NRI Sikhs seek share in SGPC pie

New Delhi, Dec 10, 2004

Sikhs living abroad want representation in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which they say should open branches across the world's main cities to give immediate attention to issues facing them on international scene.

To support their demand, they cite problems faced by Sikh pupils in France over their turbans since the anti-veil ban came in force.

In the post-9/11 US, Sikhs also became mistaken target of racial ire because of their turbans and beard.

''The SGPC should allow membership to non-resident Sikhs in today's globalised world so that the community members get immediate solution to their religious and identity issues which were unheard of some years ago,'' US Sikh Democrat leader Mohinder Singh Taneja told reporters here.

Mr Taneja is also Director (Business Development) in Nassau County's Department of Economic Development and was appointed to the post by County Executive Thomas Suozzi.

''Issues such as the turban row in France have underlined the need for giving Sikhs living abroad an official religious platform to present their case strongly,'' he said.

Pravasi Bharatiya Welfare Association Secretary-General J S Malhotra, a media consultant in Britain, also echoed Mr Taneja's views.

''I think there is a greater need for Sikhs overseas to have religious representation in the SGPC, the supreme Sikh body,'' Mr Malhotra said.

He regretted that the Sikh community abroad had got fractured on regional lines. Even gurdwaras there are tagged to different Punjab regions, such as Doaba, Malwa and Majha, Mr Malhotra said.

''We need a uniform religious policy conforming to the spirit of the Sikh faith that rejects all distinctions as mere manifestation of personal ego.''