Prof. Sulakhan Singh Dhillon
The chaos created by the political moves of Indira Gandhi in northern India left the country without an experienced national leader, and pitted the Sikhs and Hindus against one another for a period whose end is not in sight. The country’s normal economic functions became imperiled and even worse the psyches of the people are poisoned. Such far-reaching effects on people are extremely serious and undesirable if any so-called national unity is to be achieved.
If it was her calculated risk to win favor with the Hindu majority vote and to create a ‘“‘golden sparrow’ of India, then it is a miserable failure. The expected winner became the focus of a stunning tragedy, with consequences of such a serious nature that the country may never fully recover. What can the future hold? Rajiv Gandhi, although now a winner in his own right, clothes himself in the same ideological garb. Does he propose any real solutions? He has pledged to give Punjab (and also Assam) his top problem-solving priority in the earliest days of his tenure in office. Is it possible that he harbors a vision for unity superior to that of his mother?
In this scenario, Sikhs now find themselves in the most difficult and dangerous position. No one will trust them outside of Punjab in India. Punjab is under direct presidential rule, and occupied by the harsh military under unfavorable circumstances. The youth of Punjab has been and is being systematically eliminated. All over India, Sikhs feel intimidated to move freely about, and they face various degrees of verbal ridicule in public and private life. Foreign settled Sikhs cannot enter the country freely to assess investments or even to attend to basic family matters such as funerals and marriages. The foreign press is shut out and deliberately prevented from gathering any accurate news. The true statistics from operation Bluster (June 6) and operation Bluefish (Nov. 15) will never come to light in the press of the world. If Sikhs say that over 10,000 died in Amritsar and over 15,000 in Delhi will anyone believe? No one who goes to India can accomplish any necessary legal work without following an exorbitantly expensive process rooted in orthodox Hindu law. (Remember, according to the Constitution of India, Sikhs are Hindus). No positive economic developments are on the horizon. How can these circumstances help the Sikhs? They cannot rather; they will lead Sikhs further into degradation and deep disappointment. Worse yet, hardcore Hindu criminals released from jails in outlying areas brutally killed over 20,000 Sikhs while the national government watched gleefully, and aided the criminals. Governments come into being for the protection and welfare of their citizens. At least, this is the way it is supposed to be in a democracy. This is not the case in India, however supposedly the world’s largest democracy. Whither freedom? What guarantee can there be that these atrocities will never be repeated?
On top of all these staggering blows to Sikh citizenship and freedom, strong moves are now in progress to throw Sikhs back into the political track where they were prior to the assault on the Golden Temple. The Akalis are being wooed hand over fist, with the desired end so that moderate politics could prevail. The government will stop at nothing to divert Sikh minds and hearts from the goal of a sovereign Sikh state. But the result of such moderation would surely be the reduction of Sikhs to second class citizens. The Sikh psyche has been injured too deeply to have any ground where the seeds of reconciliation can germinate. Sikhs can never forget the recent historical scars which have cut deeper than the central government imagines. The lion (of worldwide Sikhdom) is awake! The Akalis alone cannot resolve the Sikh problems. Their leadership does not command the respect and confidence of a Majority of the Sikhs. Sikh politics now has a worldwide base, and the Akalis do not have a firm hold upon this base.
Rajiv’s ‘‘democracy” is nothing more than a sympathy vote for the bereft son of the assassinated mother, and the vote of Hindu communalism, aimed at Sikhs. In a true democracy, can one imagine that two major states would not be allowed to go to the polls? The world took note when Punjab and Assam were forced to sit idle, under the watchful eye of the army, when the rest of India went polling. Is this the way a favorable climate is created in which
True solutions may be worked out with the Sikhs? What generates solutions to people’s problems is the confidence that the people have in the governor who shows genuine concerns in words and deeds. Almost all of Indira Gandhi’s negotiations with the Sikhs were devoid of this genuine concern. With her son Rajiv following faithfully in her footsteps, how can one realistically expect a solution? Instead of a solution, one can clearly see polarization. That is what we have at this moment.
Democracy, as practiced by the lot of Indian politicians, is in a sorry state. The reason is that they do not genuinely believe in it: only in special interests and communalism, greed and corruption. Elections are routinely rigged and even postponed indefinitely. Governors can change their positions easily; one day they can be dictators, and the next day champions of secular democracy. Congress (I) now holds the communal mandate; Sikhs do not see any clear view to working things out in a satisfactory manner. How can Sikhs trust Congress (1) anymore? True democracy is government by discussion, participation, and above all by the consent of the governed. (Please refer to the theory of democracy advanced by Locke, Hobbes, Jefferson, and Lincoln). Is this what is practiced in India? The answer is in resounding negative.
Most Indian politicians are arrogant, ignorant, communal minded, and adamant in their refusal to learn new ways. They lack political sensitivity and basic discipline as demanded by this modern age. It is extremely painful to see the Sikh minority (or any other minority, for that matter) as victims of such an outdated and harmful political superstructure. What is there to fear from a society in which merit is rewarded? If Sikhs excel in the military and the civil service, why hold them back? If they have the ability to prosper in those areas as well as in a variety of economic pursuits, isn’t India itself the gainer if these people are to be encouraged? But with small minds in control, a community must be kept back, even at a loss to the country. (India’s brain drain is of staggering proportions it affects many people besides Sikhs, but with Sikhs the cause is more of a political nature than with other expatriates.)
How can Sikhs accept these excesses? To be squeezed in every possible way is something Sikhs cannot accept for long. They do not adapt to tyranny, nor do they take lightly the implications of unworthiness in the treatment they are now asked to swallow.
Given the current state of politics in India, for Sikhs to expect any kind of equitable solution 1s most unrealistic. Sikhs had better be wide awake, to be able to assess the full range of their position. In spite of repeated major sacrifices made for the cause of India’s freedom and preservation, Sikhs are left holding the bag time and again. How can they continue on this road which clearly shows itself to be a dead end? Sikhs have almost nothing to show for their monumental sacrifices. They have no political equity in India.
Sikhs now have no choice but to develop a geopolitical theory which will lead them to control and develop the total resources of the Sikh people and the land of Punjab. There must be complete religious freedom and the atmosphere in which they may grow fully in their own right in all respects. How can a comprehensive identity of the Sikhs prevail without such a strong and proper base?