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Relevance of Guru Nanak Dev after 550 years

01-Dec-2018Charan Singh

I must thank Prof. Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University for inviting me to deliver this lecture. I am honored by this invitation. I am also humbled because I am a product of this University named after Guru Nanak Dev ji, and many of you as Professors have been my teachers. I have learnt many things in the hallowed and famed halls in this campus, and at your feet.

At the outset, I would like to congratulate Prof. Sandhu for the grant of Rs.510 crore from the Government to open an Inter-Faith Centre in the University.

I have divided my lecture in three parts. This being the commencement of 550th year of Guru Nanak Dev Jis birthday and 50th of our University, the first part focusses on his teachings relevant for us in our daily life, according to my understanding. In the second part, I attempt an analysis of Punjab economy. Finally, I offer some suggestions for your consideration.

Part 1: Guru Nanak and our daily life

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as a child, went to school, was inquisitive, brilliant and philosophical. He was fond of company of spiritual people and sought answers to purpose of life and constantly questioned the meaning of rituals. He emphasized a life of simplicity and righteousness. Guru Nanak was a householder and worked all his life, in earlier years in various vocations and later years, after his famous four missionary journeys, as a farmer.

Philosophically, Guru Nanak emphasized that God is one and beyond any religious divisions. In his travels, Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited many countries, some as far as Iraq, China, Tibet and Sri Lanka. He visited places of pilgrimages like Banaras, Bodh Gaya, Hardivar, Kurukshetra, Mathura, Mecca, Medina, Multan, Pak Pattan and many more places in Himalayas. Guru Nanak revered various saints, both from Hindu and Muslim religion, and collected their compositions which were later compiled in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Thus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed in inter-faith dialogue and respect for their respective approach towards spirituality. He saw common points in different practices, was happy to approach them to listen and evaluate their thoughts, and share his own with them.

The teachings of Guru Nanak were logical and easy to understand.[1] His definition of God is most interesting and captured in Mool Mantra – One, True Name, Creator, Fearless, Without Vengeance, Beyond Time, Does not Incarnate, Self-existent, Understood only by Grace. Once God is defined, Guru Nanak then proceeds to mention that the purpose of life is to become truthful for which one has to purify actions, listen and practice meditation. He emphasized on dignity of labor, and observed that Truth is Highest Virtue but Truthful Living is still higher.[2] In this pursuit of Truth, he suggested to fulfil all your duties towards family and society, seek support of knowledge to construct your mind, make effort to lead a righteous life, and humbly seek grace from the almighty god. I am referring to five Khands in Japji.

To attain this truthfulness, one has to purify the mind by sculpturing consciousness where divine knowledge plays an important role.[3] According to Guru Nanak, Dharma is a product of compassion, supported by contentment. These two qualities play a pivotal role in religion. Guru Nanak preached that as you sow so shall you reap and therefore encouraged everybody to cultivate virtues.[4]

On social issues, Guru Nanak emphasized equality of complete human race, irrespective of caste, color, creed, gender or race. According to Guru Nanak, serving needy and hungry is an important duty of the society. Hence, the first langar or free kitchen was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji around 1489.[5] For Guru Nanak, the complete creation is from one God and therefore no one could claim to be superior or inferior.[6] On the status of women, Guru Nanak clarified that “How can she be called inferior when Kings are born of her”.[7] To the sages in the mountains, he urged them that if all good and pious people retire to mountains to meditate, how will the world improve.

On environment, Guru Nanak guides that Earth has to be treated like Mother, water like Father, and Air like Guru. This message in closing Salok of Japji is recited many times daily during meditation, individually and collectively. Therefore, one has to guard against any type of pollution to the environment. Sikhs therefore, explicitly seek the well-being of all, all the time and specifically after their daily formal prayers.[8]

On economics and commerce, Guru Nanak emphasized on literacy, gaining knowledge, healthy living, increased workforce, and encouraging investment.[9] Again, emphasis was on ethics and truthful behavior.[10]

The message of Guru Nanak, as contained in various compositions, urged people to lead a householder’s life, work hard and then share something in charity. This message is encapsulated in Naam Japo, Kirat Karo, and Vand Chakko or Meditate, Earn Honestly, and Share with Others. Sikh philosophy does not believe that the acquisition of property or wealth is evil, but the mental attachment to material wealth or maya is to be avoided. In the Sikh religion a very unique definition of maya has been given – it is simply any thing that makes the mind forget God, due to attachment and duality.

To summarize this section, the message of Guru Nanak is as relevant to the world now, as it was in the fifteenth century when it was delivered. The world continues to be divided in class and caste wars, and not only people but even countries are divided between rich and poor, haves- and have-nots. There is widespread hunger, poverty, and deprivation on the planet. The discrimination between races and gender is equally strong. The progress of science has established that the role of knowledge is important for human growth and development. In the pursuit of growth and development, exploitation of resources is the new norm. To control this aggressiveness and greed leading to conflict, and war on our planet, Guru Nanak’s message of Compassion and Contentment, are relevant for sustainable growth. In fact, Guru Nanak’s Universal message resonates in the preamble of the United Nations and its various organizations like the World Bank.

Part 2: The Economy of Punjab

Sikhs are in majority in Punjab for nearly seven decades. Historically, Punjab has had a very dynamic history, full of challenges. Punjab is unique in many ways with vast fertile lands but experiencing series of invasions from advancing armies in early times from North to agonizing partition in 1947. In 1966, the division of Punjab in 3 parts again disrupted economic progress of the state. However, in a short time, thanks to green revolution, it became the granary of country and richest state of India. These good times were short lived.

Punjab has been slipping down in the ranking of Indian states in the last few decades as many other states are outperforming Punjab in economic growth. An analysis of the components of production in Punjab reveals that agriculture continues to play a prominent role unlike many other states that are recording higher growth. The role of manufacturing and services has increased but is much slower than that recorded in other competing states. In the case of agricultural sector, growth has been largely stubborn and stagnating. In the aggregate, agriculture accounts for nearly one fourth of gross state domestic product (GSDP) in Punjab which is in sharp contrast to that of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Kerala where agriculture accounts for less than 10 per cent of GSDP. Even in the case of Haryana, where agriculture has been more productive than Punjab, its share is around 13 per cent of GSDP. In Haryana, services sector is nearly four times that of agriculture while in Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, it is 10 times.

The socio-economic indicators, are also not very outstanding for Punjab, especially the literacy rate, and labor productivity. However, Punjab has been able to provide electricity to large number of households in rural areas and rural poverty is very low.

The fiscal situation in Punjab when compared with other States is also not outstanding. Thus, the impact is visible on the outstanding debt of Punjab which is 42 percent of GSDP compared to 24 percent for all states as at end-March 2018.

The green revolution changed the cropping pattern in Punjab. In 1971, 39 percent of land area was under wheat, 7 percent under rice, and 55 percent under others like gram, maize, cotton, bajra and ground nut. And then, by 2015, 49 percent under wheat, 41 percent under rice and 10 percent under others. In terms of percent share of major crops in production, situation is very similar. Today, there is hardly any production of gram, bajra or ground-nut in Punjab. Punjab is amongst the three largest rice producing states in the country. But at very high cost in terms of water consumption?

The consequences of this domination of two cash crops has been devastating. Groundwater Irrigation is the prominent method of irrigation in Punjab. And out of 138 assessed units, 110 were overexploited. Punjab is not a rainfall abundant state (Punjab ranks 3rd from the bottom). This compounds the GW problem even further. And resort to micro-irrigation (MI) has been negligible. The free power policy of Punjab including free power to the agricultural sector and high amount of power subsidies can be expected to account for reluctance to shift to MI.

