Gurpreet Singh: Sikh authority's call for four kids per family shows he has lost his mind

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The recent call from the head of the Akal Takhat—the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs—for the community to bear four children per family shows that he has lost his mind.

Gurbachan Singh issued the recommendation to Sikhs during the traditional Holla Mohalla Festival in Punjab.

He said that each family should give birth to at least four kids to increase the strength of the minority Sikh community, which makes up two percent of the Indian population.  

He rejected the family planning policy of the Indian government that aims to cut down ballooning population of the country.

Singh categorically denounced the government's small-family slogan, “We two, ours two,” and asked the Sikhs to rather adopt a “We Two and Our Four” approach to ensure the growth of Sikh population.

To be fair to Singh, one also needs to acknowledge that earlier this year, the ultra-right-wing Hindu nationalist leader Ashok Singhal advised Hindu families to produce five children. This would be to outdo the “growing” Muslim population in India.

This is despite the fact that the Hindu majority is dominant in a country known as the world’s largest secular democracy.

Singhal’s organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is a reactionary group explicitly involved in anti-Christian and anti-Muslim violence.

Whether Singh gave his statement about four children in response to the VHP leader remains unknown, but the two men have certainly waded into low-level identity politics.

Religious conservatives of all faiths are alike and feed into each other. Who mimicked whom does not mean much, as both statements carry potential to vitiate social harmony and create a fear about so-called “others”.

If these spiritual leaders are so concerned about the numbers, then they should first encourage their own relatives to produce more children and see the bad effects of big families within their own homes, rather than forcing others to produce more kids and bleed financially. 

Interestingly, Singhal's group is also opposed to Valentine's Day—an occasion that brings young lovers together.

Often boys and girls dating that day in India are harassed by Hindu fundamentalists. If Singhal really cares for the declining population he should let people make love to produce more babies.

Not only are these statements are inflammatory, but they also contradict what the faiths of these two men supposedly preach.

After all, Hindus claim that their philosophy considers this whole earth as one single family; Sikhs seek the well-being of all of humanity in their daily prayer.

If that is the case, then why need to increase the strength of Hindu and Sikh kids? Why not treat kids of other communities as our own?

It is well-known that the Indian population is growing at an alarming level. Thanks to their narrow tunnel of vision, these so-called spiritual leaders are indirectly advising people to push their homeland into crisis.

This principle also applies to leaders of other religions, such as Islam, Christianity or Judaism, who time and again have made similar rhetorical declarations against birth control in spite of growing pressure on our natural resources. 

Instead of asking community members to produce more children, if these leaders were wise enough, they would have urged them to adopt orphaned kids.

But this can only be expected from those who have compassion and wisdom. Apparently the two men lack both qualities.

Though Singhal represents a fanatic group, Singh is the custodian of an inclusive religious space. How come he has stooped to the level of copying a fundamentalist leader? 

It is pertinent to mention here that the Sikh faith is far more liberal and progressive than Hinduism because it opposes the caste system, female infanticide, gender inequality, and also social injustice.

Yet Singh’s statement reflects emerging regressive tendencies in the Sikh leadership. The Sikh clergy, rather than getting involved in moral policing, should first set its house in order.

Instead of telling Sikhs how to procreate or eat meals in community kitchen halls—Sikh clergy have, in the past, ostracized several Sikhs in Vancouver for denouncing an edict to serve meals in Sikh temples to those sitting cross legged on the floor—these leaders should first set high standards for themselves.

Only recently, Ajay Singh, a visiting priest and the son of a former head of the Akal Takhat, was convicted for sexual interference with a youth by a Canadian court.

But the Sikh clergy has remained mum on this matter and no punitive action has been initiated.

