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Need for mending ties with the Sikh Diaspora
26.04.19 - Tridivesh Singh Maini
Need for mending ties with the Sikh Diaspora



In November 2019, Sikhs world over will commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of their faith, Guru Nanak Dev. The first Guru was not just a social reformer, crusader and poet, but also a traveler as is clearly evident from the distance travelled during the course of his four Udasis (journeys).

Sikhs have spread to different parts of the world since. They have even gone on to become senior political figures in the West. For instance, the current leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) and potential future Prime Minister, Jagmeet Singh, is a Sikh. The incumbent government of Justin Trudeau has four Sikhs in senior positions, including Harjit Singh Sajjan as the Defence Minister.

"I have more Sikhs in my cabinet than Modi does,” Trudeau said in a 2016 address at the American University, Washington DC.

Across the Atlantic, two Sikhs – Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Kaur Gill – got elected to the British Parliament in 2017 from the Labour Party. While Dhesi is the first turban-wearing Member of Parliament at the Westminster, Kaur is the first Sikh woman to hold the elected position.

Ideally, Punjab should see the rise of Sikhs to prominent positions in prominent Western democracies should as an opportunity to harness the Diaspora’s global clout. Yet, unnecessary schisms have surfaced between Sikhs living in India and those overseas. Differences of opinion over certain issues are understandable, but the shrill political discourse in Indian Punjab on the Sikh Diaspora benefits no one.

In many ways, the fissure is an outcome of the overzealous attempts by politicians in Indian Punjab, both from the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, to prove their patriotic credentials. This often amplifies non-issues while underplaying crucial ones – like justice for the victims of Sikh pogroms in 1984 and the need for genuine closure in the thousands of extrajudicial killings during the counterinsurgency campaigns by the police in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Certain Diaspora groups who push counterproductive agendas instead of sticking to the key issue – justice for Sikhs – are to blame too.

At the same time, the Indian government needs to realise that Western governments cannot prohibit peaceful advocacy for a separate Sikh state. They can only take action against those groups against whom there is clear evidence of promoting violence.

The key flashpoints between sections of the Sikh political class overseas and in India is how they look at the human rights and independent Sikh state issues. To complicate matters, there is now another entity, an organization by the name of Sikhs for Justice, which seeks to ‘liberate’ Punjab from India through a ‘referendum’ of Sikhs in twenty countries.

Current Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has played a decisive, and not-so-positive, role in increasing the acrimony between the Indian and overseas Sikh communities. Captain Singh, after taking over as Chief Minister of Punjab in April 2017, refused to meet visiting Canadian Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, accusing him of being a Khalistani sympathiser. Sajjan’s visit had also happened at a time when the Ontario State Assembly passed a resolution dubbing the anti-Sikh violence as a ‘genocide’, which drew a sharp reaction from the Indian government.

Interestingly, Captain Singh had addressed a Sikh congregation in the Dixie Gurduwara (a hot bed of Khalistanis) in 2005 with a banner of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ behind him. 

While Captain’s decision to not meet Sajjan was hailed outside Punjab, especially by sections of the Delhi media, the ordinary Punjabi who has close links with Canada and can relate to the success of people like Sajjan, did not take too kindly to the snub. In February 2018, Justin Trudeau was given the cold shoulder in New Delhi while the Chief Minister, instead of raising crucial economic issues, raised the decibel on the Khalistan issue and handed Trudeau a list of suspected Canada-based Khalistani militant handlers. Trudeau did, however, receive a warm welcome in Punjab and was honoured by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
 
Singh’s lack of nuance in handling such an important visit was perceived as a lost opportunity for a state whose economy is currently at rock bottom. Large sections of the Delhi media, duly high on hyper nationalism, too did their bit to sabotage a crucial visit.