The chemical-fertilizer based agriculture needs more water. Farmers have resorted to using excessive groundwater, from deeper aquifers. Water from deeper aquifers is rich in salts and toxic metals. The salinity of the soil increases. There are studies that show that it makes the soil hard. The living microbes and other living beings are not used to high salinity. Their population declines. The life of the soil is directly proportional to the population of living species in it.

Socially, the youth in Punjab, given the growing menace of drug abuse, are getting disoriented and do not seem to be interested in development or even employment in agriculture sector. Unemployed youth is not only wastage of an important input in growth of the economy but can become a problem of social unrest and bed rock of militancy. This disorientation could be for various reasons but mainly because of declining productivity and problems associated with agriculture especially those related to labor supply, depleting water table and soil degradation.

It is in this context, that now, we scholars in Universities have a responsibility in Punjab and need to think and provide a lead to the policy makers as to the solution of this mess which does not have a precedent.

First, is this situation unique to Punjab? Yes. Then what have other states done that have proceeded ahead of Punjab? Haryana is home to more than a 100 ‘Fortune 500’ companies, and 50 percent of India’s automobile production. Haryana has created clusters of industrial development in cities such as Faridabad, Kundli and Gurgaon. Tamil Nadu has risen to become one of the largest auto hubs in the world. Some of the famous clusters in Tamil Nadu like Hosiery in Tirupur, Textiles and Foundries in Coimbatore, Sericulture and Sago in Salem and Dharmapuri, wind mills in Tirunelveli, Palladam, and Udumalpet are famous. In the case of Kerala, gender equality and empowerment of local bodies is an important ingredient in Kerala’s growth. Karnataka is the first state which announced the aerospace policy in the country and plans to develop aerospace clusters in different regions of the state. Bangalore was the first city in India to get a satellite earth station to facilitate high speed communication services to facilitate software exports in 1992. Maharashtra is the largest contributor in India’s industrial output. In Gujarat, accelerating development of infrastructure, support technology up-gradation, and R&D, support to service sector enterprises, focused approach on 'Make in India' program, and projects like GIFT City and other large infrastructure projects have helped to build a strong image.

Some similar solutions can be considered in Punjab too. There can be diversification of crops; less dependence on paddy; and floriculture, horticulture and agro-processing can be encouraged.

There is no escape from industrialization, as is the experience of other states. Punjab has to decide as to which are new industries that can be attracted and then provide suitable incentives while taking advantage of the successful “Make in India” campaign of the Union Government. In the absence of large and heavy industry in Punjab, role of MSMEs needs to be further encouraged. At the national level, MSMEs account for nearly half of manufacturing output and two-fifth of exports and generate extensive employment opportunities. Punjab is known for its crafts and skills in jewelry, carved furniture, embroidery, phulkari, soft toys for children, specialized food items like Amritsari papad and wadian, Punjabi joothi, and other leather products. Crafts are labor intensive and create employment. The government could ensure branding and marketing of such products. And how about R&D in these? To address competition from Nike and Reebok, R&D needs special attention and government should consider this aspect of competition.

If Punjab has to progress fast, then the services sector has to be playing a larger role. In many states medical tourism has been extensively encouraged by the government. In small towns like Vishakhapatnam, clusters of hospitals, like Export Processing Zones or Industry Clusters, have been opened to encourage medical tourism. Similarly, Punjab, a land of sages and gurus from different faiths with a large number of historical and pilgrim venues can pursue religious tourism emphasizing intra-faith unity.

Punjab can consider creating a trade hub for goods and services for Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. There is an opportunity for India to develop its trade relations and increase its exports to the region. There is also scope in developing cultural relations with these countries, including drama, theatre groups, yoga, Indian films, TV serials and different dance forms from India. Opening the gates of the Attari-Wagah border could drive trade and commerce through Punjab and turn it into a land port state. Countries in Central Asian Republics can be connected to India. Rail and road networks can be operationalised immediately, given the existing road and rail link between Northwest Punjab and Zahedan in Iran.

