Protesting over the prejudice and intolerance of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), veteran show host Lord Singh of Wimbledon has quit BBC Radio Four’s ‘Thought for the Day’ after 35 years, while blasting them for over-sensitivity.
According to the reports, Inderjit Singh, known as Lord Singh who has been a famous voice of the Today programme for over three and a half decades, said that the BBC tried to block him from discussing a guru from his religion who fought against the forced conversion of some Hindus to Islam in 17th century India.
A celebrated interfaith activist, Indarjit Singh hit out at the BBC for its ‘prejudice and intolerance’ after he was told that the broadcast may have offended Muslims, despite that fact that there was no criticism of Islam on the show.
Hitting out at the BBC, he said organisation’s ‘misplaced sense of political correctness’ forces contributors to say only non-controversial statements. Speaking to the reporters, Lord Singh said, “It was like saying to a Christian that he or she should not talk about Easter for fear of giving offence to the Jews.”
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, who is now 87, was let go after he threatened to quit instead of having his religious teachings insulted. However, he was not informed regarding who was actually offended by his broadcast.
After quitting the radio, Commission for Racial Equality advisor Lord Singh complained about his treatment but a review by BBC director of radio James Purnell rejected his complaint.
“The need for sensitivity in talking about religious, political or social issues have now been taken to absurd proportions with telephone insistence on trivial textual changes right up to going into the studio, making it difficult to say anything worthwhile. The aim of ‘Thought for the Day’ has changed from giving an ethical input to social and political issues to the recital of religious platitudes and the avoidance of controversy with success measured by the absence of complaints,” said Singh.
He said he believed Sikhism founder Guru Nanak and even Jesus Christ would not be allowed near Thought for the Day’ if they were alive today.
A BBC spokesperson said, that ‘Thought for the Day’ is a live topical segment and it was usual to make editorial changes so that it reflects the biggest news stories of the day. “We disagree with Lord Singh and don’t recognise his characterisation of Thought for the Day.” said the spokesperson.
Reportedly, Lord Singh discussed the achievements of Guru Tegh Bahadur on his ‘Thought For The Day’ show. However, he did not explicitly state that he was banned for speaking about Guru Tegh Bahadur.
Born in Amritsar, Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of the ten Gurus who founded Sikhism and is honoured and remembered as the man who championed the rights for all religious freedom. He taught liberation from attachment, fear and dependence.
During the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Islam was imposed on people and Hindu temples were demolished and turned into mosques. Guru Tegh Bahadur protested against the imposition of Islam amidst huge persecution and also refused himself to convert to Islam. As a punishment in 1675, he was beheaded in Delhi at the age of 54. The site of his execution has become an important Gurdwara known as Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib.