When George Orwell published his book ‘1984” in 1948 perhaps he never anticipated that some of the predictions of his grim satire will be applicable to Sikh affairs in the fateful year. The shadow of Big Brother has menacingly loomed larger and the atmosphere of imposed helplessness has been brought about by a state of extreme moral stress and mental illness. The shock of 1984 is too big to be properly explained as yet. However its tremors have not been uniformly felt even amongst Sikhs.

Human beings have been fiendishly done to death. They were hunted like animals, mercilessly beaten to unconsciousness, burnt gruesomely to become mutilated corpses. The number of gory deaths, burning of holy books, humiliation of women folk and devastations, speak for themselves. Their loud and heartrending wails did not reach the deaf ears of administration nor seen by the blind eyes of police, from whom they had the right for help as citizens of the country. Callousness has been rampant. There has been no mourning. Hardly there have been voices feeling sorry for the heinous atrocities. Many have taken it as occurrences in another world. Many from their own community have not visualized the full import of the tragedy. Their so called leadership hierarchy, like Nero, have continued with their favorite sport of mutual fighting for self-aggrandizement. Even so called god men, (sants), who are seen in scores in the Punjab in Mercedes and with all luxuries following them, did not make any effort to reach disturbed areas and give healing touch to the sufferers. This has shown that sensibility and sensitivity have evaporated. Persons are deeply embedded in the primitive stages of family and clannish levels. Hardly anybody has arisen above to the universal concept of Sikhism. We have ceased to be religious.

We have willingly put up semiliterate persons of limited awareness to deal with and find solutions of Sikh problems requiring acute minds, full of modern resources. Hence there is no effort to study the heart of problems, analyses them and search for sound solutions. As regards common man, he has not developed the ability to evaluate the leaders much less to correct them when they go astray.

For progress, there is no short cut to be abreast with modern thought and knowledge. Our religion, if understood properly, takes one’s vision and awareness to the soaring heights. There is no denying the fact that we are very weak at political level, because our representatives do not possess qualities required for success in a democratic set up, i.e. knowledge, inquisitiveness, alert mind, quick uptake and response, and ability to convince and persuade others, etc. In Parliament and assembly they sit mute, and if they are badly served in the end, they must take the blame and consequences.

Solution will come only when we have done some careful thinking as to exactly what the things are and what should be done. It requires dispassionate study. We cannot gain our end by heat alone because it makes impossible to think calmly and fairly. The problems are big and cannot be faced squarely by small persons. It is time now for intellectuals to gather together and suggest a solution to bring about unanimity among the Dals and S.G.P.C. emaciated leadership.

There is only one course open. Big minds with vision, courage and devotion should come forward to give lead, light and inspiration in this is wilderness. If such types are not available sufficiently, then some high caliber men from outside the community and who are sympathetic to Sikh problems may be associated as advisers. This is not a new concept. The same was done by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who selected his cabinet ministers and senior administrators on merit, and a big majority of them belonged to other religions and castes. All of them performed well during his rule. Even in the present horrifying experiences, when mass media in general was indifferent towards the barbarities committed on Sikhs, there emerged some people of conscience. Organizations like PUDR and PUCL, a few papers, some leaders of opposition and a few journalists boldly blamed the criminals irrespective of their high positions and connections. Some pleaded the cause of Sikh sufferers in courts and with administration. They also helped in organizing relief. On the other hand, some Sikh leaders gave servile and stupid statements and did not do anything to inspire confidence in the wounded community. Even such a terrible shock failed to put them on the path of unity and hard thinking. It is therefore, advantageous to associate a few well-meaning and selective intellectuals, belonging to other religions and castes, as advisers on Sikh matters.

Sikhs cannot and should not wish away the problems facing them. They should search for the right answer. Before they start searching they should address themselves with the last words spoken by Gertrude Stein: “What is the question!”

Article extracted from this publication >>  June 7, 1985