A group of 11 NRI Sikhs from Melbourne in Australia has claimed to have developed a software which would help in keeping a record of all the 'birs' (texts) that the SGPC distributes to individuals and gurdwara committees.
The software is in its initial stages of development and the engineers are hopeful that a mechanism could be devised to keep a tab on the whereabouts of each 'bir' of Guru Granth Sahib.
The group demonstrated the mechanism here on Thursday before Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.
The SGPC hands over a 'bir' of Guru Granth Sahib to an individual or to a group of representatives of some gurdwara committee after obtaining an assurance that proper care ('sewa-sambal') of the scripture will be taken as per the Sikh tenets.
So far, the religious body does not have a mechanism to keep tabs on whether the 'sewa-sambal' is being done as per the tenets. It only acts when people lodge complaints in this regard.
Every day, the SGPC hands over a number of 'birs' of the scripture to baptised individuals who wish to do 'parkash' of the Guru Granth Sahib at their homes. Similarly 'birs' are also given to representatives of gurdwara managing committees, which are not under the SGPC control and even to representatives of village-level shrines.
The SGPC, which is the sole printing authority recognised by the Akal Takht, has to be informed if the scripture is moved from one gurdwara to another or from one house to another.
SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur, secretary Dalmegh Singh and additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi were also present.
Software engineer Sukhbir Singh along with his associate Lakhwinder Singh, both of whom demonstrated the software, said, " Each copy of Guru Granth Sahib has been given a unique identity number which is fed into the computer when a 'bir' is handed over to an individual or individuals, whose details are fed into the computer. The SGPC can click the ID number and ask for information on e-mail from the person in whose possession the scripture is. Similar procedure can be followed in the case of a gurdwara."
Even as Makkar and the jathedar appreciated their efforts, they felt that more work needed to be done on the project.
Through the website, it might not be possible to check a 'bir' being passed on from one person to another or from one shrine to another without the knowledge of the SGPC, it was observed during the demonstration. Moreover an individual may not spell out the real picture while replying to the mail.
The Melbourne-based engineers promised to do further work on this project. Tracing a 'bir' will be possible if the Akal Takht permits a computer chip being fixed to a 'bir'. However this could lead to objections from a section of the Sikh clergy.