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Dr. Amrik Singh

All of these articles by Dr. Amrik Singh

The Saga of Abhinav Bindra   Dr. Amrik Singh


Dr. Amrik Singh also writes for the Examiner.
He is "Sacramento Peace and Freedom Party Examiner." You may read his articles at the following link:


Sikh pioneers had great fascination for agricultural land. Their work ethics on the farmlands had impressed many a California landlords who preferred leasing their land to them. It, however, aroused imaginary fears in political circles that led Governor Hiram Johnson to sign California Land Alienation Act of 1913. Sikh pioneers continued to own more and more land taking advantage of some loopholes in the Act. By the time Governor William Stephens plugged the loopholes in 1920 making it virtually impossible to buy land in California; Sikh pioneers had 88,000 acres land in their care and were employers to many Californians. The signing of the two bills marks 100 years of Sikhs' presence in influencing California's legislative measures starting with Governor Hiram Johnson and ending with Governor Brown.
Governor Brown signed two important bills yesterday, in a hurriedly convened gathering of Interfaith groups at the State Capitol. AB 1964, the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, introduced by Assemblywoman Mrs. Mariko Yamada and supported by a variety of faith groups including Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, and Sikhs, is considered the landmark legislation in protecting civil rights of Americans of all backgrounds. The bill defines Civil Rights Act of 1964 more vividly so that employers avoid unnecessary civil law suits by denying Americans equal treatment in employment.
Balbir Singh Dhillon, President of Sikh Temple West Sacramento during a telephone interview said that he was always proud to be American and with the passing of the above bills he felt Sikhs as a minority are more secure in America than they are in their land of birth. History of Punjabi pioneers in California has now a chance to be included in the school curriculum. This will spread awareness among Americans who will remain no more ignorant about their fellow Americans.
SB 1540 History-Social Science Framework was introduced by Senator Loni Hancock. The main purpose of the bill was to remove restriction put by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in adopting the revised framework. The bill was supported by California Council for the Social Studies, Sikh Coalition, Sikh Council of Central California, Sikh Temple of West Sacramento, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. There was no opposition on record to the bill.
California History and Social Science Framework was revised last in 1998 and adopted in 2005. The school curriculum provided a little or no information about some ethnic groups who had been contributing to the economy and social life of the state for more than 100 years. The bill requires including historical information about them in revising Academic Content Standards. Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra, an alumnus of UC California who spearheaded the campaign to revise 13 year old History-Social Science Framework faced several obstacles since he took up the matter of eclipsing historical information that is essential for enhancing ‘pupil knowledge of, and pride in, our history.’ The subject matter of the bill was related with many other bills such as SB 1325 (Wyland) which required the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education to consider methods of enhancing students’ interest in civic participation, including developing new curriculum frameworks and standards.’
Dr. Bindra’s watchword was ‘Try Try Try Again,’ when after years of grueling efforts and public hearings; History-Social Science Framework was revised and submitted for final approval of the former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who suspended it due to financial constraint with a restriction until 2015. The signature legislation will benefit not only Sikhs but all ethnic groups who carved their niche in California’s history by working hard and living their lives to the best of their potential. Dr. Bindra thanked members of the Sikh community all over California State for extending their unstinting support in writing letters and ringing phones to Governor, assembly members and senators for highlighting the significance of the legislation for their children’s education. Dr. Bindra also thanked author of the Bill Senator Lori Hancock, Superintendent of Public Instruction, School Board of Education, Department of Education, Members of the Senate and Assembly, and many others who expressed their unconditional support for the bill.
During the pendency of the bill, Oak Creek shooting shook the Sikh community for being targeted by a white supremacist Wade Michael Page. Since 9/11 more than 700 cases of attacks on Sikh community were mainly ascribed to the absence of information about Sikhs and their history in the school curriculum. The journey of Land Alienation Act of 1913—that targeted mainly Sikhs from owning land in their names—to AB 1964 Work Place Religious Freedom Act of 2012 and SB 1540 of 2012 is spectacular and eventful. It may be considered the best tribute to the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society of Stockton that was incorporated in 1912 and for which the Centennial Conference is being held on September 22, 2012 in University of the Pacific Stockton. The invitation to the conference is open and free to the public. Participants will also enjoy free snacks and lunch. Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com dated September 9, 2012


Stockton's historical Landmark 'Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society' hosted a press conference on July 10, 2011 to campaign against death penalty to Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Sikh religious societies and human rights organizations participated in the meeting. Professor Bhullar's mother Mrs. Upkar Kaur was a special invitee. Custodial deaths at the hands of Indian police during tortures are very common. Professor Bhullar's father and uncle were never traced after they were picked up by the Indian police. Through a unanimous resolution, the "International Coordination Committee to Free Professor Bhullar" was formed. Manjit Singh Uppal, President of Stockton Gurdwara, Bhajan Singh Bhinder of Sikh Information Center and Tejinderpal Singh Bhullar, brother of Prof. Bhullar were included as founding members. The purpose of the committee is to coordinate efforts at the international level to expose mockery of justice and denial of due process of law to victims belonging to minorities in India and failing to protect life of all human beings under Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is strange that India is not a signatory to the Resolution of Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The resolution was adopted in 1985 and India continues to defy international pressure to honor Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nation. Bhullar was tried under a fabricated and controversial law TADA which was allegedly used against minorities in the name of controlling terrorism. None of the 133 witnesses could link him with any terrorist activities, the presiding Justice of the three-member Bench of the Indian Supreme Court ruled not only against the death penalty, but also acquitted Prof. Bhullar of any terrorist activities. But two other justices under reportedly political pressure upheld the sentence. A confessional statement was typed on a blank paper on which Prof. Bhullar was coerced to put his thumb impression.
Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar's death sentence has aroused worldwide attention. Canada's NDP leader Jack Layton has termed Bhullar's trial 'questionable' and his conviction 'doubtful.' The European Parliament expressed doubt at India's ability to remain on 47-nation UN Human Rights Council as India in May 2011 assured to 'uphold the highest standards.' The campaign to free Bhullar has support of World Coalition Against Death Penalty, American Civil Liberty Union, and Amnesty International.

A report entitled The Faces of Terror in India researched and written by Bhajan Singh Bhinder and Patrick J. Nevers of Sikh Information Center was distributed to the participating members. It narrates with evidence how government of India runs systematic and orchestrated false flag operations to malign members of minority communities. The involvement of a serving Colonel in providing RDX from the military arsenals to arrange bomb blasts in the name of Muslim terrorist groups was detailed in a separate chapter. The killing of 36 innocent Sikh villagers during visit of the then president of the United States Bill Clinton too had links with Hindu terrorist groups. These groups are quite often disguised in robes of Swamis, and decorated civil and military officers.

Husan Laroya of Ajit Jalandhar, Satnam Singh Khalsa of Sade Lok, Gurjatinder Randhawa of Punjab Mail, Kuldeep Dhaliwal of Indo-American Dialogue and Amrik Singh of Examiner.com participated in the press conference. Representatives of different organizations addressed the issues related with the Sikh community. Manjit Singh Uppal, President Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society, Ajit Singh Aloarakh, Gen Secretary of Akali Dal Amritsar, Niranjan Singh Samra Gen secretary of Gurdwara Ceres Modesto, Bhai Gurmeet Singh Khalsa, Ex-president Gurdwara, Fremont, Pavinder Singh Kariha President of Gurdwara Tierra Buena Yuba City, Balbir Singh Dhillon , president of Gurdwara West Sacramento, Resham Singh from Bakersfield, Karnail Singh Khalsa of Khalsa Jagriti Lahir, Mohinder Singh, Gen Secretary Gurdwara Tracy, Harbans Singh Pamma of Live Oak, Kulwant Singh Khaira of Gurdwara Fremont, Jaswant Singh Hothi President of AGPC, Davinder Singh Bahiya of American Sikh Organization, Gulwinder Singh Gakhal, founder of Sikh Youth of America, Manjit Singh Brar Ex vice president of Sikh Youth, Darshan Singh Sandhu, Kuljeet Singh Nijjar, President Akali Dal Amritsar of California, Jasbir Singh Takhar, Harnek Singh, Kashmir Singh Thandi, Balhaar Singh, Darshan Singh Mundy, Coordinator of Media and Sacramento Interfaith Groups, Amarjit Singh Dadwal, Chairman Election, Stockton Gurdwara, Amarjit Dhanesar, ex-president Gurdwara Stockton, Amarjit Singh Tung, Bhai Baljit Singh, Joga Singh, Gurmel Singh Khela, Karmjit Singh Treasure, Harbhajan Singh of Ceres and Balwinder Singh Dhanola shared their views and extended support to the campaign for immediate release of Professor Bhullar. Penalty
Posted on July 12, 2011

