NEWS & VIEWS
Dr Birendra Kaur elected President of Institute of Sikh Studies
Dr Birendra Kaur was unanimously elected the President for the year 2014 in Institute of Sikh Studies' general body meeting held on December 16, 2013. The following office-bearers have been appointed by the President:
Vice-President Bhai Ashok Singh
Secretary S Sadhu Singh
Joint Secretary S Ishwinder Singh
Treasurer S Gurpreet Singh
Member Bibi Baljeet Kaur
Member Lt Gen Kartar Singh, PVSM
Prof Prabhjot Kaur was nominated as the Editor of the Abstracts of Sikh Studies.
Dr Kirpal Singh Honoured
Dr. Kirpal Singh, an eminent scholar of Sikh history and a senior member of the Institute of Sikh Studies, was recently honored at an impressive function held at Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib. S. Avtar Singh, President, Shiromini Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee, Sri Amritsar, conferred the award. S. Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Secretary SGPC, too paid glowing tributes commending the work done by Dr. Kirpal Singh in the field of studies in Sikh history. Dr. Kirpal Singh was awarded Rs one lac, a siropa, a shawl and a plaque.
Dr. Kirpal Singh is a known historian who has authored scores of books on Sikh history. Presently he is working as Director of Sikh Sarot Itihasic Granth Editing Project. Under the project Persian historical sources are being studied and annotated. A dozen volumes of Gurpartap Suraj Granth, edited and annotated under his direction have already been published. The works have been widely appreciated.
We heartily congratulate D. Kirpal Singh and pray for his good health and long life and wish him many more accolades in life.
Renowned Historian Dr Sangat Singh Honoured
Renowned historian Dr Sangat Singh known for his book ‘Sikhs in History’ which got immediate acceptance by Sikh masses was recently honoured by Khalsa Pracharak Jatha, UK. The award was presented by Giani Gurbax Singh Gulshan, Head, Khalsa Pracharak Jatha UK and S Manjit Singh G.K. President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. We congratulate Dr Sangat Singh and pray for his good health and long life.
At secondary level, Sikhs lead educational attainment levels among minorities
New Delhi, October 24. Sikhs lead the five centrally notified minorities on educational attainment at the secondary level (Classes IX and X), sustaining the momentum through to graduation. Christians follow closely, with these two religious minorities better represented in the secondary education sector than even the Hindus.
A government documentation of the educational levels among different communities in India reveals that at the level of universities (graduation), Christian children are the best placed among those from all other communities, including the five minorities (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis) and the Hindu community.
There’s however a fair decline in the level of educational attainment as children move up the ladder - from secondary to senior secondary (Classes XI and XII) and graduation. This negative trend will come up for discussions on October 31 at the meeting of National Monitoring Committee for Minority Education called by the HRD Ministry.
Agenda notes for the meeting reveal that the percentage of admission of Sikh students at the secondary level is the highest for all communities in India at 20.94 per cent. This is followed by Christians at 17.48%, Hindus at 14.25% and Buddhists at 14.09%. At Class IX and X, Sikhs are much ahead of the average educational attainment rate of 14.13% for all religions put together. The Muslims have the lowest percentage of 10.96 at this level.
The rate of educational attainment for children of all communities falls at the senior secondary level where the percentage admission for Christian children is the highest at 8.7 followed by Buddhists at 7.65 Sikhs at 7.57, Hindus at 6.92 and Muslims at a meager 4.53. The average rate of admission of students for all religions in this category (Classes XI to XII) is 6.74% - a huge drop from 14.13% at secondary level.
Further up, the percentage of admissions declines for all religions — from 6.74% at the senior secondary level — to 6.72% at graduation, with Christians best placed in higher education with the highest rate of educational attainment at 8.71% followed by Hindus at 7.01%, Sikhs at 6.94%, Buddhists at 5.7% and Muslims at a shocking low of 3.6%. This means only 3.6 pc of Muslim students eligible to attain graduation have actually entered colleges.
“Student dropout rates tend to peak at the senior secondary levels. Scholarships should thus target this band and be top heavy instead of top bottom,” a member of the working group which prepared the report on Empowerment of Minorities for the Planning Commission told The Tribune.
Currently, the government runs minority scholarship schemes for pre-matric (Classes I to X) and post- matric (Classes XII to PhD) students. Clearly the results are not very rosy.
The National Monitoring Committee on Minority Education meeting here on October 31 is expected to suggest changes to improve the scenario. (Courtesy: The Tribune, Oct 25, 2013)
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Sikhism becoming global religion: – US Don
New Delhi; November 28. Shedding its tag of being a regional religion, Sikhism is on its way to becoming a global religion, making a major shift in the past 35 years or so, opined Prof Mark Juergensmeyer while delivering the 13th Bhai Chanan Singh Memorial lecture here today.
Prof Juergensmeyer, who has studied Sikhism for the past four decades, is Director, Orfalea Centre for Global and International Studies, University of California, US, chose to speak on “Sikhism as a global religion.”
He said, some 35 years ago, Sikhism was a “forgotten religion mentioned in footnotes. In these 30 years, things have changed.” He said the challenges ahead was assimilation with the global order and participation in global society.
