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  1. source: http://www.panthic.org/articles/2445 WHAT'S BECOME OF LANGAR AND HOW TO REVIVE THE ORIGINAL SPIRIT ? BIBI GURMIT KAUR, ATLANTA When Guru Nanak started the tradition of Langar upon his return to Kartarpur; it was meant to be its literal meaning: ‘The Anchor’ to bind the community together under the principles of Vand Chakna . A simple diet of produce and water which would not only satiate the basic dietary need of the visitors, but of the needy, the servers and the Guru alike in their physical, mental and spiritual quest. Guru Ka Langar since then embarked on its journey enriched by the sweetness of Mata Khivi, the dedication of Bhai Manjh, the humility of Emperor Akbar, and the revival of the true spirit of the principle of Langar by Bhai Nand Lal Ji. Whatever the transformation, the basic principles remained the same. Langar was kept simple. It was there for everyone to partake. Needy people knew where to go to satisfy their hunger if they could not provide for their family, and the community was bound together. Unfortunately, today in the Diaspora, Langar is losing its meaning. It has lost most of its original characteristics. Let us see how. 1. Langar today is anything but the simple nutritious food it was intended to be. 2. It is not reaching the truly needy and homeless. 3. It has become a burden and in some cases a competition. 4. The spirit of gratefulness and appreciation with which it is received is somewhat gone. Simple and Langar are antonyms today. Loaded with ghee and oils, deep fried items, dairy, sugars, spices, refined white flour and artificial colors, our Langar today is complicated and refined Indian cuisine. You feel like you are eating fancy Indian Restaurant food only on the floor and in Styrofoam plates. You are virtually unable to move after you stuff yourself with Langar on Sunday afternoons. Was that Guru Nanak’s intention for Langar? And by the way, what happened to feeding the needy and homeless? Do they even know that something like Langar exists? Granted, often in North America Gurdwaras are not located in areas surrounded by people having to beg for food. However, even the leftover food is usually distributed among the Sangat instead of being carried to shelters or low-income areas. In the past Langar was prepared from the collaborative dasvandh and by the sangat pooling in physical seva together complete with humility and dedication. Today in many western Gurdwaras, it has become the responsibility of individual families as they take turns providing the seva. In the quest to show off their skills and resources, Langar has become so elaborate that some people are scared to take the responsibility for fear of not being able to meet expectations. This, in turn, means that a limited number of families keep getting assigned to the sewa. The pleasure and gratitude of doing seva for the Sangat then becomes a burden every time they have to take their turn. Another complication is that we produce so much non-biodegradable trash during Sunday Langars from the North American Gurdwaras that I am certain it contributes to the pollution of our environment, to Nature, and to the Cosmic Physical Entity. Gurbani says, “Pavan Guru Pani Pita Mata Dhart Mahat” – "Air is the Guru, Water the Father, Earth is the great mother." Yet, we go out of our way to prepare fancy dishes that are costly both in time and money when we could put that time and money towards buying and washing reusable steel plates. The spirit of thankfulness in which the Langar is received today is gone. If it is anything less than a lavish party meal done to culinary perfection, you can hear comments being whispered. On the flip side, unnecessary encouragement of elaborate and lavish food deters families who want to keep it simple. Instead they are forced to be flexible and keep up with the trend. If we transform the Langar back to a simple daal, whole grain roti and a side of slightly cooked vegetables or a salad, we can easily satisfy our stomachs. We save time, money and effort, which we can spend on spreading the mission of Langar and other useful programs. Besides, we ensure that we are providing only nutritious food to our body, mind and spirit in accordance with the Guru’s Hukam: "Unni Duniya toRe bandhana ann pani thoRa khaya": "They burn away the bonds of the world, who eat a simple diet of grain and water" (SGGS – Ang 467) It is a simple task to incorporate ‘serving the needy’ element back into Langar. Most Churches have a marquee where they display a Sunday message. We could advertise something to the effect of “Free Nutritious Food For All – Sunday 1-2 PM”. A volunteer could be assigned to receive the visitors, explain Sikhi and make sure they are served. What a way to serve the hungry and reach out to the community at the same time! In addition we could advertise in other venues like homeless shelters, local food banks, offices and universities campuses (you can find a lot of hungry; short of money and, eager to learn students). Also, by doing this we will alleviate the evils of competition and the problems that arise at times when Langar becomes a burden. If the Langar was going to be just the three items of daal, roti and vegetables, it would be so much easier that more people would be willing to sponsor it. Fortunately, in spite of the shortcomings, to a great extent Langar today is still the anchor that holds the community together; which gives us the chance and hope to revive it completely in its true meaning as Bhai Nadlal Ji did. For readers who are not familiar with the context; during Guru Gobind Singh’s time Langar did take a ritualistic flavor. They were offered only after a whole sequence of ceremonies, i.e. Patth and Ardas. It also was opened only at meal times when all the dishes were ready. Bhai Sahib felt that the spirit of Langar needed revival. So he opened Langar at his house where, irrespective of the time of day, whatever food was ready was rationed to any who came. Guru Ji visited Bhai Sahib’s Langar and was pleased with the true spirit. And now it is time for us to revive the true spirit and practice of this wonderful tradition. Men, discuss Langar with your families, including its simplicity, impact upon the environmental, and nutritional value as well as the need to provide it in a spirit of dedication to the Sangat and the needy alike. Ladies, stop that competition and let go of the desire for praise of your culinary skills. Add a piece of fruit if you feel the need for sweets at the end of Langar. Don’t worry; with the plenty of beans, lentils, legumes available in the market your daal will not be boring. With the array of vegetables, herbs and fruits your sabzi or salad can be simple, highly nutritious yet, colorful with nature’s beauty and taste. With whole grain flour available at all grocery stores around the continent; you can make the goodness and wholesomeness of the traditional Langar parshade felt once more. Gurdwara Management Leaders, talk to the Sangat to make Langar simple. Mandate it. Start a project to fund raise for those reusable steel utensils and build large sinks. Encourage youth to take on the dish cleaning sewa. And, make sure to get those biodegradable dishwashing soaps to protect the water and earth. Youngsters, stop pressuring your parents to cater Pizza and donuts for Langar. It is neither nutritious nor prepared with seva bhavna (serving devotion); nor are the devotional traditions in preparations observed, i.e. heads covered; simran done. Let us take whatever steps we as individuals can take on this road to transformation. Let us make the Gurdwaras once again a model that anchors the community, revives our physical, mental and spiritual bodies, and caters to the needy with eco-friendly, nutritious, simple meals.
  2. source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090531/main3.htm HC: Courts can decide religious conflicts ‘Unshorn hair essential component of Sikhism’ Saurabh Malik Tribune News Service Chandigarh, May 30 A Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today held that courts could enter into “religious thicket” in case of a conflict. Comprising Justice JS Khehar, Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal, the Bench also concluded that “maintaining hair unshorn was an essential component of the Sikh religion”; and that admissions under the Sikh minority community quota could be restricted to candidates maintaining “Sikhi swarup” or keeping their hair unshorn. Asserted the Bench: “In the process of analysis we were persuaded to conclude that a court, in case of a conflict, even on an aspect relating to religion, can enter into the religious thicket to determine the do’s and dont’s of the religion by relying upon the views expressed by the spokespersons of the said religion…” “Religion must be perceived as it is, and not as another would like it to be… Once a court arrives at the conclusion that a particular aspect of a religion is fundamental and integral, as per the followers of the faith, it must be given effect to, irrespective of the views expressed on the said issue, based either on science or logic… It is not for the court to determine whether it is forward looking or retrograde.” Following are the Bench assertions on various issues. Sikhism and law The Gurdwara Acts of 1925 and 1971 are legislative enactments, which have withstood the test of time, wherein ‘keshadhari’ (a Sikh who maintains hair unshorn) has been incorporated as the fundamental precondition for being vested with the right to be included even in the electoral rolls. Sikh and hair Dismissing a petition filed by Gurleen Kaur and other students denied admission to a medical college on the grounds of plucking eyebrows or trimming beard, the Bench, in its 154-page judgment, asserted: “Having dealt with the historical background of the Sikh religion, legislative enactments involving the Sikh religion, the Sikh ‘rehatmaryada’, the Sikh ardas and views expressed by scholars of Sikhism, we are satisfied they all lead to one unambiguous answer: maintaining hair unshorn is an essential component of the Sikh religion.” Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism Guru Granth Sahib has not expressly dealt with the issue of unshorn hair. Guru Granth Sahib is a treatise, limited to the teaching of the moral and spiritual code of conduct to the Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib is for the guidance of Sikhs in their pursuit towards spiritual salvation. It does not deal with the code of conduct prescribed for Sikhs. The code of conduct is strictly contained in the “Sikh rehatmaryada… Institute’s right to deny admission If a Sikh organisation or body decides not to extend any benefit, which is otherwise available to a Sikh, to a person who does not maintain his hair unshorn, its determination would be perfectly legitimate… Maintaining hair unshorn is part of the religious consciousness of the Sikh faith. Religion and law The Bench asserted that besides legality, the issue of trimming beard and plucking eyebrows was to be examined vis-à-vis religion. The action attributed to the petitioners is certainly not in conflict with law. But then the question to be determined is whether their actions are in conflict with the tenets of the religion, on the basis whereof they are claiming their right. For an issue of religion, an action cannot be bestowed with legitimacy merely because the action is forward-looking and non-fundamentalist.
  3. http://www.financial24.org/economy/newsmaker-indias-reluctant-king-set-to-become-pm-again/ The Reluctant King NEW DELHI - Described as a "reluctant king" in his first stint as India's prime minister, the quietly-spoken 76-year-old Manmohan Singh has defied critics to emerge as one of India's most successful political leaders. Singh's Congress-led coalition headed to a clear victory on Saturday over the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance. His coalition was about 20 seats short of a parliamentary majority, better than his first 2004 victory. No other leader since Jawaharlal Nehru, a founding father of Indian independence, has managed to win re-election after serving a full five-year term as prime minister. It is all a huge change from a few weeks ago, when Singh came under pressure even from the Congress party's own allies in the run-up to the election to cede the post of prime minister after criticism of his perceived weak leadership. When Singh underwent heart bypass surgery in January, many critics thought he would be unable to lead Congress to victory in a mammoth, month-long general election. But backed by Congress party head Sonia Gandhi, who many see as the real power behind the throne, he has held steadfast. Singh now has the chance to follow through on the reforms he first initiated in opening up India's economy in 1991. With the communists weakened after losing their four decade-old stranglehold in West Bengal, Singh may be free to push stalled reforms, from privatizations to the liberalization of the financial sector. The prime minister still faces huge challenges. Asia's third-largest economy is faced with its slowest growth in six years, a rising fiscal deficit and increasing instability in rival Pakistan. The Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 166 people in India's financial hub, hit the brakes on peace talks with Pakistan. RELUCTANT PM Singh became prime minister five years ago when Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who led the party to a surprise victory, declined the job fearing her Italian ancestry would be used by Hindu-nationalist opponents to attack the government. A former finance minister and central bank governor, Singh also took on the job of finance minister last December in the midst of an economic slowdown, after naming Palaniappan Chidambaram to lead the Home Ministry after the Mumbai attacks. This election is not the first time that Singh has been underestimated. Last year, he stood up to his communist allies over a civilian nuclear energy deal with the United States, securing an alternative majority and winning a tense vote of confidence in July after the left withdrew their parliamentary support. Born into a poor Sikh family in a part of British-ruled India now in Pakistan, Singh studied by candlelight to win scholarships to Cambridge and Oxford, earning a doctorate with a thesis on the role of exports and free trade in India's economy. As India's first Sikh prime minister, he made a public apology in parliament for the 1984 riots in which some 3,000 Sikhs were killed. Known for his simple lifestyle Singh, who has three daughters, has never won an election and sits in the mostly nominated upper house of parliament. During his stint as finance minister from 1991 to 1996, Singh saved an economy from a balance of payments crisis and unveiled far-reaching reforms that opened insular India to the world. In his maiden speech he famously quoted Victor Hugo, saying "no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come." ************************************************** *********** Congress wins eight Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, SAD four, BJP one Punjab Newsline Network Saturday, 16 May 2009 CHANDIGARH: The Congress party has won eight out of 13 Lok Sabha seats of Punjab while ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has won only four and its alliance partner BJP get one seat. The Congress has scored victory in Patiala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Ludhiana. While SAD has won Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Khadoor Sahib. The BJP has won one seat of Amritsar by thin margin. Preneet Kaur wife of former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Congreess candidate from Patiala and Navjot Singh Sidhu BJP candidate from Amritsar have made hat trick by winning their seats third time successively. Interestingly, both of them belong to Patiala. While Preneet Kaur has defeated Prem Singh Chandumajra by about 97383 votes, Sidhu has defeated Om Parkash Soni of Congress by 2900 votes. Vinod Khanna who had won Gurdaspur seat three times lost this time to Partap Singh Bajwa of Congress by little margin. Rana Gurjit Singh who was looking up to make hat trick had lsot from Rattan Singh Ajnala in Khadoor Sahib by huge margin of about 51,000 votes. Sukhdev Singh Libra a Congress candidate from Fatgehgarh Sahib has won the seat by defeating deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal with margin of 34219 votes. Libra a former SAD leader, sitting MP was expelled from SAD when he voted in favour of Dr.Manmohan Singh government during no-confidence motion in parliament. The Congress allotted him the ticket. The two out of three candidates selected by Rahul Gandhi have won their election. Ravneet Singh Bittu president Punjab youth congress has won from Anandpur Sahib by defeating SAD leader Dr.Daljit Singh Cheema with huge margin. Vijay Inder Singla former Youth Congress president has won from Sangrur by defeating SAD stalwart and sitting MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Thew third candidate of Rahul Gandhi was Sukhwinder Singh Danny from Faridkot who lost to Paramjit Kaur Gulshan sitting Akali MP by 62042 votes. Akalis have managed to win most important seat of Bathinda where prestige of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was involved. Harsimrat Kaur Badal's daughter in law and wife of Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has defeated Raninder Singh son of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh by over 90.000 votes. The SAD has also won Ferozepur seat from where Sher Singh Ghobaya sitting Akali MLA has won defeating a Congress stalwart sitting MP Jagmeet Singh Brar. Mohinder Singh Kay Pee PPCC working president has won from Jalandhar defeating Hans Raj Hans of SAD by margin of over 51,000 votes. The BJP has lost Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur where its candidates gave tough fight to Congress. Vinod Khanna lost the Gurtdaspur seat and Som Parkash of BJP has lost the Hoshiarpur seat by only 86 votes. Interesting part is that Akalis had lsot almost all seats in Malwa region in the last assembly elections. The SAD has shown improvement in Malwa belt by winng Bathinda and Faridkot and Ferozepur seats. SAD has lost some assembly segments in Majha and Doaba from where it has won in assembly elections. *************************************
  4. source: http://news.guelphmercury.com/article/472386 In the name of God People of virtually every religion have committed violence but a prominent professor argues separating religion, politics isn't answer Mirko Petricevic Mercury news services - Saturday, April 25, 2009 WATERLOO When Mark Juergensmeyer jetted off to India to investigate the reasons for the spiral of bloody violence between Sikhs and Hindus during the 1980s, he was unexpectedly whisked back to his youth in the American Midwest. In his research Juergensmeyer, a sociology and religious studies professor at the University of California, watched videos and listened to audio recordings of political speeches. They were delivered by a prominent activist who was advocating for an independent homeland for the minority Sikh population in India. In a recent lecture at St. Jerome's University in Waterloo, Juergensmeyer told the audience of about 60 he was reminded of revival meetings he attended as a teenager near St. Louis, Mo. In the mind-numbing humidity that blanketed the endless summers of Juergensmeyer's youth, itinerant preachers would set up tents and bowl over believers with the power of their words. They would lament that Christians were living comfortable lives while a battle of good versus evil was raging all around them. And with rising voices they would challenge the crowd to take up the sword for Christ. "To hear that challenge . . . what an exciting clarion call it is," Juergensmeyer said. People are often uneasy about living comfortable lives, Juergensmeyer opined, so many people long to lead more meaningful lives. Decades later, while listening to recordings of political speeches in India, Juergensmeyer again heard a powerful preacher calling on people to return to their religious roots. "He would speak to the great emblems of the Sikh tradition." He told young men in the crowd that they'd lost their sense of struggle and had given in to the easy secular life. "Then he would say there's a war going on," Juergensmeyer recalled. "A battle of good and evil, right and wrong, religion and irreligion." And like the evangelists of Juergensmeyer's youth, the preacher-politician told his fellow Sikhs the time had come to be soldiers for their faith. The battle between the Sikh independence movement and Indian government exploded in 1984 when the Indian army attacked Sikhism's holiest site -- the Golden Temple in Amritsar. About 1,000 people were killed. Five months later Indira Gandhi, India's Prime Minister, was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Juergensmeyer said during his research into the violence, he didn't find what he expected. He thought he would find "a wily politician who was using religion for political means." Instead, he said, he found national politics being adorned with the trappings of religion -- a political contest was elevated into a cosmic battle of good versus evil. Juergensmeyer said he has found similar examples of religious nationalism -- the rise of religious movements that challenge secular nation states -- among a wide variety of groups adhering to different religions all around the world. And a common grievance they hold is that secular governments are morally insufficient. During his lecture Juergensmeyer led his audience on a world tour of faith-based political activism. In Iran, Shiite Muslims overthrew the Shah's secular government in 1979. In the United States Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Juergensmeyer said McVeigh was trying to awaken fellow Christians and spark a moral revolution in the secular life of America. Christian Zionists in America strongly support the State of Israel in hopes of creating the conditions for the return of Jesus, their Messiah. And although the modern State of Israel was founded largely with the goal of creating a socialist society, some have turned to biblical Judaism in their nationalistic struggle. Some Jews, who believe their Messiah will come after the Jerusalem Temple is rebuilt and Jewish control over all the lands in biblical Israel has been established, have resorted to violence to speed the Messiah's return. The most fervent among them have unsuccessfully plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock, one of Islam's holiest sites, in order to make way to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. Juergensmeyer said the activists were working toward something of religious significance -- not just political significance. Even some Buddhists, despite their pacifist teachings, have engaged in violent political struggle. In 1959, a Buddhist monk assassinated Sri Lanka's prime minister. And in 2000, Sri Lankan monks formed the country's first all-Buddhist political party. At times they've taken part in punch-ups at political rallies and peace marches that were designed to promote peaceful coexistence alongside the minority Tamil population. And in 1995 a Buddhist movement in Japan, called the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth Sect), killed 12 people with a nerve-gas attack in the Tokyo subway system. "So even within the Buddhist tradition there is this extraordinary ability for religion to be identified as a force for violence against what it sees to be the corruption and excesses of the secular state," Juergensmeyer said. Contrary to popular opinion, Juergensmeyer said many of the religious-political struggles are not ancient rivalries. For example, take the battle between Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestine Liberation Organization was not a religious movement. It wasn't until the early 1990s, after decades of frustration at failing to regain control of the Holy Land, did Palestinian movements turn to Islam, Juergensmeyer said. In the Middle East, religious aspirations are complicating politics on both sides, Juergensmeyer said. Again their political struggle has been transformed into a cosmic war -- a war with a very long timeline. "If you think it's God's war, if you religionize a political conflict in these kinds of grand terms of cosmic war, then the timelines are vast and the possibilities of success are certain and the failures of today are, in your mind, temporary," he said. "You can endure the most extreme hardship and the most total of collapses knowing that ultimately you will succeed because it is God who will ultimately become the victor." During the question period after the lecture, the moderator asked Juergensmeyer if religion could be removed, once again, from politics. Juergensmeyer pondered aloud whether we really would want to return to a time of complete secularization of social and political issues. Except for those violent examples of religionized politics, Juergensmeyer said he's not sure we want to separate all religion from public life. "It seems to me that if religion were more naturally a part of public life it wouldn't be so prone to the kind dogmatic and intolerant excesses that we've often seen," he said. "The demarcation, the division between religion and secularism, tends to lead to extremes on both sides." One way for governments to respond to challenges from faith-based political activists is to not get drawn into religious rhetoric. The United States responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, by framing the struggle as a "war on terror," he said. In effect, the government adopted al-Qaida's vision of a global struggle between civilizations. "We make a huge mistake to capitulate to their own vision of the world," Juergensmeyer said. More recently, U.S. President Barack Obama has stopped using the phrase "war on terror." Juergensmeyer, for one, is pleased. So while religion is problematic, Juergensmeyer said religion itself isn't entirely the problem. Religion is the product of the human imagination, he said. And the way people think about religion, about God and moral and spiritual life are crafted within the bounds of human limitations, he said. "So we damn humans tend to do the most awful things and then legitimate it for the most vaunted and highest of religious motives," Juergensmeyer said. "That's our problem. It's not religion's."
  5. source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/...how/4437647.cms TIMES OF INDIA PM no Sikh, says SGPC chief Makkar 23 Apr 2009, 0432 hrs IST, Khushwant Singh HOSHIARPUR: Whipping up a huge row on Manmohan Singh’s Sikh credentials and in an attempt to counter the Congress party’s propaganda on projecting the prime minister as representative of the community, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee on Wednesday said the PM is not a Sikh, triggering angry protests from Congress leaders. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, who said “Manomohan Singh is not a Sikh’’ and kept up the tirade as he addressed an election rally at Hoshiarpur’s Roshan ground in support of BJP candidate Som Prakash, added, “Any Sikh connected with the Congress can never be a true Sikh. Giani Zail Singh, Buta Singh, Darbara Singh and now Amarinder Singh are all examples in front of you.’’ The SGPC said the PM had rejected a list of 20 demands on Punjab and Sikhs some time back. “Even if one demand had been met by the PM, I would have still called him a Sikh who has done something for the community,” Makkar said to a gathering of BJP-Akali supporters. The Congress immediately lashed back saying Manmohan Singh did not need any certificate either from the SGPC chief or the Akalis. Party spokesman Sukhpal Khaira said, “Sikhs supporting the Congress, and who are in large numbers, do not need a certificate from Makkar. In fact, it is most outrageous coming from such a highly placed person and he needs to apologize to the PM and the countrymen, including Sikhs, who take pride in Manmohan Singh leading the country.’’ The remark challenging PM’s religious belief by the SGPC president seems to be part of a well planned strategy to thwart votes coming from here to the Congress because of the PM.
