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The Story of a Journal: The Sikh Review

Discussion in 'Essays on Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Dec 13, 2009.

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    The Story of a Journal: The Sikh Review

    by SARAN SINGH

    The Sikh Review was born as the brainchild of a group of satsangis - including Capt. Bhag Singh, MBE - in Calcutta, India.

    They would hold weekly sessions to discuss Gurbâni philosophy at the residence of Mrs. Kuldip Kaur, Principal, Central Model School. Her father, Raghbir Singh Bir was already a celebrated author, and Editor of the Punjabi daily, Desh Darpan.

    In 1950 he suggested that a monthly journal was the best way to have a broad based forum. Publication started around 1952.

    By then, I had married Kuldip's younger sister and was posted at Dhanbad, Bihar, as Deputy Commissioner. The dedicated core group sustained and built up an office, eventually located at its present address. Luckily, Capt. Bhag Singh continued to nurture the Journal - in total dedication - until age 85.

    When I retired in 1983, circumstances/ destiny dictated that I stay in Calcutta rather than go home to Delhi.

    My connection with The Sikh Review, as editor, is wholly fortuitous. When I relinquished charge of Advisor to the Governor of Assam (at Guwahati) in early 1983, I would have - in normal circumstances - gone back to New Delhi to live (in retirement) in my own modest house in Vasant Vihar. This would have enabled me to use my memberships of the Delhi Gymkhana & Golf Club for recreation and rest.

    But God had other plans. My wife (who died recently - in Sept. 2007) was visiting our younger daughter in Calcutta, in early 1983, to help with her newly-born son. I joined them in celebration. As a courtesy, I visited The Sikh Review office in Park Street's Karnani Mansion. I discovered that the Editor and the Publisher - both senior grey-beards - men of rare dedication, in a pathetic disarray! There was no system or time-table. But the journal would still appear - sometimes one combined issue for two months, mostly 64 pages of cheap newsprint paper brought under the Government. quota system, with a shoestring budget.

    Over this time, my wife took charge of our baby grandson, while my daughter and her husband, Ravinder, set up a gas outlet (petrol pump) that had been allotted to Ravinder's father, Air-Commodore Mohinder Singh [his ancestry is traced directly to Jassa Singh Ramgarhia!] who then passed away in May, 1984 - after predicting (a macabre coincidence) that 'Mrs Gandhi will be shot dead!'

    Being swept into these circumstances, and with the Punjab (and Delhi) seething under untoward political developments, I stayed on in Calcutta. In fact, I had an appointment with the then PM, Mrs Gandhi (who knew me well in Assam and earlier) on May 1984, when I was scheduled to visit Delhi (on invitation of UPSC). I intended to advise her to forebear and temper her Punjab policy under President's Rule.

    That meeting never materialized because of her preoccupation in the Lok Sabha. When the army launched a frontal assault on Amritsar on June 3, 1984. I was shocked. I found The Sikh Review editor, Capt. Bhag Singh Ji [a WW II hero] broken hearted! On impulse, I took him along to see Mother Teresa - the Nobel Laureate - whom I had known for several years since my tenure as Secretary to the Government of India in its Ministry of Social Welfare.

    At Capt. Bhag Singh's request, I wrote the Guest Editorial for The (black border) Sikh Review's July 1984 issue, which was promptly banned in Punjab and Chandigarh by a government notification.

    When my wife and I left for the U.S.A. in July 1984, to be with our (first) daughter in Buffalo, New York, I was invited by Sardar Amarjit Singh (of the JFK Airport Authority) to attend a public meeting in New York - which I did; only to discover: (a) that the Government of India and the Press in India took adverse notice. The government even contemplated forfeiting my pension. (b) that the Khalsa Lobby [which was then infiltrated by Indian government operatives and agent provocateurs, led by the infamous Indian Army General, Jaswant Bhullar] in Canada and U.S.A. had branded me as a sarkâri agent!

    Returning in late October 1984, I found India engulfed in chaos, following the assassination of Mrs. G.

    The Sikh Review was steered into a better system and scrutiny, with in-depth contents and wider networking - upto and beyond 1990's.

    In 1984, the "Bluestar" had shocked Capt. Bhag Singh more rudely because he was a proud 'war hero'. Both the age and the tragedy robbed him of all energy, and his health deteriorated to the extent that his son and daughter escorted him out to Chandigarh, where he lived for a couple of years more, before chalanâ at 87.

    He was a man of rare courage and total dedication, instrumental in securing the historic Gurdwara Nanak Shahi, in Dhaka IBangla Desh), after the defeat of Pakistan in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, thanks to Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, who won the war as GOC-in-C Eastern Command.

    In 1985, when Capt Bhag Singh left, I had no choice but to assume the role as editor. It is now over two decades! The journal has been fortunate in enlisting support and contributions of some of the greatest scholars: (Late) Sirdar Kapur Singh, ICS, Dr. Trilochan Singh, D.Litt., Harbans Singh (Encyclopedia of Sikhism), Dr. Hira Lal Chopra, Indologist (who knew the Qurân 'backwards'), and many more. It became a forum for scholastic debate, outlet for passions in 1984, and since, extending its outreach to the ****hest corners of the planet.

    The Sikh Review, from time to time, focuses on special events or occasions by publishing Special Issues around them. The April issue this year, for example, had 'Vaisakhi' in focus.The August issue marked the Journal's 57th Anniversary. The September issue, "In Homage to W.H. McLeod", brought us bouquets ... and brickbats!

    November 2009 was dedicated to glorious Guru Nanak.
     

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