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Majoritarian Paradigms in India

Majoritarian Paradigms in India

Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba, editor ‘Sant Sipahi’ 

The subject of this paper is the pattern of systematic subjugation of the minorities in India.

U S historian and philosopher, Kuhn Thomas Samuel first used the term “paradigm” in the context that even the social and cultural conditions and orthodox beliefs affect the directions of science, and said that the scientific knowledge is relative, dependent on the theoretical framework that dominates a scientific field. He further said that such paradigms, like theories of Darwin or Newton, are so dominant that they are uncritically accepted as true, until a ‘scientific revolution’ creates a new orthodoxy.

And this is what exactly the problem is and herein lies the solution of the minorities problem, especially of the Sikhs. We are, of course, a minority. But it is the recent phenomenon of the modern democratic system of governance where only the numbers count and nothing else. In this context the realization of being a minority comes up and the forces of subjugation see to it that the minorities are also made to realize their status.
Once this realization goes deep down the psyche of the people it develops the sense of inferiority complex and then the community starts losing all its vitality and spirit of resistance. At this stage one can listen to the voices from within, questioning about the purpose of its existence as a people. Here the hegemonic paradigm starts.

The Sikh is destined to be in a minority. Any revealed religion like Sikhism starts from a microscopic minority. Of course the growth is there but the clay is always larger in quantity than the pots and pottery. The minority can grow from two to three but the majority will remain a majority. Even this small growth of the minority can be checked by machiavellian machinations. But this disadvantageous position does not come in the way of the dedicated and committed people to play their role in history. When Guru Nanak Dev ji started his voyage to the not-so-friendly destinations, it was only he and his companion whom he called his friend, Bhai. He went and stayed in heart-lands of the major players, the Hindus, Jogis, and the Muslims. And this army of two persons was armed with what? Humility, poetry and  compassion. Guru Nanak Dev ji to Guru Gobind Singh ji never talked of being in minority but asked the Sikhs to face the world with power of the Naam and by acquiring and inculcating the qualities of God in one’s own self. Guru Gobind Singh ji in his poetry repeatedly talked of the millions of the enemy forces on the other side. But gave courage and determination to even the weakest of the weak that he being a soldier of the Akal Purakh is equal to a lac and quarter – sava lakh.

But this can be done only with true qualities. Every establishment talks of separating religion from politics but in the words of Giani Hira Singh Dard, “What is religion and what is politics? What is not liked by the government, be it your dress, your food, your conveyances, you method of worship, your insignias, is politics, and you decide to sacrifice for that – it becomes your religion.” Just a page from the history, how the determination can change the course of history. History is the story of the few men who change the course of events. After the unprecedented persecution by Abdus Samad Khan, Farukh Siyar, duo Lakhpat-Jaspat, the chief minister and secretary respectively of Zakariya Khan and then by Nadir and Abdali, the two holocausts could not change the destination or determination of the Sikhs. It is not a fiction but the true saga of valour.

Writes, Ikram Ali Malik in A Book of Readings on the History of the Punjab, by Research Society of Pakistan, University of Punjab, Lahore, p. xxxiv:

“No sooner had Ahmed Shah left the Punjab, the Sikh Sirdars reoccupied their areas. They celebrated the Baisakhi festival at Amritsar on April 10, 1765 and decided by the Gurmatta to invade and occupy Lahore. ….Sirdars occupied the city easily on April 16.”

What happened in March, 1947? Unmindful of the fate of the Sikhs and the Punjabis, Partition of India was accepted by the national politicians. The Punjab being a Muslim majority state was made a part of Pakistan, and the Sikhs were thus thrown before the perpetual Muslim hegemony. But, here, their past guided them to decide about the future; and this determination changed the course of history and the Punjab had to be partitioned.

Similarly, in 1965 war with Pakistan, it is only the will and visualization of one man that Punjab was saved from disaster. Recollecting the role and contribution of the hero of this saga, General Harbaksh Singh, writes Lt. Gen. B.M. Kaul in his book ‘Confrontation with Pakistan’:

“Government should by now be aware that in the midst of this grim crisis on 10 September (1965)Army Chief Chaudhuri asked Harbaksh Singh whether our forward positions should not be readjusted and established behind the Beas as the enemy Armoured Division might breakthrough. This would have meant pulling back our corps in this area nearly 40 miles from the front line, evacuating vital areas like Ferozepur, Khem Karan, Taran Taran!”