  6. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Sikhs all over the world celebrated "Vaisakhi" on April 14, 2009. Besides remembering the past history and achievements, what legacy are we leaving for the future Sikh generations and the World ? Harbhajan source: http://www.sikhism.com/future Future of Sikhism Mankind's religious future may be obscure; yet one thing can be foreseen. The living higher religions are going to influence each other more than ever before, in the days of increasing communications between all parts of the world and branches of the human race. In this coming religious debate, the Sikh religion and its scriptures, the Guru Granth, will have something special of value to say to the rest of the world. The above statement was made by Arnold Toynbee, one of the top historians of the 20th century. Toynbee knew that the nature of religion was poised for rapid change. With new mediums of communication such as the Internet and satellite television, the glorious legacy of Sikhism and its shining principles of tolerance and love can no longer be kept hidden by repressive governments or anyone else. The new religious age is one of religious choice. Fortunately for Sikhism, freedom of choice and mutual respect are completely compatible with its founding principles. In fact, Sikhism has been preaching these ideals for more than 500 years. As religious fundamentalism once again flares during this most recent "clash of civilizations", with all its resulting terrorism, war, ignorance, and hatred, Sikhism can play an essential guiding role to lead the world smoothly to inevitable coexistence. According to Sikhism, our destiny is not Armageddon, but respect and appreciation for fellow human beings. This optimistic message is increasingly striking a chord in hearts across the world.
  7. Indian politicians demand protection from flying shoes Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:08pm BST By Bappa Majumdar NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's politicians contesting in the general election, fearful of shoes hurled at them by disgruntled voters, have asked for more security and are erecting metal nets at rallies. Lal Krishna Advani, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate was the latest politician to be at the receiving end on Thursday, as an angry party worker threw a slipper at him during an election meeting in a central state. The slipper missed Advani, but was enough for authorities to step up security for all leaders across the country. The incident was the latest episode of shoe-throwing as a mark of protest against political leaders, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Throwing a shoe at someone is considered an insult in India. Indian politicians have asked party workers to remove shoes at meetings and alerted police and their security staff to keep a tab on people, including journalists in news conferences. "The security is extremely tight for politicians, and we are keeping a close watch on everyone," a Delhi Police spokesman said. Last week, a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at India's home minister during a news conference after getting angry with the minister's reply to a question about 1984 riots in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed. Three days later, a retired school teacher threw a shoe at popular Congress lawmaker Naveen Jindal, during an election rally in Haryana state. Authorities in Gujarat state built an iron safety net to keep flying shoes away, as Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the BJP-ruled state began his speech at a rally this week. "These are acts of insanity, there is no scope for such acts in India's political system," Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP's candidate in Bihar state where election was held on Thursday said. India's politicians have not taken the shoe attacks personally and not initiated legal action so far. "Flying footwear are now the weapons of mass distraction," was the headline in one such report carried by the Mail Today newspaper on Friday. (Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Valerie Lee)
  8. FURTHER INFORMATION: Sikhs Proclaim No War Jagmohan Singh - World Sikh News The 36 Sikh organisations which submitted the Appeal American Gurdwara Prabandakh Committee, Anti-defamation Sikh Council for Freedom of Khalistan, USA, Baba Banda Singh Bahadhur Society Abbotsford, Canada, Council of Khalistan, Dal Khalsa International, UK, Daljit Singh Bittu, Presidium Member, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) (Panch Pardhani), Punjab, Dr. Amarjit Singh, Director, Khalistan Affairs Centre, Washington DC, USA, Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar, Abbotsford, Canada, Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Surrey Canada, International Sikh Youth Federation (Germany), Italy Sikh Council, Justice (Retd.) Ajit Singh Bains, Convenor, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Kanwarpal Singh, Political Affairs Spokesman, Dal Khalsa, Punjab, Kashmir Singh, Gen-Secretary, British Sikh Federation, Khalistan Government in exile, Khalsa Human Rights, UK, Kulwant Singh Dhesi, British Sikh Council, Mohkam Singh, Convenor Khalsa Action Committee, Punjab, Narain Singh, Shiromani Sikh Council International, Punjab, National Council of Gurdwaras, UK, National Sikh Committee Italy, Navkiran Singh, Advocate, General Secretary, Lawyers for Human Rights International, Punjab, Ontario Gurdwara Committee (OGC), Canada, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), UK, Shiromani Akali Dal (Punj Pardhani), Canada, Shiromani Akali Dal (Punj Pardhani), France, Shiromani Sikh Council, UK, Sikh Council of Belgium, Sikh Federation (UK), Sikh Foundation Switzerland, Sikh Secretariat, UK, Sikh Youth of America, Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Punjab, United Sikh Federation, Canada, Voices for Freedom, Young Sikhs (UK). LONDON: Anyone who thought that Sikhs would sit back and allow India and Pakistan to wage their daily verbal duel and war cries without opprobrium from any quarters is in for a rude shock. Just as civil society in the two countries has geared up to denounce any possibility of war, the Sikhs too, as a people have shown exemplary solidarity to jointly proclaim peace in the Indian sub-continent and ask the two countries not to ignore the sentiments and concerns of the non-combatant Sikh populace in the region. Continued war mongering between India and Pakistan, which has reached fever pitch since 26/11 has brought about a rare unity amongst Sikh groups from Punjab and across the world seeking intervention of the international community, particularly the United Nations for building public opinion against war between the two countries and usage of nuclear arsenal of the two countries built up by them over the decades. Making their intentions absolutely clear in unmistakably direct terms, the document submitted by a consortium of 36 Sikh organisations from Punjab, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and the United States to the Indian, Pakistani and French Embassies on 26 January, calls for immediate de-escalation of the hostile rhetoric between the two countries and urging the international community to do exert diplomatic pressure enabling the two countries to engage in dialogue and avert war, which is likely to bring about nuclear catastrophe in the region, particularly in the homeland of the Sikhs –Punjab. The Sikh nation, presently sandwiched between the two warring cultures, stands for universal peace and brotherhood. Historically we have been wronged a lot and the present war hysteria, which presents a dangerous situation for the entire region, is likely to engage the Sikh people in their severest test ever and is also likely to annihilate thousands of innocent people on both sides of the Radcliffe line, but the majority of the brunt is likely to be borne by the Sikhs and Punjabis. Advocate activist Ranjit Singh Srai, who was instrumental in bringing about this rare feat amongst the Sikhs said that, “Sikhs are looking for the UN to intervene on their behalf if the Indian government fails to act on their demands.†He further pointed that leaving nothing to chance, the list of demands has been forwarded to various UN forums in Geneva as well. On behalf of the multifarious religious, social, human rights and political bodies of the Sikh Nation, the urgent appeal was presented to the embassies in London by Amrik Singh Gill, President Sikh Federation (UK), Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, President, Council of Khalistan, Balbir Singh, Shiromani Sikh Council, UK, Councillor Gurdial Singh Atwal, Chairman, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), UK and Co-ordinator SAD(A) International Committee, Gurmej Singh Gill, Prime Minister, Khalistan Government in Exile and Manmohan Singh, Vice-President Dal Khalsa International. “Neither India nor Pakistan has been willing to sign up to the UN's non-proliferation regime or unilaterally renounce their nuclear weapons capabilities in order to create a nuclear weapons-free South Asia, underlining their willingness to use such weapons. The Sikhs, for whom the consequences are unimaginable, therefore have no alternative but to appeal to the international community to take immediate steps to stop yet another calamity imminently befalling them†says the well-drafted appeal. Spelling out the need for such a united step by the Sikhs, the spokesperson said that, Sikhs stood for peace in the Indian sub-continent and wanted the two countries to resolve all disputes politically, taking into account the aspirations of the Sikh nation. He said that if it is not so done as part of a conflict-resolution process, the geo-political situation has the full potential to degenerate into a Gaza-type human rights nightmare for the Sikh people in their homeland Punjab. Tracing the track of Sikh sufferings from 1947 to the present times, the appeal condemns the consistent denial of the right to self-determination to the Sikhs, upholds Sikh nationhood and proclaims that “Until those sovereign rights are restored, which we submit will help provide an enduring solution to the problems of the region as a whole, it is the duty of the international community to deliver that protection and prevent the potential annihilation of the world’s fifth largest religion.†Speaking for Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and all others living in this region, this urgent action appeal categorically asks “The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Commission and other UN bodies to establish a dialogue with Indian and Pakistani leaders to make them fully aware of their human rights obligations towards the Sikhs and to formally warn those leaderships that any breach of international law or mass rights violations in this context will result in action by a duly constituted criminal court.†When was the last time you came across such a unified Sikh effort? It surely calls for commendation by the Sikhs in Punjab and the Sikh Diaspora across the globe which is ever anxious about the political situation at ground zero in the Sikh homeland. 28 January 2009
  9. Pakistan, India urged to spare‘Sikh homeland’ in case of war By Our Special Correspondent LONDON, Jan 27: In a significant development, a broad-based coalition of leading Sikh organisations, based in the Indian state of Punjab as well as representing the worldwide diaspora, has formally asked India to remove all its nuclear weapons and facilities from the ‘Sikh homeland’ and called upon both India and Pakistan to undertake not to target the territory in case of war.A delegation of leading UK-based Sikhs delivered a document setting out their demands to the Indian and Pakistani high commissions in London. It was also delivered to the UN Security Council via the French Embassy, with France currently holding the presidency of that body. The Sikhs are looking for the UN to intervene on their behalf if the two governments fail to act on their demands. The demands have also been passed to UN’s human rights bodies in Geneva which have been asked to warn the two states against carrying out any crime against humanity in the ‘Sikh Homeland’. The Sikhs maintain that they are not a party to the Indo-Pak dispute and, as non-combatants in the event of a war between the nuclear rivals, their population centre and homeland should not face what military experts have said is the likely outcome - a theatre of war in Punjab which becomes a nuclear conflict causing horrific casualties on a massive scale. They say that since 1947 their nation has not had its sovereign rights respected and has been denied the right of self-determination under international law and it is now effectively unable to defend its people and territory from outside attack. http://www.dawn.com/2009/01/28/top12.htm
  10. source: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/...lt-charges.html Sikh priest faces sex crime and assault charges in Kelowna Monday, January 12, 2009 - CBC News A Sikh priest in Kelowna ( B.C. Canada ) is facing charges involving a sexual relationship with a teenage girl and the beating of his wife. Police say Lukwinder Singh, 29, faces charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor involving a sexual relationship with the girl that began in October 2007 when she was 15. Police said the girl was not Sikh, but was being helped by the congregation at the temple. The temple had been doing charity work to support a local women's shelter in recent years, according to temple officials, but it was not clear if the incident was linked to that work. Some of the alleged incidents occurred inside Singh's suite at the Gurdwara Guru Amardas Darbar temple, police said. Singh appeared in court Thursday to face the sex charges, as well as an assault charge involving his wife. The case is expected to be back in court on Feb. 5. The girl is now in foster care, said police. Temple acted quickly: officials RCMP spokesperson Const. Steve Holmes said police received the complaints in late December. "[The] investigation would suggest there was more than one incident within the charge but [the] Crown is looking at it in totality," said Holmes. Singh was fired from his job with the temple on Saturday, even though none of the allegations has been proven. Temple spokesperson Tarsem Singh Goraya said the congregation is devastated by the news and still in shock. Singh was popular during the seven years he served as priest, and there were never any complaints, said Goraya. But temple officials went to the police right away after rumours began swirling in the congregation, he said. "In the society, if things happen, we must come forward. And when it comes to our attention, we did come forward, and it was big step, a hard step, but we had to say what is right, and in our opinion, this is the right step," Goraya said. The temple was planning to bring in counsellors to help people deal with the incident, especially since it might involve sacrilege on temple ground.
