Rahul's Pakistan and Arnie's Sikhs

In recent times, Rahul Gandhi has made a few small strides in appealing to public sentiment for things other than the cuteness factor.

Now the cute boy is acting all grown up:

“India is giving too much time to its neighbour. It is not even half as important as we are making it. India cannot be compared to Pakistan in world affairs... India has a larger role and status internationally... Pakistan shall occupy a small piece of our diplomatic policy. I do not wish to talk even for five minutes about Pakistan,’’ he said, refuting the charge that Delhi faced embarrassment after the joint declaration at Sharm el-Sheikh.

He is right about us being obsessed with Pakistan. But why has he woken up now? How does pitting ourselves against that country, as he is in fact doing, make it less important? If you don’t think something is worth it then do not say that we are better. You can be better than something that occupies the same space – in real terms or in your mind.

To get to the more crucial aspect of diplomatic policy, this is a rather juvenile statement. The small part is enough to cause us untold agony. And this small part is more crucial than attending some G-string summit, because it has to do with a stretch of land more than anything else. Pakistan is not interested in how much we are shining and our GDP. Pakistan is interested in Kashmir; we are interested in Kashmir. And, guess what? Kashmiris are interested in Kashmir. So, we will have to spend more than five minutes on anything to do with Pakistan. I know it is a heck of a long time for someone who is busy tasting different kinds of Dalit cuisine, but tough luck.

- - -

How many Sikhs do you know in your regular life who go around carrying kirpans?

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a Bill seeking to educate law enforcement officers about the religious significance of kirpans, one of the five Ks that Sikh religion expects its followers to adhere to.

“This loss for the Sikh community is a reminder of our serious lack of political clout in this state. After months of hard work and 100 per cent support from our lawmakers, the Sikh voice was still not strong enough to overcome the whim of one man,” said Prabhjot Singh, chairman of the advocacy group Sikh Coalition.

Over the last few years, there has been a sudden rise in the arrests of Sikhs nationwide for carrying kirpans. In most cases, the Sikh Coalition said, the police take kirpans to be concealed weapons.

Like religious resurgence and identifiable marks in many societies, it is happening among the Sikhs too. This is not about clothes or beliefs. A weapon is a weapon. How would teaching the cops about its religious significance make it less worrisome? Would Sikhs in the US expect to board flights with their kirpans when people are not allowed to carry tweezers? I would be curious to know how many of them wear kachhas, the boxer shorts sort of undergarment. Is it feasible to wear it beneath tight jeans? These are supposed to be visible symbols to display faith, and the kirpan is to be used only as protection and self-defence.

When the Sikhs had to distance themselves after 9/11 from terrorists, they used their different faith. Now, it is their different faith that is being asked to follow what everyone considers mainstream norms of the United States of America, and it does have to do with security issues. American lobbies are pretty strong against the gun culture too.

So, does anyone have anything to say about Arnie and his move?


  1. Rahul's Pakistan: Diasagree
    Arnie's Sikhs: Agree

  2. Rahul is right about caste,if political leader says people will take it more seriously and also Pakistan. You agree we are obsessed with them.Sikhs is different matter and you are right about security

  3. The kirpan case is a little messy. As Indians we understand coz it is our culture but as people who are not used it and are paranoid as heck, Americans will see it is a weapon. But for sikhs, their religion doesn't really become less significant just coz they are in a different country. I guess, it's just one of the prices you have to pay for living in a foreign country.

  4. Atul:



    If 'political leader' says will it take away from the reality? Read today's papers about a dalit group that was pelted with stones when they tried to enter a temple under police surveillance?


    And if these are his views on Pakistan, then we will probably be spending five minutes on issues that we have making such a huge noise about - terrorism.


    As I asked at the beginning - how many Sikhs carry kirpans in India? I think it becomes an identity issue outside.


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