Recently, the Punjab Chief Minister lashed out at Canada again when it removed all references to ‘Khalistani extremism’ in the annual ‘Public report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada’ report. Every country has a legitimate right to worry about its security. But, Captain Singh’s reaction was surely overreaching when he said that this move was a "threat to Indian and global security.”

India may perceive what it dubs as ‘radicalism’ as a threat, but, it can be taken up with Canada in a more mature manner without making things awkward for the Sikh Diaspora. 

Beyond Canada, the Kartarpur Corridor issue is another point of trigger. India is apprehensive of the Pakistani deep state’s apparent agenda to revive militancy in Punjab by promoting Khalistani propaganda and facilitating a separatist referendum by Sikhs for Justice.

When current Cabinet Minister in the Punjab government, Navjot Singh Sidhu, spoke in favour of the Katarpur Corridor, he was widely slammed. But, once the demand was accepted by both governments, all political parties ran to take credit. Yet, Chief Minister Singh was critical of Sidhu for attending the inaugural ceremony of the religious corridor’s opening ceremony and hugging Pakistan army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony in August 2018.

Singh, while indulging in numerous flip flops has missed out on the relevance of the project and reduced the whole project to an ‘ISI conspiracy’.

While there is no doubt that the Pakistani deep state will fish in troubled waters, reducing tensions with the Sikh Diaspora is crucial. It is also important to not hyphenate this Diaspora with Sikh radicalism. Besides, it is high time the Indian government and people realise that speaking up for 1984 or extrajudicial killings does not make one a ‘separatist’. In recent years, even those Sikhs who have expressed discomfort at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s view of Sikhism as an offshoot of ‘Hinduism’ have found themselves labeled as Khalistanis by right-wing trolls.

So what should New Delhi and the Sikh Community in India and outside do?

First, New Delhi needs to realise the gravity of certain issues, such as the blinkered and insensitive interpretation of the traumatic military attack on the Darbar Sahib by India’s mainstream media, and inadequate progress on justice for the victims of the 1984 pogrom and extrajudicial killings that were either straight out obfuscated from public discourse or dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ in the fight against Sikh militancy.

These are issues that touch a raw nerve with not just the Sikh Diaspora, but also the domestic community.

Second, Sikhs themselves need to have a more structured dialogue between themselves, at least on crucial social and political issues. This will help resolve key ideological differences within the community, and render its politics more coherent.

Guru Nanak Dev’s dialogue with the priestly classes from other faiths, with whom he had numerous ideological differences, during his travels in South Asia and beyond should serve as a solid reference point for the Sikh communities in India and abroad. Dialogue surely has little replacement.
 
 

Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi-based policy analyst currently associated with the Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat.

Courtesy: eleventhcolumn.com 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 





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The Arnab Goswami-Shekhar Gupta Spat on TV – Intelligentsia Reacts
09.04.19 - PT MEDIA DESK
The Arnab Goswami-Shekhar Gupta Spat on TV – Intelligentsia Reacts



WITH SANER SECTIONS of society already sorely miffed with the mainstream media, particularly news television, the latest onslaught by Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami against fellow editor and media entrepreneur Shekhar Gupta and his venture The Print, reported by Punjab Today, has elicited strong reactions from within the media world as well as the academia. 

 
A number of readers wrote to and many called Punjab Today offices to express their frustration with the antics of certain journalists on television. Interestingly, a significant number of readers felt miffed with the fact that Punjab Today considered Goswami even a journalist.
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Prof Chaman Lal, a well known academician and public intellectual who has taught at JNU, Delhi and other universities, was not amused and minced no words. "I don't think Republic TV to be a media platform and a person screaming on screen to be a journalist at all; he could be anything but a journalist,” he wrote to Punjab Today, adding that while he had read about the froth-from-the-mouth fracas in Punjab Today, he never watches these screaming slugfests on news television.

Veteran journalist Gobind Thukral, known for his intellectual heft and a blemish-free long career with The Tribune and later helming different newspapers, said this "abusing journalism is the new norm of television news channels.”