Part 3: A Way Forward

India’s reputation of wealth attracted many invaders from Central and West Asia which affected the area of Punjab[11] as it lay on the direct route of invading armies since the fourth century B.C.[12] The proximity of Punjab to Delhi and its exposure to invasions from West and Central Asia, established its political and military importance. Punjab had not witnessed peace since the Mongol invasions of the fourteenth century. Therefore, the economy was affected and lawlessness was deep-rooted. The country was suffering from anarchy, and administration was characterized by corruption and lack of justice. The understanding and practice of religion had become rather complex by the fifteenth century, with much assimilation of various influences. And Guru Nanak is born in 1469 bringing forth a simple message, amidst complex maze of things, of leading a Truthful life with no place of hypocrisy.

The message of Guru Nanak needs to be analysed in present context. He followed a strategy, made effort, and carried his message in a dignified manner, despite all odds, to different directions and places. That, to my mind, is the need of the hour – simplicity, confidence and strategy - to be followed by Punjab and India.
Guru Nanak, himself travelled for more than two decades, spreading the divine message, through creative ways, of harmonious living, between people, nations, religions and environment, in a class-less and caste-less society without any discrimination. The world inspired by - and in step with Guru Nanak’s message will not suffer from exploitation, hunger, poverty and discrimination as it will be based on compassion, contentment and sharing, in view of the principle – as we sow, so shall we reap. Amritsar can host a world Inter-Faith Memorial to celebrate this universal message of one single family of one supreme God, simple in character, but endeared to all. The Guru Granth Sahib which enshrines this universal message is already there in Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.

Punjab may need to consider a dramatic transformation to regain its glory of the past. In Punjab, academia, political leaders and policy makers need to think together. As is well known in development economic literature, and historically demonstrated empirically, a revolutionary turning point only occurs when the crisis hits the economy. The costs are massive but acceptability from masses about futility of the existing course occurs and then, political forces unite to chart a new course. The reforms in India, unthinkable before Balance of Payments crisis of 1991 is an illustration of the compelling phenomena. Similarly, degraded soil, depleting water table, misery to health caused by overuse of fertilizers/pesticides, and climate change will compel policy makers in Punjab to abandon mono-culture focus on agriculture and that also on only two crops, and seek diversification to other economic activities. It is inevitable, though it will be too late, if delayed further. Already, nearly half of our youth is under-employed, according to some reports.

The need is to transparently and honestly identify specific reasons for slippage in economic position of Punjab. On completing the ‘identification’ exercise, then the need to prepare a vision document with milestones for Punjab’s recovery, based on wider consultations, and determine a strategy which can be implemented on ‘mission’ mode to achieve that vision. In this context, India’s reforms of 1990-91 have an important lesson for Punjab. The reforms had been crafted after extensive consultations, and developing a consensus. The reforms were implemented very carefully and were cautious, sensitive to circumstances, and diligently sequenced so that they do not affect sentiments of people, and do not disrupt normal economic activity. The transition of India to modern economy is for all to see.

Environmental concerns –The amount of smoke (seasonal burning of agro waste) and dust pollution is also very high in Punjab. There are studies which show that polluted air can be a cause of health hazards and even death. WHO, in a report released last month, provides empirical evidence that the deadly effect of air pollution extends beyond respiratory problems to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Punjab, along with Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi account for the highest levels of PM10 (particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter). Ludhiana, Khanna and Amritsar featured in the top 10 ranks of a list of cities that had the highest average mean of PM10 and PM2.5, according to the WHO. Punjab is amongst the eight states in India that record most number of deaths due to acute respiratory infection. A 2007 analysis revealed that five cities (Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Gobindgarh, Naya Nangal and Khanna) in Punjab had critical levels of air pollution and violated the standard level of air quality by 100 percent on an average. And, we believe, as Guru Nanak Dev ji said, that “Air has the status of Guru”.

