What is The Sikh Council UK? GURMUKH SINGH [United Kingdom]
The Roundtable Open Forum # 94
All are welcome in the gurdwara.
The sangat is fairly representative of all shades of Sikhs and non-Sikhs who have come to the Guru’s darbar with faith in the Guru’s universal message in their hearts, as they bow before the Guru.
However, few have ever argued that the management of gurdwaras should not be in the hands of those who, ideally, are amritdhari Sikhs - that is, those who not only follow the external identity of the Khalsa but actually practice the Sikh way of life, of constant God awareness, honest living and sharing with those in need.
Two types of seva is required of those who run gurdwaras.
First and foremost, it is the seva of Guru Granth Sahib: the recitation of gurbani and the seva of kirtan and katha. That means, the singing of gurbani and, as necessary, explaining the message of the shabad to the sangat. Only one who lives in Sikhi, both internally and externally, is capable of doing that.
The second type of seva is the management of the gurdwara, which, for reasons to do with the Sikh principle of miri-piri, institutions and panthic identity, must remain in Sikh hands.
However, the miri-piri ideal and activism are not confined to gurdwaras only. They are also very much an extrovert twin track concept which has been practised by the Khalsa panth for centuries. It is interpreted into socio-political activism which is extended from the gurdwara as the local focal point of Sikh life, to outside, local, national and international activities and forums.
Gurdwara management in Sikh hands is extended to participation in panthic forums for the achievement of panthic jathebandi (corporate) aims and objectives of a just and tolerant society.
To my mind, Sikh Council UK is an expression of sangat representation, extended from the local to the national level.
It is the first next step to international level Sikh representation and revival of the Sarbat Khalsa tradition. Recent challenges to Sikh identity also pose a challenge to gurdwara managements to revive the spirit of the Sarbat Khalsa. To quote from an earlier article (The Sikh Review, Agust 2012): the “Sarbat Khalsa is an expression of Panthic solidarity,” which translates into a uniting decision-making process at the global level.
Due to the dedicated voluntary seva of some individuals, sangat (grassroots) based organisations have achieved much over the years. However, recent events have shown that these organisations, no matter how ably led, cannot resolve the issues, concerns and challenges faced by mere ideology and identity. Only gurdwaras, represented on a national level platform, can make an impact on governments and agencies.
UK Sikhs have the critical mass to provide a lead in the diaspora. The only way to ensure that all viewpoints are represented on the Sikh Council UK and the constitution of the General Assembly and the Executive Committee, is to join in and not remain on the outside.
Sikh Council UK is the business of every gurdwara and Sikh organisation in the UK.
The Council strengthens the role of well established Sikh organisations by providing them a common reference point and a common platform. The Council’s own role must remain above organisation/ jathebandi agendas and biases, while pushing in a common panthic direction, so that Sikh presence, presentation and negotiating position in the UK and in Europe is strengthened.
If the Council is to provide a platform for our organisations, then it is clear that it cannot start taking over their activities or diverse roles.
The Council cannot behave like yet another “jathebandi” or an extension of another existing jathebandi. Its role will remain supportive, encouraging and advisory in areas of Sikh identity, religious matters, education, preservation and promotion of heritage (including Anglo-Sikh heritage), social and cultural advancement, welfare including Sikh aid, and human rights.
Excellent work is already being done in most of these areas by many existing organisations. Nevertheless, with our future in mind, the Council should promote or even undertake those neglected activities, which gurdwaras and current organisations are unable to pursue.
The Council remains open to all. The Council does not interfere with the work of others. However, only affiliated organisations subscribing to the principles of the Council can claim Sikh Council UK “support” in public announcements and activities.
Unity needs a more mature approach. The hope is that all organizations will sit around one table and agree on a common strategy and line of action.
The only way to ensure a “balanced” representation is to join the Sikh Council UK.
The only way to present a “united front” to governments, departments and the media, is to join the Sikh Council UK. Only then can the Council become a “Sangat Forum” at a national level in the spirit of the Sarbat Khalsa.
Dr Gurnam Singh of UK once wrote: “Like a new born infant I always felt that the first phase of the Sikh Council UK.would be the most challenging and all credit to all the gursikhs that are meeting the challenge with humility, courage and intellect in the true Sikhi tradition.”
