had to learn to do without any support, unlike the Punjab where the Sikhs were well entrenched and organised to fight for their rights. There were those who had gone to those far off places of their own choosing much before the division of the country and had assimilated in the culture and traditions of the local people and became very different in customs and habits compared to Punjab. All these segments had their peculiar problems, on spiritual and societal levels.

However, one thing in common was their lack of perception of the Indian provisions for the minorities and their rights, for which there was no guidance from Punjab, nor any local body organised to take up cudgels on their behalf. In the past over sixty years, the Sikhs have been left far behind other minorities in making use of whatever is available by not claiming their share of privileges which have lapsed in every budget.

Sardar Nanak Singh Nishter has issued the present volume precisely to fill up this serious lapse. As the name of the book proclaims, it is essentially targeted at the Sikhs all over India, including those who consider themselves strongly based in Punjab, where too no attempt has been seriously made year after year to utilise the funds sanctioned by the Central government and the State governments for the progress of the youth in studies and their empowerment. There are two problems of the issue. Firstly, the Sikhs are not organised to use these resources and counsel their youth about it, and secondly, even the various State governments have not properly weighed the problems of the Sikhs in the same way as they cater to the needs of the Muslims as a community because of their better organised and joint representation and their ‘vote-bank’ value.

The volume carries very pertinent debates about the place of Guru Granth Sahib, over the head or inside the heart, and leads the reader to a proper understanding and respect and love of the Gurbani, as Guru for all ages and Where stands the Khalsa. In fact, this slender book of about 200 pages has topics of interest for all segments of readers, about women in Sikhism, the unusual goat sacrifice at Hazur Sahib gurdwara, multi-religiosity and Guru Granth Sahib as well as the place of Muslim co-authors of the Guru Granth.

There are lapses in English language, but on the whole it is a well written treatise, and it is recommended for wide reading to understand and appreciate the broad sweep of the writer who handles all subjects with ease and convincingly. The quality of print, paper and binding is good.



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