  11. So Large a Tent On My Mind / Columns Date: Nov 17, 2008 By I.J. Singh - The past often looks rosy. Or so we think when we step back into the past, when childhood seemed innocent, and homes and neighborhoods idyllic. Many modern commentators on Sikhism, too, seem to fall into a similar time warp, but they do have a point. When the Gurus walked the Earth, Sikhs seemed idealistic and unmatched in the pristine purity of their faith. The message of the Gurus attracted both Hindus and Muslims – members of the two dominant religions of the day in India. Even during the immediate post-Guru period, our gurdwaras were teeming with both Muslims and Hindus. Our relations with non-Sikhs were largely non-controversial and non-confrontational. I say this despite the many armed conflicts in history with either Hindu or Muslim foes, where many of our allies also came from the same two religions. Remember that at the end of Guru Nanak’s life, his Hindu followers wanted to cremate him the Hindu way, Muslims honored him by wanting to bury him by Islamic rites. Each community erected a monument to his memory and both markers still exist in a unique tribute to the founder of Sikhism. Having come from a mostly Hindu background, Sikhs remained culturally closer to them. Hindu-Sikh mixed marriages were common and no one labeled them as interfaith unions - they were not known to endure two different religious rites and wedding vows. In gurdwaras no distinction was ever made between a Sikh and a non-Sikh. It was not uncommon to find Muslim or Hindu musicians, wearing caps or scarves, performing keertan (singing of the liturgy) or conducting a reading from the Guru Granth. Often non-Sikh artists and performers came to gurdwaras to showcase their talents and pay their homage to the Gurus who were unexcelled patrons of classical Indian musicology. No function in the gurdwara, and no office in it, was ever closed to our non-Sikh brethren. Large communities of people, such as the Sindhis, were Sikhs to all intents and purposes, except they rarely took on the banaa (external visage) of the Khalsa, with the long unshorn hair. Absolutely everyone was welcome in the gurdwara – irrespective of their religious label, or whether one was a recognizable Sikh or not. Less than 40 years ago, the eminent thinker Kapur Singh opined that the religion of Punjab, even of Punjabi Hindus, was Sikhism, whereas, Hinduism was merely the culture of all Punjabis, no matter what religion they professed. Unmistakably, every religion of the world, when in Punjab, has been touched by the faith and practice of Sikhi, and by the universality of Guru Granth. This is true of both Hinduism and Islam, perhaps even Christianity. Now, things have changed at an alarming pace. Look at any gurdwara in India or abroad and there are hardly any Sindhis or Punjabi Hindus that come by; certainly ragees and lecturers who are non-Sikhs or non-recognizable Sikhs are more rare than hen’s teeth. It may never have been quite as edenic as I described it here, but it was never as hellish as it seems to have become. There is more than a grain of truth in what was. Why and how has it changed? That’s my mandate to explore today. Let me start with a set of givens. The message of Sikhism and of Guru Granth is entirely inclusive and there is not a line in it to justify excluding those who come to it. And a good starting definition derived from the Guru Granth is that a Sikh is anyone who calls himself or herself one. It is not mine or anyone else’s business to judge another, so we should refrain from labeling people as good or bad Sikhs. All those who call themselves Sikh then are on the same path, though not always at the same place on the path. This includes the amritdhari who lives the life of one, also the amritdhari who falls considerably short; the sehajdhari who lives the lifestyle that he should, and the one who does not; and also one who merely looks like a Sikh and yet is unaware of any of the requirements of a Sikh life; and the one who is an apostate and proudly flaunts it. The house of the Guru and Guru Granth are for sinners, not only for perfect Sikhs. So it is best to not judge others lest we be judged. So what is now driving so many non-Sikhs, and some who do not quite look like Sikhs out of the Sikh circle? There are perhaps as many reasons as there are analysts but let’s probe a few. Let’s come at it a tad tangentially. Christianity now has over 250 denominations and sects; many refuse to recognize the others as Christians. Some disallow their members to attend services in the other’s church or marry someone from another denomination. Many variations exist in Christian practices worldwide. Yet, they all derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of Jesus. Sikhism is now 500 years old, and we should not expect less, however much we regret it. With time, perhaps some divisive interpretations of the message are inevitable in living traditions. All living things and organizations, even those that originate from the same starting point, show change; to some it is for the better, others find them regressive. During the first 300 years of its history, there were not yet clear cut distinct lines drawn between Jewish practices and their Christian adaptations and modifications. There was also a very strong movement “Jews for Jesus†that celebrated Jesus as the Jewish Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. The movement, now considerably smaller, still exists. From that time on, Jewish and Christian thought have diverged considerably and progressively, and now it would be asinine for one to claim that Christians are Jews simply because Jesus was one, or that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Similarly, one can argue for overlapping of Hindu and Sikh practices in the early years, but over the last century, largely due to the rise of the Singh Sabha movement as well as a better educated clergy and laity, it would now be very shortsighted not to recognize that the two religions show a growing divergence in theology and its interpretation, and consequently in their practices. This process of erecting fences between Sikhs and their neighbors has been further hastened by domestic Indian as well as international political realities. When India became independent in 1947 Punjab, the Sikh homeland was essentially partitioned into two nations. Sikhs bore the brunt of the economic loss as well as that in human lives. The great majority of Sindhis, who straddled the divide between Hinduism and Sikhism, were lost to Sikhs. For the first time in a millennium Hindus – the large majority in a free India – felt the power that comes with freedom. Each community became engrossed in its own realities; fences between them were a natural corollary. The successive governments of free India learned to cater, even pander, to the majority that was Hindu to capture their vote banks. (Remember that politicians value head-counts dollars.) In this power ploy, minorities became further marginalized. This is not the time or the place for an exhaustive exploration of these divisive political realities, but the events of 1984 when the Sikh minority was targeted, and those of Godhra, and others like it, that were aimed at Muslims and Christians, were a predictable result. (The killings at Godhra by Hindu mobs, in 2002, appear to have been organized and abetted by the government in power at that time and claimed several thousand Muslim lives.) How would minorities react when they see themselves so besieged? Obviously, they circle the wagons to protect themselves. The result: an inevitable alienation from others, though it is contrary to the message of Guru Granth. In the diaspora, too, Sikhs remain an even smaller minority than in India, even though there are almost a million in North America alone. Our turban and long hair attract the most attention. More so in the past, but even now, we are sometimes challenged by prospective employers on our bearded and turbaned visage. Sometimes the attention is grossly negative, particular post 9/11. The Sikhs appear divided between those who continue to follow the dictates of the faith and those who have chosen to abandon them, whatever their reasons for doing so. Ideally, this should not become a divisive matter in the Sikh community particularly where the gurdwara is concerned, for it historically remains equally open to all. The problem arises when the spokesmen for the community, who have abandoned the markers of their faith, are unable or unwilling to defend the practices of the faith when they represent us to the outside world. And then that impacts the whole community. If then these people are not given an equally visible place in community leadership they see it as discrimination and an insult. The other side of the argument is that a minority, finding its practices under siege, wants to put on the stage, in the gurdwara and the world, only those who at least look like role models. I would tell my turbaned brothers, and also on the other side of the divide, those not so attired, not to be so thin skinned. Let’s see if we can work through this. How to resolve this is the question. Either all those who wish to potentially lead us from a gurdwara agree to defend the teachings of what is our code of conduct (Sikh Rehat Maryada) even if they personally fall short of it, or the conflict will continue to escalate. If they can openly support our historic teachings and religious requirements in spite of any personal failings of their own, then there should be no reason for conflict between those who are keshadhari and those who are not. If such a modus operandi seems impossible, then what? A not so attractive, but perhaps inevitable, alternative again comes to me from the Jews. They are divided largely into Conservative, Orthodox and Reform congregations that have fundamental differences in what a Jewish lifestyle is. Hence, the respective synagogues of the three are separate, yet when a question arises that is important to the whole Jewish nation, most of them speak with one voice. This does not mean that even on matters of substance they do not differ; for example, there exist Jews that do not approve of a Zionist state of Israel. Much as we dislike the idea of sects within Sikhism, they do exist; just look at Namdharis, Radhaswamis and followers of Yogi Bhajan, for example. All religions acquire some with time. I can see with time our diaspora Sikhs fissuring along a line that separates those that are keshadhari, whether amritdhari or not, and those that are not recognizable Sikhs, whether they are sehajdhari or apostate. Or perhaps, it would be a tripartite segmentation: amritdharis, keshadharis but not amritdharis, or unrecognizable Sikhs, whatever their reasons for it. Perhaps then we will also be able to work with each other in matters of discrimination in the work place, and even have some gurdwaras that are happily intermixed. The umbrella or tent of Sikhism is large and capacious enough to accommodate all those who are on the same path, no matter where on it they are at a given time. And this is how I see the message of Guru Granth and Sikh historical tradition. The author, Inder Jit Singh, is a professor of anatomy at New York University. He is on the editorial advisory board of the Calcutta-based periodical, 'The Sikh Review,' and is the author of four books: 'Sikhs and Sikhism: A View With a Bias,' 'The Sikh Way: A Pilgrim's Progress,' 'Being and Becoming a Sikh' and 'The World According to Sikhi.' He can be reached at: ijsingh99@gmail.com