The US President goes overboard in extolling M.K. Gandhi
Dr. Amrik Singh

Air Force One is the powerful symbol of US’s predominant position in the world. President Barack Obama used this customized airplane for his ten day visit to Asia. It is literally a royalty in the midair. About three thousand officers and secret service agents traveled with the president in 40 separate warships. The glitz and glamour of President’s fabled visit to India was however, tarnished by results of the midterm election. It exposed limits of President’s rhetoric, and diminishing hold on the leftover mess of the Bush era. It became immediately a matter of great concern for democrats.

The first African American president in the White House aroused not only more curiosity in the world, but also great expectations. President Obama’s first hundred days seemed to mark big achievements. He signed the first executive order for closing the Guantanmo Detention Facility in Cuba. But due to the intervention of the court, his orders could not be implemented. Second major success was touted to be the healthcare reforms. He successfully created circumstances in which the healthcare measure was passed. But the problem is how to fund the bill when economy has been experiencing one setback after the other.

He had picked Joe Biden for Vice President on the advise of his well-wishers in preference to Hillary Clinton. But the mid term results have revealed how shortsighted the decision was to dismiss the proposal of Ms. Clinton as VP. It would have in fact strengthened his presidency. Obama doubted Clinton would dominate even in her secondary position. Doubts seem to be still persisting as the State Secretary didn’t accompany the president to his Asia trip. No doubt, Obama is very comfortable his VP, but whether he can be successful with him is still questionable. Hillary for sure would have reminded him about 3 AM call in the white house.

Flight aboard Air Force One might have given the president some respite. His dreams about journey to India must have soothed his frayed nerves. At the same time, the republicans rejoiced at their phenomenal victory that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible for a long time. President Bush started two wars, drained off the economy with his tax cuts, and left the US without any credible influence in the international affairs. It is amazing that republicans with so low rating could rise in so short a time.

Before the midterm election President Obama could have provided an organized leadership as he did during his own campaign. The president could not understand Tea Party Epress and its high decibel noise that targeted mainly those who had voted for Clinton in the primary. Tea Party escalated Ground Zero Mosques controversy single-mindedly for gains in the election. The president could have dismissed it by remaining quiet. He gave his opinion in a professorial tone only to contradict himself the following day.

President Obama’s visit to Asia was expected to raise his stature. The lowest point of Bush’s presidency was when he had to duck his head to dodge a shoe-missile. Fortunately, Obama still commands greater respect among Americans. Though people haven’t dismissed him as yet, they are however scrutinizing everything he proposes. The treatment he got in South Korea wasn’t a good sign for his presidency. In India, the president almost became slavish to the Gandhian myth which the world knows is more of a construction of non-violence than the reality of peace.

American military engineers’ erection of a 1.2 Kilometer bulletproof, air-conditioned tunnel for facilitating the president’s visit to the residence of Gandhi (Mani Bhavan) in Mumbai only showcased technological aspect. The president remarked in the guestbook that M.K. Gandhi was not only India’s leader but of the entire world. Analysts believe that the president Obama used platitudes to please the upper castes of the Indian society. In such a world Untouchables and minorities hardly exist. Chief Minister of the largest state of India, Ms. Mayawati represents the Untouchable segment of the society. She quite often complains from the public forum that Gandhi fought for only making rich, richer, and poor, poorer. She doesn’t even make any secret in saying that he was an imposter.

