Annual Seminar – A Report
Leading and eminent Sikh intellectuals deliberated on the causes and consequences of the present day crisis in Sikh polity and management of the top most Sikh religious institutions and duties of Sikh intellectuals at this juncture at the two day seminar on "Role of Sikh Intelligentsia in the Present day Crisis-Ridden Sikh society" at the Institute of Sikh Studies on December 1-2, 2018.
They held the family controlled and BJP's hand maiden puppet Akali leadership of Punjab for all the economic, social and religious ills of the Sikh Society. They accused this opportunistic leadership of pursuing wrong models of economic development such as senseless urbanization of this essentially agricultural state, drying up all avenues of employment for the Sikh youth, misutilizing the Gurdwara funds for political ends, manipulating SGPC elections, planting plausible high priests / Jathedars at the Sikh Takhats, conspiring with anti-Sikh forces resulting in the acts of sacrilege and desecration of sacred Sikh scripture by the hired hoodlums of Dera Chief, promoting and protecting land, mining, drug and public transport mafias, ignoring Sikh demands for handing over of iits capital Chandigarh to Punjab, protection of State River Waters, release of Sikh prisoners even after their completion of their jail terms and failure to control State fiscal deficit and indebtedness.
Presiding over the inaugural session of the Seminar, well-known Ex-Foreign Secretary, Ambassador and Columnist Sardar K C Singh, emphasized the need for segregation of religious institutions like SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib from the influence of politics. There is an urgent need for a Sikh with intellectual brilliance and personal integrity to be the Akal Takht Jathedar. Mediocrity, pliability and streak of sycophancy among the majority of the persons appointed to the august offices of the Sikh Takhts in the recent past have severely damaged the sanctity and credibility of these august offices of Sikh Takhts and harmed the religious institutions. These Institutions including the SGPC must be rid of the harmful influence of the degenerated Akali leadership. Moral pressure from the Sikh masses alone can bring out this reformation. Sikh intellectuals should make concerted efforts to create public awareness about the urgent need for this religious revival. He also called for the adoption of Californian Model of agriculture for Punjab on experimental basis. He congratulated the Institute of Sikh Studies for organizing this two day seminar on the most crucial issue of the looming crisis in Sikh society.
Well known and eminent Punjabi Poet Padamshri Surjit Singh Patar also applauded the organizers of the Seminar for choosing the most appropriate topic for the seminar. He assured the gathered Sikh Intellectuals that their mature analysis of the present day Sikh crisis and their consensual opinion and message was likely to make a deep impact on the Sikh society. He also spoke about the urgent need for imbibing teachings of Sikh Gurus which is the main challenge for Sikh society today. The Khalsa has been created to take others out of the problems and not to be bogged down by their own problems.
G S Cheema (IAS) retd, Institute's Guest of Honour on the seminar, talked about main challenges facing Sikh society as Sikh youths' addiction to alcohol/ drugs, wasteful expenditure and extravagance in Sikh marriages. He talked about our glorious past and rich history and the need to learn lessons from the same rather than feeling discouraged and de-motivated.
S Jaspal Singh Sidhu, the Convenor of the Seminiar, in his keynote address accused the Indian deep State of calculatedly discriminating against the Sikhs by clubbing Sikh religion with Hinduism in the Constitution, depriving the Sikhs of their capital, river waters and industrial projects and accused the Akalis leadership of their failure to protect Sikh's religious, political, economic and social interests.
Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu, a leading Sikh intellectual and social activist, talked about the need of Sikh intellectuals to stand by the truth and speak truth; not to be fearful of the powerful vested interests. There is need to guard the philosophy of our Great Gurus and Bhagats, whose teachings of peaceful co-existence has been incorporated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Instead of wallowing in the ghetto mentality developing fast among the Sikh Bhaichara due to the alleged excesses of the others rather than their own lapses, they must endeavour to create an atmosphere of trust, goodwill and confidence so as to create an atmosphere for progressive Punjab. Sikhs' abandoning their own mother tongue Punjabi as the medium of elementary education against the expert advice of all linguists and educational experts was sure to strike the death knell of the Sikh children's creativity, originality and vibrant resilience of the Sikh and Punjabi culture.