  12. http://worldsikhnews.com/12%20November%202...ust%20Sweep.htm How Hope and Change Must Sweep The Sikhs? From The Editor’s Desk - WORLD SIKH NEWS WASHINGTON / AMRITSAR: Sometimes, datelines in newspapers can give a clue to the route the thought travels. If our thoughts travelled from Washington to Amritsar, obviously you know what these might be about. Who did not in this wide world spare some time after Barack Obama's victory to think how it will affect his life? Naturally, each community, Sikhs being no exception, did ask themselves as to what lessons they need to learn from an epoch-changing epic victory that has moved every heart and left few eyes that did not moisten. We all knew the world just cannot go on like this, and we needed change. Change and Hope are tricky words. We all know the world would be no different after January 20, 2009. But we know the world will not be the same either. It is not a mean achievement. Rising from a community that was completely marginalised just a few decades ago, Barack Obama has given hopes to all those in India who have been marginalised, stereotyped, dis-empowered, cheated by the entrenched brahmanical forces that wield the levers of power. The Sikhs as a community are one people in India who have earned and experienced sovereignty, have remained married to the concept of universal brotherhood, utter the slogan of Sarbat Dal Bhala everytime they are in communion with their God, have the most egalitarian perception of the world, and have proven themselves to be a hard-working, entrepreneur community. Outside India, wherever the Sikhs have migrated to, they have carved their niche, earned their place and have underlined the spirit of compassion and hope and change and egalitarianism. In India, things have been somewhat different. At a time when the Sikh community was joining in the celebrations of Barack Obama's victory, it was also marking the anniversary of the November massacre of the Sikhs on the roads of Delhi in 1984. Just a quarter century before Obama talked of Hope, Sikhs had lost the final vestiges of hope in India when thousands of them were made to run on the roads of Delhi, chased by blood-thirsty mobs who finally caught up, and burnt the men to death, raped women and enjoyed killing children. India's Prime Minister went on national TV to justify it all by saying that when a big tree falls, the earth was bound to shake. Sikhs' belief shook. And little was done to restore it. A quarter century later, justice eludes Sikhs even though official Indian establishment and top courts now agree that hundreds were burnt alive in Delhi and elsewhere. Of the guilty, the top politicians were accomodated, one even becoming a minister in the union cabinet of PM Manmohan Singh. He had to quit only after his role was exposed beyond all doubt by a panel set up by the central government. Other killers still roam free on the roads of Delhi and top sleuthing agency of India, the CBI, still looks out for ways to give clean chits to senior politicians allegedly involved. It is at a such a time that the Sikh community finds itself once again grappling with the issues of Change and Hope. The United States is an evolved democracy, not its Indian banana version. So it becomes easier to not only Hope but to also question whether we do have hope. Hope was the only possession of the skinny lad with dark skin whom we saw being ushered into the White House last week by President Bush. Soon, hope will reside in that House and in our homes also. Barack Obama had hoped not only for the men and women of African-American descent. His way of nurturing and keeping the hope was more broadminded. He nurtured a hope for America, a hope for the world, a hope for mankind. He too must have pored over history text books. He too would have been sad and angry. Just as Sikhs do. The one thing that the Sikhs must learn from Barack Obama is that any hopes and aspirations they must nurture have to include all the people who have been wronged, who have been marginalised, who have been forced to live in degraded ways, stripped of their humanity by the powerful, the elite and the shameless. Sikhs are for not only themselves, they are for the world, of the world. Guru Nanak walked thousands of miles. Gurus made so much sacrifice. Guru Gobind Singh blessed the Khalsa Panth. With what objectives? Surely, it could not be for Sikhs only. We are a world religion, our philosophy is for the world. We are egalitarian. And there is no variety of egalitarianism that is only meant for one community. No one can be egalitarian within a group and a non-egalitarian outside it. How can the Sikhs not be bothered about what is happening to women in India's north-east? How can we not be worried about the stereotyping of the Muslims in India? How are we not concerned about what the notion of "reprisal terrorism" is leading to (see page 14-15 for a detailed reportage)? So, how is being a Sikh not connected to being bothered about what is happening to the entire Dalit domain in India? Seventy years before Barack Obama, someone else studied at the same university and similarly pored over texts to find that his people hadn't been free as long as he could remember. He was Bhimrao Ambedkar. He too wanted Change. Much of Barack Obama's agenda of Change is still to even begin. Much of Ambedkar's Change agenda is being talked about in India and the brahamanical forces have either succeeded or are trying to hijack that agenda in order to defeat it. As for the Sikhs, the policy of annihilation failed, so the brahamnical policy currently is to assimilate. There is an entire economic, political, social, religious, cultural war being waged against the Sikhs, most of it in most polite terms of the discourse, to finish off the uniqueness of the religion, its outer idenitity, its inner core values, its basic philosophy of opposition to brahamnism (not brahamans). To just have a glimpse of the ways in which the brahamanical forces usurp the agenda, the identity, the philosophy, the ethos of a community, read the accompanying story on the front page to see how a political party formed and nurtured to advance the interests and the agenda of a fiercely unique community like Sikhs degrades itself into a “secular†party that is ailed by the same non-seriousness, money and mafia power, de-politicisation menace and cult of individual and family. What else is brahamanisation? A total disregard for democratic, egalitarian modes of thought and action and arrogating the resources, power and agenda to oneself and alignment with the elite and the corrupt is revealed by all facets of the functioning of the Akali Dal and its leadership. It is time the Diaspora Sikhs stopped looking towards those within the party to take up the cudgels and start themselves asking the questions. So many of the Diaspora Sikhs visit Punjab, and Punjab lives in so many hearts among the Diaspora Sikhs. Please re-connect to this Punjab in your hearts, re-connect to the concern in your hearts. It is this connect that will bring forth the ideas and hope churned by the great change in the United States of America to the agendas and concerns of the Sikh community. Obama is not a product of the Black movement for civil rights, and he never claimed that legacy. But nothing takes away his right to invoke the name of Malcolm X. He continues with the legacy of King, X & Company. But the Americans cannot arrogate to themselves the right and privilege to look up to Obama. The Sikhs have as much right to look up to him and be inspired. America’s black movement has had a great influence on the Indian Dalits’ fight for their rights. Why should the Sikhs resist any influence on their agenda? So, let us celebrate the Hope. With the promise that we shall inspire and be inspired by promise of Change. This Change will start from Self and then go on the Society. Let us turn to the Self. That is the message also of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In this year of Gurta Gaddi Celebrations, may Waheguru open our minds and hearts to absorb the universal ideology of egalitarianism. 12 November 2008
  13. source: http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/story....73-6d4cbabe6cd3 U.S. military can regrow human limbs, organs 'Nanoscaffolding' has succesfully regrown fingertips and organs on test subjects Vito Pilieci Canwest News Service Friday, November 07, 2008 OTTAWA - American military researchers say they have unlocked the secret to regrowing limbs and recreating organs in humans who have sustained major injuries. Using "nanoscaffolding," the researchers have regrown a man's fingertip and the internal organs of several test subjects. The technology works by placing a very fine apparatus called a scaffold, which is made of polymer fibres hundreds of times finer than a human hair, in place of a missing limb or damaged organ. The scaffold acts as a guide for cells to grab onto so they can begin to rebuild missing bones and tissue. The tissue grows through tiny holes in the scaffold, in the same way a vine snakes its way up a trellis. After the body part has regenerated, the scaffold breaks down, is absorbed into the person's body and disappears entirely. The military plans to announce the breakthrough at the 26th Army Science Conference - which attracts more than 1,600 international military scientists - in Florida next month. John Parmentola, director of research and laboratory management for the U.S. army, revealed some of the details of the announcement this week to a select group of bloggers and military observers on a conference call. "There is a case of an individual who, with a model airplane, lost the tip of their finger," Parmentola told the group on the call. "And by the tip I mean the nail, the bone, the actual tip of their finger while they were starting up the airplane. "That has been completely regrown . . . the nail, the bone, the tissue," he said. By using nanoscaffolding, the military was able to regrow the man's fingertip, restoring everything he had lost, much like some amphibians can regrow a leg or tail. Parmentola said the military has been able to regrow "whole bladders" in people who have had bladder damage. The technology has also been used to repair the wall of a woman's uterus. "There is one example of a young girl who . . . was born without a sex organ, and that was regrown," he said. The U.S. military has set up two research institutes to continue testing different ways nanoscaffolding can repair major injuries in humans. Parmentola said the institutes are researching cellular regeneration in lizards to further their understanding of how nano-scaffolding can help humans. Some humans organs, such as the liver, will regenerate by themselves, but other organs and tissue do not regenerate. Researchers hope that by studying lizards they can determine what signal is sent at a cellular level to tell tissues and organs to begin regeneration, and then replicate that signal. The ultimate goal would be to regrow a complex organ, such as a heart. "This is an area where we're doing basic research to try and actually understand the signalling that takes place within tissue to enable this," he said. "So, we're beginning to understand how this process occurs, and if we can, it holds the hope of being able to regrow limbs." Several breakthroughs with nanoscaffolding preceded the U.S. army's stunning announcement. In June 2006, researchers from the University of Sheffield in England announced they had used nanoscaffolding to repair skin damage in people with third-degree burns. Researchers attached a person's skin cells to a nanoscaffold, and the cells grew over it. The skin-covered scaffold was then placed over the wound, where it bonded with the patient's body. The scaffold then dissolved. "Previous attempts to find better ways of encouraging skin cell growth have used chemical additives and other elaborate techniques to produce scaffolds, but their success has been limited," said Tony Ryan, a professor in the university's department of chemistry, in a news release. "We've found that skin cells are actually very 'smart.' It's in their DNA to sort themselves into the right arrangement. They just need a comparatively uncomplicated scaffold (and each other) to help them grow in a safe, natural way." In February, a PhD student from Monash University in Victoria, Australia released research papers showing how nanoscaffolding can be used to repair nerve damage. David Nisbet, a student in the university's department of materials engineering, said the process can regenerate nerves and possibly repair neural pathways, opening the door to treat Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. And just last week, researchers at the City University of Hong Kong released research claiming nanoscaffolding could soon revolutionize bone grafts and implants. © Ottawa Citizen 2008
