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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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News & Views

Press Note by Institute of Sikh Studies

The unfortunate turn of events on the solemn occasion of commemorating of 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star at Akal Takht Sahib is indeed condemnable and deplorable. This has bought disgrace to the entire Sikh community. If we follow the tenets and philosophy of Sikhi, then such incidents would never occur.

We appeal to the Jathedar Sahib, Akal Takht Sahib, President SGPC and entire Sikh community to seriously review the situation and ensure that such incidents are never repeated and sanctity of the Holy Shrine is maintained.

~~~

Annual Seminar - Call for Papers

The Annual Seminar of the Institute of Sikh Studies is scheduled to be held in November. The Topic of the Seminar this year is:

Peaceful Co-Existence & Role of Sikhs

 We live in a complex world today. A variety of political ideologies exist, which govern the various States of our planet. Further, on account of migrations across borders, their demographics are in a flux and have come to comprise of multi races, multi nations, multi religions, multi cultures, and so on. Apart from this, even theocratic States house various sects of the same religion. India, the largest democracy, not only houses various religious minorities but even the majority religion is itself sub-divided into various castes. Even a family nowadays may comprise of members from different faiths.

Intricate complexity, thus, marks the current scenario at the macro as well as the micro level. But Nations/ States/ Communities/ Castes/ Races/ Individuals appear to have failed to co-exist peacefully, as wars, communal riots, massacres, genocides, hate crimes, family disputes, and so on, plague our world today. Tendencies, such as, lust for power, desire to dominate, race for armaments, intolerance to others, self-centredness, assertion of superiority, egoism, lack of empathy, etc., have become huge barriers to harmonious co-existence.

The Gurus addressed the issue of co-existence over five hundred years ago, and stressed on accepting, respecting and protecting the rights of people, irrespective of their nation/ race/ religion/ caste/ gender. Their aim was to lead mankind to higher levels of existence. This lofty Ideal is the need of the hour, and needs not only to be disseminated to the world but also practised by us. As such, we need to delve, deliberate on the Guru’s concept of harmonious co-existence as well as derive doable ideas whereby we can practically demonstrate the same to the world.

Papers are invited on any aspect of the subject, at any level of co-existence. Abstracts of the paper may kindly be sent by 30th September 2014 and the final paper be sent by 30th October 2014 at the address of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh.

~~~

 Abhinandan Granth Released in honor of Dr. Kirpal Singh

It is matter of great pride for all those associated with the Institute of Sikh Studies that Dr. Kirpal Singh, the senior most member of the Institute was honored by Punjabi University Patiala and an Abhinandan Granth was released in his honor by Vice Chancellor Dr. Jaspal Singh on May 16, 2014. The function was organized by the History Research Department of the University. While speaking on the occasion, Dr. J.S. Grewal, a noted historian said that Dr. Kirpal Singh was an institution in himself and the oral history cell established by him in 1973, was a unique contribution made by him. Other present on the occasion include Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Dr. Prithipal Singh Kapur, Dr. Sukhdyal Singh, Prof Indu Banga and Dr. Kulbir Singh Dhillon. Dr. Balwinderjit Kaur Bhatti and Dr. Karamjit Kaur, editors of the Abhinandan Granth too spoke on the occasion. In his message Dr. Kirpal Singh advised the present generation not to shirk hard work.

~~~

Sikh Bus Driver in Finland Fights for his Right to Wear Turban

London, May 21. A Sikh bus driver in Finland, who was ordered by his employers to remove his turban, is fighting for his right to wear the traditional headgear at work.

Gill Sukhdarshan Singh, works at the Veolia bus company in Vantaa near the Finnish capital Helsinki. Gill came to Finland back in 1980s, making him one of the first Sikhs to arrive in the Scandinavian country.

Following a visit to his native Punjab last December, Gill decided to start wearing a turban at work.

That was fine with his employer for two months, before management ordered him to remove it to comply with uniform rules. — PTI (Courtesy: The Tribune, May 22, 2013, p. 15)

~~~

Unfortunate Clash Maintain the Sanctity of the Golden Temple

IT is indeed sad and unfortunate that the peace at the Golden Temple complex was shattered by a clash at Akal Takht on Friday. It was a day when people had gathered in large numbers to mark the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star. The gathering to condemn the assault was marred by bloody clashes and what should have been a day of solemn contemplation became one of confrontation as a group of radicals confronted the SGPC staff on duty. Swords were pull out, separatist slogans were raised and physical attacks left many people injured.

