This year featured the French President François Hollande at the Indian Republic Day parade. The grand parade even included French soldiers who took part in republic day for the first time. However there was something missing – the Sikh regiment.
There is a common question being posed over and over on Facebook. Did India do it deliberately?
Sikhs take pride in being the “Highest Decorated Regiment of the Indian Army”. The Sikh regiment currently holds 72 Battle Honours, 15 Theater Honours, 2 Param Vir Chakars, 14 Maha Vir Chakaras, 5 Kirti Chakaras, 67 Vir Chakaras and 1596 other gallantry awards. However, despite being such a revered and most anticipated regiment at the Indian Republic Day celebrations, absence of the Sikhs this year left many in surprise.
In addition to absence of the Sikh Regiment, Punjab’s culture along with its own regiment was also not highlighted. While it is the responsibility of Punjab to send the Punjab tableau, all regiments that march in the republic day parade are decided by the Central Government and the Defense Ministry jointly.
One may easily conclude that India is anti-Sikh, and thus any tableau to do with the Sikhs was purposely ignored. However, this may not be so for this particular case. Regiments are actually selected on a rolling basis, and since last year there was a Sikh regiment, it may not have been included this year.
However, considering such high emotions on social media about the Sikh regiment missing this year leads to one speculation, that Sikhs in general are feeling left out in developing India. In general, Prime Minister Modi’s apathy towards various Punjab related issues may be the central point that leads many Sikhs to question their nationality.
While Punjab has continued to suffer and burn in previous years, Central Government of India, under the Congress and now the BJP, has continued to ignore the plight of the Sikhs and Punjabis. There are several issues of Punjab that have continually been ignored by the Government, these include –
- Drug mafia
- Farmer Suicide
- State level corruption in State Government (BJP ally)
- Sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib
- Political prisoners who have remained imprisoned over their defined sentences
Interestingly, the French President was the chief guest at the parade. It would have been appropriate for India to display the Sikh identity through its most powerful regiment and educate the French PM on who the Sikhs are. Sikhs have continued to face a turban ban in France, due to which Sikh children have had to take up schooling in private or home schools, and elders unqualified for federal jobs.
Does this mean that the Indian Prime Minister may have shunned the Sikhs due to the French President’s presence at the parade?