Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reply to Times of India Article on Sikhs

Sharing my feedback on an article that came today in Times of India written by Divya A. In Black is the article and in red is my comment and view on the written piece as my feedback to Ms Divya.


In an attempt to tell their side of the story, NRI Sikhs have undertaken an interesting exercise – they’re making films about their faith and their community and screening them at festivals they organize for the purpose in various parts of the world.

The trigger, it seems, is the community’s collective angst over developments such as the Army operation at the Golden Temple in 1984, the riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the recent turban ban in France.

When you are talking about angst of our community over things happened in 1984 and riots that followed Mrs Indira Gandhi's assassination and turban ban, first two and the turban ban have difference of 20 years in between and there has been no account anywhere what sikhs did during this time. Turban ban is completely different issue, non violent, something about our principles and faith. Not saying we are not trying, but we have been too dependent on diplomacies and politics happening on it. The movies on 1984 have no links with other issues in sikhism and as they say 'jis tan laage so tan jaane' the pain is felt only by those who have been affected by this tragic incident of 1984.

Just last week, the Sikh Art and Film Foundation (SAFF) in New York organized the Annual Sikh Film Festival, which acquired especially grand tones for the first time in its 10-year history. There was a red carpet and it was attended by more than 1,000 people. Meanwhile, Visions of Truth, a two-month-long traveling film festival with movies about 1984, was on in California. It was organized by Jakara, a California Sikhs’ club. In addition, Sikhnet, a website dedicated to building bridges between Sikhs abroad, announced its 2009 Youth Online Film Festival, inviting Sikh youth to share videos about “being a Sikh”.

If you would have done your research well, you would have seen that SAFF had two movies on backdrop of 1984 and one on turban ban issues among so many others which were portraying other historical times in sikhism timeline which looks fair to me considering the fact that every dark moment of history also is moulded to cinema. There have been so many movies made on unfortunate events in other religions and have been screened in international film festivals.

Talking of Sikhnet Youth Online Film Festival, its completely *out of 1984 and turban* model and asks for videos from anyone and everyone on topic like 'Being a Sikh','Learning from Sikhism' and anything you think needs attention. Never ever i have seen any normal sikhism website provoking the community to revolt and show anger on 1984. There are extremists and always will be but we can’t take opinion of 100 people as opinion of whole community.

But how healthy is it for a community to focus on a painful past and present itself to the world as a suffering and wronged people?

Exactly,I would like to know the answer to fact on your article, how healthy is for a community to read such an article which has no factual information but acts as ghee to reignite the fire ???

Why ever not, retorts Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh. “There are 25 million Sikhs worldwide, with more than a million in America and Canada, and about half a million in UK. An acute identity crisis in the post 9/11 world has compelled them to tell people that there is a difference between a Sikh and an Iranian or the Taliban.”

Prof S P Singh, former VC of Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University, explains it as a consequence of “the wounds inflicted on the collective Sikh psyche (which) have not been addressed so far. Time doesn’t heal the injury that hasn’t been redressed. Otherwise, Udham Singh wouldn’t have avenged Jallianwala Bagh massacre 25 years later!”

Perhaps. The film Storming the Temple, part of Visions of Truth, lays out the events that ended in the Army entering the Temple; Reaching for Home is a fictional account around the incident and Amu addresses issues of identity with 1984 as the backdrop.

So too the New York film festival, which kicked off with 1984 and the Via Dolorosa, an attempt to portray Sikh suffering in the context of the Christian belief in the pain Christ suffered while carrying the cross.

So, does the community collectively alternate between self-congratulation and suffering then? On the phone from New York, SAFF president Tejinder Singh Bindra explains, “We celebrate the heritage of Sikhs and their immigrant experience and promote Sikhism in a land where people persecuted us in the wake of 9/11.”

Gurumustak Singh Khalsa, an American Sikh, who founded SikhNet told STOI from New Mexico that it would be wrong to see the festivals as navel-gazing hype. “Most people don’t have a clue who Sikhs are. The genesis of the festival came from the proliferation of short videos on websites and enabled us to reach out to more people.”

These are quoted personal opinions and after I read, I see no good point in quoting them in article since they are out of topic and just general opinions and can be made asking for any general issue on Sikhs.

But isn’t it maudlin for Sikhs to focus so acutely on 1984? S P Singh says there may be another angle to this. He says that playing up the 1984 imagery serves the vested interests of those who sought political asylum abroad in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star. “If the movement dies down, all facilities and aid extended to them will be terminated.”

Wish you would have done some work looking for a good topic than finding a good English word (ref:maudlin) to use in article :-/ if you wish , I can share some good books on 1984 Operation Blue Star which can first guide you to events that happened and if the revolt was justified. Why muslims felt agitated on demolition of babri masjid, why were hindus angry after godhra and why is Sikh community angry over anyone on entering with tanks in golden temple complex which is considered as abode of god for everyone.

It is good to write sensational article which ignites thoughts of people but writing without proper facts and just quoting others doesn’t always counts as a good write.

Link to the Article :


kapil said...

well replied sukhdeep. i read the article in the paper today and was surprised at the tone. more of a viewpoint then reporting. and that too a bit castigating,

preposterous girl said...

I totally agree with you Sukhdeep, that cinema not only portrays the celebration of life, but also our deep dark secrets , our fears , our worst nightmares as well.. Its a way of creative expression!!
And taking your facts as the basis (I hope u have researched properly , unlike the journo in question ) if just two movies were about the unfortunate riot incident.. so whats the problem..Whatever I have comprehended then she would be of the view that we shouldn't telecast movies like Black Friday, Bombay , Dil Se.. Coz these all portrays wounds infliccted on our society!!!

If someone is proud of his religion.. Be it Sikh , Muslim , Hindu.. and they want to share with world their reason for doing so in non-violent way , without mobilizing , misleading , brainwashing anyone.. Then whats the big deal!

I cant comment whether her article is acting as metaphorical "ghee" .. But surely she should have done her homework first!

Anubha said...

Media should always get their facts right first before posting something so offensive to peoples' religious sentiments!

Good work !!

Toon India said...

very well written..and I agree with kapil..the tone is almost forcing one to align with her thoughts..rather it should have laid the ground open for people to introspect !!

Harleen Kaur said...

Now this is what I call as a "Dumdaar" reply.

I completely agree with you, I fail to understand, why some people are so insensitive about 1984 riots. Our brothers were burnt alive in front of us...and still the justice is pending. It is very easy to write an article of 200 words....I wish this writer had done some homework or at least she should have visited Tilak Vihar area of west Delhi to see and to feel the pain of 1984 riots victims. Wake up girl...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

DALJEET said...


It was really nice to someone of your age posing as spokespersons of our community. I believe that the younger generation of our community needs persons like you to lead. I always look forward for seeing your generations to respond as you people are more analytic and with fresh approach. Keep it up.

I have some personal experience, penned down and published. I will share with you.
with best wishes