Saturday April 20, 2019

Is it right for Sikhs to oppose the inclusion of Golden Temple in World Heritage Site list?

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Fearing external intervention in the religious affairs of Sikhs, the community worldwide is vehemently opposing the inclusion of Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will be held in Bonn, Germany in June 2015 to decide the new add-ons in the list of the World Heritage Sites. With 32 such sites already in the list, India’s proposal for 47 more sites (including the Golden Temple) will be considered by the committee this year.

However, the issue has irked some segments of Sikh community.

A petition, submitted on Change.org by a Sikh student in Belgium asking UNESCO to score through Harmandir Sahib from the tentative list, has fetched almost 15,000 signatures. The petition reasons:

To declare Harmandir Sahib as a heritage site is highly shocking to the entire Sikh community. This place belongs to the Sikh community and it is not the right of anyone to take it over. The present generation Sikh community is looking after Sri Harmandir Sahib very well and it stands as the most important place of Sikhs and Sikhism.

The Sikh community does not endorse the consideration of Sri Harmandir Sahib as a Heritage site by the Indian Government to UNESCO / UN.  This move has not been done by involving the Sikh community but has been silently done without sharing information about it to the Sikh community. In fact, it stands as a complete deceit to the entire Sikh community by offering away the rights of our holiest shrine.

The opponents also include the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which administers the Golden Temple. Organizations such as Dal Khalsa in UK and sikh24.com assert that the site’s inclusion in World Heritage Sites is Indian government’s gambit to gain control over the holiest Sikh shrine. Undoubtedly, the resistance is entrenched in the fear that designating the Golden Temple as a World Heritage equals to an inexorable loss of control.

Is the outcry justified?

In fact, this fear stands on an illogical ground. There is never a claim of possession or supervision made by UNESCO on any World Heritage Site. Most importantly, being tagged as a World Heritage Site is a symbolic tribute for the site’s exceptional contribution to humanity, culture and heritage. The honor is combined with UNESCO’s eternal commitment to preserve site’s indispensable features.

The SGPC says that it needs no external aide in maintaining the complex – something that is justified to an extent. However, Harmandir Sahab’s inclusion in World Heritage Site may prompt enhancements around the complex. It will, at the same time, check any kind of new developments there that can harm the structure.

In fact, former general secretary of SGPC, Kiranjot Kaur, had told a newspaper that the entire social media misinformation campaign against the inclusion of Golden Temple in the list is utterly baseless.

UNESCO quotes, “World Heritage Sites belong to all the people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located,” – few lines, which are enough to challenge the presumption of sites like sikh24.com and petition by Sikh student on Change.org.

No doubt, the continuous opposition from the Sikh community worldwide can force World Heritage Community to strike off the name of Harmandir Sahib, but imagine what a pity it would be for the citizens of India.

Next Story

Sikhs In U.S. To Donate Funds, Food To Unpaid TSA Workers

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes. 

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Photo: metro.co.uk

Two Sikh communities in the US state of Indiana will donate funds and food to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers, as they remain unpaid due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The Sikh community of Fishers, Indiana, and Gurinder Singh Khalsa of SikhsPAC, a national Sikh political action committee, are coordinating with Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and Aaron Batt, TSA Federal Security Director, to support TSA agents, who are impacted by the shutdown, the American Bazaar news portal reported on Thursday.

“The community has come forward and is keen to support the workers who are undergoing the crisis of missing their paychecks,” Khalsa told the portal.

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Sikhs in US to donate funds, food to unpaid federal workers,representational image

He said that $5,000 in gift/grocery cards and more than $5,000 worth of hot food will be delivered to the TSA agents at the Indianapolis Airport on January 28.

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.

“We are looking at the places that can offer us good discounts so that we can deliver maximum stuff to workers affected,” he said.

TSA official Batt said the communities’ efforts were “overwhelming and amazing”.

To ensure that the community is able to offer helping hands to federal workers until the shutdown ends, the Sikhs in Fishers have vowed to encourage more Sikh temples and faith-based organisations in the state to come forward in assisting in the coming weeks if needed.

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Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.  ( IANS)

“Our community kitchen will continue serving every Sunday and we will deliver hot food weekly to our TSA public servants on a weekly basis until the shutdown is lifted,” Khalsa said.

TSA falls under the Department of Homeland Security and has about 60,000 employees.

Its workers are one of the lowest paid employees and have been working without pay since the shutdown began on December 22.

Also Read: Are Indian Scientists’ Minds Cluttered With Prejudices?

TSA also has a much larger minority concentration of employees with about 22.9 per cent of them being African American employees, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The partial government shutdown continues as President Donald Trump demands $5.7 billion for a wall along the US-Mexico border and Democratic lawmakers decline to approve it.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay since then. (IANS)