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Organized Hypocrisy

Discussion in 'Essays on Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Rulers everywhere are invariably driven by the desire to stay in power. In India this urge has been characterized by the compulsion to perpetuate the dominance of either a dynasty (e.g. Nehru-Gandhi) or of a class (suvarna Hindu of the BJP variety). One looks in vain for a government motivated by any altruistic principles. Even the run-of-the-mill development programmes are named after rulers. We thus have ‘Nehru Rozgar Yojna’ and ‘Indira Avas’ scheme, now redesigned in colors of the BJP.

    The TADA may have been repealed, but a new law, Prevention of Terrorist Ordinance (POTO), is being processed even as thousands of "suspects" - including - and especially - an unspecified number of Sikhs remain under detention, beyond the pale of the normal judicial system, many since the infamous 1990s regime of Beant Singh and KPS Gill in Pubjab. By a clever ruse the authorities have excluded these cases from the jurisdiction of both human rights commission and the national minorities commission. In reply to a Question in Indian Parliament the minister of State for Home Affairs, Vidyasagar Rao conceded on March 15, 2001: "The Centre does not have information on the number of persons detained under TADA in connection with the Pubjab problem." So much for accountability!

    By a strange irony of fate the Sikhs have long been victims of organized hypocrisy. Solemn pledges made by eminent national leaders in pre-independence era were conveniently forgotten once they assumed political power. When the legendary warrior, Master Tara Singh reminded Nehru of his promise in 1946 - "of a region and a set-up.... where Sikhs could feel a glow of freedom," India first prime minister brusquely retorted: "The times have changed."

    Decades later, recognition of political aspiration of the Sikhs is not on any party’s agenda. Indeed, the government in Punjab - the only Sikh majority state - is hostage to the Centre in its own capital of Chandigarh. For any government worth its name control of instruments of state - power is the key issue. Punjab’s control over river waters, hydel power and major industry is conspicuously absent’; its ‘domestic sovereignty’ (defined as the ability of the state authority to exercise effective control within the borders of its own polity) stands bartered to the Centre. Smaller states, such as Himachal, Jharkhand and Sikkim, have their own High Courts. But for not-too-obscure reasons, Punjab is lumped with Haryana for purposes of the apex court.

    The point of the (foregoing) argument is: why do rulers in India mistrust the Sikhs. Why has no Sikh General been ever appointed the army chief of staff? Rulers want to stay in power and while being in power, they wish to promote interests and values of their constituency - viz. majoritarian domination. The way in which they accomplish this objective has little to do with morality or fair play.

    The genocidal attack on Sikhs in 1984 was symptomatic of the dangerous mindset of ruling class bent upon challenging the roots of Sikhism. Its argument is as arrogant as it is irrational: "either you are with us or against us"- a phrase that President George W. Bush gratuitously coined in the context of September 11 terrorist attack on World Trade Centre in New York. Such a challenge is bound to compel contrary responses.

    The Dalits in India chose conversion to Buddhism last November (ignoring our editorial: An invitation to Dalits, SR June 2001). They apparently "exploited a contradition within Hindutva ideology, according to which it is more acceptable to belong to religions which arose in India, rather than non-Indian (Semitic) religions such as Islam or Christianity." But there is a catch: if Buddhism belongs to the larger Hindu fold, then in terms of the worldview of the Sangh Parivar, the Dalits haven’t really converted! So, for all intents and purposes, Dalits may be back to square one!

    Sikhism, however, stands on the sovereign doctrine of equality and monotheism. It has irreconcilable differences with (the principles and practices of) Hinduism. The Sikh Gurdwaras are, for instance, not only open to all Sikhs but to all human beings irrespective of their religion without any restriction. This is only one of the many distinctions which come to mind in the context of Indian Constitution’s Article 25 - [Explanation (ii)] which concedes - if by default - that Sikhism is a distinctly separate religion.

    We have recently observed attempts by historians and pseudo-scholars to trivialize the Sikh moral tradition. Every now and then textbooks are used for disinformation, and flimsy arguments are made about the precepts of Sikhism, in particular, about preservation and upkeep of natural hair, Kesh - as its hall mark. They forget that frivolity and mendacity are impermissible in matters of faith. In any case ,no special merit attaches to beardless faces. At all times and in all cultures - Hindu, Jews, Christian or Islamic - natural facial hair and turbans have symbolized wisdom and commanded respect and reverence. The Sikh moral tradition celebrates this reality in war and in peace, in poetry and prose, in triumph and tragedy. In this context Rabindranath Tagore wrote epic verse to recall the sacrifice and martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh who preferred to be scalped alive and die for his faith.

    The spirit of sacrifice is the price that must be paid for preserving the sovereignty of Sikh principles as amplified in soulful symphony of love throughout the holy Guru Granth Sahib.
     
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