  14. http://www.worldsikhnews.com/5%20November%...20We%20Must.htm SIKHS: Change We Must Kalam Nishan Singh The Indian Nation State is luring the Dalit domain into similar mainstreaming. Barack Obama refused to be “mainstreamedâ€. He called for Change, and showed that he is the Change. We have to be made of different stuff than we are out to fight against. It is here that the lessons of an Obama win lie for Sikhs and for the marginalised Dalits, the Blacks of India. Thomas Jefferson made a promise in 1776. This was a promise of a free world. Thomas Jefferson also owned slaves. This was a flaw in the entire project of democracy. In 1776, America made a promise to facilitate a dream. Something happened there. Something that most Americans were not very comfortable about. It took 14th Amendment, Civil War, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X and the diligent fight of the lovers of true democracy for years but then came Barack Obama. Something happened in the US of A. History's wrongs can never be righted by one sweep. But Obama's victory was the one decisive step the Americans took to make a valiant attempt. Sikhs have many lessons to learn from Obama's victory. Marginalised in their own country, pushed to the brink, stereotyped at one stage as terrorists, painted as language chauvinists in the 1960s, seen as spanner-throwers in the run up to the freedom struggle and branded as separatists in the most negative sense, the fate of the Sikhs in India is no better than the fate of the Black man in the USA in the 1960s. Brahmanical forces hold the levers of power in India, and the country's best and the brilliant cast their lot with these forces. Even the most accomplished and gifted weigh in on the side of the establishment, and right now there is not a single political party in India that is not controlled by Brahamnical forces. So intelligent are these forces that they have created a confusion between Brahmins and brahamanical forces, thus ensuring that the fissures between the haves and the have-nots of power structure become further solidified. Barack Obama came from a class and race that Indians can best understand in their own indegenous terms of sociology. Barack Obama was the Dalit of the US society. Dalits are the Blacks of India. Sikhs are the marginalised of India. Punjab is the backwater of New Delhi's concerns. The lesson from Barack Obama's victory are simple in their nature, grave in their appeal, weighty in their meaning and challenging in their form. India saw some resurgence of the power of the marginalised in the last few years. Dalit empowerment started crawling towards political agenda of certain parties, and the old brahamnical power structures started feeling threatened. But they have faced these challenges repeatedly in the past. " Barack Obama's was a force of honesty. The graciousness of Senator John McCain, a truly genuine hero of the United States, in his concessional speech was a tribute to the honesty and the hope generated by Obama. Unfortunately in India, the brahamanical forces have so corrupted the agenda of empowerment of the Dalit that they have succeeded in Brahamanising the Dalit movement." For the first time, there were serious questions being raised by saner people about the exalted theories of India's genius to 'create unity out of diversity;, 'the wonderful assimilative power of Hinduism' and the unparalleled intellectual glories of the Vedic-brahmanic traditions, to quote a rather eye opening passage from Braj Ranjan Mani's De-Brahamanising History (Manohar Publishers). Like the promise of a truly free world and the land of the dreams that was talked about as far as the US was concerned even when there was much path to be still covered, in India the brahamanical strategy was to create the lure of the Oriental exotica, and many a so-called progressive radicals fell for it. Such was the patriotic pedagogy that was created from colonial historiography and fine tuned in the conundrum of Dayananda, KC Sen, Bankim, RC Dutta, Tilak, Vivekananda, Ranade, Lajpat Rai, BC Pal, Aurobindo, gandhi, Savarkar and SP Mukherjee. This is the poison that the children in schools in India are fed with cheap charts of portraits of "Our Great National Leaders" that sell for a penny and from which the kids clip and paste pictures in their scrap books. The project of popular education in brahamanical mode thus feeds on itself. Brahamanise the Sikhs, brahamanise Budhhism, and now there is a new script being staged by the brahamanical forces. Brahamnise the Dalits. Since a charismatic African-American is now set to arrive in the White House, expect the debate in India to turn to whether we can ever have a Dalit as Prime Minister. Such debates are always fraught with some dangerous assumptions. Indira Gandhi was a woman, so is Sonia Gandhi. What contribution did they make to the cause of women empowerment? What contribution did the string of Muslim presidents of India make to the fate of Muslims? By how much was the stock and fate of Sikhs as a nation improve due to Giani Zail Singh and Manmohan Singh being in positions which we thought can and often make a difference? Barack Obama's was a force of honesty. The graciousness of Senator John McCain, a truly genuine hero of the United States, was a tribute to the honesty and the hope generated by Obama. Unfortunately in India, the brahamanical forces have so corrupted the agenda of empowerment of the Dalit that they have succeeded in Brahamanising the Dalit movement. So out of such strategy has emerged the current avatar of Mayawati. In about six months, the Indian electorate will be asked to give its verdict on who the next Prime Minister should be. The larger question is: are Indian voters prepared to consider the Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati’s quest for the top post? Many would ask if she is indeed the Dalit as people know a dalit? The similarity between her and Mr. Obama, if any, is the race factor that has a bearing on the U.S. elections and could be equated with the issue of caste that invariably determines the outcome in the Indian elections. But can Ms. Mayawati emulate the Obama strategy? Is she prepared to draw lessons from the Obama campaign? Mr. Obama has faced a series of challenges over the last two years. That he has a way with words is well established. His ability to expand his voter base by drawing the otherwise sceptical American youth into the vortex of politics is the second of his two outstanding attributes. He assiduously built his image as a politician who has a grip on the complex challenges faced by Americans in an increasingly globalised world. Dalit empowerment advocates in India need to learn. Just as Sikhs need to learn. What we need is a continuous engagement with the issues, with the world. Why is there no stand of the community on the neo-liberal policies? Why is Manmohan Singh our hero but not Utsa Patnaik? Why are the Sikhs, the community that established the tradition of langar to not only ensure that caste barriers are broken but to ensure that the poor have a stake in your development is not engaging itself with the complex interconnections between the global food crises and the economic recession? We will be told that global recession is not a religious issue. By that reckoning, Guru Nanak's hymns about Babur may not fall within the religious domain. The concept of Miri-Piri does not leave anything outside the scope of our religious engagements. Obama had done his homework, and his engagement is a life time's work. Anyone with any doubt can go read the text of the Philadelphia speech on race. We must as a community resist from our usual tactics of swift-boat attacks and steer away from acrimonious and avoidable debates. In the year of the tercentenary of Gurta Gaddi, the Sikhs must vow to return to the traditions of engagement with the Word, engagement with knowledge acquisition that helps us in understanding the world and its interconnections, engagement with the incomplete work of creating an egalitarian society, engagement with the larger value system that Sikhism holds. An engagement with being a Nyara Khalsa, a unique human being. One of the Sikh community’s true heroes, Prof Randhir Singh, the Marxism scholar, once said it was unfortunate that Sikhs too have become mainstream. He enumerated a number of evils that plague people from other religious affiliations, and then said he can match all this with Sikh names too. It is such mainstreaming that the Sikhs have slipped into that we should avoid. The Indian Nation State is luring the Dalit domain into similar mainstreaming. Barack Obama refused to be “mainstreamedâ€. He called for Change, and showed that he is the Change. We have to be made of different stuff than we are out to fight against. It is here that the lessons of an Obama win lie for Sikhs and for the marginalised Dalits, the Blacks of India. Will we be the Change? Change we need, Change we want, Change we must. 5 November 2008
  15. source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20081104/punjab1.htm#2 Jathedar dispels doubts about Dasam Granth Varinder Walia Tribune News Service Amritsar, November 3 The Jathedar of Takht Hazur Sahib, Giani Kulwant Singh, in his message delivered from Nanded today, called upon the Sikh sangat not to raise any objection over the authenticity of the Dasam Granth. The message, delivered on the tercentenary of Parlokgaman (when Guru Gobind Singh left for heavenly abode), the Jathedar claimed that the Dasam Granth was the creation of Guru Gobind Singh. He said Guru Gobind Singh was credited with shaping the Sikh dharam and turning timid and oppressed people into brave opponents of tyranny. Hence, giving due honour and respect to this holy granth was the moral duty of all Sikhs. It may be mentioned here that the hymns of the Dasam Granth are recited at Takht Hazur Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib simultaneously along with that of with Guru Granth Sahib. The “Mukhwak†(order of the day) is also taken from both granths at Takht Hazur Sahib and Patna Sahib. However, the maryada of all three Takhts in Punjab are different from that prevailing at these two Takhts. The Dasam Granth has not been fully accepted by the entire Sikh Panth, for they do not fit into a rigid interpretation of the Sikh religion. From 1892 to 1897, eminent scholars assembled at Akal Takht, Amritsar, to study the various printed Dasam Granths and prepare the authoritative version. Some scholars, including certain Sikh organisations, determined that the Dasam Granth was entirely the work of Guru Gobind Singh. The controversy and reluctance to fully accept it has lingered. Earlier, Akal Takht had directed the Sikh Panth not to touch this sensitive issue till a final decision was taken by the five Sikh high priests on it. -- -------------------------------------- Granth Sahib teachings still relevant: President Rs 40-cr centre to be set up at Hazur Sahib Varinder Walia Tribune News Service Amritsar, November 3 President ( of India ) Pratibha Devisingh Patil has appealed to the people to follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib for the welfare of mankind. Speaking at a function, organised by the Takht Hazur Sahib Management Committee at Nanded today to mark tercentenary of Parlokgaman of 10th Sikh master (when Guru Gobind Singh went for heavenly abode), she said Guru Gobind Singh worked for the welfare of weaker sections. The President said Guru Granth Sahib’s teachings were still relevant for the mankind. Talking about Guru Gobind Singh, she said, he was brave and a great philosopher who fought throughout his life for ensuring justice to the downtrodden . Meanwhile, union home minister Shivraj Vishwanath Patil, while addressing educationists and scholars, said a Rs 40-crore Guru Granth Sahib Centre would be opened in Swami Rama Nand Tirath Marathwara University, Nanded. Being the chairman of the celebrations committee, the minister said the proposed centre would be instrumental in the translation of Guru Granth Sahib into Indian and foreign languages. Meanwhile, SGPC office-bearers and employees were conspicuous by their absence at the function. However, chairman of the management committee P.S. Pasricha and members of the local Municipal Committee were present at the function.
