Is Khalistan Economically Viable?

Surjan Singh

This is the stock question that India's diplomatic corps, India's politicians and camp followers are especially inclined and trained to ask.

Yes, Khalistan is viable, as much as any other country is economically viable. No single country, under any government, is or can be self-sufficient in every respect in the world today. India's food shortages are a matter of notoriety for the world administrations. Is India itself viable, economically, today when half of its annual budget is earmarked for the cost of food imports it needs as fodder for its teeming 500 millions, who increase by 20 million and more each year?

Take the richer nations. Even the U.S.A. has now to look to Canada for natural gas, electricity and fresh water. Oil and gas shortages in U.S.A. are forcing rationing of fuel, even for its airlines. A little earlier meat, especially beef, shortages in U.S.A. and Canada were causing a scare, and feed grains were in short supply in both countries. The energy crises caused by the short supply of Arab oil is changing the economy of the globe itself in 1974. Who is above economic interdependence in the World in the 20th Century?

India is no more viable itself than Khalistan or Pakistan, in economic terms. India's debt owing to the U.S.A., even though payable in rupees, runs into almost 4 billion dollars, which India can never seriously hope to retire, particularly the way Indian economics are lagging currently. And the U.S.A. has just decided to write off almost 2.2 billion dollars, equal to 15 percent of total currency of India, to assist India's future five-year economic plans. Possibly the remaining one billion dollars could be used for developing Khalistan - the final citadel of freedom and democracy in south east Asia.

India is in grim shape economically, admits a government report!. While in the corresponding period of eight months in 1973 India had a trade balance surplus of some two billion dollars, in the same period ending March 31st, 1974, it shows a deficit of one hundred million dollars. Its imports have increased 45 percent and have swallowed up the 20 percent increase in exports. This trade imbalance in India's income will continue, in view of the general world economy.

A false sense of "abundance" is being concocted in the U.P. state in preparation for the forthcoming provincial election in that state by cutting off power supply from neighbouring states like the Punjab, and switching it to U.P. The ruling Congress party has also made an alliance with the Communists in U.P. to fight the forthcoming election there.

Khalistan, given a chance, may in fact have a better prospect of economic survival and success than India ever will. The population problems of India will not be the problems of Khalistan. Khalistan will be responsible only for its own people. The per capita ratio of population is higher in other parts of India than in Punjab. The efficiency of a smaller administrative unit, like Khalistan, is an added asset.

1. Even the small, leftover, Indian Punjab today produces 85 percent of the food supply of India. It took the farmers of the Punjab, during the current decade, to bring about the "green revolution" in the country. Three crops a year, the most fertile soil in the world, drenched both by history and the sun on 32-30 parallel north latitude, and the perennial broad rivers for irrigation of this historical plain, have combined to assure the economic success for this area. Not long ago, the American colonists were particularly aware of the tobacco and cotton growing potential of Virginia and other southern states. These states were assets for the American settlers who fought their way to freedom from Britain and are now the proud nation of the United States of America. Why not Sikhs, The Punjab and Khalistan?

2. The last Sikh Kingdom, financially, was a highly successful government. The annual revenue of Sarkar Khalsa, around the year 1838-39 was rupees 2,88,89,032. Of this income, the receipts derived from land revenue, from all four provinces of the Sikh Kingdom, Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and Peshwar, amounted to rupees l,75,57,741 annually. Against this, the annual expenditures were rupees 1,41,09,300 inclusive of the sum of rupees 1,07,39,000, as the cost of the maintenance of the Khalsa army totalling 92,200 men, including the salaries of many English and French officers, uniforms, supplies, transportation and magazines. The Sikh government thus had a net annual surplus or saving of almost 11/2 crors of rupees.

Notwithstanding accusations of corruption, scandal and mismanagement against the Akali (Sikh) cabinets of the present mini Punjab in India, which are not peculiar to this region alone but are part of the total economic panic and insecurity of the whole country, and of the administrative incompetence of other Indian states it can be said that the recent Punjab governments have operated on a relatively safe budget in economic terms.

3. There is noticeable small industry, the result of private enterprise, in the Punjab today. The hydro-electric power generated in the Punjab, as earlier mentioned, will have to belong to a Punjab state and not to any other superficial unit concocted by planners in Delhi. With joint planning by Khalistan and Pakistan governments, textile mills can be developed in Khalistan area, much closer to the cotton fields of West Punjab than Karachi. This might well result in considerable savings in transportation costs.

4. Punjab, in spite of the repressive and depressive policy of New Delhi, is the most advanced, progressive, modern and developed state anywhere in India today. It has some thirteen thousand miles of roads, an efficient and well-served railway network, half a dozen universities, one specializing in agricultural sciences, and one in Punjabi language and literature. It has a very high quality labour force of Sikh scientists, scholars, administrators, who are continually in demand in international labour markets.

