Development of ‘Sikh Council UK’ The case for the development of Sikh Council United Kingdom.

The case for the development of Sikh Council United Kingdom.

From time to time the Sikhs have had to develop organisational structures in order to meet the emerging needs. In developing a structure for the Sikh Council United Kingdom, it is important to draw lessons from history and clearly set out issues this structure seeks to address and any principles it will be informed by. 
At the time of the Guru Amar Das Ji the system of Manjis was established to spread the teachings of the faith, to become meeting points and to gather offerings. The Manjis were geographically spread and worked extremely well for a considerable period of time. Effectively they also became a vehicle to spread news, collect revenue, spread the message, set new norms and generally serve as governance points. It can be safely said that they became an independent structure within the State. Unfortunately over the years some of them were taken over by Mahants and in years to follow they became corrupt and exploitative of the Sangat, until Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji formally abolished them. However, the Mahant, Nirmalas etc continued to control many Sikh shrines well into the nineteenth century.
This resulted in maladministration of resources and corruption of the Guru’s teachings. This problem was eventually addressed through the formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee (SPGC) in 1920’s.Whilst  this lead to considerable standardisation of the rehat maryada there remained a small element which refused to tow the Panthic line. This dormant problem has resurfaced due to state manipulation and easy availability of resources from UK, Canada etc. In Feb 1608, Sri Guru Hargobind Ji established the Akaal Takhat Sahib Ji as a distinct entity from the Mogul state structure.
In modern times the Panth decided to add four other Takhats to it with a view to providing governance and rallying points in various parts of India. There are various issues in relation to effectiveness of this structure in championing the Sikh cause but it is widely accepted that the sovereignty and integrity of Sri Akal Takhat sahib Ji must be preserved at all cost. 
During the 18th Century due to mass persecution the Sikhs divided themselves into about 148 Jathas, these then became the 12 Misls (means equals) leading eventually to the Khalsa Raj 2 and 3. During these times the concept of Jathas and Sardars was well established. The key decisions were made by the Sarbat Khalsa at Vaisakhi and Diwali in the form of Gurmatas. The Guru Granth, Guru Panth and Guru Khalsa were well understood ideas and rooted into the psyche of the Sikhs.
This system eventually clearly delivered community safety, prosperity and self determination. However, the British and later the Indians discouraged the continuation of this tradition which could easily be resurrected. From about 1849 onwards the Sikhs have relied mainly on the Jatha system for mobilisation of the community. In order to meet the new challenges being faced by the community a political party, Akali Dal was established. The Party has been particularly successful in leading campaigns and its strength lied in the ability to mobilise the Panth from the grass roots.Pre 1947, the Sikhs relied very heavily on the SPGC and the Akali Dal to secure positive outcomes for the community and keep it safe. 
From time to time the Sikhs have had to develop organisational structures in order to meet the emerging needs. In developing a structure for the Sikh Council United Kingdom, it is important to draw lessons from history and clearly set out issues this structure seeks to address and any principles it will be informed by. 
At the time of the Guru Amar Das Ji the system of Manjis was established to spread the teachings of the faith, to become meeting points and to gather offerings. The Manjis were geographically spread and worked extremely well for a considerable period of time. Effectively they also became a vehicle to spread news, collect revenue, spread the message, set new norms and generally serve as governance points. It can be safely said that they became an independent structure within the State.
Unfortunately over the years some of them were taken over by Mahants and in years to follow they became corrupt and exploitative of the Sangat, until Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji formally abolished them. However, the Mahant, Nirmalas etc continued to control many Sikh shrines well into the nineteenth century. This resulted in maladministration of resources and corruption of the Guru’s teachings.
This problem was eventually addressed through the formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee (SPGC) in 1920’s.Whilst  this lead to considerable standardisation of the rehat maryada there remained a small element which refused to tow the Panthic line.
