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Roundtable

Nostalgia ...
or Déjà vu?

T. SHER SINGH

 

 

 


It was 1965.

I was 15.

I remember India was in the midst of one of its perennial conflicts with its neighbours.

Only three years earlier, in 1962, India’s politicians had begun to needle neighbouring China. It short shrift, India was mauled and brought to its knees.

The price, however, for the himalayan blunder by Nehru and his Defence Minister, V K Menon, was primarily borne by Sikh troops who, somehow, always find themselves on the front-lines every time India finds itself in distress and dire straits at the mercy of a “foreign hand”.

In 1965, the enemy was Pakistan.

Again, India was in trouble. The initial weeks of the war were not going well for India.

So, very quickly, as in 1962, Sikhs were suddenly the saviours of the country. The government’s PR machinery was working overtime churning out songs extolling the bravery of Sikhs, the great history of the Sikhs, the unique leadership of the Sikh Gurus , etc., etc.

The Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was in some gurdwara or the other every day, honouring Sikh heroes, and reminding the nation of the great debt owed to Sikhs. He promised a quick resolution of all the festering issues relating to Punjab -- language, waters, Chandigarh, etc. etc. Yes, of course, Chandigarh was and is the capital of Punjab, he said. Things would be set right … soon as the war ended!

Under the leadership of Gen Harbakhsh Singh and Air Marshall Arjan Singh, Sikhs virtually single-handedly took over the front, pushed back the Pakistanis all the way to the outskirts of Lahore, and saved India.

Again, great sacrifices were made by Sikh soldiers.

Sikh political issues? With the war won and over, they were simply assigned to the back burner …

No problem. Six more years, and then there was another war. Again, with Pakistan.

Again, Sikhs suddenly became national heroes.

General Jagjit Singh Aurora and his Sikh soldiers liberated Bangla Desh.

India was saved.

Once secure again, the Prime Minister -- now, it was Indira Gandhi -- went back to relegating Sikh issues to the back burner.

And so on and so forth.

Another crisis … 1976. Indira Gandhi had turned into a dictator and suspended India’s parliament indefinitely. Her son, Sanjay Gandhi, led an army of goondas freely raping and pillaging the land. Literally.

A-G-A-I-N … Sikhs came to the rescue. Putting their collective weight behind Jay Prakash Narayan, while the rest of India whined and whimpered, sat on its collective hands and looked on helplessly, Sikhs helped bring down Indira Gandhi and end the dictatorship.

Indira Gandhi never forgot who had brought her to justice.

Once back in power, she would get her revenge.

In 1984.

The rest is history.

So is the woman.

*   *   *   *   *

It's 2013 now. India has new demons.

Oh, then it is time, say the usual suspects, for Sikhs to come to the rescue!

*   *   *   *   *

A campaign of nostalgia has already begun … of how Sikhs have always come to their rescue.

Here is a sample of how the PR machine is back at it again.

Before you watch the video, and after you do, think about it a bit.

They are crying wolf again. This time, though, the wolves are their own.

Here’s the video … please CLICK here to watch.

And then look at some of the drivel that follows. Not surprisingly, instead of anything intelligent and meaningful, insults fly ... based on caste and religion!

*   *   *   *   *

THE ROUNDTABLE OPEN FORUM # 99

What are your thoughts?

 

January 22, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: V (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), January 22, 2013, 11:28 AM.

They have manipulated us (Sikhs) to save boundaries, lands, wealth, etc., and at times they have even used us against us. We should have learnt lessons by now, but alas! Guru Nanak has transformed our DNA in such a way that standing up and fighting injustice became inherent to our behaviour. He has trusted us for this duty - to be the saviours and guardians of women, the weak and the truly pious. We don't execute anybody's plans merely because their campaigns please us, but we do it only if it is in line with what Guru Nanak has taught us and expected us to do.In 21st century, stakes are high again as enemy is as cruel as before. This time the enemy is out there is doing harm to womanhood. Some from among us will know their duty and will stand up to correct and bring the tyrants to justice - that is our destiny. So don't pay heed to their same old PR tricks - let's just stick to our line of duty. Let us do what Guru Nanak wanted us to do and be proud in doing that!