Punjab needs to revisit the policy that focused only on two cash crops, unlike in 1960s, when multi-cropping was followed. The excessive usage of fertilizers and chemicals, and drawing of water from deep wells only led to deterioration of soil and water, defeating the message of Guru Nanak of “Water is like Father and Earth like Mother”. Finally, air, water and soil have been over-exploited, within one generation in a most unsustainable way, in pursuit of higher profits, probably due to minimum support price and aggressive operations of Food Corporation of India in Punjab and Haryana. This is in sharp contrast of what Guru Nanak taught us - taking a long-term view of life.
Now, as a solution to provide employment to youth and to enhance growth, medium, Small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) have an important role to play as India will add nearly 15 million people in work-force every year. To accommodate such a large population joining work force annually, for next few decades, employment opportunities in agriculture, banking, financial services, and government jobs cannot increase commensurately. Further, in view of the fact that large industry, to stay competitive, would rigorously pursue automation and artificial intelligence, the burden of job creation and absorption of increasing labor force can only be performed by MSMEs. The Government, in continuation of its earlier efforts has initiated numerous measures to encourage MSMEs, including the recently announced 12 point agenda just before Diwali.

In view of the significance of the sector, since 1948, successive governments have been making intense efforts to encourage MSMEs. But now, given the demographic pressure, to create an entrepreneurial environment in the country, the policy makers will need to think out of the box. In addition to the recent initiatives, there are a few innovative things that can be considered like setting up state level Universities dedicated to Entrepreneurship and MSMEs with an outreach through MSME clinics. Let me explain.

Too boost employment generation through MSMEs, skill formation can be considered from two angles – labor and entrepreneurs. To skill labor, there are already many skilling centers and more can be established. The challenge is to create and nurture entrepreneurs. And equally important is to undertake research and development (R&D) for 6000 odd goods that MSMEs produce. In India, illustratively, each state has a unique or characteristic good like Rajasthani Rajai, Punjabi Jhooti, Kolhapuri Chappals, etc. and focused research on each in terms of production, supply chain, innovation, and quality would be useful. Therefore, there is a need to have a network of dedicated institutions, familiar with local conditions, exactly on pattern of Agriculture University, in every state of India.

The dedicated Entrepreneurship and MSME University (EMU) would need to combine academic teaching faculty with practioners to nurture entrepreneurship. The objective should be to produce self-confident entrepreneurs, and army of trainers to create an ecosystem for entrepreneurship to not only take roots but flourish. The emphasis in EMU would be on teaching entrepreneurship with focus on psychology, and leadership while also teaching traditional subjects like sociology, accounting, human resources, labor laws, operations management, marketing, business finance, innovation, strategy, communication, government and banking policies, planning, and macroeconomic analysis. The teaching of entrepreneurship, significantly different from management courses, cannot be only a classroom phenomenon but practical hands-on training, simultaneously, in existing enterprises, preferably MSMEs, to develop, nurture and cultivate the skills. Thus, it would be a different model from management training and more comparable to the style of teaching in Agricultural universities.

Similarly, in addition to teaching of entrepreneurship, R&D is important in different aspects of production of specific goods, given that most of MSMEs do not have resources to undertake research on their specific products. Historically, in absence of R&D, traditional products of MSMEs are competed out from the market because large firms and foreign companies with extensive research are constantly able to innovate, improve quality and lower costs.

There are many things that the EMU can do through this state-wise institutional network. As in agriculture, state-wise EMU would communicate in local language and if possible, local entrepreneurs should be encouraged to share their experience, and mentor the local budding entrepreneurs. Further, sick MSMEs could get expert advice from faculty of EMU which is familiar with local circumstances.

The government could utilize the expertise in these EMUs to build financial schemes for MSMEs in consultation with the banks. Most importantly, loan proposal templates could be developed in local language with collaboration of EMUs.

