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Will The Fake Global Sikh Council Please Stand Down

By KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON, PhD (Boston), Kuala Lumpur, Chief Editor, The Sikh Bulletin

The Sikh Bulletin, Dec. 24, 2022

Introduction.

For a community that is miniscule by global standards, Sikhs have – for some time now - been presented with two Global Sikh Councils. Both have the same name, the same logo and the same motto. Their website domain names are the same too – one being hosted as .net and the other as .org. It cannot be that such gross overlap is by error. It also cannot be that the Sikh world has run out of names, logos and mottos for their global organizations.

The plain truth therefore is that one is real and the other fake. The truth is that the confusion is created with a purpose. To get to the bottom of things, we need to go back to when there was only one Global Sikh Council (GSC). The GSC is the brainchild of Sardar Kuldip Singh of USA who was the Chairman of the American Sikh Council (ASC). The organization formally came into existance at a Conference held in Sydney on the 28th of February 2014 through the efforts of Sardar Ajmer Singh. At the Sydney meeting, the GSC membership consisted of USA, UK, Australia and Thailand. The USA was represented by Gulbarg Singh Basi who had taken over as Chairman of ASC; the UK by Lady Singh Dr Kanwaljit Kaur of the Network of Sikh Organizations UK; and Australia by Sardar Ajmer Singh. No elections were held at this Conference.

Basi registered the GSC in the State of Georgia on July 21st 2014 as a Corporation – a business entity - with the name Global Sikh Council Inc. The Certificate of Incorporation listed Gulbarg Singh Basi as the Registered Agent cum CEO and his home address as the Principal Office Address. The business purpose column on the Certificate was filled in with the word “none.”

In 2015, the GSC had its Conference in London. At this meeting, France, Spain, and Switzerland attended as members, while Pakistan joined in via Skype. The first GSC Elections were held here. Lady Singh Dr Kanwaljit Kaur of UK got the most number of votes, but yielded the post of President to Basi on account of deference to the ASC. Lady Singh thus became the Vice President.

The 2016 AGM was held in Bobigny, France. By this time Italy, Germany, Kenya and Portugal had joined the GSC. During the elections, Lady Singh again got the most number of votes. And she yielded the post of President to Basi yet again. Lady Singh was once again appointed to the Vice President’s post. A total of 15 individuals were also appointed as Board of Directors (BOD) for a one-year period.

In March 2017, a total of 26 delegates representing 13 countries (out of a total of 18 member-countries then) gathered at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to conduct its third Annual General Meeting (AGM). The primary purpose of this AGM was to elect its Executive Committee and set its policy direction for a period of one year. The delegates at this AGM however discovered a number of issues, defects and flaws that needed fixing. The pertinent ones were as follows.

First, the “Constitution” of GSC Inc. that was circulated to the delegates did not have a heading, reference number, signature or seal. It was pointed out by the Malaysian delegate Jagir Singh – an attorney by training – that it could have been “typed out or amended by just about anybody.” It was, for all intents and purposes a “dubious constitution.” Second, the registration documents of GSC Inc. listed Gulbarg Singh Basi as the Chief Executive Officer. The company (GSC Inc.), CEO Basi and Secretary Rupinder Kaur Basi were all listed on the one same address.1 Jagir Singh said this meant that “the control of the GSC was in the hands of one person.” Third, in 2016 a total of 15 persons were appointed to the Board of Directors (BOD) for a one-year period – of which only 6 were present at the Kuala Lumpur AGM. Fourth, the “dubious constitution” dictated that the Executive Committee of GSC Inc. was to be “elected from the Board of Directors.” This meant that the 26 representatives of 13 member countries that had travelled to Malaysia from all over the globe to attend the AGM discovered that they had no role in the selection of the Executive Committee of GSC Inc. And that the 6 BOD members that were present would determine the Executive Committee amongst them alone.

After a lengthy debate that went on for the better part of the 3-day AGM, a number of resolutions were passed by the 26 delegates present to rectify the issues, flaws and defects that are mentioned in the previous paragraph. The pertinent resolutions were as follows:

One, that a sub committee headed by Attorney Jagir Singh be tasked with preparing a new constitution for deliberation by members at the 2018 GSC Inc. AGM. A Draft New Constitution prepared by this committee that made the General Body of GSC the Supreme Body was distributed by e-mail to delegates of member countries in July of 2017.2 This Draft New Constitution properly placed the authority that was given to the BOD as per the “dubious constitution” into the hands of the General Body of members.