THE ROUNDTABLE OPEN FORUM # 94
What are your thoughts on:
1) The need for such a body;
2) The role of such a body?
3) The format and constitution of such a body?
September 6, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: N.S. (United Kingdom), September 06, 2012, 11:53 AM.
1) Such a body is most certainly needed, but... 2) Why move into advising on every facet of Sikhi? "... identity, religious matters, education, preservation and promotion of heritage ..." The specific mention of Anglo-Sikh caught my eye and made me raise this. The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail, with whom I am not associated with in any way, provide a sterling service. Why should they need advising from any central Sikh body? I don't raise this acrimoniously, but to genuinely ask what you see SCUK doing in this capacity that isn't already accounted for. What 'support, encouragement or advice' would you offer in practice? 3) The constitution must be drafted by knowledgeable and experienced Sikhs - the likes of which are few and far between in the West. It must then be presented before an open-invitation body of the sangat ... if somebody doesn't attend, as long as you gave ample notice and selected a suitable time, they should not complain after such a constitution is approved. We have a clear format for how a Sikh body should be represented and I am sure you will follow such a model. I await an open-invitation and look forward to attending. Best of luck!
2: Harmander Singh (England), September 06, 2012, 1:56 PM.
I commend the brevity in which the concept has been presented and support the notion of a fair, accountable, consistent and transparent body being established as there are none that meet my four faceted criteria yet. I suspect the term 'Anglo-Sikh Heritage' has been confused with the entity already known as ASHT. The guidance or advice could be a two-way street in such a case where ASHT is in fact supported even more by the critical mass of the SCUK. The idea of a federal system where jathebandhis are autonomous but contribute to a common cause (Sikhi) is not new, but a change in the mindset of the usual suspects who rise to the surface in any grouping would certainly help. I agree with almost everything N.S. at #1 says and agree that the constitution must be drafted by knowledgeable and experienced Sikhs - but am of the opinion that the likes of which are even fewer in the East - particularly as the modus operandi and general environ of the West (where SCUK will operate) is alien to them.
3: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 06, 2012, 3:18 PM.
The 2nd point raised by NS of UK is a most important one, and most frequently misunderstood! To quote from the article, "If the Council is to provide a platform for our organizations, then it is clear that it cannot start taking over their activities or diverse roles." We have organizations doing excellent work in their respective fields and have much experience to share with others, e.g., the invaluable field experience of Khalsa Aid or United Sikhs in disaster areas. Sikh heritage is being destroyed in Punjab, a united voice against that might reverse the trend. I have worked with and supported Anglo-Sikh Heritage, and that organisation (MDSCT/ASHT) can advise and seek support from others. Much duplication and overlapping of functions can be avoided through periodical roundtable exchanges. The Council is not some "super body" apart from the affiliated organizations, but is made up of them. The Sikh Council UK is a periodical exercise in mutual learning. The constitution was drawn up after much consultation over a period of time and SC UK is just completing its 2nd year. For information and contact see website www.sikhcounciluk.org. I suggest that people should please not wait for an invitation but just see how you can contribute through your own organization or individually ... and join up.
4: Farida Kaur (Coventry, United kingdom), September 06, 2012, 5:33 PM.
First things first: Before the Sikh Council comes to the community for anything, it MUST first demonstrate that ALL of the members in its tentative executive committee are fluent in English, both written and spoken, and that they are educated in the West and hold AT LEAST a university degree. Until you do so, without any ifs and buts, please do not take up our time ... and go back to the drawing board.
5: Kirandeep Kaur (London, United Kingdom), September 06, 2012, 6:04 PM.
For me the test of the viability of this council is whether both Lord Inderjit Singh and Sir Mota Singh are on board ... preferably as its co-chairs. If either or neither is, I wouldn't waste a single minute on this folly. If either of them is uncomfortable with this group, its work is cut out: it must raise itself to the standards that would make them comfortable to lead it.
6: Tarsem Singh (California, USA), September 06, 2012, 6:13 PM.
For starters, I think it would help if the author will please post a list of the current office-bearers of the council, along with their gender, age, education and work experience ... briefly. Gone are the days when the Sikh community should be weighing support for any group without whetting its movers and shakers. So, please ...