The responsibility of ensuring the security and safety of everyone within the Golden Temple complex falls on the SGPC, which should have been better prepared for such an eventuality. Senior religious and political leaders failed to defuse the situation. Those who intervened found their pleas ineffectual. The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, and SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann should have provided leadership by jointly ensuring that the sanctity of the holy place was not marred by violence and sloganeering. The SGPC president should have been aware of the tension and taken adequate precautions.

Historically, the Golden Temple complex is one place where swords are kept firmly sheathed even when groups inimical to each other meet. This is how various disputes were settled between Sikh Misls. No one could even dare to draw his sword. The unequivocal condemnation of the violence that took place at the holy shrine from political leaders, the Sikh diaspora and the community at large is an indication of how upset people are that such an important religious place has been scarred in this manner. The SGPC must take measures to ensure that such ugly incidents are not allowed to take place again, even as the Akali Dal government follows on the legal aspects, since people have been arrested. The clash is distressing. Not learning lessons from it would be unpardonable. (Courtesy: The Tribune, Editorial, June 9, 2014)

~~~

NDA in Saddle, will Akalis’ Demands be Met?

Chandigarh, May 27. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has alleged all these years that successive Congress Governments in Delhi have discriminated against Punjab. With the change of guard in Delhi, he can now expect justice. As the SAD is a part of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre, it is to be seen if PM Narendra Modi will deliver as per Badal’s expectations.

Chandigarh’s transfer
There are economic, political, territorial and religious issues which were part of the SAD election manifesto. Among these was the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab. The SAD in its manifesto had stated: “The Congress rulers in Delhi kept vast Punjabi-speaking areas out of Punjab. Even the capital city of Chandigarh was denied to Punjab...” Will the SAD now press Modi to transfer Chandigarh and left-out Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab?

River waters dispute
Then there is the contentious issue of river waters. Badal has been saying that Punjab’s river waters were taken away in violation of riparian principles. Will he now insist that the Centre should dispense justice in this regard?

Tax concessions
The SAD has been upset with the industrial concessions given to the neighbouring hill states. In its manifesto, the party had described the concessions as “the latest in the line of cruel blows to Punjab’s economy is the decision to continue to deny tax concessions to its industry as granted to its neighbouring states.This has not only blocked fresh investment, but has also resulted in the massive flight of capital, dealing a death blow to its economy”. It is to be seen if the SAD will be able to make Modi extend these concessions to Punjab.

Debt burden
The most pressing issue before Badal is that of state’s poor economy because of the mounting debt burden and shrinking expenditure. The debt burden has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore while services take away Rs 11,000 crore per annum from the state treasury.

Former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal had taken up the issue with the Centre. He had to resign because the CM rejected the proposals he put up before him to get a part of the debt waived.

As the 13th Finance Commission had identified Punjab as one of the three revenue-deficit and debt-stressed states, will the CM get relief from the Modi Government now?

Gadgil formula
The CM has been pressing for changing the Gadgil formula on the devolution of funds from the central pool. Under this formula, 60 per cent weightage is given to the state’s population.

Punjab wants 20 per cent of the funds allotted on the percentage of the state’s Scheduled Caste population. More than 30 per cent of Punjab’s population comprises SCs.
The CM also wants that the state’s foodgrain contribution to the central pool should be given 10 per cent weightage during the devolution of funds. Punjab wants a higher share in the central pool funds.

Justice to riot-hit
Another issue that has been hanging fire is getting justice for those killed in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Also, the CM favours a federal structure with complete political and fiscal autonomy to states.

Other issues include assured rise in MSP, 50 per cent higher than the production cost, availability of agriculture inputs, credit at cheaper rates, crop insurance, waiver on central excise duty on industry, capital subsidy at the rate of 15 per cent, promotion of trade through the Attari-Wagah border, efforts to open more trade check points and resolving the turban issue with France.

The challenge before the CM is to get these demands met. He can no longer blame a “hostile” Central Government for failure to do so. (Courtesy: The Tribune, May 28, 2014)

