June 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
Guru Piarey Jio,
We’ve had lots of messages recently regarding our post 6/6/12 Occupy our Gurdwaras. Most people have agreed that reform is required and also that more transparency is required. As always in any situation, the suggestions have been varied but what did stand out was the concern that there are some good people in these committees too and why we remain anonymous.
To address the second concern first, as we’ve said to anyone who asked, we are the dogs of the Panth, we are simply barking and fighting outside, we DO NOT want people to follow us. If our ideas or barking resonates, please come outside to join us in the struggle. The other reason is that in this battle, we are fighting with enemies that have vastly more resources at their disposal, so in order to level the playing field, we have to fight smart. If we came out in the public, the internal and external enemies would have a clear target to fire upon.
Now, in terms of not sullying the names of the Good Guys in committees (along with all the bad and inept people), internally our debate led us to start by not immediately naming every single person in the committee, just the obvious ones. Without engaging in slander, surely no Gurdwara ‘should’ mind us sharing very basic information, most of which is available to the Sangat in any case.
(1) The constitution of the Gurdwara
(2) The election manifestos of the Gurdwara committee.
Within just these basic bits of info, we should be able to determine what the Gurdwara was intended to provide, what the present management committee promised, the resources available to them and finally what they achieved. If there are good people on the committees, then this should be all the more reason for them to exercise their influence to get such promises delivered.
Take Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall for example. Its irrevelent where we live in the UK, this Gurdwara committee has within its control two of the most iconic gurdwaras in the UK. Every year, we get our cars and drive down to the Nagar kirtans and witness the streets of Southall literally orange and blue. The Gurdwaras have a combined income of around £2.4 million per year, own two massive buildings, have a massive amount of influence in Sikh affairs in the UK and yet like of our Gurdware, they fail to even deliver what they promised. Please find their constitution and the election manifesto of the current ‘Baaj Party’ attached. The main members of the Baaj Party are easily found on the Gurdwaras wikipedia entry or through any google search and actually they themselves publish a photo of each member around their ‘manifesto’. It makes for interesting reading.
What are the main points that come out of this?
The committee promises to immediately deliver…
(1) Financial transparency – Monthly accounts
(2) Youth Stakeholder Group
(3) Dedicated Funding for educational and faith based purposes, including the Sojhi curriculum by Sikh Research Institute
(4) Working with homeless organisations, alcohol and drug rehabilitation and counselling/mediation
(5) Working to visit Sikh prisoners.
Also, the Gurdwara Constitution gives the Main Aims of the Gurdwara to be 8 things (current as from March 2010)
(i) Establish one or more centres for religious worship and associated ancillary education and cultural activities including sports
(ii) Establish a library of books in English or Punjabi concerned with social religious or educational matters
(iii) Offer prizes, awards, scholarships and stipends in connection with Sikh religious studies
(iv) Sponsor and aid the publication of religious literature and the carrying our of religious instruction
(v) Establish nurseries and educational institutions having a connection with the Sikh religion.
(vi) Establish any other project that can aid the community ot promote the Sikh culture
(vii) Provide free board and lodgings to persons in necessitous circumstances provided they do not infringe the sanctity of the Gurdwaras.
(viii) Establish new and up to date facilities, e.g., ICT training (Information, communications and Technology) to promote the Sikh religion and Punjabi language.
Now, we can give our view on these, based on the conversations we’ve had with local sangat there, however, its not really our role to do this, its the sangat of the Gurdwara who must hold their ‘leaders’ to account. Therefore, our only request must be to those good guys in the committee to give their response as to that they have done for each point and also for the sangat there to decide if enough has been done.
In fact, why is it that even a university student society will have elections for each seat where the voters are able to ask questions but ina multi-million pound community thats built around ‘sangat’ we still never get a chance to question our own ‘leaders’.
We would recommend the sangat to read our posts on spring cleaning 1 and spring cleaning, 3, especially 3, to see our view on what a gurdwara committee and the gurdwara experience could be like and what they have now. The rest we leave to Vaheguru.