Right to Bear Arms

I took a Vistara flight from Mumbai to Bangalore a week ago Sunday. In preparation for the flight, I checked out their website and came across their ‘kirpan’ policy which states:

Carriage of “Kirpan” by Sikh Passengers

A ‘Kirpan’ with a total maximum length of 9 inches (22.86 cm), but a blade not exceeding 06 inches (15.24 cm), is permitted for carriage by a Sikh Passenger on their person, within India.

Kirpans[1] serve a function that is motivated by religion. The airline rule permits those who profess the Sikh faith to carry a weapon on board a commercial flight that is not allowed to non-Sikhs. This is discrimination based on religion.

As a private entity, Vistara is free to discriminate among passengers on any dimension it sees fit. However, if the general public did not tolerate religious discrimination, Vistara would not dare have that policy. The sad fact about India (and some other backward, uncivilized countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc) is that people see nothing wrong in discrimination.

The constitution of India declares India to be a “secular” state. It takes a special kind of brazenness for the state to claim to be “secular” and then discriminate among citizens based on religion. This shamelessness is made possible only because the people are insensate. (Insensate — lacking sense or understanding; lacking humane feelings; lacking animate awareness or feelings.) They lack awareness of simple basic facts and principles.

Discrimination by the state is odious, immoral, repugnant and uncivilized. People must have the freedom to discriminate for or against anyone or any group. But a civilized modern state treats all citizens equally. Private citizens and groups have freedoms that the state and its functionaries don’t — and must not — have.

The state is a reflection of the people who constitute society. Only if the people approve of state discrimination would the state discriminate. I think it is shameful that Indians tolerate, even approve of, discrimination. Indian society is not civilized. All societies have discriminated against others in the past but most have progressed in the modern age. The unpleasant fact is that India is still stuck in an uncivilized past.

I am for the right of people to bear arms. The Sikhs have the right to carry kirpans — and if the state recognizes that right, then it must extend that right to all citizens regardless of whether they are Sikhs or not. The principle is simple: the general application of all laws. There cannot be one law for Sikhs and another for the rest.

I am a “2nd-amendment fundamentalist.” What’s that you ask? It’s the second in the list known as the Bill of Rights:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The 2A is what guarantees freedom from tyranny. What tyranny, you ask? It’s the tyranny of the state. Only when the citizenry is disarmed can state tyranny become a reality.

The British overlords disarmed Indians during the colonial raj. The Indian-born wannabe British (Nehru and Gandhi) as the new overlords recognized the need to continue that British tradition and made sure that Indians cannot oppose tyranny. So they kept the British Raj rule of keeping the people unarmed and vulnerable. Indians are — let’s not be too delicate about it — slaves of a tyrannical state. It was the Nehruvian state in the past and now it is the Modi state of the present. Sad fact is that Indians don’t seem to mind being slaves.

So be it. Swaha. Tathastu. It’s all karma, neh!


[1] Wiki says this about the kirpan:

The kirpan is a sword or a knife of any size and shape, carried by Sikhs. It is also part of a religious commandment given by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, in which he gave an option to the Sikhs, if they accepted they must wear the five articles of faith (the five Ks) at all times, the kirpan being one of five Ks.

The Punjabi word kirpan has two roots: kirpa, meaning “mercy”, “grace”, “compassion” or “kindness”; and aanaa, meaning “honor”, “grace” or “dignity”.

Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a Sant Sipahi or “saint-soldier”, showing no fear on the battlefield and treating defeated enemies humanely. The Bhagat further defines the qualities of a sant sipahi as one who is “truly brave…who fights for the deprived”.

Kirpans are curved and have a single cutting edge that should be sharp. They are any size and a Sikh who has undergone the Amrit Sanskar ceremony of initiation may carry more than one; the Kirpans must be made of steel or iron.

Author: Atanu Dey


3 thoughts on “Right to Bear Arms”

  1. Not just airlines but many other places including banks have this exception for sikhs. Now, there is no real legal way for someone to prove themselves as sikhs. You can feel like Sikh and carry a kripan with you. You should try that next time.


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