By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION
Everything material in our world expires. From concrete monuments of empires long gone to the empires themselves, all things come to an end, sooner or later. The same applies to people, groups of people or organizations.
Organizations will exist until its relevancy to the people in it deceases. The recent general elections in Malaysia is a perfect example of where the relevancy of an organization like UMNO is questioned in today’s world, where race base politics don’t make sense.
In our colorful history, there’s been times at each juncture of our existence where the legitimacy or relevancy of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia Sabha (SNSM) has come into question. It cropped up again in the latest AGM that took place on 8 July 2018. It’s always a valid question and the law of nature dictates just that. All good things must come to an end.
Personally, which at most times means that my views are weighed down by emotions more, I still think Sabha has some years still left in it’s longevity.
I’ve always believed that Sabha has its roots very deeply entrenched in the dreams of its two patrons, Sant Baba Naranjan Singh and Sant Baba Sohan Singh. Two giant personalities of spiritual greatness that had the foresight of enriching the Sikh youth in our country with fundamental Sikh principles. They knew that the youth would always be the platform for the next generation’s leaders to grow from, for our people to prosper on. It’s a perpetual strategy for all generations after them.
Sabha needed to hold on to these dreams of both founding fathers while keeping up with the times. Sabha had already withstood the test of westernization of our youth since the 70s and 80s, the Bollywood influence on our youth in the 80s, 90, till today, and any other external forces like the internet and social media to remain true to the ideals it had from the two great men.
Sabha also has had bitter internal wars that had threatened to tear the very fabric of its existence. Strong dynamic personalities with differing ideas and ideals, along with their followers have created rifts before. Some stayed to try and remain true to what Sabha was meant to be, some parted ways to create other new organizations that try to be fulfill Sabha’s ideals based on their beliefs and interpretations. This, to me, was just the natural evolution of an organization with an organic structure. It happens to big profit oriented organizations, to political organizations and even to sporting teams. Free thought and free will always allow us to think and interpret as we deem correct. It also dictates that everybody would have a different idea or interpretation. It’s only natural.
Today, if you take the time to scan our calendar of events that are of Sikh discourse or Sikh learning of nature, you’d easily observe that there’s many happenings organized by a multitude of organizations and teams. It used to be primarily the Sabha. To me, that’s good. It really means that Sabha has done well to meet one of its ideals. That ideal is for the youth to be self reliant, to self organize themselves and to propagate their Sikh learnings themselves. Does that mean Sabha can now fold their hands and take that long vacation? Are we relevant anymore?
For me, yes. Sabha still has the role to help the next generation of youths understand the beauty of their traditions, their history, to kickstart their journey as kind, caring and principled Sikhs. Sabha won’t be the only ones doing this, but we certainly can be the ones with a strong track record to carry on doing what we’ve been doing according to our original ideals as dreamt by the founding fathers. But we cannot be doing it the same way as we have, because we’ve got to always recognize that change will always be there. And we’ve got to change along. We’ve got to change rapidly as the youth changes. Their thoughts, their priorities and their dreams change very fast.
Sabha is still a household brand in Malaysian Punjabi homes. The Annual Gurmat Parchar Samelan is still a well known entry in our calendars. Some may argue that the number of participants have dwindled from our prime years. I would argue that we’ve always maintained those numbers based on our credibility and our history of delivering. The ecosystem that Sabha has built of other organizations and Sikh personalities will continue to grow. Sabha would need to be part of this ecosystem that we’ve built over the decades, collaborate and work together as long as the ideals of the two saints are met. It doesn’t really matter who’s doing the parchaar, as long as it’s done.
Sabha would need to make every other organization thrive in this ecosystem of ours, unity amongst all the glue, understanding the threads that bind us all together. Perhaps unrealistic, but someone has to aspire to do this.
And like an empire, this ecosystem would be Sabha’s lasting legacy, our monuments that we can hope to last a long, long time. For many, many generations to come.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
The games must go on (Asia Samachar, 26 June 2018)