7: Hari Singh (Leeds, United Kingdom), September 06, 2012, 6:25 PM.
I've just looked at the Council's website and I must say not only am I NOT impressed, I'm actually extremely disappointed. To begin with, you've barely started and you have 16 jathedars? There's a simple rule, sir ... if a group of this size and age has more than five at its decision-making level, it won't do any work. Here's my prognosis: in the next 12 months, you'll produce half-a-dozen inane press releases and pass an equal number of meaningless resolutions. Secondly, here's the shocker: 16 out of 16 are men! Please go home and don't come out again until you have 50% of the top level management consisting of women, please. Until you do that, I request sikhchic.com to please not give these clowns ay further exposure.
8: Lakhmir Singh (New York, USA), September 06, 2012, 7:56 PM.
Same old, same old! Checked out the site - reads like a total waste of our time. It's time for our vehla Singhs to retire. If you've been in the UK for more than five years and can't speak English fluently, you have a problem - but you shouldn't become our problem. If you don't understand the importance of giving equal say to our women, you have no idea what Sikhi is all about; it's as simple as that. You need to vacate the field for our younger generation. And for fresh ideas.
9: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 2:52 AM.
Points about encouraging involvement of more women and younger representatives are most valid. These are also for gurdwaras and Sikh organisations affiliated to the Sikh Council to address. Earlier this year, joint seminars by the Sikh Research Institute and the Sikh Council UK, discussing the theme of Sarbat Khalsa, were well attended by young Sikhs, men and women. The article attempts to explain the concept and the ideal, and invites positive response to the questions posed at the end.
10: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 7:34 AM.
This project is ill-formatted from the very outset and won't work! Why? It hasn't been cleansed of caste-based stupidity and rampant haumai.
11: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 8:18 AM.
Farida Kaur ji: What you propose is brilliant! Most of these wannabe leaders still have little or no spoken English! It is great that a Sikh female has stood up to say this!
12: Brij Singh (Belgium), September 07, 2012, 9:36 AM.
I want to begin by stating that I do not know any of the people involved in this project, nor do I have any personal or vested interest, other than as a Sikh. But I have been following the dialogue - right here on sikhchic.com - over the recent happenings in North America and the concern over proper representation of our interests in the public sphere. I therefore note with similar concern that though the author has read all of the comments and queries posted hereinabove - as evidenced by his own comment (#9) - he has failed to answer even a single question. Now, I can only conclude one of the following: a) The information is not readily available, even though he is the one who is propagating the project; b) He and his colleagues know that the answers are troublesome; c) He and colleagues see the readers who are asking for more info as mere pests or, worse, their enemies who are out to harm their efforts; d) Neither he nor his colleagues have any idea as to what the readers are talking about. I can't think of another possible answer. No matter which one is true, it is heart-breakingly disappointing.
13: Harneet Kaur (San Diego, California, USA), September 07, 2012, 9:42 AM.
I too don't know any of the players. But I can see that they appear to be the very people we need to defend ourselves against - well meaning people, but ones with no skills or equipment to handle what they set out to achieve. Remember, such friends can cause more harm than enemies. All of this is another reminder that we need to get our act together. No more mediocrity, please.
14: G. Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 10:25 AM.
Judging by the comments, it may be helpful to some of the commentators to spend a bit more time investigating the make up of the Council, it's membership and track record. They will find there are several prominent professional women involved (admittedly not enough). A very high number of members of the Executive Committee are actually UK graduates working in professional fields and yes, they can speak English and Punjabi. Those who are interested are welcome as observers to the next General Assembly - the details of this are posted on the website.
15: Farida Kaur (Coventry, United kingdom), September 07, 2012, 10:46 AM.
