Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
Today, November 8 is Gurpurab, the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.
On this occasion, I convey my greetings to my Sikh brothers and sisters.
Sikhs have great quality, but they also have great defects. I may point out both.
Their great quality is the spirit of service in them. Whenever there is a calamity or someone is in distress, Sikhs are the first to come to their aid. This is due to the spirit of ‘seva’ ( service to fellow humans ) which Guru Nanak inculcated among his disciples.
When there were floods in Bihar, Sikh youth were the first to come to help the affected. When a Muslim youth was attacked for having an affair with a Hindu girl, a Sikh sub-inspector, Gagandeep Singh, protected him by taking blows on his body.
Sikhs have helped Ukrainians during the current war, they have helped in the covid crisis, they have fed the hungry all over the world.
Countless such instances can be given of Sikhs helping others.
But the Sikhs also have a great defect.
Sikhism arose as a revolt against the inhumane caste system, and Guru Nanak taught equality of all humans. But do Sikhs practice this? On the contrary, Sikhs practice the caste system, which is totally against what Guru Nanak taught.
Jat Sikhs, who are the dominant Sikh caste, and are big landholders, look down on Dalit (mazhabi) Sikhs, regard them as inferior, and do not establish marital relations with them.
In the Indian army, there are two Sikh units, the Sikh Regiment which has Jat Sikhs, and the Sikh Light Infantry which has Dalit Sikhs. This indicates that Jat and Dalit Sikh soldiers have to be kept apart, otherwise there would be fights among them, as Jat Sikhs regard Dalit Sikhs as inferior. Is this what Guru Nanak taught?