ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Punjab at the Crossroads

Punjab has been going through a churn in its society and its economy for some time and now its bipolar politics is being stirred with the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party. Will these socio-economic transformations be strong enough to upset the hold of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the state?

Dalit Culture and Identity

Dalit castes in Punjab such as the Chamars have been attempting to create a counterculture to take on the Dalit castes in Punjab such as the Chamars have been attempting to create a counterculture to take on the dominant Jat caste. This attempt is mostly in the virtual world. In the real world the Jats and the Chamars live without any ostensible conflict. This article examines the various elements of this virtual war between the two castes, which often takes vulgar and bitter proportions.

Existence, Identity and Beyond

This paper traces the development and emergence of Punjabi dalit literature as a part of dalit assertion and effervescence in postcolonial India. Today, Punjabi dalit literature is well established despite its very short history. The two significant features of dalit literature – powerful narratives constructed about the existential conditions of the dalits and an overarching emphasis on dalit identity – are examined, so too Punjabi dalit literature in terms of the agenda of dalit liberation that is articulated in various genres.

Satyapal Dang

A tribute to the life and times of comrade Satyapal Dang, which brings to light his tireless involvement with the workers' movement over the better part of the 20th century. Comrade Dang worked for most of his life around Amritsar, and was also known for his strong stand against the Khalistani movement through the 1970s and 1980s.

Love as Rebellion and Shame

What is the relationship between cultural values and romantic love? This paper examines four texts in Punjabi literature, two medieval and two contemporary, viz, Waris Shah's Heer and Peelu's Mirza, Kothe Kharhak Singh by Ram Sarup Ankhi and Darasal by K L Garg in an attempt to answer this question. While love between a man and a woman can acquire divine status, at the same time, sociocultural norms view it as rebellion and shame/loss of honour for the woman's family. Not all cases of love marriages end up in honour killings but a love affair is perceived as rebellion by the family and community in which the latter expects the former to save its honour. Failure to do so results in a state of permanent shame and persists for generations.

An Ambiguous Actor: 'People' in the Movements

Social movements are often labelled "people's movements" though the analytical value of the expression is ambiguous in a context where the word "people" is never all-inclusive and signifies different things to different people. It would be better if we stick to a classification that situates the subject of a movement at the centre of the discourse than an umbrella term that is loosely used to cover almost anything.

Understanding the Paradox of Changes among Dalits in Punjab

A study of dalits in two districts of Punjab reveals that ghettoisation remains common (including in urban areas). While the traditional caste occupational structure has changed, this is less so among dalits in rural areas. Caste endogamy remains the norm. The study shows that casteism is powerfully embedded in the collective consciousness. The caste system is oppressive due to discrimination, exclusion, exploitation and untouchability, but at the same time it situates the dalits in the system as a collective identity. Their desire is to end all kinds of discrimination, oppression and exclusion, but not the caste system in its entirety. This is an instance of a deep-rooted internalisation of a world view. This paper is based on interviews of 1,600 dalit respondents randomly selected in Amritsar and Jalandhar districts of Punjab.

Politics of Sikh Identity and Its Fundamentalist Assertion

First it was the British who aimed to create a distinct Sikh identity, while the Singh Sabha movement sought to create Sikh 'Khalsa' identity by distinguishing it from Hindu. The Sikh political leadership in the early years of the 20th century was ambivalent in deciding who was a 'Sikh'. It was Bhindranwala and the militants in his wake, who by their construction of a singular religious identity, attempted to transform a heterogeneous Sikh community into a 'congregation'. While the latter project failed, the ambivalence of identity, however, continues in the policies of the Akali Party.

Religion, Identity and History

Religion, Identity and History Sikhism and History edited by Pashaura Singh and N Gerald Barrier; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, PARAMJIT S JUDGE The study of Sikhism and Sikh history has emerged as an important area of research in social sciences. It has not only created a fuzzy distinction between Sikhs and Punjabis, but also lopsidedness in the trajectories of the issues that are raised with regard to Punjab. The Sikhs of Punjab are a dynamic and mobile religious community and their history has been shown as an account of struggles, sacrifices and finally the victory in the form of the establishment of the Sikh rule in the second half of the 18th century. A religious community that originated in the first half of the 16th century could establish its political domination within a span of two centuries obviously draws the attention of scholars. Some of the questions that can be raised in general with regard to the Sikhs are: What is Sikhism? What is the history of the Sikhs? These questions though interrelated, but have distinct orientations in terms of the subject matter. Whereas the study of Sikhism is the study of religious doctrine, the history of the Sikhs belongs to a different genre of knowledge. Combining the two in a volume gives us an inkling that perhaps the authors are of the opinion that in the case of Sikhism the two could be combined or are inseparable. An objective study of religion in which we also implicate history may explode certain myths.

Social Construction of Identity in a Multicultural State

Sikh immigration into Canada, now over a century old, has gone through various phases and shifts as policies towards immigration by successive Canadian governments have seen various modifications. While the Sikhs today constitute a big, easily recognisable community in Canada, indispensable as a vital economic force in the country, they have also tried to construct an 'identity' of their own. The articulation of identity in the case of immigrant Sikhs, however, may not simply be understood in terms of immigrants/host society dichotomy and its dynamics; the internal dynamics of the Sikh community in Canada too need to be considered. This paper also examines the various controversies that arose from the 1970s onwards, which helped define Sikh perceptions about themselves as citizens of modern, multicultural Canada.

Punjabis in Canada

The Making of Little Punjab in Canada: Patterns of Immigration by Archana B Verma; Sage Publications, New Delhi; pp 254, Rs 495.

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