~~~

Department of Guru Nanak Studies in Madurai Kamraj University

The Department of Guru Nanak studies in the Madurai Kamaraj University, is on the verge of closure due to the non-appointment of Assistant Professors. The faculty member of the department Dr. Muthu Mohan retired from the post on 30th June 2013. After that, there has been no other teaching faculty in this department. After his retirement, the authorities of the Madurai Kamaraj University gave the chanrge to look after the academic activities of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies to a faculty member who belongs to the Gandhian Studies. It is obvious that only a person who knows Sikhism can handle the department of Guru Nanak Studies properly.

In this situation, the Sikh scholars are requesting the Honorable Chief Minister of the Government of Punjab, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabantak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee (DGMC), New Delhi and also to all the Sikh organizations to take immediate steps for the appointment of an Assistant Professors in the Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Madurai Kamaraj University who is well-versed with Sikh religious philosophy. The scholar, preferably a south Indian who has completed his Ph.D., thesis in Sikh studies and also has the knowledge in the history of the Sikhs in South India along with the basic knowledge of Gurmukhi script must be the basic qualification for this appointment.  It is a fact that the world has realized the relevance of the Sikh philosophy to promote peace and harmony in the society.

The Department of Guru Nanak studies in the Madurai Kamaraj University  was established during the period 1986 after the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of Punjab settled upon an exchange programme to mark the birth centenary of the famous Tamil poet Subramania Bharathiar.  Thus, Guru Nanak Devji Chair was created in the Madurai Kamaraj University and Bharathiar Chair was created in the Punjabi University, Patiala.

When, Sardar Surjit Singh Barnala was the Governor of the State of Tamil Nadu, Guru Nanak Devji Chair was upgraded as the Department of Guru Nanak Studies in the year 2006.

Some scholars in South India are very much interested in doing research in Sikh Studies. Dr. J. Jayan, researcher in Sikh Studies in the Department of Guru Nanak Studies published lot of research articles related with the contribution of the Sikhs in South India and the socio-political and religious philosophy of Sikhism. Some of his articles were already published in the Abstract of Sikh Studies, The Sikh Review etc. He has also presented papers in the seminars organized by the Institute of Sikh Studies and also other reputed organizations.

Similarly, hundreds of students have completed their P.G. Diploma in Sikhism and Comparative Religion with the financial help of Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi.  Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council sponsored an amount of 5000/- rupees per student to complete his studies in P.G. Diploma in Sikhism and Comparative Religion in the Department of Guru Nanak Studies. In addition, the department was also engaged in other academic works like organizing Seminars, Conferences and Endowment lectures. At present, no activities are taking place in the Department because of non-availability of the faculty.

The Department of Guru Nanak Studies in the Madurai Kamaraj University is the only department for Sikh studies in the entire South India. So the Sikh community must take immediate action to reopen the department by appointing a suitable candidate as assistant professor. Sikhism has a unique role in the present society. Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in the world. The philosophy of Sikhism stresses the need of brotherhood, harmony and questions all sorts of social discriminations in the society such as casteism, gender bias and class inequality. Therefore, the philosophy of Sikhism has an important role to establish peace and harmony in the present socio-political scenario.  Academicians who know the values of Guru Granth Sahib have a major role to promote world peace through educating the youngsters about the philosophy of Sikhism.

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