Yet again Punjabis, especially Sikhs, at a crucial juncture
Once again the Punjabis, especially the Sikhs, are at a crucial juncture of history. In yet another tryst with destiny, this vibrant Nation, faces a daunting task to charter its path when the relevance of its institutions have been compromised. People have lost faith and hope in the semblance of a leadership, which not only stands tarnished but isolated.
The recent turn of events reminds of a friend who would often quote Churchill that we shall do the right things after having explored all other possibilities. In the age of globalization, when we are witnessing the era of post-Capitalism setting it, Punjabis need to realize and behave as a globalized community and not a mere regional or religious minority in India.
The worldwide counter reactions to very recent developments related to the Indian government’s decision to release “bandi Singhs,” utterances by Gurdas Mann, or the egotistic struggle to claim credit for organizing the celebrations of the 550th anniversary of the birth Guru Nanak Dev, do not augur well. It is a continuation to the tendency of showering bouquets or brickbats by isolating individuals and insulating the system. Incidents that should have been taken in the stride, sparked major eruption of sentiments and we witnessed non-movements to struggle for issues that are devoid any shelf value or any significance for future references. Amid all this, strangely, a patriarchal status quo is preferred as an undefined scare prevails against bringing about political, social or ideological changes. There is stiff opposition to raze structures that have prevented emancipation of any kind.
Though very emotional about anything related to the Gurus and quick to level the blasphemy charge against anyone, the Sikhs as a community are the last to follow the principles laid down by Guru Nanak in his ten forms. He preached freedom from idol worship, which in political terms should have translated into negation of personality cults. But the community remains centred around political personalities. If that wasn’t enough, the recent upsurge of public sentiment only ensured that Punjabi pop singers, who would have been denied a Page 3 mention hogged media headlines and spotlights.
File Photo : Sarbatt Khalsa-2015
Guru Hargobind, through the institution of Akal Takhat, had initiated the process for freedom from every political subjugation. The Akal Takhat was supposed to be a temporal seat for a State which had no geographical boundaries. Its sovereignty was not dependent on the prevalent or contemporary political structure. In the present scenario, where market forces have defied every national, regional or political demarcation, the concept of Akal Takhat should have found a similar acceptance in the political arena. But for the egos of individuals who cannot be described them as leaders, the sovereignty of Akal Takhat stands extremely compromised.
Protest against Gurdas Mann on Punjabi- Hindi Issue : File Photo
Finally, Guru Gobind Singh, gave an extremely democratic doctrine by creating the Khalsa that would take collective decisions after considering all viewpoints and opinions. Based on “Panch Pradhani,” the Khalsa was placed higher than the Guru himself. Guru Gobind Singh was very clear that use of weapon had to be restored to only when every other means for redressal of grievance and seeking justice were either not available or had been shut deliberately. The weapon had to be used to strike down the very cause that lead to need to use it. However, recently we have witnessed angry mobs brandishing weapons at the slightest provocation, which jeopardizes the concept of “Sant Sipahi” (Saint Soldier).
History is abundant that Punjabis in general, Sikhs in particular, have often rejected and revolted against hegemonic tendencies of the State structure. Post 1947, this rejection was articulated through anti-Congress sentiment, which had become synonymous with “anti-centre”. Since 2014, this sentiment now finds expression as “anti-RSS/BJP.” It is in the interest of the pigmitized political leadership to inject any fear psychosis in the community and wash their own hands off any responsibility or accountability.
File Photo : Akal Takhat Sahib
The community needs to understand that any outsider or a political interest can only establish its foothold if the space is available. At this juncture ample space has been vacated by the community’s leadership, which has been seeking “outsider” support for its own survival. At the people’s level, distrust prevails that stumps any new initiative. Memories about failures of the past and the impact of misadventures of individuals, have resulted in severe rejections after summary assessments.
October 02, 2019
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