  16. source: http://www.southasiapost.org/2008/20081031/analysis.htm Killing fields of daughters Indians pay lips service to gods and goddesses Gobind Thukral - South Asia Post - October 31, 2008 MAN has made great strides in science and technology. He has not only touched moon, but has made tremendous progress in producing food, inventing new medicines and with better health care is increasing life span. Distances amongst the continents have shortened and man flies much more than the speed of sound. Look around how we travel, dress and then observe the means communication and television networks, all have revolutionised life. We can witness wars as these are fought, sitting in the cosy comforts of our drawing rooms. Remember American bombing and missile attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, it is difficult to keep count of the huge progress which human race has made. Man’s achievements are many and significant. But it seems as civilization advances, humane culture declines. How would one explain otherwise the killing of daughters? Demographers and economists estimate that over a 100 million women have been killed globally by societies that prefer sons to daughters? While guns, bombs and gas chambers which were used to kill during World War II continue to kill, the genocide against women is carried through by abortions, drowning, strangulation and nutritional and medical neglect. In a war enemy is the target. In this genocide, it is the girl child's 'loved ones'; parents, brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts who kill her. It is imperative to visualise that these 100 million women would have been alive today. They too had right to life. It is estimated by historians that about 72 million people were killed during World War II. Of this, 25 million died in combat, 11 million were killed in the Nazi Holocaust and another 20 million perished in war-induced famine. But this is not the single event with the largest killing of human beings in history. Unwanted baby girls in India are killed after birth - smothered with a pillow or cloth, drowned, fed poisoned seeds or buried alive in sealed mud pots. Thanks to the advances in medical science and the greed of our doctors; quacks and qualified, the most popular form of foeticide is now abortion. An ultrasound machine helps parents to determine the child's sex. And, then it is an easy matter. No qualms of conscience prick us. No religious teachings come to the rescue of the unborn but alive baby daughters. And, large numbers of Indians who indulge in this heinous crime are worshippers of goddesses. All fake. A report by the United Nations Children Fund [uNICEF] asserts Indians kills nearly 7,000 girls per day by abortion. Recent statistics show that the population of India is heavily weighted towards males with only 927 females for every 1,000 males, unlike the 1050 females’ ratio in other countries. Punjab, Haryana and Delhi are the worst offenders with skewed sex ratio. In some states like Punjab it is 798 and Haryana 820 against 1000 boys. Clearly sex ratio has sunk to frighteningly low levels. UK medical journal, The Lancet estimates the number of girls killed by abortion in India at 10 million over the last 20 years. Although the government has made it illegal to perform ultrasounds and abortions for sex-determination, the practice is widespread and shows no signs of slowing. So far, only 430 prosecutions have happened under the Act in India. Ultrasound clinics and imaging centres, the trouble-makers continue to conduct sex-determination tests on the sly. Wealthier people are the worst offenders, since they can afford gender identification tests. And after birth, son-preference leads to the neglect of girls and lack of access to nutrition, health and maternal care in the critical early years. Studies from Delhi’s rich areas like Greater Kailash show the rich and the middle class are great practioners to keep this sex ration skewed. The national average has declined from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 in this age group. Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal and Chandigarh give the lead in the practice with Gujarat and Maharastra also contributing in the overall decline in the national average. Decline is more predominant in the zero to six years age group in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Delhi. 51 districts in India now have more male babies born compared to female, according to UNICEF. “In 80 per cent of districts in India, the situation is getting worse“. In fact, there has been steady decline in the female population since 1901. Chandigarh, Capital of Punjab and Haryana has recorded the lowest sex ratio with just 793 women for every 1000 men. Equally shocking are the figures from Haryana, Punjab and Delhi where the figures stand at 869, 886 and 821 women per 1000 men respectively. Even Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have a better overall sex ratio. In some pockets ratio has touched a disquieting low of 600 females to a 1000 males. India banned sex determination tests in 1994, but use of ultrasound tests for the purpose now were a common feature. These now are available in the villages or small towns also of the prosperous states. Dr.S.G.Kabra says that in India estimated (including that by UNICEF) about 50 lakh legal and illegal, including sex specific, abortions (medical termination of pregnancies) are done every year. Of these, 80 per cent (40 lakh) are before 12 weeks of pregnancy in which no prenatal sex determination by ultrasound examination is possible or done. Thus, over 20 lakh boys are being intentionally 'killed' or 'eliminated' every year with equal impunity and ruthlessness. There is gross insensitivity and antipathy to the life in womb and not just female life alone.†Punjab continues to sit at the top of India’s female foeticide map, with a sex ratio of 798, then come Haryana 820, Chandigarh 845, Delhi 868, Gujarat 883, Himachal 896, and Uttarakhand 908. Although some of these states improved their sex ratios marginally, they’ve a long way to set the imbalance right. The worst are Punjab and Haryana, which account for the 10 districts with the lowest sex ratio in India. That’s not all. Nine of the 10 districts identified for their abysmally low CSR also fall in Punjab and Haryana. Just one — Salem — is in Tamil Nadu; three — Sonepat, Ambala and Kurukshetra — are in Haryana; the rest — Amritsar, Mansa, Gurdaspur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Bathinda, Kapurthala and Patiala — are in Punjab. It is a matter of concern for policy-makers that all these districts are located close to urban centres. In 1990 india had 25 million more males than females. In 2001 the gender gap had risen to 35 million and now we have 50 million. Hpw would we surive as a nation. The reason for this heinous crime that goes unpunished are not far to seek. It is the poor status of women that encourages parents to be selective about sex. I spoke to various parents who had got their daughters killed in their womb and I also know of couples who have adopted daughters thrown away by parents in gutters, wayside and outside children homes. There is marked change in attitudes. Major reason is disrespect for gilrs.Towns and villages that lack of amenities like rooms, drainage, bathrooms, telephone, proper cooking fuel, clean drinking water source and bank account had very poor sex ratio. Statistics say one-third of the 12 million girls born every year in India die in their first year; 25 per cent don’t survive beyond 15 years. These figures should shock any society and the brutal attacks on girl children must stop. These killings indicate a total collapse of institutions designed to protect children. We need better policies and sincere programmes to save girls. Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab) 755 Patiala (Pb) 770 Kurukshetra (Haryana) 770 Gurdaspur (Pb) 775 Kapurthala (Pb) 775 Bathinda (Pb) 779 Mansa (Pb) 779 Amritsar (Pb) 783 Sonepat (Hry) 783 Ambala (Hry) 784 One-third of the 12 million girls born every year in India die in their first year and 25 per cent don’t survive beyond 15 years.
  17. Hazur Sahib has unique maryada Varinder Walia Tribune News Service Hazur Sahib, October 29 Maryada (Sikh code) does not allow the Jathedar of Takht Hazur Sahib to leave Nanded till death and he has to be a “brahmchari†throughout life. As per two-century-old maryada, the Jathedar, Giani Kulwant Singh, can’t attend the meetings of Akal Takht though he nominates his second in command (vice-Jathedar) to attend the meetings of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht. Though the first ardas in the wee hours is performed at Takht Hazur Sahib for allowing the Sikh community to do a pilgrimage of all historical gurdwaras, including the Golden Temple, as per the maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib, Giani Kulwant Singh can’t pay obeisance there. Talking to The Tribune, Dalip Singh, a class fellow of Giani Kulwant Singh, said he (Jathedar) had to remain at Nanded as his duty starts at 2 am with the performance of ardas before washing of the sanctum sanctorum with holy water of the Godavari is carried out. After a break of only a couple of hours, the Jathedar has to perform the daily rites in the sanctum sanctorum where even other Sikh high priests are not allowed to enter. Finally, the Jathedar goes back to his official residence in the Takht complex after the evening prayers, which are performed in the most traditional manner. Gagrya Sikh Hardyala Singh, who carries gaggar (a silver utensil) for carrying holy water from the Godavari to Takht Hazur Sahib, too has to be bachelor and can’t leave Nanded till death. A task force of the youth, carrying traditional weapons, escort him barefoot. The tradition of performing aarti besides ardas on the riverbanks after the first pitcher is drawn is a mesmerising experience. Being a separate committee, the maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib is quite different from that of Akal Takht and the SGPC. Milk and water of the Godavari is sprayed on the gurdwara building from a fire tender on the eve of Diwali. The naubat (a traditional musical instrument) is played by non-Sikhs in front of Takht Hazur Sahib every day. The most significant variation among maryada of Takht Hazur Sahib and other three Takhts of Punjab is that the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth go on simultaneously. Unlike at the gurdwaras and Takhts under the control of the SGPC, devotees offer “panjeer parsadâ€, which can be collected from the counters put up by the Takht management. source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20081030/punjab1.htm#4
  18. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Chandig...how/3641701.cms Bewitched: Exotic brides and no prejudice 26 October, Jaspreet Nijher, TNN THE TIMES OF INDIA CHANDIGARH: Just as that swanky car makes the turn around the bend, you catch a glimpse of a fair woman, foreign and exotic, snuggling up close to the driver, often bearded and obviously Sikh, but sometimes just Punjabi. In what can be seen as the reverse fascination of an increasingly self-assured Orient with the Occident, there are more foreign brides now than ever before in both Punjab and its capital city of Chandigarh. Though there is no statistic as of now to say exactly how many, those keeping track of the marriage business, registration officials, wedding fixers and hotels hosting parties say the region’s households are dotted with firang faces coming here, or being brought, with startling vigour. ‘‘The trend of Sikh men marrying women of foreign origin is on the rise,’’ says IS Sandhu, ADC-cum-SDM (headquarter), UT. He should know. ‘‘Since the past few years, of the 10 marriages registered in my court, at least four involve such couples. Earlier, a lot of these weddings took place because the men aspired for green cards, resulting in contract marriages. But now I see genuine ones.’’ A case in point is Randeep Singh Nabha, the MLA from Nabha. Married to Behishta, an Afghan from Kabul whom he met here way back in 1994, he said effusively, ‘‘I was drawn to her honesty. Yes, she is fair, fuelling the much-touted charge against Sikhs for their fixation with white skin, but she is as Indian in her values as any here.’’ There is another, more cosmopolitan reason he attributes to the growing trend of Punjabi-firang unions. ‘‘Multiculturalism is finding an acceptance which we didn’t see in earlier decades,’’ he rationalized. ‘‘And then the times, of course, they are-a-changing.’’ Not all such marriages have had smooth sailing, though. Col (retd) Balwant Sandhu, a renowned mountaineer now settled in Sabathu (HP) and married in 1976 to Helga, a German pharmacist, had to chose between career and consort. ‘‘The matrimony,’’ he said, ‘‘was fraught with difficulties as the Indian Army didn’t allow its men to marry foreigners without the President’s nod. Rules dictated that I submit my resignation along with request for permission. But since she got Indian citizenship, I didn’t have to quit,’’ he said as Helga smiled and added she was more than comfortable settling into an Indian family. Sandhu was lucky. Capt (retd) Shamsher Singh not so. Now settled in France, he had to leave the Army for love when his betrothed wasn’t able to become an Indian national. In the end, though, for most love has conquered all. Surrinder S Hara, an agriculturist who has been on several foreign postings, including deputations to the World Bank as advisor, made a slew of excuses when Valerie, a Canadian, proposed to him. ‘‘I was unsure of her capability to take to a life in the farms of India,’’ the Jagadhari (Haryana) man reminisced. ‘‘But once she convinced me, I gave in.’’ Hara has been glad ever since. Valerie not only proved to be a good farmhand but became quite the head turner at social gatherings — a feeling many bridegrooms on this side of the border are getting used to and lavishing in.