Just visited the site again. Here are the people running the council, according to your site, under the title of "Board of Jathedars": Amrik Singh, Arvinder Singh, Malkit Singh, Gurjeet Singh, Avtar Singh, Rajinder Singh, Satvinder Singh, Joga Singh, Kuldip Singh, Valjinder Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Mohinder Singh, Gurbax Singh, Sewa Singh, Gian Singh, and Mohan Singh. Sorry, but can't see a single woman there. G. Singh ji, you tell us that there are lots of women involved. So, why are you hiding them? Are they busy making langar? Don't they have brains enough to be jathedars? You tell us that a number of members of the executive committee speak English. But that wasn't the question. Are ALL of them FLUENT in English, is the question. If not, wWhy not? Here's something for you and your colleagues to take home and digest: please don't EVER purport to represent our community without giving equal standing to women at ALL levels. And don't involve ANY ONE who is not fluent in written and spoken English. Doesn't matter if he or she is amritdhari or a gyani, if they can't speak well in the lingua franca of this land, they are uneducated for the purpose of this exercise. Also, I'm curious: why don't you provide the answers to the questions that have been posed here? Trust me, I'm not coming to any "general assembly" of a group which doesn't meet the most basic criteria of being a functional organization. I can't see why any self-respecting and educated Sikh would get involved with your group, from what you have revealed of yourselves so far. Please don't misread or misinterpret my concerns. I would give an arm and a leg to see a real Sikh Council come together and represent us. And I will give you my heart and soul to support you, as I know thousands others will. But not as long as you don't learn to behave and act and function like professionals. You wave the amritdhari flag as if it gives you carte blanche status. Well, I'm an amritdhari too, and I demand that you be more if you want to represent us all - competent, that is!
16: Simran Singh (United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 12:51 PM.
The energetic exchanges on this debate highlight the sensitivity of the issue that lies at the heart of representation of the community. As someone from the UK, there are two concerns which demonstrate the naivety behind the initiative and also, to borrow a oft used term, "the elephant in the room". Firstly, not one Sikh organization complies with its constitution, no matter how well drafted it has been. This is a reality. We have all seen constitutions waved around as signs of progress but no one reads them and they are the first thing to be dispensed with at any sign of success or conflict. What is most alarming is that this British Sikh council has from the outset been infiltrated by the most controversial and ineffective group that operates in the UK, i.e., the Sikh Federation. Most neutral people are convinced that the Sikh Council UK is another front for them. Sadly, despite its laudable aims and affectations of democracy, this association alone has been a garland of toxic lead around the Sikh Council. S. Gurmukh Singh means well but his intentions are too frequently used as a shield by this troublesome element to further its disruptive ambitions.
17: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 12:58 PM.
Progressive thought and action, and prophesies of doom by armchair critics, usually go together. I was wondering how long it would take for constructive discussion about principles - thank you, Harmander Singh, and others - will give way to attack on personalities. If exposure of an organization, network or assembly, exposes flaws, then, despite the critics, it is worthwhile. I hope other organizations and networks would do the same and ask the sort of more constructive questions which have been posed on this forum. I have never volunteered for anything after retirement in June 1996, but, subject to own limited ability, have responded to requests for support from most UK organizations. Initiatives similar to the Sikh Council UK to present a united front will continue in the Sikh diaspora countries as external challenges and threats increase. It is better to work for reforms of the type suggested above from within than from the outside. As for the 16 named "jathedars" - one passed away recently while others are marking time! - it is better to keep them there. They have an advisory role but no "power" or executive authority. I am sure the mix of the Assembly, the Executive and the Jathedars will change over a period of time.
18: G. Singh (London, United kingdom), September 07, 2012, 1:14 PM.
Farida ji: I am no expert on governance structures or community activism. I have only shared my observations. (A clarification: it is not my group). I agree about the need to strive for gender equality but am just a bit uneasy about equating fluency in English with intelligence or capability to serve on governance structures in the United Kingdom. Surely it is more important for organizations to be able to access the skills it requires.
19: Karam Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 07, 2012, 1:14 PM.
Scary stuff, what you have said, S. Gurmukh Singh ji. So, you have 16 people at the top level of the Council, and you say they have no power? Hm-mm-m-n. So who are the six who DO have power? Are they fluent in English? Any women? You simply cannot avoid the issues, ostrich-like. You refer to "attack on personalities"? Strange, but I haven't seen a single one on this page. All we've got are valid concerns, none of which you will address. You know, if you were an old institution, 50 years old, or 20, or even 10, I could allow you your argument that people should come on board and change things from within. The fact that you are starting off in this day and age and behaving like you live in the 19th century, is abominable. Here's what you need to do ... read the posts above and answer each and every question posed therein. Maybe you won't have good answers, maybe you'll open yourself to further criticism, but if you can't handle the very first few questions, what do you really do in your wonderfully sounding "general assembly"? So far, you've got a fail grade and managed to garner zero support, I'm afraid!
