Saturday, March 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Are custodians flouting the tradition?

THIS has reference to a news-item that appeared in The Tribune on February 28 regarding the ending of the “retreat” by the President of the SGPC and a statement by Baba Mangal Singh (said to be a close associate of Jathedar Puran Singh) informing the Press that no written request had been put in to Akal Takht by the “excommunicated” SGPC chief.

It is a tragedy that currently all and sundry are volunteering to be the interpreters as well as custodians of the Sikh tradition. In the wake of this process the content and significance of the Sikh tradition is getting blurred.

It has to be clearly perceived that the concept of excommunication in Sikhism pertains only to a breach of the code of conduct (Rehat Maryada) by a Khalsa Sikh with regard to four violations of heinous nature (Bajar Kurehat). For all other violations of the Sikh code of conduct, a Sikh is branded only as an accused (Tankhahya) and is asked to go through a set process of atonement.

  Again it is regrettable that the Sikh ecclesiastical authority is being made to look as criminal law court and the whole process of its conduct also gets vitiated when a tinge of revenge and personal estrangement gets insulated into it.

A religious court is essentially merciful and it has to forgive even the most heinous of the misconducts. There have been very few cases of excommunication in the history of Sikhism and those too have stayed controversial. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was excommunicated but on the basis of a Bajar Kurehat (violation of one of the four such violations). He contested it and alleged that it was in consequence of a conspiracy hatched by a few of his rival Sikh sardars who envied his power and stature.

In an hour of crisis he offered to help the Dal Khalsa as a believer and the Khalsa Panth invited him with open arms to join the mainstream. In the recent times the excommunication of a great reformer, Prof Gurmukh Singh, also proved to be of similar nature and this was subsequently revoked by the Vishaw Sikh Samelan of 1995.

This is only to point out that in the name of guarding against violation of the tradition, we should not subject the Sikh tradition to such intricate and perverse analysis that its very core and purpose may get lost in the end. The avowed custodians may in the name of Guru Gobind Singh spare the Khalsa Panth of such a catastrophe.


Women’s rights

A woman may be mentally strong and able;
But even she is liable to get caught...
In mishappenings; physically not avoidable;
Like some sort of harassment or assault...
Such acts should never be pardonable;
As also emotionally; the victim bears a lot...
She wants to speak up but is unable;
She wants to save herself from another jolt...
In fact; existing rules are not dependable;
and take time to punish those at fault...
Therefore, awareness regarding rights can enable;
Us to gear up for the necessary revolt...


Reducing tax evasion

Mr Prem Garg has rightly suggested uniform income tax rate at 20 per cent (March 6). The Government’s policy is also to reduce the disparity. A person filing his return of income at Rs 20 lakh shall pay 20 per cent as income tax and a person filing his return of income at Rs 2 lakh shall also pay income tax at 20 per cent. There is a lot of disparity.

Of many other ways, one suggestion is that in order to reduce tax evasion, the government should permit the public to deposit unaccounted money with the banks in a special deposit account. The interest thereon should be passed on by the banks to the government (say for three years — i.e. for full period of deposit). The depositor will get only the original amount of deposit after the prescribed period of deposit. There should be no questioning by the department, at any stage, on production of evidence of such deposit. If one has to pay 30 per cent as income tax on declaring unaccounted money to earn 100 per cent peace, only a few shall come.

The depositors should also be permitted to raise loan to the extent of 90 per cent at a reduced rate of interest which the depositor shall separately pay and can claim as deduction from business/professional profits. The government should treat such interest income on the deposit as instalment of income tax. No one shall mind parting with such interest income in this manner in order to declare unaccounted money, just as T.D.S. on payments to contractors is a good means to recover income tax. If a contractor is asked to deposit income tax from himself, he may not be able to deposit even a sum equal to 1 per cent as against 2 per cent (+ surcharge) on T.D.S.

The government could have earned a lot, if a token sum of say, Rs 100 on applying for a Permanent Account Number card, were imposed. The government could have also earned a lot, if a token tax of say, Rs 100 was to be deposited with Form 2C.

Even now, all telephone/ mobile/ car/ residence owners should be made to pay a token sum of Rs 500 per annum per car/per telephone, etc as compulsory income tax plus one time Rs 200 for having filed/applied/or filing/applying for PAN card and Form 2C. This should be applicable for all in India, irrespective of place/nature of business/profession/work. Of course senior citizens can be granted exemption. Thousands of crores of rupees can be collected in this manner. If a person can maintain such things, he can also pay this nominal sum every year.



Shimla roads

I would like to bring to the notice of the authorities the deplorable state of roads, piped water and sewage system in the area near Kusumpati comprising the Police Colony, Pari Mahal area and the road leading to it.

The road leading to Pari Mahal and further up to the Police Colony has been dug up and not metalled. All along the drinking water pipes are leaking and gutters overflowing with excreta. On the main road below, the whole area is swamped by this filthy water and you have to wade through it to reach your destination. This situation has continued for the past six months without anyone bothering about it.

The PWD and the municipal corporation are requested to get the water and sewage pipes repaired and the roads metalled and tarred.


Clinton visit

President Clinton should have sent a clear and unambiguous signal to Pakistan and the world by saying that a democratic US President will not visit Pakistan under military dictator either to “engage” him or for its blackmail that it will strengthen anti-US sentiments within Pakistan.

Since he has done quite the opposite he should also visit Afghanistan, another cold war ally like Pakistan, and discuss Osama bin Laden.

Bloomington (USA)


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