Two, that the GSC be registered as an International Organization (as opposed to GSC Inc. that was registered as a business Corporation within Georgia) based on the New Constitution once it was approved by the General Body.

At this March 2017 AGM, in accordance with the Constitution that was presented – despite the misgivings over it amongst the member countries - a 6-member Executive Committee was elected by the 6 Directors present amongst themselves without involvement of the other delegates present. This Executive Committee (DC) was tasked to run the GSC for the next one year. Lady Singh Kanwaljit Kaur, OBE of the UK was elected its President, Ajmer Singh (Australia) as Vice President, Gurdeep Singh Kundan (Switzerland) Secretary, Gurpreet Singh (India), and Harcharan Singh (Malaysia) as members. As a mark of respect for his past services to the GSC, Lady Singh invited Basi to be a member of the Exco.

It was thus clear that the 26 delegates from 13 member countries who were present at this AGM had set the GSC on the right footing. The resolutions they had passed would allow the body to achieve its aim of becoming the voice of Sikhs across the world. The most important aspect was that the New Constitution – once passed – would hand the management, administration, direction and setting of policy goals of GSC to the General Body and not the arbitrarily appointed BOD. Such actions ensured that the GSC operated on the principles of democratic norms and inclusivity. Members were looking forward to the 2018 AGM which was scheduled to be held in Dubai on the 18th of March.

However, this development did not sit well for some people who had other designs.

A Coup De Tat’ In The Making.

Twelve days prior to the Dubai AGM, on the 5th of March 2018, Secretary Gurdeep Singh Kundan called for a Skype meeting of the Executive Committee of the GSC. It was attended by three other persons: Basi, Gurpreet Singh of India, and Harcharan Singh of Malaysia. Of these 4 persons, two had no position within the Exco or even the GSC. Basi had been sacked by his parent organization ASC3 , and Harcharan Singh no longer held his position in his parent organization – the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council. So, for all intents and purposes, this meeting consisted of only 2 Exco members who were in legal standing. In other words, a minority faction consisting of 2 out of 6 Exco members took on the role of decision making for GSC. That was the first problem with this illegal meeting.

Secondly, the President and Vice President were not informed of the meeting. Thirdly, even the “dubious constitution” provided no authority for the Secretary to call for a meeting; and invite persons who had no standing.

But these string of illegalities did not prevent these 4 individuals from passing a “resolution dismissing Lady Singh as the President and appointing one of their own as the President.” This illegal meeting was thus clearly an exercise to usurp power by Kundan, Basi and Gurpreet Singh. It was a coup de ’tat aimed at undoing all the decisions that had been taken at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur AGM.

The most important question however was this: If indeed there were any grouses by Kundan, Gulbarg Singh or Gurpreet Singh – or any other members - why could they not wait another 12 days for the AGM in Dubai to present their proposals for deliberation? Because they knew they had no support of the General body of members?

But such a reality was not sufficient to make this group stop their coup of taking over the GSC. They organized a parallel AGM in Switzerland on the same dates at the Dubai AGM. Having been sacked from his parent organization (ASC), Basi had set up his new organization named ASEEN. Gurdeep Singh Kundan wrote to all members to get ASEEN accepted as a GSC member to allow Basi to attend the Switzerland AGM and presumably get elected as the President. Kundan tried to get this approval by email. This was clearly against the constitution – which mandated that new members will have to be approved at the AGM. The Switzerland AGM failed for one reason alone. All member nations chose to attend the AGM in Dubai.

The Dubai AGM of 2018.

At the Dubai AGM, the following resolutions were passed by the General Body.

First, the New Draft Constitution was tabled and debated clause by clause. After the requested amendments were made, Attorney Jagir Singh proceeded to table the following motion: “We, the representatives from various countries’ organizations assembled here today and after due deliberations do hereby approve the draft constitution, adopt, enact, give effect and deliver to ourselves this Constitution on the 18th day of March, 2018 at Dubai, UAE.” The motion was adopted unanimously with none dissenting.

Second, an application forwarded by Gulbarg Singh Basi for a USA based organization named ASEEN was tabled and unanimously rejected by the General Body. Had ASEEN’s membership been accepted, Basi would have been re-instated as a delegate.

Third, the General Body decided unanimously to permanently dissolve GSC Inc., that was incorporated as a business corporation in Georgia on July 21st 2014.7 The logistics of its permanent dissolution were deputized to the American Sikh Council. The General Body tasked Attorney Jagir Singh with the job of registering the GSC as a properly and legally constituted International Organization in any of the world’s capitals that provided for such registration.