Dr Swaraj Singh, a renowned Sikh thinker and seasoned analyst of capitalist Marxist World order and a Sikh ideologue enlightened the damning impact of globalization and consumerist culture on the Asian and Indian societies. He pointed out that current exodus of Sikh youth to foreign countries was as harmful as the mass influx of labour class from Bihar and Uttar Pardesh into Punjab. These twin population migrations will impact the demographic structure of Punjab and harm Sikh religion and Sikh society. The tendency to identify themselves by Sikhs by their caste, village names etc among the Sikhs, is also against the essential philosophy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Dr Sarabjit Singh Renuka, Professor of Journalism, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana attributed the present farm distress and consequent farmers' suicides in Punjab to the senseless extravagance and exhorbitant expenditure indulged in by Punjab farmers on marriages and other social functions often with borrowed money and lack of family, community, religious and psychiatric counseling to fight the typical virus generated suicidal tendency among Punjab farmers. He exhorted the Sikh community to adopt his highly successful campaign of "Sada Viah Saday Bhog, Na Koi Chinta Na koi Rog" to combat the menace of rural indebtedness and farmer suicides. Prof Prabhjot Kaur also suggested greater parental, teacher and societal interaction with their children and Sikh youth to save them from drug addiction.
Presiding over and presenting his paper in the Second Session, the veteran Journalist PPS Gill accused the venal Akali leadership of ruining all the prominent Sikh institutions like the SGPC, Akal Takht and making them "caged parrots" and mixing politics with business, being subservient to the ruling Hindutva-oriented BJP at the centre and turning a Nelson's eye when painful episodes of sacrilege and desecration took place in Punjab during 2015, thus turning the whole Punjab into the "theatre of the absurd". Appreciating the Institute of Sikh Studies for organizing this seminar on the most appropriate topic and time, he called upon the Sikh intelligentsia to rise to the occasion to expose this morally bankrupt discredited and corrupt leadership. They should bring about a charter of key issues, clear cut solutions and resolution of contentious concepts, rituals and practices by creating a 'consensus' among all the Sikh "think tanks" and press upon the Sikh leadership and Sikh community to achieve those goals.
Bhai Ashok Singh called upon the Sikh intelligentsia to highlight the fault lines in Sikh polity, Sikh institutions and Sikh society due to the dominance of businessmen-turned-Sikh politicians-turned mafia dons and pliant Sikh clergy in the political and religious affairs. They should come forward to provide proper guidance to the Sikh qoum at this crucial juncture.
Prof Kulwant Singh, President, Institute of Sikh Studies, catalogued the major fault lines in Sikh polity, Sikh religion and its practices and institutions as well as Sikh social moorings (p. 43) and called upon the Sikh intelligentsia to not only expose all the 'guilty men' but also suggest tangible solutions to remedy these ills.
Col Bhupinder Singh regretted the dismal down slide in the Sikh society due to its poor Sikh leadership.
Presiding over the morning Session of the Seminar on the second day, S Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha and a distinguished parliamentarian acknowledged the existence of all the faultiness identified by Prof Kulwant Singh in his paper and regretted that the present crisis has emerged because the Sikh leadership to whom all the primary Sikh institutions were entrusted have themselves ruined these institutions.
Dr P J Singh, a successful Sikh entrepreneur, a generous philanthropist and a valuable patron of the Institute appreciated the Institute's concern about crisis in the Sikh society and suggested that a resolution on the issues and solutions crystallized during the Seminar be passed and conveyed to the entire Sikh community through print and electronic media channels and launch a vigorous campaign against the evils in the system.
