SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

India, Pakistan and the Sikhs: The Kartarpur corridor in its historical and political perspective

Prof. Gurharpal Singh, SOAS

Date: 12 November 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 12 November 2019Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


This year is the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.  To mark the occasion, the governments of India and Pakistan have agreed to open a corridor over the river Ravi linking two important Sikh shrines - Dera Baba Nanak (in India) with Kartarpur Sahib (in Pakistan) – associated with life and times of Guru Nanak. The corridor symbolises a new departure in the management of sacred spaces in the Punjab since the Partition. But this initiative comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between India and Pakistan occasioned by the confrontation over the Pulwama incident and the recent decision of the BJP government to abrogate article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although recent developments have severely curtailed diplomatic, economic and civil relations between India and Pakistan, both countries remain committed to opening the Kartarpur corridor. This lecture will examine the historical and religious background to the opening of the corridor which has its roots in the division of Sikh sacred spaces in 1947 and their contested management since. It will also assess the extent to which the corridor can become a ‘bridge of peace’ between the two nuclear-armed rivals or whether it will remain ‘a bridge too far’.  


Professor Gurharpal Singh was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, SOAS, from 2011 to 2017. He is a political scientist who completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the LSE. Previously, he was the Deputy Director of the Religions and Development Research Programme (DFID) and held the Nadir Dinshaw Chair in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. He has also been the C.R.Parekh Chair in Indian politics at the University of Hull.

Professor Singh was a member of the RAE 2014 (sub-panel 27, Area Studies) and the RAE 2008 (sub-panel 49, Asian Studies). He was a member of the Commissioning Panel of the AHRC and ESRC Religion and Society Research Programme and of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (2002 -07).

The event is free to attend, but registration essential. Click here to register. 

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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