There is a certain person on social media who has become a meme on the internet. He goes by the name of Ashok Singh Garcha and claims to be the president of Abrahamic and Indo-Abrahamic Association (AIAA). His bio on Twitter shows that he preaches “JEWISH/CHRISTIAN/MUSLIM and SIKH UNITY”. He has obviously not been very successful because if he had been, he would have already been summoned to resolve the Palestinian conflict.
Nonetheless, his posturing on social media gives one the impression that he believes a peace between the said communities could break out any moment. But during the presidential tenure of Ashok Singh Garcha at AIAA, such a peace has failed to materialize and Afghan Sikhs have continued to come into Hindu-majority India to escape the hellhole in their native countries. But such a stellar record at failure, matched only by Rahul Gandhi, does not appear to threaten his position as the president of AIAA.
Amusingly enough, HDFC Bank designated Ashok Singh Garcha as their “neighbourhood hero” from Ludhiana for providing food to underprivileged residents. The award was presented in August 2020. Before we proceed further, it is pertinent to state it outright that claims that Sikhism is “Indo-Abrahamic” is proper nonsense and has no connection with reality whatsoever.
We visited the website mentioned in Garcha’s profile in order to learn more about the association. According to the website, “The AIAA (Abrahamic and Indo-Abrahamic Association) is an inter-faith association of the Abrahamic and Indo-Abrahamic faiths based upon their shared faith traditions and beliefs.” “The Abrahamics and the Indo-Abrahamics comprise almost 75% of the world’s population and form the single largest global collective of religions with shared root ideologies and practices,” it adds.
The AIAA believes that Sikhism and sects such as Radha Soami, Ravidasia, Kabir Panthi, Satnami, Eksarna Sankardev, Sacha Sauda, Sri Narayan Dharam Paripalan, Namdev, Sai Baba, Sindhi sects etc. are ‘Indo-Abrahamic’ faiths. On his profile, Garcha claims that Sikhism is ‘Indo-Abrahamic’, ‘Deen-Dharmic’, ‘Sanatan-Semetic’.
The AIAA states, “The relationship between the Indic and Indo-Abrahamic religions is well understood and acknowledged. However, the equally close kinship between the Abrahamic and Indo-Abrahamic religions is not so well understood and expounded. The AIAA is incorporated to remove this void of ignorance about the third largest genre of world religions in world theology.”
Ashok Singh Garcha also has some extremely novel ideas such as his theory on the culinary traditions manifested in Kurkure, the snack. According to him, “Kurkure are an Indo-Western snack arising out of the syncretisation of the culinary traditions of India with that of the West.” We cannot be sure whether he is serious or being sarcastic.
It appears that he wishes to portray Sikhism as the “most globally connected” in the world. He has said in the past, “Sikhism is the common link factor between the major religions of the world. The Indo-Abrahamic Sikhs have ideological cosanguinity, common descent, with the Abrahamic as well as Indic religions.” From his tweets, it is quite evident that he wishes to distance Sikhs from Hindus and associated religions such as Buddhism and Jainism and associate Sikhism with Abrahamic faiths instead.
However, Garcha does not have the support of the core constituency he seeks to address: The Sikhs. Sikhs on social media, the extremely few who do interact with him, are quite clearly sick of him and have been spotted calling him a ‘senile fool’. We also discovered that Ashok Singh Garcha was formerly associated with the Congress party. When a user said that he was peddling these weird ideas to further his political career, he did not deny being associated with the party.
We have found some media reports from the past which call Garcha a “senior” Congress leader. In 2009, he had questioned the candidature of party spokesperson Manish Tewari from Ludhiana for the Lok Sabha Elections that year. But later, the then general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress claimed that Garcha did not even hold preliminary membership of the party. But Garcha claimed that he was a Congressman because he had strong faith in the ideology of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Our ‘investigation’ also revealed that it was not the first time that Garcha has been called a “senile fool”. One would assume that in the Garcha school of thought, success is the ability to go from the first instance of being called ‘”senile fool” to the next without any loss of enthusiasm.
Even as he continues to disassociate Sikhism from Hinduism, Garcha goes overboard in trying to build kinship with other religions. There is no evidence to suggest that Jews, Christians or Muslims are enthusiastic about embracing Sikhs in the ‘Abrahamic’ fold. According to him, “The Indo Abrahamic Sikhs are brothers and religious kinsmen of the Abrahamic Jews/Christians/Muslims”.
Ashok Singh Garcha has also floated numerous other problematic nonsense. In May this year, he floated the idea of ‘Delhi Takht 2020’, which is supposed to be a “patriotic, nationalist movement of Indian Sikhs to have Sikhs ruling over the country by 2050 AD”. When asked how he intends to carry it out, he said the plan is for “Sikhs to build a coalition with majority and minority communities to form a govt as per the constitution.”
The objectives of the AIAA, meanwhile, include “To network worldwide with the Abrahamics and make the Indo-Abrahamic emigrants like the Sikhs, Sindhis, Radha Soamis, Ravidasia, Satnami, Shirdi Sai Baba, Eksarna etc feel welcomed and comfortable in Abrahamic countries of Europe, Americas, Australia, Middle East, Africa” and “To network with the Indics and make the Abrahamics (Jew/Christian/Muslim ) feel welcome and at home in India, and vice versa for the Indics (Hindu/ Buddhist/Jain) outside India.”
Some have even claimed that certain individuals with their surname ‘Garcha’ have stopped using their surnames because of the nonsense that the president of AIAA has come up with. Unfortunately, we cannot as of this moment verify the authenticity of these claims.
Needless to say, hardly anyone takes Garcha seriously, but he does have a section of followers who mainly interact with him for comic relief. He has inevitably ended up becoming a meme on the internet where people use his antics for laughs. Some meme enthusiasts have cast him as a fanfic superhero who has been named ‘Dharmo-Semetic Garchos’.