A HASTY BAN? The Nation Of India Owes Much To Sikh Gurus And Their Successive Generations

Desibuzzbc-Banner-Metrics-FinalCanadian Gurdwaras Ban Entry2This  decision to ban official visits of Indian government officials, at a time when the Sikh World is celebrating the 350th  Anniversary of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Founder of the Panth, seems hasty.  In a true sense, it was the Tenth Guru who called the first ever council for the integration of India at Anandpur Saheb on Vaisakhi Day in 1699 and founded the Khalsa Panth.  The history of the Sikhs is crystal clear that the Indian nation owes much to the Gurus and their successive generations.  India is proud of the contributions made by the Sikhs in its development in all walks of life. Not only in India, but elsewhere in the world Sikhs are doing exceedingly well.  The Panth declares that its religious places are open to all irrespective of caste, creed, color, race or religion. The Conduct Rules governing Indian officials serving abroad demand from every government servant to:   Maintain political neutrality, maintain courtesy and good behavior in public dealings and uphold the secular credentials of the Constitution. The Rules  apply  in India as well as while serving abroad.   

Zile-Singh-5By Zile Singh

Ambassador(Retd.) “The views expressed here are my own.”

A News item ran in January 6th Issues of many ethnic print media, including the LINK with the Headline: “14 Canadian Gurudwaras Ban Entry Of All Official Visits By Indian Government Personnel – But There is No Ban On Government Officials Making Personal Visits to Gurudwaras”.  

The item has a warning signal, among others, to the Indian bureaucracy  and the Indian Government (s). The wanton action of one or two officials, if at all,   cannot implicate  all the  government  servants and all the Indian  governments.   I myself have served in the Indian government for 41 and half years in different capacities and at different places.  I have an  abiding  faith in the Gurus' Teachings, which are universal, non- sectarian  and against injustice.

This  decision, at a time when the Sikh World is celebrating the 350th  Anniversary of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Founder of the Panth, seems hasty.  If at all this decision was necessary,  it could have come with in depth study and analysis of all the incidents which have occurred in the recent past.  

Even the Apex Seat of Power in all the Sikh religious matters in India and  abroad, the  Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak  Committee, Amritsar  has not subscribed to this decision (but they have now supported it). 

The Panth preaches Integration and not at all, the Disintegration of the nation and the humanity.  In a true sense, it was the Tenth Guru who called the first ever council for the integration of India at Anandpur Saheb on Vaisakhi Day in 1699 and founded the Khalsa Panth.  The history of the Sikhs is crystal clear that the Indian nation owes much to the Gurus and their successive generations.  India is proud of the contributions made by the Sikhs in its development in all walks of life. Not only in India, but elsewhere in the world Sikhs are doing exceedingly well.  The Panth declares that its religious places are open to all irrespective of caste, creed, color, race or religion.   

Erecting a barricade between the consular officers and the Sikh diaspora is going to hurt the latter more than the former.  Factually speaking, the consular officers are a link between the community abroad and the government.  Nowadays, for security reasons, it is difficult to call on the consular officer, but the community can certainly organise public functions on their premises and invite the consular officer to   convey their concerns to the government through him.

Canadian Gurdwaras Ban EntrySecondly, in case the Management Committees of these Gurudwaras have ample evidence of any interference in their religious and personal matters by any Consular official or any other Indian government servant, there are other effective ways to handle with it. The Committees could have approached the Indian government and the Canadian Government through proper channel to register their complaint with evidence.  

The Indian Civil Services, including  the Indian Foreign Service were inherited from the colonial masters under a strict 'Code of Conduct  Rules for Civil Servants'.  The Conduct Rules were revised several times by the Indian Governments keeping in  view the emerging demands and necessities of an efficient administration in India and promoting   friendly relations with foreign countries.   Among others, the Conduct Rules demand from every government servant to: Maintain political neutrality, maintain courtesy and good behavior in public dealings and uphold the secular credentials of the Constitution. The Rules  apply in India as well as while serving abroad.   

The message will not be complete without addressing the civil servants/consular officers fraternity.  As stated above, it is a warning signal.  If there is smoke, there must be a fire somewhere.  The timings of this Decision, a week before the Parvasi Bhartiya  Divas with special emphasis on the PIO-Parliamentarians, attracts the attention of the international community.  It shakes the confidence of not only one particular community but the Diaspora as a whole. 

The news item mentioned also about an incident last year in June  when H.E. The High Commissioner was not allowed to carry out the orders of the Indian government to celebrate 350th Anniversary of the Tenth Guru during his maiden visit to Vancouver despite a fixed and pre-announced programme.  Related to that incident, there are some inherent questions  to be looked into by the Community and the Indian government. 

The news item mentions, “ Later, some pro-Khalistani groups claimed credit for forcing the Gurudwara committee to cancel the booking.” 

The Consul General was, however, able to celebrate the 350th Anniversary in September last year in one of the Gurudwaras in Surrey. It makes it clear that the Indian Government celebrated the same Anniversary at the same place (Surrey )- one was boycotted and the  other was participated? 

In the history of the Vancouver Consulate, there were occasions when the Independence and Republic Days were celebrated on the premises of the Gurudwara in Surrey with the whole-hearted participation of the Sikh community.

Keeping in view the good relations between the Diaspora and the Indian government and the friendly relation between India and Canada, it is necessary to address  this issue with earnest efforts from all sides.

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

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