India’s High Commissioner And Consul General Grace  Guru Nanak Celebrations At Ravidass Temple

By Zile Singh


“History has been Created and Repeated by “A Man of Letters.”

“Guru Nanak came to meet Ravidass, the lowest of the low.”


Mr. Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner and  ‘A Man of Letters’,  with a cheerful disposition accompanied by his gracious and an artist spouse- Aparna Swarup;  a calm and composed, Consul General Mrs. Abhilasha Joshi and the whole diplomatic staff in the Consulate graced the occasion.


I feel proud of being deeply connected with all the three Institutions, professionally and emotionally, mentioned in the above item, i.e. the Indian diplomacy, the Ravidass Sabha and Guru Nanak.  Through your esteemed newspaper, I have so far contributed about 10 columns of Sri Guru Nanak’s message in the present-day context. I will continue my small effort to do more during the 550th Anniversary.  I did not imagine that my column in the last issue entitled, “550th Anniversary: If Guru Nanak was Alive He would be Terribly Unhappy about  Social Inequality and lack of Fraternity in Sikhism” will coincide with the celebrations on July 27th by the High Commissioner.


The celebration at Guru Ravidass Sabha was in two parts.  The first part,   in Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Library, adjoining the Kirtan Hall was facilitated by Chetna Association of Canada.    While lined up behind the High Commissioner to take snacks I said, “Sir, you have Created a History by being    the first Indian High Commissioner to visit this Sabha for the first time.  So far, no former High Commissioner has paid a visit here since its foundation in 1982”.    He said authentically,   “This is not my first but second visit here.”  “Sir, in that case, you have not only Created, also  Repeated the History.”   He smiled upon my spur of the moment addition. I apologized for my ignorance about his first visit in 2017.   Mr. Vikas Swarup has three novels to his credit, including the most famous ‘Question & Answer’ later adapted as ‘The Slum Dog Millionaire’, several Oscar Awards Winning Movie. His pet saying, “I am a whole time diplomat but a part- time writer” appeals to everyone, especially in his IFS fraternity.


In his speech, he enthusiastically mentioned the role of Indian Diaspora, especially the Sikhs, in Canadian politics.  The audience was happy to hear that he was personally chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head the Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs Division in the Ministry of External Affairs as Secretary. The Chetna Association presented him a plaque to recognize his services to the community.


In the second part of the programme conducted in the Kirtan Hall, the High Commissioner highlighted the message of the universal brotherhood  of Guru Nanak in furtherance of Indian idealism of “Vasudhev Kutambkam. He mentioned about 40 Shabads of Bhagat Ravidass in Guru Granth Saheb. The important role played by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to remove inequality in society was highlighted  in particular.  He emphasized on ‘Sarbat da Bhala- Welfare of All’-  a foundational  doctrine of Sikhism.  He stressed on the future potential of  Indo-Canadian relations in diverse fields in which the Diaspora can play an important role.  He told that even after leaving Canada, he would be in touch with the Diaspora in his next call of duty in New Delhi. Hon’ble Jinny Sims, Minister for Citizens’ Services. BC accompanied by NDP’s federal, provincial and city representatives conveyed her greetings on the occasion.


President and the Management Committee of the Sabha thanked and honoured the High Commissioner and his team.


For the reader’s knowledge, the history of Indian diplomats and Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha is long and  of interest.  In April 2007, President Guru Ravidass  Sabha approached the-then Consul General who was from Punjab to inaugurate Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Library in the premises of Sabha’s building.   Due to pre-occupation, he was unable to accept the invitation.   Instead, he asked me to take the responsibility.  On April 15, 2007, in my capacity as Deputy Consul General, I inaugurated the Library. Later a full set of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s writings was presented by the Consulate.  A life-sized portrait of Dr. Ambedkar adorns the Visitors’ Room in the Consulate.   Everyone hopes that the cooperation among the High Commission, the Consulate and the Sabha will continue in future also.  For this, Chetna Association and the Sabha will work together.


To sum up, the High Commissioner was not only the Chief Guest but also the Chief Celebrator.  May Vaheguru Bless them all who carried Guru’s one of the core messages, “I am the lowest of the low. I seek their company.”


Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca


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