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Critical Response to Sikh Policy Document by Custodians at Akal Takht Sahib (by Free Akal Takht)

August 15, 2021 | By

Amritsar: The SGPC appointed acting Jathedar and his staff at Akal Takht Sahib released a document titled “Contemporary Sikh Concerns and Priorities” (CSCP) that outlined Policy Directions and Institution building for the Sikhs on June 3rd 2021 to a large chosen batch.

Free Akal Takht initiative has responded to this documents. A sewadar of Free AKal Takht initiative told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) that [a]fter thoroughly reviewing (CSCP) we drafted a response to take this to the next level and keep this work going.

Full text of response by Free Akal Takht reads as follows:-

Response to “Contemporary Sikh Concerns & Priorities” published by Secretariat, Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Amritsar

29 July 2021

Response to “Contemporary Sikh Concerns & Priorities” published by Secretariat, Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Amritsar

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫ਼ਤਿਹ

(Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih)

The “Contemporary Sikh Concerns and Priorities” (CSCP) document by Akal Takht Sahib is a welcomed step toward policy and institution development. Engaging in political-spiritual policy development and implementation based on the Guru’s teachings is essential to the practice of Miri-Piri. The intellectual prowess vested in the Khalsa, by the Guru’s grace, has another moment to offer suggestions. It is a welcomed initiative by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) appointed acting Jathedar at the Akal Takht Sahib. The CSCP document is an important deliberation starter for the Khalsa and therefore is a huge milestone that may live as a legend in the hallowed halls of the Panth’s history. 

That being said, the main Sikh concerns that need to be solved before policy and institution development, are not addressed. The document Akal Takht Sahib has published is equivalent to reaching for the fourth step in a stairwell when steps one through three are missing. The foundation is missing and if one tries to put their foot on it to climb, the stairwell will inevitably collapse. In recent history the Khalsa has never had an issue starting projects, organizations, or creating policies/directives to handle specific tasks when it is the need of the hour. Similar efforts have been initiated by Akal Takht Sahib since the 1990s, with good intentions, but they all ultimately failed because every effort incorrectly starts on project and policy directives (even if they are good) and never processes or governance. Without process there is a lack of accessibility, trust, and buy-in from the Khalsa collective. Additional side effects of no process are: compromising Gurmat (Sikh values), reduced thought development capability, no legitimacy on the world stage, no accountability, and inability to harness potential. The CSCP document is also not immune to any of the aforementioned side effects. Therefore, the central problem facing the Panth today is the lack of process and governance in developing and creating policies as well as institutions and projects that can uphold Sikh sovereignty in all spheres of life.

The policy stances of the Khalsa cannot be unilaterally created without approval of the Khalsa collective. The Khalsa must not be reduced to a few elected or selected individuals in privileged positions with an amplified voice to make decisions that affect the entire Sikh Nation. Akal Takht Sahib is the supreme authority of the Sikhs and the seat of Guru Panth but only if Guru Panth can exercise its ability to make decisions as a whole. This is not a unique problem for the Khalsa. All established peoples and nations in history have developed the process for deliberation, decision making, and governance through systems like: Naachid (Navajo Nation), Loya Jirga (Afghanistan, Pashtan people), Papal Conclave & Apostolic Constitution (Vatican, Catholicism), The Lögrétta of Alþingi (Iceland), Halakhic process (Israel, Judaism), Ijtihad (Islamic States, Sharia Law), “Rules and Tradition of Parliament” (United Kingdom), “Rules and Administration” Congress and Senate (United States of America), etc. The decision making process for the Khalsa is the unique institution of Sarbat Khalsa. Akal Takht Sahib’s action must be based on the Gurmata issued by Sarbat Khalsa. In the absence of Sarbat Khalsa it must be the number one priority for all, who through Hukam, have the power to support the re-establishment of our unique sovereign deliberation and decision making body for our governance in modern times.

Many notions need deliberations to fully conceive a governance system. Towards that, in current asks of the CSCP document, these are our suggested steps in order to reach the goal of policy and institution development:

    1. Establish a system of process and team for giving Sikh’s a “Panthic Security Clearance”
      1. Must be independent and developed by an independent team
      2. Equivalent to security clearance processes of the nations of the world
      3. Special attention to investigating conflicts of interest which must disqualify one from participation like the following:
        1. Stakes/positions in governments; especially in the Panjab and in Indian governments.
        2. Undeclared financial instability and personal misconduct which could be used for blackmail
    2. Establish a team of highly skilled Information Technology and Computer Programming Professionals who have Panthic Security Clearance with the following mandate:
      1. Establish a secure internet based communication and data storage infrastructure that is free from all foreign government influence, especially the Indian Government and its states; the implementation of distributed ledger technology should be thoroughly investigated in the development of this infrastructure
      2. Create trainings on how to use these infrastructures and deploy them to all Sikhs with a Panthic Security Clearance
      3. Establish the Khalsa domain “*.khalsa” for the internet
      4. Create and maintain web pages and their associated tools for virtual Sarbat Khalsa and all future Sikh Institutions to enact policy mandated by Gurmata from Sarbat Khalsa
    3. Establish a team of Amritdhari Sikhs who have a Panthic Security Clearance with the mandate of writing Sarbat Khalsa procedures for modern times in consultation with the experts in the Information Technology and Computer Programming team. So this team is not starting from scratch below are some relevant starters:
      1. Suggested starting point for Sarbat Khalsa process development can be found here Draft Sarbat Khalsa Procedures
      2. Preliminary Research for debate and discussion on Sarbat Khalsa Process and Akal Takht Sahib Governance of the Sikhs can be found here Modeling Sarbat Khalsa Presentation
      3. This document is a case study where Diaspora Sikh’s participated in Model Sarbat Khalsa events where proposals were considered using a Sarbat Khalsa inspired process:
        1. Diaspora Polling Brief
        2. Attendee Detailed Responses during Model Sarbat Khalsa events
    4. The, Sikh Policy and Institution development for topics, the CSPC document, can be debated and finalized within Sarbat Khalsa to culminate in Gurmata. 
    5. It is pertinent that Gurmata from Sarbat Khalsa is implemented through a sovereign Akal Takht Sahib. This practically means Akal Takht Sahib must exercise its power to implement Gurmata outside the political and legal systems of all countries and political parties. So Akal Takht Sahib must establish offices or agencies based upon the direction of Sarbat Khalsa. A suggested starting point for deliberation of what this could look like can be found in this document Akal Takht Sahib Draft Framework.

Lastly, the Sikhs today are a stateless Nation, but still need to function. The current technology (self sovereign digital technology) offers us the ability to adapt to our current status. Akal Takht Sahib needs to function with or without statehood; the same goes for the Sarbat Khalsa.

May the ‘Rider of the Blue Steed’ help us!

Free Akal Takht team

[email protected]

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