There were more Sikhs than Jews in the world, Prof Juergensmeyer said. As of now, 30 per cent of Sikhs resided outside Punjab. “The religion now faces three immediate challenges; cultural adaptation in new lands, transformation, and participation in society globally”.
The time had come when there would be a debate on what were the core values of the religion and what were the cultural values, the professor said as he cited an example. “In gurdwaras in the US, langar (community meal) is laid out on the table for people seated on chairs instead of sitting on the floor, as in India. It is for the community to decide if this is a cultural issue or a core value of the religion,” he said.
He said it was essential to wear the five Ks all the times. “Is it a core value or a cultural value,” the US-based Sikh expert asked. He said he wanted to see Sikhs as a larger part of the global cultural tapestry as the religion that assimilated without diluting its own identity or compromising on the core values.
Prof Juergensmeyer spoke at Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan. Among those present were Prof Jai Rup Singh, VC, Central University of Punjab, Dr JS Neki, Professor of Eminence, Punjabi University, Patiala, NS Sarna, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Kuldip Nayar, former Governor of Karnataka TN Chaturvedi and Dr Rupinder Kaur. (Courtesy: The Tribune, November 29, 2013)
HC Order on Displaying Full Collection of Sikh Guru Relics Thrills Nabha Locals
December 20, 2013. PATIALA: Nabha residents were elated over the decision of the Punjab and Haryana high court ordering display of full collection of three Sikh gurus’ relics, which would be shown to public in their town after a gap of at least 10 years.
Although a group of Nabha residents, through petitioner Gurmail Singh, were fighting a legal battle demanding that eight relics of Guru Gobind Singh should be displayed at Nabha, what cheered the residents is the fact that not only eight, but the entire collection of the relics — which also includes relics belonging to sixth and ninth Gurus — would be put on display.
“The state government had decided to hand over the relics to Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to display them at Sri Anandpur Sahib. We were fighting to get eight relics of the tenth Guru, which are currently lying at the Qila Mubarak fort. However, to our delight, the descendent of Nabha royals had pleaded before the court to hand over other relics also, which were in his possession, to residents of Nabha,” said Gurmail Singh, who is spearheading the legal battle for the past seven years to bring the Gurus’ relics back to Nabha – the erstwhile princely state.
Gurmail said on the initiative taken by the last maharaja of Nabha, Partap Singh, the relics were first put on display for public at Hira Mahal in 1967. “They remained on display for years, but things changed after the death of Maharaja in mid 90s. The relics were never seen after 2002, when mutation of the land, where Hira Mahal is today located, was wrongfully executed by some locals. The royal family had kept all relics with them ever since. It is the first time after 2002 that relics will be out on display,” he said.
Possessed by the Nabha royals at various junctures since the past over 250 years, at least half of the relics were in possession of their descendants till 2008, when these were handed over to the department of heritage and culture of Punjab by Delhi-based Tikka Hanumant Singh, son of Partap Singh after the Punjab and Haryana high court orders.
Of the total 14, eight relics belonging to Guru Guru Gobind — a turban, three swords, a cloak, hair with comb and a manuscript — are in possession of department of heritage and culture of the Punjab government and lying at Qila Mubarak at Patiala.
Similarly, Tikka had recently admitted before the high court that he possessed three more relics belonging to Guru Hargobind Rai and Guru Teg Bahadur, sixth and ninth Gurus of Sikhs, respectively, and pleaded to hand over them.
Rakesh Jain, a social activist, said it was a great moment not only for Nabha residents but for the entire Punjabi community as rare and sacred relics of three Sikh gurus would be put on display for the first time in the past over a decade. (Courtesy: Times of India, December 21, 2013)
Sikh Clergy Directs Activist to End Fast
Amritsar, December 24, 2013. Sikh high priests today directed activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who has been on an indefinite fast for the past 40 days in Mohali, to end his hunger strike with immediate effect. The decision was taken during a meeting at the Akal Takht Secretariat.
Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh told mediapersons that they had directed Gurbaksh Singh to immediately end his hunger strike and take medical treatment to regain health.
The Sikh clergy said they supported his Panthic agitation seeking the release of Sikh detainees from prisons. The directive, signed by Sikh high priests, was dispatched to Gurbaksh Singh.
They said the Punjab Government had initiated steps to secure the release of six Sikh detainees. Two of them - Lal Singh and Gurmeet Singh - have been released recently.
They also asked the Sikh community to support the activist in his cause and ensure that Sikh prisoners languishing in jails were released.
The Sikh clergy said they were directing Khalsa to end his fast since his life was precious for the Sikh community.
They also asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to rope in Sikh organisations in India and abroad to step up efforts to secure the release of Sikh detainees.
The Akal Takht Jathedar said they were concerned about Gurbaksh Singh’s deteriorating health as he was now suffering from pneumonia.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh called the Akal Takht Jathedar’s decision “not enough” and “too late”. He said the Jathedar’s position had been self-contradictory all along.
“Had the Jathedar taken the lead right in the beginning, the issue would have been resolved by now. The directive should instead have been issued to the SAD president to ensure the release of detainees within a specified time frame,” he said.
Further, Sikh scholar Ashok Singh Bagarian said: “The directive to Gurbaksh Singh will not go down well with the Sikh masses.” (Courtesy: The Tribune, December 25, 2013)
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