Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
I have been reading some articles related to World War I and II recently. And in all of them, I have come across the achievements of The Sikh Regiment. Consequently, I read up on this regiment and on Sardarjis in general. The service that this single community has rendered to India seems to outweigh everything else put together.
Sikhs contribute to less than 2% of India’s population. But they contribute to 15% of all ranks in the Indian army and 20% of its officers. A little math shows that Sikhs are 10 times more likely to belong in the Indian Army than any other Indian. Sikhs also contribute the highest number of women soldiers and officers in the Indian Army right from the time of the British Indian Army.
The following was written by a soldier called Indar Singh – “It is quite impossible that I should return alive. Don’t be grieved at my death, because I shall die arms in hand, wearing the warrior’s clothes. This is the most happy death that anyone can die.” That is bravery!
It is no wonder that The Sikh Regiment is believed to be the most courageous, powerful and skilled regiment in the Indian Army. Achievements: 73 Battle Honours, 14 Victoria Crosses, 21 first class Indian Order of Merit (equivalent to the Victoria Cross), 15 Theatre Honours and 5 COAS Unit Citations besides 2 Param Vir Chakras, 14 Maha Vir Chakras, 5 Kirti Chakras, 67 Vir Chakras and 1596 other gallantry awards.The Sikh Regiment remains the most decorated in the Indian military, with 14 Maha Vir Chakra (which are equivalent to the American Medal of Honor) and 1674 other gallantry awards to its name.
The largest Sikh diaspora outside India is in the United Kingdom. Sikhs have rendered yoeman service to the British Indian Army as well. The British Army did not provide Sikhs with proper protection for the cold. Without jackets, gloves, without even shoes, the Sikhs fought and won! Such is their spirit!
Hitler had given a speech for the Sikhs to join the Nazis seeing the strength and will of the regiment whom the Nazis referred to as the “Black Devils/Beasts” derived from their fighting capabilities.
“In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world, and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.” — General Sir Frank Messervy
Both the above are quoted from General Sir Frank Messervy K.C.S.I, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O. from “The Sikh Regiment in the Second World War” by Colonel F T Birdwood OBE. Pub. in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd., Norwich (1953). Pp. 1–6. ASIN: B0007K5HJM
“British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice [in two world wars] and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans.” — Sir Winston Churchill
The above is quoted from many of the works and speeches of Sir Winston Churchill. This comes from a man who called Mahatma Gandhi a half naked Indian fakir. Just imagine the kind of service the Sikhs would have rendered.
UK had plans to start a UK Sikh Regiment in their army which was avidly supported by many members of Parliament and Prince Charles. It was later scrapped due to various reasons.
Everyone knows the role that Sikhs played in the fight for our independence. I am not going to elaborate.
In the 1960s, India launched the green revolution which was primarily based in the state of Punjab. The hardworking Punjabis, mainly Sikhs, ensured that India went from “famine to plenty, from humiliation to dignity.” Punjabis have 3 times the per capita income of an average Indian. Swedish political scientist, Ishtiaq Ahmad, states that a factor in the success of the Indian green revolution transformation was the “Sikh cultivator, often the Jat, whose courage, perseverance, spirit of enterprise and muscle prowess proved crucial”.
Quoted from Ishtiaq, Ahmad (February 8, 2005). “West and East Punjab agriculture — a comparison”. Comment. Daily Times. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_8-2-2005_pg3_2. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
That’s Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan! Sikhs have made India proud in just about every field they entered. They have occupied the highest of offices in almost all fields. They have a very wide blend of intellectuals, sports persons and creative persona in their community. Doctors, engineers, Civil Service officers, police officers, cricketers, actors, politicians, teachers, spiritual leaders, writers, scientists, name it, Sikhs are famous there. They are really good entrepreuners – they own dhabas, garages, shops, huge conglomerates, etc. They have made it big in England, many countries in Europe, the fareast, US and Africa. I am not going to name famous Sikhs. Everyone knows who our Prime Minister is, every knows how many Sikhs we have in our cricket team and everyone knows whose chip Intel uses.
I am just amazed. Amazed at how one community hailing from a very small state in India can be so good at everything they do. Amazed at how very patriotic they are. Amazed at how much they have contributed towards our country.
Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal (He who cries God is Truth, is ever Happy).