For British Sikhs, as for other communities, year 2016 will be remembered as the year when UK decided to leave the European Union – the “Brexit”. Donald Trump’s presidential election victory in the US is related and minority communities are apprehensive.
Regarding Brexit, the public reaction against some trends was obvious for many years: the massive amount of waste, the huge costs of running yet another tier of administration with armies of European civil servants imposing laws and control regulations on member states from Brussels, the rush towards unrestricted movement of labour, goods and capital, and eventual monetary and political unions could not continue unchallenged.
Led by the UK, EU is a dream from which Western European countries are bound to wake up following the migration rush to Europe and, especially, the UK, as the rest of the surrounding Middle Eastern and African countries become unstable or starve. United Nations has yet to work as a global solution to human affairs.
Terrorism in the name of misguided “Islam” which has been spreading since 9/11, has posed challenges for Sikh identity in the West. Yet, as a recent Sikh Network survey has shown, Sikhs continue to remain invisible to the government of the UK and other Western countries because they are not counted or monitored reliably as a distinct community. Many crimes against Sikh identity are recorded as crimes under “Islamophobia”! This is partly due to the opposition to “ethnic” count and monitoring of Sikhs (when we fill forms) as a distinct group for which they would otherwise qualify due to the definition of “ethnicity” by the Law Lords in the Mandla case 1983.
There is a new awakening to push Sikh identity at global level. There is a global Sikh reaction to being lost in figures as “Indians” or “Asians” or misidentified as “Muslim” or even mis-profiled as “terrorists”.
The challenges to main stream Sikh ideology and the independence of central Sikh institutions have been only too obvious for more than a century when Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha was compelled to write “Hum Hindu Nahi”. There are Snatan dharmi Sikhs who are now openly preaching Brahmanic thought. An SGPC approved scholar wrote recently, “There is no concept of Ek Granth Ek Panth in Sikhism”!
In 2016, there was much appreciation of the talks by S Harinder Singh of US to make us rethink about the successful decision-making processes established by our Guru-persons and followed up by the Guru Khalsa, especially in the 18th Century. We welcome such educational efforts.
Internal controversy about the Dasam Granth must be avoided by fully accepting the Guruship of Jugo Jug Attal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib in accordance with the Command of Guru Gobind Singh ji. Dasam Granth should be researched and celebrated as an invaluable source of literary heritage but not placed at par with Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Otherwise, today, Sikhs are better engaged with governments in the diaspora countries. We look to Year 2017 as the year of Chardhi Kalaa of the global Khalsa Panth.
Gurmukh Singh OBE