20: Farida Kaur (Coventry, United kingdom), September 07, 2012, 1:28 PM.
G. Singh ji (#18): I'm quite sure I didn't say that the persons should speak and write English fluently, but need not be intelligent. It may appear to be a novel idea, but let me spell it out before I close the book on this particular project as being dead in the water: BEFORE you start any more Sikh organizations, please make sure that the people involved are amritdhari, AND speak and write English FLUENTLY, AND are INTELLIGENT, COMPETENT, HONEST, YOUNG (and not a foot in the grave, as S. Gurmukh Singh has pointed out), and consist of 50% women. If you have difficulty finding the right people, here's what you do: all of you should offer your resignations but remain on the job for 3 more months, with no automatic renewal, and we'll ask for a nationwide submission of resumes and nominations, and get an independent group of people select the jathedars ... FIVE of them, no more. And power will reside in these five, not in any hidden group. (I'm fine, for example, with Lord Inderjit Singh and Sir Mota Singh to do the honours.) There are other criteria ... but I expect anyone can figure them out using basic commonsense, seeing where the critics are going with this. Finally, here's the message loud and clear from all of us from around the world: no more goofiness, please, if you purport to represent the community. You can do whatever you want at home or in your private gatherings, but if you want to be jathedars of a Sikh Council, you have to earn the position, not self-appoint yourselves, for heaven's sake!
21: Baljeet Kaur (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), September 07, 2012, 1:38 PM.
The Council website doesn't list the six that S. Gurmukh Singh ji says wield the real power. Who are they? Also, still no word on the brief bios requested on the Board members - you can skip the dead guy, though. Just describe him as "dead" or remove him from the Board! May he Rest in Peace as a member of a bigger Board of Jathedars in Sachkhand!
22: K..Kaur (United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 1:40 PM.
There are many highly skilled and articulate women already committed to the work of the Sikh Council as there are young people, both of which are valued and welcomed. One agrees that a balance has not yet been reached but nevertheless the answer is not to 'shut shop' until this is achieved. Naturally the answer would be to continue to integrate and work together and reach the ideal position of a male/female balance through ongoing efforts.
23: Taran Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 2:02 PM.
A very obvious question comes to mind - given that we already have numerous UK-wide bodies such as Lord Inderjit Singh's Network of Sikh Organisations, the British Sikh Consultative Conference chaired by Bhai Mohinder Singh, the British Sikh Council, The British Sikh Association, the Sikh Forum, what is it that this Sikh Council UK will do that is not already covered by the above named?
24: Paramjit Kaur Matharu (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 2:36 PM.
Thank you, Gurmukh Singh ji. This conversation regarding the Sikh Council has triggered useful comments on this site. It is clear that the Council has done better with some of its initiatives than in its PR image! My name is Paramjit Kaur. I have been an Executive Member of the council since last summer, having initially volunteered as an individual to support this new organization. I would not normally write publicly about my professional qualifications but for the purpose of this string - I am a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and hold the post of Global Indirect Tax Director. I am also the chair of indirect tax at the British Banking Association - so fluent in English. The majority of my 51 colleagues on the Executive and the 16 who specifically manage the Council on a day to day basis are professionals who have day jobs ranging from senior public sector directorships, local Councillors, Government Audit and Human Rights Officials as well as entrepreneurs with successful businesses. The Board of Jathedaars was a concept that was specifically included in the constitution, since the 51 Executives are professionals who may not necessarily have the full Sikh theological and historical perspective. The Jathedaars are selected as people who have led Sikh religious bodies at a senior level for a sustained period. The role of the Jathedaars is to ensure that the ethos of the Council leadership and Executive remains true to Sikh ideals. Indeed, there is no female representation in the Jathedaars. Let's examine why. The Sikh community has so far failed to throw up female leaders in any previous organizations! The Council's intention is that as a top priority (this is a written policy) female representation should come up substantively ... the question is how many Sikh women are actually willing to get engaged in fighting the imbalance. To date, there are two other women in the Council