image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

A Common Platform to Unite UK Sikhs - The Sikh Council UK - Constitution & Role

      According to the Constitution of the Sikh Council UK, its purpose is to provide a common platform to unite the Sikh community. Achievement of such an ambitious goal would depend on the extent to which such a platform accommodates the diversity within the community. This is a tough balancing act within the bounds of Sikh religio-political tradition. It requires experienced, flexible but firm approach which shows an in-depth understanding of Sikh ethos, ideology and institutions.

It may be argued that the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as interpreted by Sikhi tradition over the Guru period and by the Khalsa Panth, do set clear markers for including or excluding different Sikh denominations and schools of thought. Only then can more enlightened appreciation of Sikhism and Sikhs in the wider society (another Sikh Council aim) be promoted. Otherwise, the danger is that many different and conflicting views of Sikhism and Sikhs can be exploited by certain agencies.

 

Regrettably, some so called Sikh organisations, in their desire to be seen as modern and inclusive, have moved too far away from Panthic rehni (Facets of corporate Sikh life in the Sikh Reht Maryada). Sikhi promotes universal values in accordance with the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, but the practise of Sikhi requires acceptance of a code of conduct which promotes the corporate (jathebandi) aspect of Sikhi and Sikh institutions.

 

Like-minded people have no difficulty sitting around one table. However, the purpose of a platform like the Sikh Council UK would only be served if there is a sincere desire on the part of those who hold different views to sit around one table. To achieve such an objective, the Sikh Council UK should be able to provide the environment which invites views about ideological, social and political issues while seeking common guidance for the advancement of Panthic aims.

 

One of the most important aims of such a platform is as stated in the Constitution: to encourage and support all existing efforts being made for the benefit of the Sikh Community. This aim makes it clear that the Sikh Council UK is not competing with any existing Sikh organisation. The Sikh Council should accept its supporting role for Panthic projects which are otherwise led by existing organisations, albeit, which are recognised by those around the Council table as worthy of collective support also.

 

It would be most unfortunate and divisive if existing Sikh organisations see the Sikh Council UK as taking over their work or even claiming credit for what they have been doing in the field for decades. So, the main role of the Sikh Council is to encourage and support projects for the advancement of the Sikh Qaum.

 

The Council has and will continue to play a crucial role in settling internal disputes and issuing guidelines regarding more controversial ideological issues..

 

This column has continually discussed the ideological challenges ahead and the opportunities which are there to promote Sikh presence in different fields. Perhaps it is time to undertake a major review of the progress and the lessons learnt with a view to revise and the Constitution of the Sikh Council UK.

 

Gurmukh Singh OBE