Modern Day Sikhism
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Home: Religion: Sikhism: Modern Day Sikhism.

Modern Day Sikhism

The religion of Sikhism is one of the most popular religions in the world.

Overview of Modern Day Sikhism

The months leading up to the partition of India in 1947, saw heavy conflict in the Punjab between Sikh and Muslims, which saw the effective religious migration of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus from West Punjab which mirrored a similar religious migration of Punjabi Muslims in East Punjab. The 1960s saw growing animosity and rioting between Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus in India, as the Punjabi Sikhs agitated for the creation of a Punjabi Sikh majority state, an undertaking which was promised to the Sikh leader Master Tara Singh by Nehru in return for Sikh political support during the negotiations for Indian Independence. Sikhs obtained the Sikh majority state of Punjab on November 1, 1966.

Communal Tensions
Communal tensions arose again in the late 1970s, fueled by Sikh claims of discrimination and marginalization by the secularist dominated Indian National Congress ruling party and the "dictatorial" tactics adopted the then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Frank argues that Gandhi's assumption of emergency powers in 1975 resulted in the weakening of the "legitimate and impartial machinery of government" and her increasing "paranoia" of opposing political groups led her to instigate a "despotic policy of playing castes, religions and political groups against each other for political advantage".

Sikh leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
As a reaction against these actions came the emergence of the Sikh leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who vocalized Sikh sentiment for justice and advocated the creation of a Sikh homeland, Khalistan. This accelerated Punjab into a state of communal violence. Gandhi's 1984 action to defeat Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale led to desecration of the Golden Temple in Operation Bluestar and ultimately led to Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. This resulted in an explosion of violence against the Sikh community in the Anti Sikh Riots which resulted in the massacre of thousands of Sikhs throughout India.

Sikh, Hindu Relations
Since 1984, relations between Sikhs and Hindus have reached a rapprochement helped by growing economic prosperity; however in 2002 the claims of the popular right-wing Hindu organization the RSS, that "Sikhs are Hindus" angered Sikh sensibilities. Many Sikhs still are campaigning for justice for victims of the violence and the political and economic needs of the Punjab espoused in the Khalistan movement.

In 1996 the Special Rapporteur for the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia, 1993–2004), visited India in order to compose a report on religious discrimination. In 1997, Amor concluded, "it appears that the situation of the Sikhs in the religious field is satisfactory, but that difficulties are arising in the political (foreign interference, terrorism, etc.), economic, in particular with regard to sharing of water supplies and even occupational fields. Information received from non-government sources indicates that discrimination does exist in certain sectors of the public administration; examples include the decline in the number of Sikhs in the police force and the absence of Sikhs in personal bodyguard units since the murder of Indira Gandhi".

In May 22, 2004 Manmohan Singh became the first Sikh to become the Prime Minister of India:

 

 
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