For some reason, many British-Punjabi elders as well as Indian nationalists have, over the past few decades, have created a narrative of colonial rule in Punjab (and especially with Sikhs) being more of a two-way friendship than a fundamentally oppressive regime.
The British, so it goes, were different than prior rulers like the Mughals in that they did not visibly oppress based on religion and that they pushed a lot of economic development towards Punjab via the development of rural infrastructure and employment in the military.
While these things are *technically* true, they miss out on a huge factor that I only learned recently of: that the British had, from annexation in the 1849, used a “Punjab School of Administration” as their utmost guiding principle in governing the province.
We see these in documents and communiques following the dissolution of the Sikh Empire in 1849; administrators of Punjab, even those who were personal advocates of liberal governance for Europeans, believed in ruling Punjab via some quasi-form of constant martial law.
The “Punjab School” was implemented well into the 1920s and was one of the motivating factors for WHY the British invested so much into building bureaucracy in Punjab - this bureaucracy was an extension of their military apparatus to maintain this hold of power.
The “Punjab School” is also the dirty underbelly of the photos of Sikh soldiers marching out to wars in foreign lands under the colonial army - maintaining martial control meant being able to redirect military energies towards serving colonial interests.
This is why, ironically - the man who is responsible for helping proudly recruit so many Punjabis in WWI, Michael O’Dwyer, would later go on to brutally repress them in their own state - as this thread details at length.
Of course, it was not just the soldiers and agriculturalists who reaped benefits of British administration - pretty much every sector of society did, including urbanites who had the first access to British-education and professional roles.
But it certainly was the soldiers and agriculturalists whom the British *most* feared an uprising from - which is probably why they put more stock into [supposedly] quelling their fears, while also keeping an eye on them.
The deficit I find with regards to two prominent strains of post-colonial Sikh attitudes is you either have the equivalent of 1) British touts, 2) Congress touts.
Group 1 is of the breed that will assure you British Raj was the best thing to ever happen to Punjab & the Sikhs, that the Gora Sahib’s really saw us as equals, that colonization was more of just an immigration of the Brits to India like we see the opposite of today.
Group 2 will shame everything from armchairs - assert that the forefathers of Punjab who picked up the plow or gun were all British lapdogs with no agency of their own, that they always had wool over their eyes, that only the urbanite professional was brave in resistance.
At the least, knowledge of the “Punjab School” and what British overlords really thought of (or maybe more importantly, what they feared from) their subjects in Punjab should give us some clearer insight to help interpret the colonial past - with all its intricacies.

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More from @JungNihang

17 Oct
What an imbecile...the recorded history is that the Mughals already had a force (few thousand+ strong) in hot pursuit of the Guru and his 40 companions, and they got reinforcements of 700+ cavalry and a "park of artillery".
The Guru and his force of ~40 were literally in a house of a local friendly villager - and the entire Mughal army chasing after them STILL needed reinforcements of cannons + horsemen to finish them off. And this is horsemen from one despatch.
Even if we were to take the "only 700 horsemen" number seriously (it is not), those are numerical odds of 18:1 - combined with the fact that the Mughals had a barrage of artillery, and the Guru, once again, was inside a literal house.
Read 9 tweets
16 Oct
Hashim Shah was a Punjabi poet of Arabic descent. At one point, he joined a rebellion against Sikh rule; but was pardoned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and even given a jagir on account of his beautiful poetry. He would go on to write the renown ballads of Sassi-Punnu & Sohni-Mahiwal. Image
The cultural footprint of these poems lasts even today; the folk song "Dachi Waleya" is often associated with Sassi pining for Punnu, and in rural Punjab there is even a saying to "never trust a Baloch" associated with the story.

As for Sohni-Mahiwal; Sobha Singh's beautiful painting depicting the two lovers is probably its most iconic legacy (a staple on the walls of many Punjabis' homes, including my own). Image
Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
Some USA Sikhs are total hypocritical crybabies - they mock Nihang bana for doing “dress-up”, mock their celebration of traditions as “where are your battle formations when you need them”...

...but then cry about people being “toxic” to them for calling them an out of touch ਨਚਾਰ
Why do these wannabe activists think that personal insults and divisive rhetoric are okay when they’re passively aggressively throwing shade at a jatha they ideologically disagree with, but get mad when people bluntly respond to them and call them out for it?
One of the greatest things I think Nihangs in UK are doing is cultivating a culture of outdoorsman activities and survival skills - a honorable way of maintaining the nomadic tradition of the Khalsa even while in the West!

And this is what these self-righteous idiots call it: Image
Read 8 tweets
15 Oct
Great article. The introduction itself supports what farmers have been saying over and over again about their opposition to the bills - the proposed economic gains of a freer market are short-term, and it is effectively the writing on wall for MSP/income insurance. Image
Maybe if the BJP stalwarts, both the headmasters in Delhi and their eager cheerleaders from the metros of India and the West, stopped mocking farmers’ intelligence with “Agriculture University” and listened, they could learn a thing or two and start a productive dialogue Image
Instead, the center did the exact opposite - didn’t let the farmers have a chance to speak, spoke down to them, issued a threat about violence, and ushered them away. Callous, reckless, and arrogant attitude - indeed befitting of the Congress Dilli sarkar preceding them.
Read 4 tweets
18 Sep
The Sikh scholars did give a direct quote you illiterate hack - why have you CONTINUED to ignore how the introduction to it quite literally tarred the entire diaspora Sikh community memory as “self-victimization” to “seduce” politicians?
Your paper’s only mention of the massacres in 1984 (BTW, I hope you recognize that state violence was not just limited to the genocide in North India in November of 1984) was to say, “yeah it’s bad but I’m sure *Punjabi* Sikhs remember Muslim mobs as the real villains”
Are you really this thick Terry? The reason they specifically noted that diaspora Sikh voices also call out Pak is tht your entire article relegated diaspora experience to being manipulated/controlled by Pakistan - which may be true for some, but NOT all

Read 11 tweets
28 Aug
Most Hindutva thought is lazy because it rests its assumptions on “Neo-Sikhs”

This thread, for example, arbitrarily localizes Khalsa Raj as a local Punjabi political philosophy - when it explicitly was envisioned for the world.
Khalsa Raj was not seen as just a tidy arrangement inside an akhand-bharat; the assumption was that eventually, any type of akhand bharat would be ruled by Khalsa-Sikhs, and they’d go even beyond the scope of that geographical territory.

The irony is that this thread perfectly exemplifies the original thread - which discussed limitations Hindutva has with understanding precolonial “Sanatan” thought.

What in the world is a “half-Hindu”? Is that someone who practices half “Hinduism” and half “Sikhism”?
Read 7 tweets

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