This dormant problem has resurfaced due to state manipulation and easy availability of resources from UK, Canada etc. In Feb 1608, Sri Guru Hargobind Ji established the Akaal Takhat Sahib Ji as a distinct entity from the Mogul state structure. In modern times the Panth decided to add four other Takhats to it with a view to providing governance and rallying points in various parts of India. There are various issues in relation to effectiveness of this structure in championing the Sikh cause but it is widely accepted that the sovereignty and integrity of Sri Akal Takhat sahib Ji must be preserved at all cost. 
During the 18th Century due to mass persecution the Sikhs divided themselves into about 148 Jathas, these then became the 12 Misls (means equals) leading eventually to the Khalsa Raj 2 and 3. During these times the concept of Jathas and Sardars was well established. The key decisions were made by the Sarbat Khalsa at Vaisakhi and Diwali in the form of Gurmatas. The Guru Granth, Guru Panth and Guru Khalsa were well understood ideas and rooted into the psyche of the Sikhs. This system eventually clearly delivered community safety, prosperity and self determination. However, the British and later the Indians discouraged the continuation of this tradition which could easily be resurrected. From about 1849 onwards the Sikhs have relied mainly on the Jatha system for mobilisation of the community. In order to meet the new challenges being faced by the community a political party, Akali Dal was established. The Party has been particularly successful in leading campaigns and its strength lied in the ability to mobilise the Panth from the grass roots.Pre 1947, the Sikhs relied very heavily on the SPGC and the Akali Dal to secure positive outcomes for the community and keep it safe.    As history has recorded the outcomes for the community have been far less than ideal .The above institutes and the loose Jatha system completely failed to safe guard the community during 1945-1947 and between 1978-1995.It has not delivered governance so that the Sikh Community  could too ‘enjoy the glow of freedom’. In modern times the built heritage of Sikhs has been destroyed, no justice has been achieved for the victims of genocide and we are constantly in state of “REACTING” .The acts of physical violence are now supported with attacks on the very core of the Sikh paradigm. .                                                                                                           
The success of the community in Panjab and India has been largely due to migration relieving pressure on resources, inward investment by migrants and hard work ethic. In UK and Europe the Community has largely relied upon the Gurdwaras to meet all its needs. To some extent this has been successful. However the capacity of the Gurdwaras to deliver on all fronts is limited. Therefore, there has been development of a number of institutes such as AKJ, British Sikh Federation, United Sikhs, and Sikhs for Justice, BOSS, SCYS, ASHT, NSHC&HM etc which have organised around specific activities outside of Gurdwaras to deal with the issues affecting the community.
The Sikhs are one of the few remaining UK communities without a representative structure, an impression of disunity and lack of strategic thinking. 
As for all communities the satellite TV, DAB radio, internet and mobile phones, text messaging, facebook, MSN, twitter etc, have revolutionised communication. Issues are being debated openly on many forums such as the Sikh Channel, Panjab Radio etc but there are structural gaps in the follow through. In other words it has been repeatedly shown that there is a gap as to the delivery mechanism for the community aspirations and actions agreed following debates.
The new framework being proposed for United Kingdom and possibly for Europe aims to address it by having a clear Sikh agenda and a plan to achieve it. 
Key Points about SCUK What is SCUK?
It is a shared platform for all Sikhs to come together to set and deliver on a common agenda. 
What is SCUK not?
1. It is not a vehicle to control, interfere or influence the internal workings of an organisation,
2. It is not designed to replace the work of existing organisations
3. It is not designed to create divisions
4. It will not act by majority vote but will seek achieve consensus
5. It is not a militant organisation. 
What will be structure?
1. Every Gurdwara in UK can become member provided it meets basic conditions
2. Any Sikh institute that has been operating for a at least 3 years can potentially join
3. It recognises talent, experience and wisdom
4. A team of paid staff will support the volunteers involved in governance

5. It will use modern technology and work within the systems

 

Downloadable Information on: www.sikhcounciluk.org
Email: info@sikhcounciluk.org