  19. source: http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/new...b2-8aa2d39ae56c Use, misuse of sacred texts pondered Canwest News Service; Montreal Gazette Saturday, October 25, 2008 Sikhs invoke the Guru Granth Sahib to justify men wearing turbans instead of hard hats on work sites. Muslims point to the Qur'an as proof the prophet Mohammed wanted women to dress modestly to avoid the gaze of men. Christians quote apocalyptic passages from the New Testament to say global warning is unavoidable. All are examples of how age-old scripture is used -- or misused -- to dictate behaviour in the modern world, scholars said recently at a McGill University interfaith conference on the role sacred texts play in religion. "The texts are more than a source -- they're an anchor, and they give you a certain authority when you quote from them," said organizer Manjit Singh, who runs McGill's chaplaincy services and also heads the Canadian Sikh Council in Montreal. For example, he said, Sikh truck drivers in Quebec are using scripture in their fight to keep their turbans on when driving through the Port of Montreal, where helmets are mandatory. The truckers have invoked their religion's three-century-old scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, as evidence their faith requires them to wear their hair long and uncut and wrapped up, Singh said during a break in the day-long conference at McGill's Birks Chapel. But scripture can be taken too literally, other experts warned. In older religions, the teachings of founders like Jesus and Buddha were only written down decades or even centuries after they died, making their "truth" inaccurate, its inconsistencies resolvable only by faith, they said. "Each religion claims that its texts are legitimate, but very often there's little historical evidence of that," said Buddhist scholar Mathieu Boisvert, a religion professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal. And "when religion is used for political ends, it definitely gets distorted," added Concordia University Hindu scholar T.S. Rukmani. History has shown that devotees of one religion don't let their ignorance of another religion stop them from criticizing it, added Muslim scholar Sheila McDonough, a Concordia professor emeritus. People will pick and choose among the rival religion's sacred texts to "prove" a misconstrued point, she said. In the Internet age there's also a danger of people one-click shopping for religious truth, said Ellen Aitken, dean of McGill's religious studies faculty, which hosted the event with the Canadian Sikh Council. Christians have used a single verse to justify an entire point of view, she said. For example, Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. have used passages from the Bible to oppose everything from abortion and homosexuality to the ordination of women and the global environmental campaign against climate change, Aitken said. Attended by about 75 people, the conference featured six scholars representing the world's major world religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. They spoke from the pulpit at the front of the neo-Gothic chapel, against a backdrop of a towering stained-glass window depicting the ascension of Christ. © The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008
  20. http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn15...moon-probe.html India set to launch its first Moon probe 21 October 2008 NewScientist.com news service Padma Tata, Chennai A week ahead of the festival Diwali, which is celebrated with fireworks and lights, the Indian Space Research Organisation is planning its own rocket show. On Wednesday, ISRO is set to launch an uncrewed spacecraft to map the Moon in more detail than ever before – a far cry from ISRO's beginnings in the 1960s, with a church in Kerala as their first office. India's maiden Moon mission Chandrayaan may have cost less than other countries' lunar missions – $80 million as opposed to $140 million for the European Space Agency's SMART-1 – but its aims are no less ambitious. "For the first time, we hope to have a comprehensive mapping of the entire Moon," says ISRO scientist Parameswaran Sreekumar. The spacecraft, designed and built in India, will carry various instruments from around the world: for example, a radar made in the US will image the permanently shadowed regions of the poles to locate ice. And upgraded versions of two spectrometers used in SMART-I will gather clues on the origin and evolution of the lunar crust. The maps will be invaluable for the crewed Moon mission that India is planning for 2014 or 2015. Some Indian development policy analysts question whether the money might be better spent on tackling India's myriad social needs. "They asked the same question when we built our first satellite, Aryabhatta, in the '70s," notes Mylswamy Annadurai, Chandrayaan project director. "ISRO has done fairly good work in using space for societal needs. Today we have satellites for education, crop, health and communications," Annadurai says. "Chandrayaan is today's equivalent of Aryabhatta."
  21. In Honour of Guru Gaddi Divas - October 20, 2008, TEN minutes "youtube" presentation of Waheguru Waheguru Naam Simran Shabad Kirtan: Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HJT7zv-9rY...feature=related With Divine Love & Blessings of Waheguru Ji, Harbhajan
  22. It's balle balle time at Canadian Parliament SIFY News - Thursday, 16 October , 2008, 14:25 source: http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14778408 Toronto: It is balle-balle time for Canada's over half a million Punjabis as all the nine Indian-Canadians elected as MPs in Tuesday's election are of Punjabi origin. In fact, the new parliament now has three turbaned Sikh MPs as Tim Uppal of the ruling Conservative Party joins Gurbax Malhi and Navdeep Bains of the opposition Liberal Party in the 308-member House of Commons. Uppal, the 34-year-old Canadian-born property investor, has been elected from Edmonton Sherwood Park for the first time. Another first-time Punjabi MP is Devinder Shory who has been elected from Calgary Northeast, beating two fellow Indian-Canadians - Sanam Kang of the Liberal Party and Vinay Dey of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Shory, who is a practising lawyer in Calgary, previously tried his luck in the Alberta provincial elections. Malhi, who was the first turbaned Sikh to become an MP in Canada in 1993, is back in parliament for the sixth time. "The secret of my success are my diverse constituents - 50 percent of whom are white. I listen to them, I am where they want me to be and I raise their concerns in parliament," Malhi told IANS after his record victory. Expressing happiness over the election of another turbaned Sikh, he said: "It is good to have more of our people in positions of importance. Tim Uppal's election is good news for us. He will help spread the message about ourselves - who we are." In his new term, Malhi said, his priority is to facilitate Canadian visas for visitors from Punjab. "Right now, the Canadian office in Chandigarh does not issue visas to most people. I introduced a motion on the issue in parliament last year for a bond system and I will do it again now," he said. The six-time MP said he will also introduce a motion to check fraud marriages by Indian-Canadians in Punjab. "The motion will make it mandatory that if someone goes to Punjab to get married and bring his or her spouse, he or she should not be allowed to remarry for five years if they divorce after coming to Canada," he said. Deepak Obhrai, who was a parliamentary secretary in the last government, recorded his fifth victory in Calgary East seat, securing 66.5 percent of the vote. Chandigarh-educated Obhrai, who is expected to be given a higher position when Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces his new team soon, said: "It is up the prime minister to decide. I am not sure about anything because there are many contenders." Canada's first Indian-origin MP Nina Grewal was elected for the third time from Fleetwood-Port Kells in British Columbia province, as was fellow Punjabi Ruby Dhalla from Brampton-Springdale on the outskirts of Toronto. Navdeep Bains retained Mississauga Brampton South and Sukh Dhaliwal Newton-North Delta for the Liberal Party. Former Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh managed to win by only 779 votes in Vancouver South, securing 16,774 votes as against 15,995 by Wai Young of the ruling party. "We (Punjabis) are more than half a million among 33 million Canadians. To have nine Punjabi-origin MPs in the 308-member parliament is our big achievement," said Balwant Sanghera of the Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) in British Columbia.
  23. SPECIAL NOTE: The following information is provided "as an educational tool" in response to the news article: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news...1c-652650424188 source: http://www.indolink.com/printArticleS.php?id=022405023333 Kirpan(Sword) in Sikhism - A Symbol of Benevolence and Dignity by: Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD, FICS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kirpan, which can be literally translated into sword, has a much deeper meaning in the Sikh religion. It consists of two words, Kirpa and Aan. The word Kirpa means benevolence and the word Aan means dignity. Therefore Kirpan is a symbol of benevolence and dignity. Guru Gobind Singh made Kirpan as an integral part of the 5 k’s. The Kesh, meaning hair symbolizes devotion, asceticism, and renunciation. The hair is associated with spirituality in many other religions. But Guru Gobind Singh made Kangha (comb) also one of the five k’s, which symbolizes order and organization as well as purity and cleanliness. Karha the iron bangle around the wrist is the symbol of universality. Kachara the underwear is the symbol of piousness and sexual purity. It is Kirpan, which imparts uniqueness to the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh in the worship of Kirpanicalls it a symbol of justice, equality and struggle against oppression and discrimination and exploitation. The Guru Hails Kirpan as the liberator and sustainer of mankind and the destroyer of the oppressors and the exploiters. He also sees Kirpan as a symbol of bravery and knowledge because it can dispel cowardice and ignorance. He sees celestial beauty in the shining Kirpan. The Guru asks us to worship Kirpan as one of the aspects of God. As opposed to the Judeo Semitic concept of creation, which considers the creation as a separate act of God that created the universe in 6 days, from Monday to Saturday and then rested on Sunday, the Sikh religion sees the creation as an uninterrupted and constant act. The Sikh religion believes that the creation has 3 aspects symbolized by Barhama, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). Barhama symbolizes creation, Vishnu symbols sustenance and Shiva symbolizes destruction. Destruction is an integral part of construction because without destroying the worn out old, room cannot be created for the emerging new. The outlook and attitude of the Sikh religion to Kirpan is fundamentally different than the others who generally view sword as a symbol of power and domination. The sword can generate and encourage arrogance. Arrogance always leads to ignorance.Kirpan constantly reminds the Sikhs of the power of the Almighty. Therefore Kirpan should promote humility. As arrogance and ignorance like each other’s company similarly humility and knowledge go together. It is very important in the contemporary world that we use our power as Kirpan and not as a sword. Whereas Kirpan was used by Guru Gobind Singh to liberate the oppressed people, the sword of the colonialists was used to enslave the other people and nations. The judicious use of force can help us to change the outdated old world order, which has outlived its usefulness and has become redundant and irrelevant. The only way peace and harmony can be kept in the world and prosperity maintained is by upholding principals of equality, fairness, justice, benevolence and showing respect for other peoples beliefs and values. We can only suppress others temporarily until they are strong enough to fight against the oppressor. On the other hand benevolence, compassion, universal concern and universal well-being are principles which can lead to a lasting peace and progress. This is the global perspective of Guru Nanak. What we should understand is that Guru Gobind Singh raised Kirpan not only to uphold the principles of Guru Nanak but also to give a practical shape to those principles. Dr. Sawraj Singh is Chairman of Washington State Network for Human Rights, and Chairman of Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice.
  24. source: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/353008.html To save the girl child, the Golden Temple lends its shade Harpreet Bajwa - The Indian Express Posted online: Monday, August 25, 2008 Chandigarh, August 24 It's a unique message: save the girl child, save the environment. And it’s originating from the holiest Sikh shrine, in a state with one of the lowest sex ratios in the country. Beginning August 27, all women devotees at Amritsar’s Golden Temple will be given a sapling free of cost to be planted back home. Called Nanhi Chaanh (small shade), the ingenious scheme will put the force of faith behind the need to spread sensitivity towards the girl child and environment. The last Census in 2001 put Punjab’s sex ratio at 874:1000. Under the scheme, to be made a permanent feature during the months of February and August which are plantation months, all the estimated 30,000 women devotees visiting the Golden Temple daily shall be given a sapling of one of the varieties of trees mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev was quoted as having said in 1499 that “It is a woman who keeps the race going and we should not consider her condemned or cursed, when from woman are born leaders and rulers.†The scheme, which is a joint initiative of the Punjab Government, SGPC and Impact Group of companies, aims to spread this message, as well as underline that both the girl child and environment need nurture and care. The saplings would be dispersed in special boxes designed to allow in light and air. The Punjab Forest Department would provide the saplings, and already 50,000 have been procured. This year saplings of neem tree would be given, subsequently more varieties would be distributed. Explaining the rationale behind the scheme, Harpal Singh, Chairman of the Ranbaxy Group and Impact Group of Companies, said: “Mothers and trees are givers. They provide us so many things without expecting anything in return.†He said that in the first year they would would spend Rs 25 lakh on the programme. They have proposed to the SGPC to extend it to other gurdwaras as well. “This scheme is also being launched by us at several other religious places, including Ajmer Sharif.†SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, who described female foeticide “a major cause of concernâ€, said other gurdwaras could be roped in. “Earlier too a hukumnama was issued by the Akal Takht which condemned this hideous and reprehensible practice,†he pointed out.
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