In my Google Reader, I have subscribed to the articles feed of http://www.sikhchic.com/ , which is an online magazine run by Sikh/Punjabi Intellectual elite from North America, and I came across “Beware… Punjab is being Invaded …Again!” which states and provides reference to a report by Tehelka.com :
The people of Punjab and India are being sold an ideology(Christianity) which has already proved bankrupt elsewhere, and now threatens the very existence of a society shaped by the incomparably rich and unique philosophy of the Gurus.
The other article “Punjab: Battleground Anew” states:
Conversions have been happening all over the world, including Punjab. They are not likely to cease; after all, there is a smorgasbord of religions in the growing and global free marketplace out there.
But why all this emphasis on the small state of Punjab?
So I posted a comment to this article about my view point as :
The ground realities of christian conversions are:If not all, most of the conversions are by the people from dalit background/weaker economic sections. Now, why they turn to Christianity:
- The Sikh bodies are mostly controlled by either Jat /Arora Sikh communities, so definitely there is discrimination against the Dalits in Sikh shrines. To have a different identity, they find solace in another faith or sect, be it a Dera, Christianity etc. If you argue there is no discrimination you can watch this documentary “The Untouchables” about the discrimination.
- Having their own temple/church/gurduara gives them a sense of economic/social independence from the economically stronger sections. But since the Christian proselytizing organizations pump in money, it is easy for them to have there own shrine. But on the other side. the funding in Sikhism is bottom driven and SGPC, being dominated by Jat Sikhs /Politicaly nexed up, don’t/won’t provide any funds to Dalits for their gurdwaras.
These are the key reasons why Dalits are easily lured into membership in other sects and belief systems, despite the vested interests the latter invariably have. Sikhism has been neglecting them. Actually having conversion further segregates them into discriminated society.
In its earlier times, Sikhism was a social revolution. But nowdays, it has forgotten its mission. Where the emphasis is on building a different identity rather building a healthy social system. If you chant Guru Granth Sahib verses like mantras without telling their meanings, then there is no point in saying ‘Ham Hindu Nahin’.
Moreover the rhetoric of guarding our people from conversions will make sense , if they the discriminated get equal rights. Which is far from happening.
There has been acts of violence against the christian converts in the southern states like Orissa by the Hindutva brigade. The reason being Hindutva and Christianity both have run campaigns to convert the innocent tribals/dalits into their faiths and runing their own schools, Nobody wants to work for their social upliftment , they just want to tag them as Hindus or Christians. In the end they pay the price of being uneducated,impoverished and Dalits, by getting killed and tortured.
There is no point in fearing from the conversions if there are anomalies in Sikhism which can not provide solace to certain people. Let them live their way . If we in Sikhism can do something is run a campaign for making them aware, providing them the means to have social /economic security, rather then safeguarding them or converting them back.