Dr Gurinder Singh Mann, a renowned Sikh scholar from USA, felt that to expect that Sikh intelligentsia can solve the problems of the Sikh community was asking for the moon as the Sikh scholars, intellectuals and Sikh seminaries themselves were neither united nor willing to listen to each others' views. Rather than expecting the Sikh intellectuals to address the community's aberrations, he expected the Sikh society to bring all the Sikh intellectuals on a single platform. He limited his lecture to the divisions in the academic circles rather than commenting upon the larger political religious, economic and institutional fault lines n the present day Sikh society.
In the concluding session on the Second day presided by an eminent Sikh scholar Dr Balkar Singh, S Bhupinder Singh Bhaikhel regretted the pathetic state of Sikh politics and Sikh religious institutions due to the selfishness of the Sikh leader as well as the hostile Hindutva Central leadership. Dr Balkar Singh in his presidential remarked that the problems created by politics can be understood through academic intellectualism, but these cannot be solved by intellectualism. Even then although all the preset day political, religious and institutional aberrations and issues like Sikhs at cross roads and crisis-ridden society have occurred due to dirty opportunistic politicizing, yet Sikh intellectuals should make efforts to clean this cesspool of politics for the well-being of Sikh Panth.
The seminar concluded with the passing of resolution unanimously enumerating the major issues and possible remedies discussed in the two day seminar and giving a call to all the representative Sikh organizations and Sikh intellectuals to launch a vigorous campaign against the forces responsible for creating such a grave crisis and build a strong public pressure to cleanse and revitalize the major Sikh political, religious and institutional systems. It reads:
We, the Sikh scholars and participants present at the conclusion of the two day annual seminar of Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh held on December 1 & 2, 2018 on the topic "Role of Sikh Intelligentsia in the Present day Crisis-ridden Sikh society" held at the Institute's premises unanimously demand that the representative Sikh religious Institutions must be rid of the Octopus-like grip of the present day opportunist Sikh political leadership; the election for the members of the SGPC be held in a transparent manner without any political interference; only dedicated, selfless Sikh representatives imbued with the selfless service to the Sikhs Panth be entrusted with the leadership of the representative Sikh political party, the Shromani Akali Dal; a new model of wholesome economic structure be designed to improve Punjab's badly shattered economy, enlightened, scholarly, devout Sikh gentlemen with proven track record of integrity and committed to Sikh ethos be appointed as Jathedars of Sri Akal Takht and other Sikh Takhts so that the present day representative Sikh social, religious and institutional organizations may be cleansed of the above mentioned maladies. This assembly also endorses the joint Indo-Pak efforts being made to provide a corridor for facilitating free access to the Sikh pilgrims to pay obeisance at the historical Sikh shrine Kartarpur Sahib situated on the Pakistan side of Indo-Pakistan international border. We express our deep sense of regret at the innumerable linguistic and Grammatical mistakes committed in the recently republished edition of the great Punjabi Classic "Mahankosh" in Punjabi, Hindi and English by the Punjabi University, Patiala. We appeal to the University authorities to publish new editions of this great Sikh classic in these three languages prepared by a new team of competent scholars and shred / destroy the already published faulty editions of this unique encyclopedia on Sikhism.
We make a fervent appeal to all the Sikh intellectuals that they should make concerted efforts to highlight the above listed maladies and make suggestions and provide solutions arrived at through consensus to rid the Sikh society of these aberrations.
Commenting upon the proceedings of seminar, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, the veteran Punjabi Journalist and President of Chandigarh Sahitya Academy writing in his monthly column "Niksuk" in the Daily Ajit Newspaper in Punjabi dated December 16, 2018 appreciated the Institute's effort in successfully organizing such a timely seminar and exhorted the Institute's Organizers to organize a series of similar seminars all over the Punjab State after arriving at a consensus over the major issues with all other representative Sikh organizations to create public awareness and moral pressure against this systemic rot.
We have included in this issue a few selected papers presented during this year's annual seminar for the benefit of our readers along with the remaining part of Dr G S Randhawa highly scholarly article on Guru Nanak's Japuji and Dr Gurmail Singh's equally informative article on Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Punjabi to make a new beginning on the persistent demand of our readers. h Sahib, p. 749
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2019, All