Executive, one of whom is the Chief Administrative Officer, Balvinder Kaur, who is the chair of the Community Safety sub-committee and also the face of Council for any incoming calls and queries and the other is a leading Local Government Councillor and Magistrate. I personally assessed the need for a single umbrella organization in the UK for Sikhs and then the suitability of the Council through a couple of key steps. On the need for a single strategic voice: please note that whenever there has been a need for a clear articulate, democratically elected voice for Sikhs on any issue (political, religious, social, etc.), there has either been a clamour of voices (and not agreeing with each other) or dead silence. Where other faiths are represented by their respective umbrella organizations, we Sikhs seem to excel in vying with each other on who should get there first. At the Council's launch, attending MP's unanimously agreed that it was about time that all Sikh bodies found a way to present their cause in a more succinct and even united way! On the second point, i.e. why the Council, whilst we have many robust Sikh organizations that are doing great work, the Council has actively set out to embrace all existing organizations and create affiliations rather than takeover. The fruits are beginning to come through ... To list a few achievements: as the lead on European and International affairs I have been involved in getting Council meetings at five key Directorates at the European Commission (the recent positive outcomes on Commission reactions on Airport Security has been an active discussion), we have membership for the Sikhs for the first time at the Fundamental Rights Platform, the Council has delivered a 1000 page dossier on Sikh Human rights matters to the Foreign Office, etc., etc., and on all of these issues, there is an active and open dialogue with senior officials in government. The agreement between LOCOG and the Sikh Community was in fact managed by the Council. In Nov 2010, the Council held a unique cross-European meeting in Paris, which was attended by members of 14 European countries represented by the Gurdwara reps. A historic accord was agreed which allows the Council to address the European governments as a democratic representation of European Sikh sangat. I could go on. May I urge all who have questions, please do get engaged and ensure that your local gurdwara or Sikh organization becomes a member of the Council since we need to strengthen ourselves. This is better done from within rather than wait for someone else to get it right. Panthic ekta is much desired. The Council does represent Punjabi, English, and in fact European Sikhs as well!
25: Taran Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 4:57 PM.
Paramjit Kaur ji: your contributions are both valuable and fluent, your involvement in the Sikh Council is to be welcomed. Two issues perturb me: to bestow the title of Jathedar upon individuals should be subject to screening based not only their appearance but also on ability and demonstrated abilities. Secondly, backgrounds of each of the key players must be provided to the Sikh public. Until then, the skeptics will have my support. This is not about personalizing the issue but about people having the courage to identify and stand up to negative and disruptive elements. We will make no progress until we don't display the ability to have the very best people lead us.
26: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 5:20 PM.
Wow! This article and the discussion have woken me up!
27: Paramjit Kaur Matharu (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 6:16 PM.
Taran Singh ji: It is important for all of us to be clear on these points. My understanding is that the title 'jathedaar' was used more as a term of respect as they are a knowledgeable group. Since I know the individuals, I can tell you that the group is in fact pretty diverse and comes with very varied experience. The important thing is that the group discusses and comes to a collective view on the issues that are submitted for consideration by the Executive. You have asked about those involved in the council. An umbrella Sikh body like ours has a responsibility to provide a united voice and single platform on Sikh issues. You will see that even in other faith councils or political bodies, individual members can have separate agendas on detail but on macro points they have to come together. Within the Sikh Council executive there is in fact a healthy skepticism about the differences between us but the aim is to unite on the big picture issues for Sikhs. No one organization or jathebandi has a monopoly because the executive has to agree collectively. Gurmukh Singh ji mentioned the Sarbat Khalsa workshop that the Council sponsored at Oxford. The idea of collaborative working is fundamental for Sikhs to progress as a community. I hope my comments will have answered the key points raised.
28: Balvinder Kaur Saund, (London, United Kingdom), September 07, 2012, 9:23 PM.
