With co-operation and support from ASSA (Asian American Seniors Association) and Akal Foundation, IFCAPS (institute for conflict and peace Studies) organized, a very well attended function in Palatine village library on Saturday, September, 4, 2010. The function was dedicated to the sacred memory of Giani Ditt Singh. Subject of discussion and reflection was- Future of Sikh-Dalit Relationship. The discussion lasted for almost four hours. During the discussion Prof. Jaginder Singh Ramdev, Sh. Ram Lal, Dr. Baldev Singh, Dr. Swaranjeet Singh and Prof. Kulwant Singh Hundal expressed their views on the subject.
President of IFCAPS S. Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj welcomed the chief guest and inaugurated the discussion. He said Giani Dit Singh was great social reformer with keen intellect who used his mighty pen to re-establish and highlight the unique heritage of Sikhism. Today, once again we eagerly await those mighty minds that dedicate themselves to the Panth rather than to their narrow selfish business interests and pursuits.
Executive Director of IFCAPS Dr. Swaranjeet Singh said, “ the holy hymn of Guru Nanak that states – neechaa andar neech jaat neechee hoo at neech. naanak tin kai sang saath vadi-aa si-o ki-aa rees. jithai neech samaalee-an tithai nadar tayree baksheesh -is a testimony that faithful Sikhs consider themselves lowly of the low, indeed a Dalit , an humble servant of humanity. Dr. Ambedkar was a man of very keen intellect and wisdom. If only he had paid no heed to the disappointing responses and comments of the so called Sikh leaders of the times and had claimed the unique uplifting and emancipating heritage of Sikhism, the Dalits would not be as miserable as they are today and the pure stream of Sikhism would not have become a pool of stagnant waters. To claim Sikhism Dr. Ambedkar needed no permission and stamp of approval from the Sikh leaders of the times and nor do his followers need it today. Gruesome murder of a Dalit leader in Austria has cast a plume of distrust and hatred on Dalit- Sikh harmony and has brought Punjab to the brink of chaos and conflict that could lead to a civil war like atmosphere. The crying need is that the Dalits should make an all out democratic effort to bring about a constructive democratic political alternative and also claim their spiritual heritage following in the footsteps of Giani Dit Singh”
In his long discourse on Dalit-Sikh relations Prof. Jaginder Singh Ramdev, pointed out the glorious contribution of the Dalits in Sikh struggles for social justice, equality and religious freedom. He lamented that today Sikhism has lost its spiritual strength and glory for want of sincere will and faithful devotion in day to day life. This could have serious repercussions in the days ahead. We, all must do our best to revive, imbibe and implement the core Sikh values of justice and equality. In his very logical dissertation Dr.Baldev Singh emphasized the need to follow in the footsteps of Giani Dit Singh in solving and improving currently crumbling relations amongst the Sikhs and the Dalits. He emphasized wisdom, tolerance and civilized dialogue should have precedence over prejudice and raw emotions. Executive secretary of IFCAPS Prof. Kulwant Singh pointed out that current misunderstanding and friction amongst the Sikhs and the Dalits does not bode well for both. Unfriendly forces are out there to add fuel to the fire. Both must be beware of this danger. He very emphatically urged all to imbibe and implement core Sikh spiritual message of universal brotherhood under the Fatherhood of One Nirankar. Since Sikhism is a universal heritage, its blessings, grace and spiritual wisdom is everyone’s birth right.
Those who passionately participated in this spirited discussion included S. Gaurav Singh, Harvind Kaur Singh, S. Harmmet Singh, Bibi Ginni Kaur, Bhai Mohinder Singh, S. Surinderpal Singh Kalra, S. Thakur Singh Basati, Inderjit Singh Mukker and Shri Ram lal. Shri Ram Lal appreciated IFCAPS initiative in highlighting the painful problem and seeking its solution through dialogue and discussion. He lamented that SGPC has no program to uplift the Dalits and assimilate them into the benevolent embrace of Sikhism. This is what leads Dalits to the deras for fulfillment of their material and spiritual needs.