"Big money is playing dirty role in the field of journalism. We are not providing hard facts and people are not being informed independently. What Arnab has done amounts to merely abusing (someone). He has not put across any hard facts,” Thukral said, commenting on the Punjab Today story. 

Senior journalist Vipin Pubby, who retired as Resident Editor of The Indian Express’ Chandigarh edition and now writes for various online platforms and newspapers, said it "an irony (that) those who exposed the Augusta scam and relentlessly followed the story are being targeted while those who did not write at all or never followed the story are getting a clean chit!”

Incidentally, Vipin Pubby is father of journalist Manu Pubby, who, alongwith Shekhar Gupta, drove the coverage of the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam. (In case readers wonder about Pubby Sr’s possible bias, here’s Punjab Today’s own stance: We strongly endorse Vipin Pubby’s view and stand by the same. — Editor.)

"Arnab, as we all know, is a blot on the fair name of media,” Pubby added. The fact is that the roll call of people in the profession who are a blot on the fair name of media, is now too long. 

"Nowadays, media is losing credibility and the news television channels have been mushrooming due to rich people's lust for power and influence,” Thukral added. On being asked to comment about the facts in Arnab Goswami’s fulminations against Shekhar Gupta, who Republic TV did not name but left no one in doubt, Thukral said, "I have worked with Shekhar Gupta. He was always high flying but then Arnab has not presented any damning facts about his role.”

Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, Institute of Development and Communication and a commentator and frequent contributor to media platforms himself, said while notions of objective reporting is being given a flip now, partisan and subjective coverage was ruling the roost.

"Media houses are actually acting like campaign agencies now. Earlier too, media was providing a ‘service’ to the politicians, like conducting surveys and pre-announcing results in their favour but now even that veil is not required. Media is now openly taking sides and it seems that days of independent and unbiased journalism are gone,” he rued.

Harcharan Bains, a long time associate of former chief minister Prakash Singh Badal and someone who handles the media affairs of the Akali Dal, and particularly the Badals, commented on Punjab Today’s reportage about the ugly war of editors on television.

"This media war of unprecedented bitterness has hit the image of the Indian media, already in a shambles,” he said, and then, interestingly, meted out an even-handed rap on the knuckles to those in the fight.

"I am no fan of Arnab. Whatever his other virtues, and many would question my use of this term at all here, the fact is that he is no journalist. But those at the receiving end of his arrogance and abuses needed to be called out, Arnab or no Arnab. That said, neither side is a paragon of journalistic virtues. And neither side practises journalism,” Bains said, before matching the tone of the parties embroiled in the fight, possibly to make himself heard: "Both sides! Quit the profession, dammit!”

Academician Dr Akshay Kumar of Panjab University said the media no longer mediates. "It arouses feelings of hostility. Anchors are the new age gladiators of the arena called TV studios. They do not just accuse each other of wrong conduct, they just demolish each other's reputation.”

Prof Kuldip Puri, an expert in pedagogy and education policies who teaches at Panjab University, Chandigarh, said having read about the Arnab-Shekhar spat in Punjab Today, he felt "dismayed at the crude display of power and arrogance.”

"It is a bit hard for us to not admit our reservations about the non-partisan credentials of both the renowned editors. The (Punjab Today) story substantiates the fact that there is a general contempt for professional ethics,” he said, adding, "However, hope lies with few glorious exceptions!”
But largely, Shekhar Gupta seemed to have his fans, even among those who bring critical faculties to bear on any situation. Dr Akshay Kumar clearly had a soft corner for him: "Shekhar Gupta has all along tried to maintain a degree of critical neutrality, but it does not sell. One has to outshout the other. Being vocal now means just being vociferous.”

Well, that’s one area where it is difficult to beat Arnab, or any Arnab clone!
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 





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Comment by: Vinay Saini

Arnab is no journalist . He is a sold out stooge of Modi

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