2: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), January 22, 2013, 11:39 AM.

My thoughts: Sikhs are suckers for justice, they will stand up again and again and again. Be it against Aurangzeb or 1962, 65, 71, 84 or 2013, for that is what a Sikh is - consistent in his/her thoughts and actions. The only problem I see with 2013 is that who is ready amongst us in Punjab and India? Most have either given up and gone overseas, others have been killed (morally or spiritually). So my comment to the Indians this time around is: "Get ready to be raped, pillaged and slaughtered, since your saviors are long gone."

3: Tarsem Singh Ubhi (Milton Keynes, United Kingdom), January 22, 2013, 4:20 PM.

Yes, we sacrificed a lot for India. And, why forget all that we did for the Europeans? 80,000+ Sikhs lost their lives and 120,000 were injured in the two World Wars, defending the Allies. It's time Sardars and Sardarnis took charge of their own destiny!

4: N Singh (Canada), January 22, 2013, 5:39 PM.

Quick question for V and other Sikhs with similar view points ... were the Sikh women of 1984 and the sisters and mothers of the shaheeds not part of 'womanhood'? Did you and other Sikhs do what Guru Nanak has advocated? Did you raise your voice and fight?

5: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), January 22, 2013, 6:03 PM.

@N Singh ji: Personally, I never differentiated between the type of victim, whether they be the raped or killed one or the one made to suffer with the memories or losses. We raised our voices (clearly we were not loud enough). However, one thing we learnt very quickly: justice for June 1984 we got within 6 months. Re justice for Oct-Nov 1984, we are still waiting for it. In general, we Sikhs have failed our brothers and sisters.

6: J Kaur (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), January 22, 2013, 7:35 PM.

The video is 'marketing' by the Indians. My hope is that my people in India don't fall for it because of a bollywood star. Doing the RIGHT thing doesn't require special recognition. God bless the 1984 victims.

7: N Singh (Canada), January 23, 2013, 6:03 AM.

@Kanwarjeet Singh: Thank you for your comment recognizing the elephant in the room but please do not forget the numerous women who were sexually tortured by the Punjab Police in a similar manner to the Delhi rape victim, using metal rods for penetration, in the 80's and the 90's. The innocent victims go beyond the two events you mention, which for some reason seem to have caught the imagination of the Sikhs. There were and still are many innocent victims, including the mothers from the Operation Woodrose period and those who 'disappeared' in the Punjab. Let us never forget.

8: V  (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), January 23, 2013, 11:04 AM.

Dear N Singh ji - My comment was in reference to T. Sher Singh's historically contextualized article, and the YouTube video clip, on how the Indian govt and its PR agencies start portraying us as their saviours only when India's honour is at peril? I recommend that you should re-read it and watch the clip once more. Further to 1984 and post 1984 events, yes! Justice is delayed and justice delayed is justice denied. Many of our sisters and brothers like @Ensaaf and Advocate Phoolka are continuously fighting for it though - I am supporting them in whatever way I can - be it in time or money. However, if India is deliberately denying the justice and has not brought those to justice who have raped and murdered in 1984, being Sikh does it mean that we should stop protecting the honour of non-sikh women or their womanhood? As much as I understand Guru Nanak's message - that is not Sikhi. So, keep fighting the tyrants 'within & around us' - victory will come at last!

9: Ari Singh (Rostov, Russia), January 23, 2013, 1:15 PM.

Punjab has been fighting against foreign invaders for 3000 years. It is in our DNA now. Fighting against and defeating 'local' invaders doesn't require any different DNA. There's no mechanism to over-ride our DNA make-up!

10: A Singh (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), February 07, 2013, 12:49 AM.

Many who come from Punjab have generally not valued education. It is rather disgraceful that our leadership is barely at the literate level and have not bothered educating the masses (SGPC). It is no wonder that we continue to get swept up by the Hindustani patriotism as and when the need for a sacrificial lamb arises, as many in the community are gullible enough to be exploited. The lessons of history are there for those who want to learn and those that won't learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I am a proud Sikh but I do recognize the malaise within us and encourage all of you to educate your children so that our future generations don't get swayed so easily into defending so-called "Mother India".

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