Similarly, to encourage local products, EMU could, illustratively, showcase and promote state level products such as phulkari of Punjab, bamboo works of Assam and West Bengal, and cotton weaving of Tamil Nadu via galleries and museums, preferably, free of cost to individual MSMEs.
The MSME University could reach the entrepreneurs in every industrial cluster across the state through MSME Clinics aiming to provide informed advice from experts in local languages.

On Social Issues, like status of women, much needs to be done even now. There are serious implications of the crime against women. The crime against women casts a long shadow in adverse sex ratio. It is a documented fact and tragic to note that even mothers have shown preference for a son and thereby contributed to adverse sex ratio, prevalent now for centuries in North India. The relationship between adverse high sex ratio and crime has also been determined. The scarcity of females could lead to prolonged bachelorhood. The scarcity of brides may generate new waves of female migration from neighboring countries with different cultures and customs contributing to social tensions. In absence of sufficient migration in view of the size of India, cases of human trafficking, kidnapping, forced marriages and other related crimes can increase. All these also would imply cost to the fisc and society.

There is substantial research, recently documented in series of articles by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that gender equality, particularly in education and employment, contributes to economic growth. Also, protection against harassment, enhances women’s access to financial services. Empirical evidence suggests that women are more responsible in financial and monetary matters, an assumption serving as a bed-rock of the micro finance movement and self-help groups, not only in India but across the world. Recently a study by Tax Spanner concluded that women are better tax planner than men in India. Another case study in Italy showed that women were more tax complaint than men.

And, according to IMF, enhanced female participation in workforce can raise India’s GDP growth by nearly 25 percent. But work participation of females is very low In India with only about 30 percent of women in formal workforce. In contrast, in Nepal, nearly 80 percent of women are in workforce followed by China (71 per cent), Bhutan (67 per cent), and Russia (57 per cent). Labor-force participation, male-female ratio, is low at 36 percent in India, compared to above 80 percent for the US and Switzerland.

The problem of crime against women has persisted for many centuries in India. Therefore, reversing the trend would need substantial change in psychology and social behavior necessitating a well-planned strategy with a clear understanding that women are an essential part of labor force, if India has to achieve higher economic growth. The road-map has to clearly chalk immediate, medium and long term strategy. The society and the government, both have an important role to play in providing a secure environment to women to enhance their workforce participation. Analytically, Guru Nanak’s advice on women has not been completely implemented.

Similarly, the prevalence of caste system, which is rearing its head even now in Gurudwaras, both in India and those located abroad, being constructed in names of castes. Punjab is no exception despite Guru Nanak Dev insisting that we all are from same source and discrimination on basis of caste is not acceptable.

Now, to conclude, I want to leave a few thoughts for your consideration. Having been trained in India and abroad, and teaching at different places, I am exhausted of teaching theories and research exclusively from western universities and countries. Don’t we have any of ours? Let me illustrate. In our country we have banks which are more than 200 years old, and many, more than 100 years old. Rarely has a bank failed. Should we not have our own norms given our unique characteristics of government ownership or should we slavishly follow norms minted in countries where banks normally don’t last for more than a generation or two? Second, should India, being the largest stockiest and purchaser of gold in the world, follow London Bullion Standard while trading in gold? Third, India with a recorded history of about 4000 years and being the richest country of the world for nearly 2000 years, accounting for nearly one-third of global output and average life span of more than 100 years, sheepishly follow educational and medical systems devised by foreigners which spent generations trying to discover and search for India? What should be our duty and role to our 11 crore elderly, packed to old age homes as is the practice in modern western societies or should they be made an integral part of our daily life, caring for them in a meaningful way? Why should our children know more of Shakespeare and Wordsworth rather than Munshi Prem Chand, Rabindranath Tagore and Bhai Veer Singh? Finally, can we revisit our educational system because, generally, what are we producing from our universities that leading industrialists’ lament that most graduates are not employable? And how are we developing our citizens given that India’s Tax-GDP ratio is low at 18 percent compared to more than 30 percent in most advanced countries? Why is tax evasion and avoidance so large? I think that Guru Nanak’s teachings of living with dignity and self-esteem, following a strategy to become truthful, has not been followed.