It is high time that Singh and company should show leadership on real pressing issues instead of intruding into the bedrooms of community members.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Manjit Singh
I don't agree with the author's views at all. He forgets to realize taht population of Indians is probably no different than the Chinese or the Europeans or the Africans on this Earth. They all just own more land than the Indians because Indians have never invaded a country or occupied a foreign land. Four or three or two or no children, Sikhs will be fine when it comes to preserving culture or Sikh values or heritage. Historically, this World has ruled in an American political fashion that is "winner takes all" or "majority wins". That would make Sikhs, who being a minority everywhere on this Earth, God forbid be on a losing side. There is a strength in numbers. I urge the author to read zafarnama where Guru Gobind Singh Ji mentioned the fairness of ten of thousands of Mughal soldiers fighting against a handful. All Sikhs want is to live and let live peacefully and freely but historically political authorities have not been able to digest this; be it the Mughal, the British or the Hindus.
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Freedom of choice.
People in Gurpreet's generation all had three or four siblings, so whats the problem with the Giani saying this. This one child policy was propagated by the indian government to get the already poor states like Bihar and UP to decrease their birth rate. The opposite happened, the Punjabs and Keralas of the country that had access to the media due to their affluence were more influenced by it. The fact is these are smaller states which even if they had a higher birth rate will not make much a of a dent in the overall figure but if only they keep reducing it and others with a much higher rate don't then in a democratic set up it will be cultural and political suicide and that is exactly what the Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains of India realize when they look at the near extinction of Parsis and Anglo Indians from india that has happened in a matter of two generations.

Its Gurpreet and his indian consulate handlers that are really making this something that it is not, out of fear, taking this as a sign of future minority or Sikh resurgence and getting panicked, in a sense they are losing their minds that minorities are thinking of their future and their community welfare and not toeing the government's line for once.
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RUK
Like rain on the weekends, the cries that Gurpreet Singh is an agent of Hindustan arise whenever he produces one of his invariably sensible and moderate secular statements.

In this case, he indicates that calls for an increase to India's population fail the moral test. And this is self evidently true. There is no point in trying to get from 2% to 2.1% (or, through diligent humping, even 4 or 5%) of the population, while the entire population risks economic and political destabilization.

But that is religion for you. Religious leaders know that their numbers can only be swelled through breeding believers, not attracting them. The ideas themselves, clearly, are not so relevant sensible or useful as to cause widespread adoption among grownups.

This is religion telling the world "it's you or me."
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@RUK
For you information Punjab is a tiny Indian state, and is a cultural and a linguistic entity in itself. Punjabi language and culture as it stands now is only preserved among the Sikh population. The hindus having abandoned their own language under the influence of Arya Samaj and other Hindu fanatic organizations in the 20th century creating the long drawn out conflict in Punjab which morphed into a Sikh struggle as a consequence. Besides, Sikhism is a universal religion that acknowledges the rightful existence of all other religions and cultures. "Sarbat da bhala" or the "well being if all" is a daily Sikh prayer.

There is no us and them in Sikhism unless "them" are the opressors. They could be Sikhs or anyone else. Besides Gurbachan Singh has nothing to gain from it. He commands only a group of shrines and some common religious rituals of the fifth largest religion in the world, with little authority over the rest of the Sikh shrines, diaspora etc. He however is listening to the intellectuals in the community who have expressed concern over the declining representation of Sikhs in the ever increasing poor masses of India who are swayed by the ultra right wing Hindu parties like the BJP and the Muslim populace which is bound to take a prominent role in the future due to their demographic advantage. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him or any other Sikh leader wanting to improve quality and quantity of the populace they represent.

As for Gurpreet he is working to an end that is by no means a secret from the public at large, an ideology and political persuasion that has been thoroughly rejected in India and in the diaspora as well. He should worry about Hidutva forces taking over the government in India where targeted killings of minorities have already started by people in the Hindutva brigade that openly admires hitler and his ideology. As for the consulate folks they know who and what works in their favour. Afterall, they have been active in this country since the late 70's under the nose of Canadian intelligence and a few(diplomats) have been expelled for disruptive activities and stirring up trouble here in Canada. The most recent case being in Germany where an Indian spy posing as a Sikh temple member(and covertly creating trouble in the temple) was expelled by the German government after being caught by their intelligence.
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