Thursday, May 17, 2007

Is This What Counts As Serious Journalism in India??

Are Sikhs over religious? Is that even a serious question. Some t.v. station in India had a panel discussion on this postulate. Mind boggling.

My question to these people is whether they even understand Sikhism? and who are they to determine if people are 'over-religious'? is that even possible?

Either you are a believer or you aren't. There are varying degrees of commitment or firmness in one's beliefs, however, there isn't such a thing as 'over-religious'. What a ludicrous proposition.

Here's an excerpt from CNN-IBN...

As pitched battles between supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda and the Akali Dal continued on Wednesday in Punjab, the violence also spilled over to the Capital.

The Dera had brought out an advertisement showing its chief - Baba Ram Raheem - as Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru and distributing amrit (holy water).

In Delhi, the Sikh identity is being rigidly enforced. In response to the recent statement by the RSS that Sikhism was a branch of Hinduism Sikh educational institutions in Delhi have asked their students to grow their hair and beards or face expulsion. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee says it's the only way to protect their identity.

On CNN-IBN’s show India 360, Director, Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Dr Pramod Kumar, Senior lawyer, Supreme Court, H S Phoolka and marriage counselor, Deepen Bhatia and host Sagarika Ghose came together to discuss - Are present day Sikhs too attached to religion?

The first clashes took place at Bathinda on Monday and later the tension spread to Ludhiana, Mansa, Patiala and Amritsar with tension brewing in other Punjab cities too.

Angry Akalis burnt effigies and the mob fury continued despite Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's appeals.

Faith monopoly

Why should the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabahnadhak Committee (SGPC) continue to be the monopoly body of faith? Why should it not allow the Dera Sacha Sauda to allow the faith in the way that it wants to?

“This must be understood in two levels. One – the followers of Dera have in no way violated the Sikh religion. But the Dera chief in his misadventure may have caused some hurt. Secondly the SGPC should see the logic that the generic content of Dera is not anti-Sikh,” said Dr Pramod Kumar.

The misadventure was that newspaper advertisements allegedly showed Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem attired like 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and the Akalis protested the advertisements that also showed the Dera head distributing amrit. But why is the Sikh identity still so seriously embattled? Is there a fear that if the Sikhs don’t protect their faith, they will merge into Hinduism?

“The RSS and the radical Sikhs are both feeding and fattening each other. Sikhism has both has liberal trends and fundamentalist tendencies. But the moment the core of Sikhism is violated, some people make it a point to make it an identity issue,” said Kumar.

Kumar also said that Sikhs constantly face a persecution complex when they look towards India because they are a majority in Punjab, but a minority in India. Hindus on the other hand are minority in Punjab and majority in India. So when they two interact, they is some confusion.

Turban and the beard

When H S Phoolka was asked if he is constantly fearful that you might lose his identity and wears his turban and beard because he must guard his identity, “that is by and large the feeling among the Sikhs. The very formation of the Delhi Gurudwara Management Committee is under the act of the Parliament.

And that says that a Sikh is someone who keeps the hair and ties a turban. So when a person does not tie a turban, there is a threat.”

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