5. With Punjab's outstanding productivity, Khalistan, as the bread-basket of the Indian sub-continent, can expect to have a favourable trade balance in the markets of the world.

6. The people of Punjab are more educated, travelled, and better trained in military and administrative services. They will provide an excellent stock or labour force for the new government.

7. There are Sikh immigrants abroad in almost all the countries of the world, notably in U.K., which has about 200,000 Sikhs; Canada with about 125,000 Sikhs; U.S.A. has some 40,000 Sikhs; Singapore, Malaya 30,000 Sikhs; Malaysia 200,000 Sikhs; Hong Kong 20,000 Sikhs; Indonesia 10,000 Sikhs; Thailand 100,000 Sikhs; and Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Fiji, also have a number of Sikh citizens.

Sikhs are more of an international community than any other single people of India, and Khalistan would therefore have a clear advantage in trade relations and diplomatic exchanges with the world. Khalistan will be a top earner of foreign exchange from the hard currency countries, with so many Sikhs settled in Canada, U.S.A. and other western countries. India's foreign trade at present depends to a large measure on these foreign exchange credits, which will go to Khalistan.

8. In spite of Indian national policy evident in recent years to reduce the Sikh ratio in the armed forces of India, Sikhs are still prominent in the armed fighting forces of India. For a people who are barely 1 percent of India's total population this is a significant achievement to the credit for Sikh people. This military superiority of Sikhs will be an additional advantage for a Khalistan Government.

9. What will happen to Sikhs in other parts of India when Khalistan is established as a sovereign state? This question is also a favourite with the Hindu government camp followers. It is suggested that there are prosperous Sikh businesses, Sikh traders, Sikh merchants, Sikh contractors and property holders, all over India. Delhi, the V.P., big cities like Bombay, Calcutta and Cawnpore have numerous Sikh families in business or in government employ. Besides there are many Sikhs in the Indian government civil and military service. What repercussions would the establishment of a Sikh state of Khalistan have on those Indian Sikhs?

This is therefore an important question. No power can intimidate or interfere with those Sikh Indian citizens who prefer to remain in India. They are Indian citizens. If they wish to move to Khalistan, then it would be their choice. But no authority can compel those Indian Sikhs to adopt a course which they do not freely choose. As said before, Sikhs are an international community, not confined to India alone. They are citizens in every country of the world. Therefore, those Indian Sikhs can lose nothing by the establishment of Khalistan. They will be lawfully entitled to enjoy their citizenship rights in India if they stay there. The Hindus left in Khalistan would amply counter-balance Sikhs opting to remain in India.

In spite of the fact that Pakistan was founded in a two-nation theory as a separate sovereign state for Muslims of India, there are still 61 million Muslims left behind in India. As Indian citizens they are entitled to continue making their home in India. India cannot force them out. Likewise, a much smaller population of Indian Sikhs, about 2 million outside Khalistan, will be in no jeopardy, economic or otherwise, by the coming into being of a sovereign Sikh state of Khalistan.

Furthermore, India cannot afford to exclude thousands of Sikh soldiers from the Indian armed forces. India depends on this Sikh force for her national defence. Khalistan will not interfere with this military force needed by India. After all Sikhs have served in the Imperial armies of Britain, and fought for Britain everywhere in the world, without thereby ceasing to be Sikhs. There is no reason why intending Sikhs could not continue to fill Indian armed units. The emergence of Khalistan is not necessarily the usurper of India's balance of power in this respect. One has to be careful not to tumble into the fallacy that India and Khalistan will be hostile governments.

The Jewish people present, in some respects, a singularly interesting parallel with Sikhs, with minor variations. Jews are citizens of every possible country in the world, in addition to their own sovereignty in Israel. The existence of Israel does not affect Jewish citizenry of other countries. There are rich and substantial people of the Jewish community at the helm of affairs in the United States - a foreign nation as far as Israel is concerned. What is there to prevent the Sikh people, outside sovereign Khalistan, enjoying similar citizenship privileges and rights in other countries, especially in India? Canadian Sikhs will be no less Canadian by the establishment of a sovereign Sikh state: Khalistan. American Sikhs will still be American, notwithstanding Khalistan. Indian Sikhs who remain in India, after Khalistan proclaims sovereignty, will be free to continue as Indian Nationals. Khalistan will not hurt the prosperity of Sikhs outside Khalistan. It will uplift their morale and status in the world.

The strongest argument that can be advanced in support of the economic feasibility of Khalistan is the quality of Sikh people themselves for hard work and bold enterprise.

10. Without appending impressive balance sheets from economists and reams of graphs from statisticians, every Sikh can feel it in his or her bones that "Raj Kare Ga Khalsa" (The Khalsa is to Rule) was no idle injunction of the Tenth Saviour, Guru Gobind Singh; that the potential of KHALISTAN in the India sub-continent is infinite; and further that it is near at hand.

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