The article is an excellent summary of what the Sikh Council stands for. I have served on the Executive Committee of the Sikh Council since its embryonic start two years ago, and in that short time, I have seen round table open discussions and meetings chaired ably and professionally by Gurmeil Singh Kandola, a Chief Executive in his day job. Sikh Council has many well qualified young people and intelligent jathedaars from gurdwaras who give up their voluntary time freely as sewa. Whilst the Sikh women take up has been a challenge as they lack confidence to join committees, the men have been welcoming and respectful and they have agreed to a mission statement to see equal number of women on their committees.
29: Jasvir Kaur (London, United Kingdom), September 08, 2012, 4:25 AM.
Re comments on the Sikh Federation (UK): No individual gurdwara or organization can send more than three delegates. The Sikh Federation (UK) has three delegates only. That is the extent of their involvement.
30: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 08, 2012, 8:36 AM.
We must keep exposing Sikh organizations to open scrutiny. Baljit Kaur ji wrote, "The Council website doesn't list the six that S. Gurmukh Singh ji says wield the real power." Interesting, because I never said that! Not even aware that 6 wield real power. Names have been mentioned. No matter how skilled and experienced a person in any one field, complementary teamwork which brings together diverse skills, is a must in today's world. S. Simran Singh ji has made an interesting observation. To quote, "Gurmukh Singh means well but his intentions are too frequently used as a shield by this troublesome element to further its disruptive ambitions." In fact, I have repeatedly and openly criticized the disruptive ambitions of organizations and individuals. Questions have been asked about fluency in English, etc. Therefore, to finish off with my own background: 52 years in the UK, 33 years in the civil service of which 10 at a senior policy level; 7 years working on European projects, the first two of which as leading UK delegation at 1st Secretary level in Geneva doing preparatory work for the Uruguay (8th) World Trade Round (1985/6). Retired as Principal (policy), Aerospace Division of Department of Trade & Industry (June 1996.)
31: Paramjit Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 09, 2012, 6:18 PM.
I visited the Sikh Council website, prompted to do so by this article. I read the opening line which said: "The Sikh Council United Kingdom is a democratically elected accountable national organisation". I wonder in what way it can be democratically elected if I, a Sikh-Briton, have only heard of it now, through sikhchic.com, almost two years after it claims it was formed, and have never been asked to vote for any of its office bearers? I wonder how many other Sikh-Britons have ever heard of this organization until now and have ever had any say in its make up? Had I been canvassed for a vote, I doubt it if I would have given it to some of the individuals listed as 'jathedars' and 'office bearers,' based on their questionable record in Sikh affairs in Britain thus far. It seems the same old names who have never managed to do anything useful in the past, never tire of re-inventing new vehicles where they can become 'jathedars' and 'office bearers'. Well, good luck to them. I for one won't be holding my breath.
32: Daljit Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 11, 2012, 10:13 AM.
The thing that has impressed me most about the debate that has ensued as a result of S. Gurmukh Singh's article is the healthy scepticism that the majority of those posting have displayed when confronted by yet another 'umbrella' organisation fronted by the same greybeards that have launched similar 'umbrella' organisations and 'Sikh Civil Services', etc., in the past. I think it shows that Sikhs have become more sophisticated and aware of the political landscape and have decided that enough is enough and that they want true democracy rather than lip service. It is ironic that the council website talks of democracy, yet some of the 'jathedars' have been heads of their respective organizations for decades with no desire to relinquish their existing kursees (chairs), but with a burning desire to garner more. It was Tony Benn who once said: "The best way to get round democracy is to pass the real power to someone who is not elected and cannot be removed." Sums up some of the 'jathedars' quite nicely.
33: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), September 13, 2012, 5:15 AM.
We sincerely hope that the Sikh Council UK does not become another umbrella "organization", but remains as an "invitation and a facility" for those who presently claim to lead such bodies, to sit around one table to take joint decisions on certain national level matters, and to issue joint press releases. Otherwise, the Council continues to support the good work already being done by other organizations. Some of the comments above show ignorance about the bottom up approach from the present position. Traditional type (all male) "jathedars" heading current jathebandis/ organizations cannot be ignored; but they can be kept where they are seen, and made accountable! The option of having some nominated professional level "advisors" is there, and I was invited in this category. This option will continue to be used to make some changes as suggested above. Fortunately, already the Council has some well qualified women showing the way. The administrator is a woman. Another full-time professional has joined this month.