Noteworthy News and Analysis from Around the World

In-Depth Coverage of Issues Concerning the Global Sikh Community Including Self-Determination, Democracy, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Antiracism, Religion, and South Asian Geopolitics

Home | News Analysis Archive | Biographies | Book Reviews | Events | Photos | Links | About Us | Contact Us

Avtar Singh Makkar Drops Surname


The Tribune, Amritsar, Nov. 28, 2005

Photo: Avtar Singh Makkar

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.) chief Avtar Singh has dropped caste Makkar as suffix.

All advertisements, inserted in different newspapers by the S.G.P.C. thanking well-wishers for congratulating him on his appointment, wrote his name 'Avtar Singh.' The Tribune on the first day of his appointment wrote that the S.G.P.C. chief might be compelled to drop caste from his name.

Affixing of caste as suffix is considered a violation of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh code of conduct). An edict pronounced from Akal Takht banned suffixing of caste in Sikhism.

Though Mr. Sunder Singh Ramgarhia, who held the post of S.G.P.C. chief in 1922 affixed his caste with his name but it was before the enactment of the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925. By that time such an edict had not been issued. However, rest of the S.G.P.C. chiefs normally affixed names of their villages as suffix while many of them would not use any suffix at all. They included Sunder Singh Majithia, Baba Kharak Singh, Shree Bahadur Mehtab Singh, Master Tara Singh, Jathedar Mohan Singh Nagoke, Gopal Singh Qaumi, Jathedar Channan Singh Urara, Pritam Singh Khuranj, Isher Singh Majhail, Gyan Singh Rarewala, Bawa Harkrishan Singh, Prem Singh Lalpura, Kirpal Singh Chak Sherewala, Sant Channan Singh, Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Kabul Singh, Baldev Singh Sibia, Bibi Jagir Kaur Begowal, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Kirpal Singh Badungar and Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke.

However, Who's Who biographical sketches published by the S.G.P.C. reveal that many Committee members prefer to use their castes in violation of the Sikh code of conduct. As per the Sikh Rehat Maryada such persons were disqualified from even contesting the S.G.P.C. elections.

However, a confidant of Mr. Makkar said that senior Akali leaders, including Mr. Zora Singh Mann, Mr. Sukhev Singh Dhindsa, Mr. Jaswant Singh Mann, Mr. Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, and Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann, have been affixing castes as suffix, why there was a 'hue and cry' over the name of the new S.G.P.C. chief?

However, talking to The Tribune, Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann said that he had dropped caste from the names of his son, Iman Singh, and both daughters. Interestingly, some S.G.P.C. employees too use caste as suffix with their names.