NEXT week the dates and locations for a worldwide referendum of 25 million Sikh people will be announced in London. The referendum will be the culmination of the work of the Punjab Referendum Commission, made up of a panel of independent and non-aligned experts in direct democracy who have examined the case for the establishment of the right of the people of the Punjab to determine their own future with the aim of making Punjab independent of India.

The referendum will be held across 20 countries on four continents, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and the region of Punjab. As the Sikhs are the dominant religion in the state, it is in effect about creating a Sikh homeland.


PUNJAB means the Land of the Five Waters. The five tributary rivers of the Indus River from which the region took its name are the Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab, and Jhelum rivers – the Sutlej, Ravi, and Beas rivers flow through the Indian Punjab.

Perhaps confusingly there is a Punjab province next door in Pakistan, but it is not involved in the referendum, which only aims to make the Indian province of Punjab into a self-governing independent state.

Punjab state covers an area of 50,362 sq kms (19,445 miles), some 1.53% of India’s total geographical area. It is the 20th-largest Indian state by area. With more than 28 million inhabitants, Punjab is the 16th-largest state by population, comprising 22 districts.

Punjabi, written in the Gurmukhi script, is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. The main ethnic group are the Punjabis, with Sikhs (57.7%) and Hindus (38.5%) as the dominant religious groups.

Hence the idea of polling all Sikhs anywhere in the world to assess demand for an independent Punjab.


SIKHISM is an ancient and proud religion and philosophy that was founded in Punjab in the 15th century by Guru Nanak (1469-1539). The beliefs and rituals of Sikhism were laid down by Guru Nanak and the nine Sikh gurus who followed him.

The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara. The Sikh scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib, a book that Sikhs consider a living Guru. It is a monotheistic religion whose adherents stress the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in heart and mind at all times, live honestly and work hard, treat everyone equally, be generous to the less fortunate and serve others.


THE referendum commission has stated: “Although a non-governmental and non-binding referendum, the result will be used as the basis for the Sikh community to request an official binding vote from the United Nations on establishing the Indian governed region of Punjab as an independent homeland for the indigenous people of whom Sikhs are the single largest group.”


IT will be very interesting to see how the referendum works. Already countries like the UK and Canada say the Punjab is part of India, even though it was an independent country and had its own empire before British rule. The tactic of going to the United Nations is one already considered by many Scots.