But the Sikhs have survived and shall survive, unmindful of anything else, on the basis of its quality, principles and ideals. Guru Arjun Dev ji sent Bhai Gurdas to Kabul to buy horses. Now, was the buying the horses the only purpose? The main point was to cross the boundaries of the Dev Bhumi and shed away the feeling of hatred created towards the so-called Malechhas, the Semitic people. Hindus and Muslims were the two major cultures of the world. Although one preached of Rabbul Almin, the Allah belongs to whole universe, and the others Vasudhev Katumbakam, the whole universe is a family. But in practice, the animosity between these Semitic and non-semitic became so great that the geographical piece of land was called Dev Bhumi and beyond that Malechh Bhumi and on the other side non-adheres were called the Kafirs. One became extreme introvert and the other extreme extrovert. Here came the message of nir bhau and nirvair of Guru Nanak Dev ji and the creation of the Khalsa. The Sikh though in minority had a role to play between the two – and in the world history.

The communalism that claims to represent the majority community has tremendous advantage of being able to masquerade as democratic and national. In democracy, however, no majority, unlike ethnic minority, is ever assumed to be permanent, or based on a single unchanging identity alone: a majority is constructed from issue to issue, and can change from programme to programme! The majority that the forces of hindutva claim to have is, by definition, permanent for it is constituted solely by the fact that 85 percent of the population are, by census, Hindu. Ethnic minority, however, will remain a minority.

The Hindu Right, particularly in its present incarnation, is engaged in fundamental forms of religious engineering – and this is where its political agenda differs most significantly from other right-wing formations. The distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva, between traditional religiosity and its perversion by communalism has, therefore, been asserted often enough. Whether a communally engineered majority would be able to hegemonise over minorities in the foreseeable future would depend clearly on the mettle their members are made of. For one must be made of a different stuff to fight the tyrant. Let me illustrate this by a simple example.

Take your thoughts back to the whole country simmering with discontent, a major student movement in Bihar on the anvil. The premier comes down with a heavy hand and imposes emergency in the country. Thousands are thrown into jails, no voice of dissent is allowed to go out to the people. The media is gagged, the censors work overnight, but in the end, the regime crumbles. AND CRUMBLES BEFORE WHOM? A man who can’t walk properly and needs a dialysis twice a week. WHY? For the simple fact that he (J P) was made of a different stuff than the one he was fighting against.

So, the minorities must ponder whether they are fighting with the same weapons and the same stuff their communal enemies or are they sticking to their high ideals. THE MEANS ARE IMPORTANT, and the history has too many lessons to prove it. It is thus important for the survival of the minority that it has to bank upon and preserve its qualities and heritage, and not be swayed by inferiority complex, or sense of being smaller in numbers. We have to wade through the golden pages of our history and reveal these hidden chapters to the future generations. And what is that quality which is the proud heritage. Just a para from Hari Ram Gupta’s magnum opus: History of the Sikhs.

“In all the contemporary records, mostly in Persian written generally by Muslims as well as by Maratha agents posted at a numberof places in Northern India, there is not a single instance either in Delhi or elsewhere in which the Sikhs raised a finger against women in circumstances where there was no external check on them. The Sikhs did not carry their women with them in their raids.….In this respect no other soldiers in the world stand any comparison with the Sikhs of those days. Such were the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh, one of the greatest leaders of mankind.”

Simultaneously one important thing has to be kept in mind: The fate of Buddhism. John Dawson’s Encyclopaedia tells us that that, incensed by the growth of Buddha, he was accepted as avtar of Vishnu who has incarnated to lead the wicked and sinister people to act and speak against Vedas, God, caste system so that these people go to hell. Now, according to this machination Budha is nice and good and incarnation of Vishnu, but the Buddhists are demons and monsters. Is not the same theory going around that Guru Gobind Singh ji was nice and incarnation of Parsuram and worshipper of Devi, but the Sikhs are labeled as ultras, outcasts and – a criminal tribe.

Now a new method is adopted, the use of the pen instead as a weapon: Amending the laws. Systematically diluting the definition of Sikhs and trying to enforce the laws which will ultimately finish the identity and entity of the minority. In the West they refer to these tactic as “wedge issues” …you make a small change (like inserting a wedge into a door that is slightly open), which seems imperceptible, but has implications not seen easily by the common person…then a few years later you drive the “wedge further” until the door has opened so far that the winds of destruction cannot be stopped.

To all these problems the solution does not lie in seeking autonomy because it will again be more powers to either the Centre or the States. The one suggested by Sirdar Kapur Singh in his small booklet Bikh Meh Amrit is very relevant and meaningful, that the declared rights of the Sikhs be guaranteed constitutionally. And then there is a promise, a word from Guru Gobind Singh, in his own words, that Khalsa is my roop and I shall protect it. This divine shelter is the safest safeguard to us, provided we stick and adhere to the qualities.

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