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World Sikh University awards first doctorate degrees

Set up in 1997, the University now offers courses and visits to the places of worship of all other world religions, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:18 IST

The World Sikh University, founded in 1997 for the study of Sikhism and comparative religion, has now awarded its first doctorates. Perched almost inconspicuously above high street shops in Harrow-on-the-Hill in north London, the university remains unique in whole of Europe. A special feature of the syllabus there is a course on the law and Sikhs living outside India.

After several skirmishes with the authorities, Sikhs are now the only community in Britain legally permitted to drive motorcycles without helmets. The House of Lords also allowed, following an appeal by a Sikh father, Sikh children to wear traditional dress to schools if they wished instead of the prescribed school uniforms.

Although it was initially funded by Sikh gurdwaras and set up to prevent the estrangement of 700,000 Sikhs in Britain from their culture, the University now offers courses and visits to the places of worship of all other world religions.

At present it has 70 students including Christians, Hindus and Muslims. There are among them the likes of Sukhdip Khaira, who grew up in England but joined the university to discover her roots. "What I am learning here is my motherhood," she said.

Sukhbir Singh Kapoor, vice-chancellor and founder of the university, had earlier set up Khalsa College as an independent sixth form college. It aimed to educate students in the study of oriental religions as well as offering A-Level studies in languages, such as Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati and Urdu. The College led to the setting up of the university following accreditation from FVG University in Belgium.

Madhavi Amdekar is one of the first to get a doctorate for her thesis centring on the philosophy of Bhagat Nam Dev, whose writings were absorbed in the Guru Granth Saheb.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST