image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

A Case of Re-inventing the Wheel - Why we need a national Sikh assembly

       Sikh corporate (ਪੰਥਿਕ) life is part of Sikhi living. Few would argue against the need for a national assembly of Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations to agree common Panthic objectives when approaching the government regarding Sikh issues and concerns. Only through a national assembly can the participating organisations be empowered to lead in own areas of activism with collective community support behind them: fields such as charity, Sikh heritage, Sikhi education, social, economic and political.

The second main objective of such an assembly is the ongoing need for centrally agreed community guidance to settle internal disputes which require interpretation Khalsa tradition, ideology and processes. The main concern of community sevadars, above jathebandi politics, is the wellbeing and progress of the community.

Sikhi temporal-spiritual ( ਮੀਰੀ-ਪੀਰੀ ) activism covers the whole spectrum of the Sikh way of life. It is clarified under Article XXIII of the Sikh Reht Maryda:- The concept of service is not confined to fanning the congregation, service to and in the Guru ka Langar etc. A Sikh's entire life is a life of benevolent exertion. The most fruitful service is the service that secures the optimum good by minimal endeavour. That can be achieved through organised collective action. A Sikh has, for this reason, to fulfil his/her Panthic obligations (obligations as a member of the corporate entity, the Panth), even as he/she performs his/her individual duties&hellip. Every Sikh has also to fulfil his obligations as a unit of the corporate body, the Panth.

Organised collective action for Panth di Chardhi kalaa (progress) as envisaged in the Sikh Reht Maryada is only possible if there is an agreed list of community issues and priorities. It should come as no surprise that a number of dedicated professional level Sikhs did produce such a draft for general reference. That was the Sikh Manifesto (see footnote*) which focused on Sikh issues only above internal jathebandi affiliations.

It was published and distributed to UK politicians. In addition to comprehensive information about British Sikhs, the Sikh Manifesto sets down Sikh issues with clarity for the period 2015 to 2020. Yet, it remains as a draft on the Panthic table to be continually d and improved.

One high priority always has been Sikh identity representation in the Parliament. Election of the first turban wearing Sikh MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, and the first Sikh woman MP, Preet Kaur Gill, can be attributed to massive Sikh support and by stating the case for better Sikh political representation in line with Sikh numbers in the UK. Sikh statistical monitoring in own right is a related issue.

Recently we heard that the Sikh Council UK is no longer a united voice of the Sikhs. Regrettably, for some of us, that is history repeating itself. Yet, after some time, there are likely to be calls for a national Sikh assembly again because we do need one! We hope next generations will avoid such mistakes and build on the success stories of earlier generations. We need to learn from the past to guide our future and avoid re-inventing the wheel.

(*Sikh Manifesto link: http://www.sikhnet.com/news/sikh-manifesto)

 

Gurmukh Singh OBE