Fourth, the AGM voted on the following resolution: “In accordance with Clause 7E of the GSC Constitution, Mr. Gulbarg Singh Basi, S. Gurdeep Singh Kundan, Switzerland and S. Gurpreet Singh India, be removed as members with immediate effect for holding an illegal Skype meeting on March 5, 2018 without due authorization and passing unlawful resolutions, which resulted in bringing the GSC into disrepute.” This resolution was unanimously adopted with none dissenting.

Fifth, the AGM elected Lady Singh Kanwaljit Kaur to be the President of GSC for a further two-year term. Bhenji Jasbir Kaur of the ASC was elected Vice President and Attorney Jagjit Singh of Malaysia its Secretary.

The Fake GSC is Born.

Even after the General Body of the GSC had decided – without a single dissenting vote – to dissolve the Georgia Incorporated Global Sikh Council Inc., Basi decided to keep the aborted baby alive and to falsely keep presenting it to the Sikh world as the GSC. The GSC Inc. is Basi’s private organization. This Fake GSC is his personal business entity. He owns it. His name is on the Certificate of Registration as the CEO forever. There is no provision for any elections. Even when the Exco were elected in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – Basi did not register any of these names on the Certificate of GSC Inc. Only he could do so, as only he had the power to do so. He chose not to. He chose to keep his own name there as CEO. This is not how any Global Organization of the Sikh World should be run – as a privately owned property of one man.

The GSC Inc. of Georgia thus stands as the Fake GSC – complete with the logo and motto of the Real GSC. At its very core, this Fake GSC is the result of the hubris of one man to remain at its helm even if his own organization – the American Sikh Council - had removed him; thus, terminating his status as member of GSC Inc., and even if the GSC General Body had removed him at its AGM in Dubai by unanimous vote.

The Global Sikh Council.

The Global Sikh Council under the current leadership of Lady Singh Kanwaljit Kaur OBE, UK has been registered in accordance with the Dubai approved Constitution in the United Kingdom and has grown to become a truly global body with 31 member countries as members. The GSC is registered with the Charities Commission in the UK as a Trust. Its last AGM was held in Amritsar, Punjab in October 2022. The trustees registered with the Charity Commission subsequent to this AGM are Satnam Singh (UK), Ram Singh (India), Harsaran Singh (India), Gurprit Kaur (Uganda), Jagir Singh (Malaysia), Lady Singh (UK), Gurdial Singh (France) Amanjeet Singh (Dubai) and Paramjit Singh Bedi (Afghanistan- now in USA). This organization is not owned by any one individual but by members elected from the General Body that function according to an approved constitution.

Examples of activities at the international level that are undertaken by the GSC include its role in negotiating the placement of Sikh refugees that exited Afghanistan in 2022. Other examples include its role in persuading the Punjab State Assembly to table an Anti-Conversion Bill. It is also involved in the preservation of Sikh heritage in India and Pakistan; in women empowerment programs; Gurmukhi documentation and development of Sikh martial arts; as well as religious affairs.9 The Global Sikh Council has not undertaken any kind of fund drive for its activities – all of which are funded by the member country organizations themselves.

The Fake GSC Needs to Stand Down.

The Fake GSC exists as a WhatsApp group in which random individuals from different countries are added. If the adding of Sikh individuals from various countries in a WhatsApp group is the defining factor for a “global Sikh council,” then there must be a myriad of “global Sikh councils” out there. The difference perhaps is that the Fake GSC has “appointed hand-picked” individuals into various positions such as “President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary” to provide the façade of an “organization,” and hide the reality that it is merely a WhatsApp group. This Fake GSC has appointed other well-intentioned Sikhs as its “ambassadors” for the same purpose. Its main and perhaps only activity appears to be the conduct of zoom based seminars. Its latest activity is an appeal for funds.

There is nothing wrong in running a WhatsApp group and appointing a President and Secretary of that WhatsApp group. There is nothing wrong in organizing Zoom seminars and collecting funds for such activities either. The wrong is in appropriating the name, logo and motto of a legitimately set up body – The Global Sikh Council – and pretending not to know or care for the truth of the matter. The wrong is in masquerading as the Global Sikh Council to fool the people into believing the fakery. The wrong is in the impersonation of it. The wrong is in the hubris of one man. Respectable Sikhs must disassociate from such wrongs.

The Fake Global Sikh Council must stand down. Or risk the disrepute of being exposed repeatedly for its fakery.