Gyani Jarnail Singh’s and Kamalla Rose Kaur’s quick tutorial on “Sikh Politics”.
Note: Gyani Jarnail Singh of Malaysia is an expert on Sikhi. The “Gyani” in his name is added (like Dr.) because he has studied Sikh theology at a university (or Gyanis study for years in Gurdwaras). His parents and grandparents were also Gyanis.
This does not make him a “priest” rather he is a “scholar” – he knows the language, Gurmukhi, and he has studied Sikh history and much more.
How Do Sikhs Govern?
Gyani Jarnail Singh:
In the Sikhi concept of the PANJ (five member group) – no individual has any veto power. Just like the ancient Greeks ‘democracy”..Sikhs have the Gurmatta. This institution held sway until the 1850’s rule of mahara Ranjit Singh. Each Sikh soldier or civilian was invited to a Gurmatta..each one had the right to stand up and speak his mind…and a final decision of CONCENSUS was then taken by the assembly after hearing all. The MISL Leader..the CHIEFTAN..had the same right as the lowly soldier..the footman..the cleaner. Thus once a stable cleaner was chosen to be NAWAB at the Mughal court.After the fall of the Sikh Empire in 1850..the British institution of “secret ballot elections” have taken root in Sikh Society. The Panj system has also been put on the back burner. Now the Panj is highly politicised and serve their political masters.
Is there a Sikhi Central?
Kamalla Rose Kaur:
For a very short time Sikhs had their own country, and then the Brits invaded. The British fought a war against the Sikhs and won, but they fell in love with the Sikhs. Thus the British helped the Sikhs and they also hindered the Sikhs.
Sikh Central is presently in India but Sikhs in diaspora have no representation in the present (British established) Sikh religion administration. Some/many accuse Sikh Central of being infiltrated by nonSikhs or taking bribes, or corporate lobby money. Some/many disagree!
Gyani Jarnail Singh:
Yes the SGPC – elected by the million or so eligible “SIKHS” (according to SRM – Sikh Code of Conduct) every five years according to the British Govt sponsored Gurdwara Act 1925..is a sort of Sikh Central.
Its authority is confined to old Punjab – now divided into Punjab/Himachal/Haryana. Efforts are underway to take away Haryana out of its spehre by forming a Haryana SGPC. Delhi already has a DGPC for Delhi gurdawras and the Patna Takhat as well as Hazoor Sahib Deccan are independently controlled by their states. So not only are the few MILLION Disapora Sikhs not reprsented in the SGPC….so are a few million Sikhs in the rest of INDIA ( those outside Punajb/Haryana/himachal). So in a way the Sikh Central is a very MINORITY sort of “Sikh central”…similar to if the few citizens of Vatican were to be Christian Central on behalf of the 1 billion or so christians…
2. The point to note is that the Govt of India holds the “Elections”… so it decides when and when… For example during the tenure of Jathedar GS Tohra…he was defacto President ( together with his assembly) for a total of FIVE TERMS..25 years ++ as the Govt decided to have NO ELECTIONS. Thus it is a Sikh Central over which the SIKHS have absolutley NO CONTROL. GS Tohra was kept in power for a quarter century….for reasons known/unknown ?? and the SIKHS coundnt do a damn thing about it.
3. Due to the SGPC being a “Financial Powerhouse” Goluck money from all historicl shrines runs into hundreds of millions yearly…anyone in control of it is in POWER. Inspite of the Indian govt using all sorts of “proxies”….newly set up Gurdwar Boards and such…the SGPC has traditionally been won by the Akali DAL…now the personal fiefdom of the BADAL Family/Dynasty…since the 1970’s !!
Thus when “POLITICS” rules the roost..invariably shady chraacters stand and win…through money laundering/vote buying/alcohol flows freely, hoodlums roam freely and drugs etc..every weapon in the arsenal is used to retain the status quo…95% of the SGPC members are TAINTED heavily. The one or two “religious” ones get voted out subsequently or turn over a “old” leaf and join the rascals
As it stands now the SGPC is heavily infested with self serving politicians..more into politics than religion – and thus it is foolhardy to have the Present SGPC do any amendments to the SRM..they are sure to do worse than better- as they already institutionalise Brahminised rules like NO women in Harmandir Sahib (Golder Temple) kirtan and other sewa (women can’t sing or serve) – …they SELL “ritualised readings of SGGS called Akahnd paaths ( readings done by anonymous granthis in anonymous places and times…and this is supposed to help the buyer get wishes !!)…given half a chance they may very well put it ALL this RITUALISATION in writing in the new SRM (Sikh Code of Conduct) . IMHO we are much better off with what we have in the Present SRM !!