The world respects confidence which comes with inner conviction and development. Did we not go up in global recognition after the Pokhran atomic exercise? It was the clear strategy, and sheer conviction with utmost confidence that made the effort successful despite severe global resistance. Economists call it Animal instinct. Similarly, our battle on capital account convertibility also needs to be celebrated which we in India fought alone for nearly 2 decades and then the world came around India’s viewpoint in accepting it. Therefore, we need to, if need be, stand alone and make our stance clear, drawing from our glorious past. Our country’s historians, sociologists, economists and other educationists, along with policy makers need to ponder over it. And what better occasion than the beginning of 50th Foundation year of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Guru Nanak, was the lone voice, then 550 years ago, sometimes revolutionary in observations against mal-practices and hypocrisy. For interested listeners, I invite you to reading Asa Di Vaar, Sidh Ghosht and Dakhni Onkar composed by Guru Nanak between 1500 and 1539. His writings are as applicable to us today as then. We have gems of wisdom in our culture and society and we are unaware of these. We follow the western ‘everything’ and suffer an unsatisfied and unsatiated life like a deer with Kasturi within the body but running around in the jungle.

As a University and educational institution, my thoughts go with Guru Nanak, who says, ‘Paria Bhujay So Parvan, jis sir Dargeh ka Nisan’ implying that a learned person is one who understands the inner-self and on that persons forehead is the sign of Divine Court. Guru Nanak’s vision is long term, even beyond this life. His interaction with his teacher in the young days is a clear indication of a principled education based on Truthful living. In modern times, when giant company’s fail for unethical reasons, and reputed individuals convicted for unethical behavior, chasing unbridled and unabated greed, can we consider training our students through compulsory courses on our native culture, which emphasizes on ethics, environmental consciousness, and social responsibility? After all, we were the richest country for a few millennia, and where most religions of the world originated. This miracle could not have been without a reason and strategy!

On this auspicious occasion I want to congratulate you all. I Hope, the guiding principle for our pursuits will be Compassion and Contentment. And that, we will pursue truthful living - our main objective, perceiving Dharma in performing duty towards family, society, country and our planet.

Once again, I thank you for your invite and attention.


1. Japji is the best composition to understand philosophy of Guru Nanak. In this article, most of the references are from Japji.

2. Realization of Truth is above all else, but higher still is truthful living (Guru Nanak, p. 62, Sri Guru Granth Sahib).

3. “Through wisdom, one serves God, through wisdom one attains honor, through wisdom one realizes what one reads, through wisdom, charity comes to one’s mind. Says Nanak, this is the True Path, all else leads to Devil” (Guru Nanak, p.1245, Sri Guru Granth Sahib).

4. This rule has been stressed repeatedly. The soul knows that as one sows, so will one reap (Guru Nanak, p.1243, Sri Guru Granth Sahib)

5. Guru Nanak Dev Ji used all the capital he had to feed the hungry sadhus, and laid the foundation of free kitchen.

6. All creatures are noble, none are low – one maker has fashioned all of them (Guru Nanak, p. 62, Sri Guru Granth Sahib).

7. Guru Nanak, p.473, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

8. The words ‘sarbat da bhalla’ imply “well-being of all” and are uttered after every formal prayer – individual or Collective.

9. Singh (2016) – Religion and Economic Growth - https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2763585

10. By exploiting others, the mind becomes sick (Guru Nanak p. 140, Sri Guru Granth Sahib). To grab what belongs to another is bad (Guru Nanak, p. 141, Sri Guru Granth Sahib).

11. Punjab is located in North India. Punjab shares the border, after 1947, with Pakistan on the West.

12. Alexander invaded India in 326 B.C.