The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), which has placed itself as the custodian body for Sikh religious affairs, has limited the definition of a true Sikh is one who adheres to all tenets of the Khalsa as laid down by the tenth Guru of the Sikh faith, Guru Gobind Singh. It has defined such followers as “Amritdhari Sikh” and vested only upon them the right to vote for SGPC elections. For the remainder, it has coined different (often derogatory) definitions like “Sehajdhari” – someone who has taken the path of gradually adopting Sikh tenets and ‘Patit” – those Sikhs who trimmed their beard and hair. There are also around 100–140 million Nanak Naam Leva (Those who believe in Guru Nanak) across the world who believe in the Sikh Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Of these, approximately 83 per cent live in India.
All segments given above have been denied voting rights by the SGPC, and by so doing, they have been isolated from the Sikh Church. More serious is the massive conversions of the lower strata of Sikhs to Christianity that is being carried out openly and through a well-planned and systematic process of exploiting their vulnerabilities. The Sikh clergy has no plan in place to stop this practice.
There are two main reasons for this migration. First, the environment of militancy drove able-bodied men out of the state and into foreign countries. Second, complete lack of economic opportunities due to poor, parochial leadership that laid too much dependency upon the green revolution. As the impact of the green revolution started waning due to landholdings getting smaller and with no alternative employment opportunities being put in place by successive governments, the young blood took to migration.
Now, settling abroad has replaced the earlier lure of the Armed Forces to become a symbol of social status among the Sikhs. Punjab should be the place where Punjabiat flourishes to benefit the coming generations to imbibe a spirit of belonging. It is from Punjab that the spiritual message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib should emanate to the whole world.