Of caste and Sikhs

Jyoti Grewal’s, Betrayed by the State: The Anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 in “Memories that haunt”, (Saturday Extra, Dec 15) by Khushwant Singh. She is grossly misinformed about castes of the Sikhs. Sikhs have a caste system similar to Hindus. Non-Jat Sikhs are not Bhapas as she has said in her book. Perhaps she is also ignorant about 1931 census report which gives following figures caste-wise Jats 66 per cent Dalits 12 per cent, Tarkhans (Ramgarhia 8 per cent, Aroras 5 per cent Kambojs 3 per cent Sainis 2 per cent , Khatris 2 per cent and remaining 2 per cent consists of Brahmins, Rajputs and Kalals (Ahluwalias) of the total Sikh population.

After 1931, the Jat Sikh population has increased because it was during this time that the British rulers gave them thousands of acres of land and jobs in military and civil services. It was during this period that they became more prosperous and educated. Sir Denzil Ibbetson in the late 19th century conducted a detailed study of the caste system in composite Punjab of which present East Punjab is just one-fifth in area. It appears that Jyoti Grewal is not from a village.

In villages of Majha and Doaba, Bhapa is used for father. In the Pothohar region of Pak Punjab, it is used for father and elder brother. Its parallel in Malwa is Bai. For reference, see the Lahore High Court judgement of 1936, Allahabad High Court judgement of 2000 and article, Jats of Punjab and Sind by Irfan Habib of the AMU. Casteism is taboo in Sikhism that is why Akalis write Badal, Talwandi, Tohra, Longowal, Majitha etc. and not their caste names.

DEEP BRAR, Ajitwal


Murder of love

I read Subhrangshu Gupta’s write-up “Murder of love” (Saturday Extra). The half name of Rizwanur Rahman should be writen as Rizwan ur Rahman, as “ur” is a proposition. Rizwan is the name of the angel, who is the janitor of paradise. It also means God’s pleasure. Rahman means most merciful as an attribute of God. However, Rizwan was not lucky enough to have divine favours in his married life.

There is a Punjabi saw: Bhukh na puchhey laazma tey ishq na puchhey zaat (Hunger does not wait for a stew and love does not bother about castes). Love flames naturally and spontaneously. Mohabbat ki nahin jaati mohabbat ho hee jaati hai/Ye sho’la khud bharak uthta hai bharkaaya nahin jaata.


Hafeez Jalandhari

It is sad to find Khushwant Singh under-rating Hafeez Jalandhari, a great Urdu poet, by referring to him as “the outstanding example of one who is known largely because of one poem” and saying that “few people know anything else written by him” ( Saturday Extra, December 8). In fact, Hafeez Jalandhari has written many outstanding poems like Faraeb-e-Azadi, Jalva-e-Sahar, Mera Kalam-e-Behterin and many ghazals. Which lover of Urdu poetry has not admired his ghazal opening with the lines:

Hum hi mein thi na koi baat, yaad na tum ko Aa sake; tumne hamein bhula diya, hum na tumhein bhula sake? Khushwant Singh should have read the poetic works of Hafeez Jalandhari thoroughly before evaluating the poetic genius of the latter and his contribution to Urdu poetry.


Consumer rights

Pushpa Girimaji should enlighten the readers regarding what should be done about badly (read horribly) maintained roads. Recently the front tyre of my car burst after having hit the edges of pot-holes (which are in hundreds) on the road between Bharatgarh and Kiratpur Sahib in Ropar district.

She should give ‘citation’ of the cases for the benefit of persons approaching the consumer fora.n

A.K. SHARMA, Chandigarh


We need to learn from Yunus’ noble mission

After reading Shiv Kumar’s article “Man on a noble mission” (Spectrum, Dec 9), one admires Dr. Mohammad Yunus for the wonders he has done for the empowerment of the poor in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank, established by Dr. Yunus, has 7.5 million borrowers who are mainly poor women and beggars.

All of them have been successfully enabled to earn their livelihood with the help of small businesses. Gramin Bank also takes care of their children’s education by offering them about 20000 scholarships. The credit goes to the bank for producing more than 18000 doctors, engineers and other professsionals from the families of its borrowers.

Unlike other commercial banks, Gramin Bank takes care of its borrowers’ needs to make them successful in their businesses. No one is insulted even if they fail to pay back their loan. Rather the borrower is helped with more loan so as to enable him to succeed in his business.

Many beggars have been turned into productive persons. Instead of begging, now they sell articles. We need to learn a lot from his noble mission. We don’t expect much from our politicians but if the governor of each state forms an NGO to undertake the formation of Self Help Groups (SHGs), something substantial can be achieved in this country also.

These SHGs, if properly educated and trained, can take up various reformatory measures to eradicate deeply entrenched social evils even. In this respect, Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues should take the lead.




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