Mayawati’s inspiration to become one of the most powerful women of the world was her mentor Dalit leader Kanshi Ram who was a staunch opponent of M.K. Gandhi. Kanshi Ram held Gandhi responsible for status quo of Untouchables in India. Gandhi also humiliated Dalit intellectual, an alumni of Columbia University Dr. B R Ambedkar psychologically and emotionally. A Dalit American Gopi Dass of Stockton said that Gandhi could be a world leader only if Untouchables and their leaders are not part of it. Gopi Dass observed that all alliances Gandhi formed were to defraud minorities and Untouchables. His sole aim was to lay the foundation of Hindu nationalism. Gandhi entered into a conspiracy with a few Muslims to push the demand for Pakistan. Dr. Ambedkar writes: “Why did Mr. Gandhi come forward to give the Musalmans their fourteen demands at this particular juncture? These fourteen political demands of the Musalmans rightly or wrongly were rejected by all. They were rejected by the Hindu Maha Sabha. They were rejected by the Simon Commission. They were rejected by the Congress. There was no support for these 14 demands of the Musalmans from any quarter whatsoever. Why did Mr. Gandhi become ready to grant them except with the object of buying the Musalmans so that with their help he could more effectively resist the demand of the other minorities and the Untouchables? ----In my view Mr. Gandhi was not engaged in making any bonafide agreement. He was inducing the Musalmans to join in a conspiracy with him to resist the claim of the smaller minorities and the untouchables. It was not an agreement with the Musalmans. It was a plot against the Untouchables. It was worse; it was a stab in the back.” 322 Vol. 5

About Hindus’ denial of Untouchables to enter their Temples, Dr. Ambedkar writes, “Not very long ago there used to be boards in club doors and other social resorts maintained by Europeans in India, which said ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed.’ The Temples of the Hindus carry similar boards today, the only difference is that the boards on the Hindu temples practically say “All Hindus and all animals including dogs are admitted only Untouchables not admitted.” the situation in both cases is on a parity.” 382 Vol. 5

In the Indian parliament, the president went overboard in saying that he became the president of the United States of America only because of Gandhi. How naive, contradictory and self-congratulatory the president became in extolling Gandhi, who according to Arthur Koestler, is one of the greatest anachronism of the twentieth century. Presidents can’t afford half measures. The consequences can be far reaching. 43rd President George W Bush never found weapons of mass destruction for which he sent troops to Iraq. Bush would never admit he was wrong. His newly released book is steeped in his self-righteousness and ups and down of his journey to the White House.

When Obama gave Gandhi full credit for his being in the oval office, he was discrediting American voters who elected him so enthusiastically. Where did American voters get the appreciation for making a better choice? His personal narrative no doubt has the power to sway them, but that was only during his personal campaigns

President Obama’s speech in the Indian Parliament neither touched hearts of 80% Indians living below poverty line, nor he addressed aspirations of average Americans. The mention of Dr. Ambedkar’s name with a reference to Indian constitution came up only to fill the gap in the narrative. Gopi Das stated, “Gandhi’s views about African blacks are racist. He helped the Whiteman in strengthening apartheid. He called African blacks savages and kaffirs. His fight was to help the Whiteman in suppressing blacks and thus secure preferential rights for Indians in South Africa.”
Gandhi says all this in his own words:
September 2, 1907
“From these views expressed by a White we have a lesson to learn: We must encourage the Whites too. It is a short-sighted policy to employ, through sheer niggardliness, a Kaffir for washing work. If we keep in view the conditions in this country and patronize the Whites, whenever proper and necessary, then every such White will serve as an advertisement for the Indian trader.” ~ Vol. VI, p. 276

In the Indian Parliament, it is so ironical that most, who were listening to the president praising Gandhi, also were privately aware of Gandhi’s racist views about blacks in Africa.

Posted on November 17, 2010


By Dr Amrik Singh, Sacramento

Independence Days of India and Pakistan are round the corner. The midnight of 14th & 15th August 1947 was set for the partition. Religious nationalism became the basis for the Muslim Pakistan and the Hindu India. The questions of 70 millions untouchables, and 40 millions Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians had no immediate answers. The only options for them were to accept the dominance of Islam in Pakistan, and Hinduism in India. Thus the citizenship of minorities in both the countries became handicapped to the majority’s dictatorship.

The latest research about the question of partition of India suggests that Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Lal Nehru had accepted the division of India in principle before the Indian National Congress actually declared it. But for Mahatma Gandhi, it was hard to publicly digest it since his name was associated with being an apostle of universal peace. His correspondence with Viceroy Lord Mountbatten retrieved recently testifies that Gandhi had accepted the partition though reluctantly. In the new revelations, Gandhi’s allegiance for Hindu-Muslim unity becomes suspect. Historians are investigating the facts and circumstances of 1 million people losing their lives in riots in 1947. Whether leaders, on both sides did want it to happen regardless of their faith in non-violence and its effectiveness is an intriguing question?

Mahatma Gandhi never got the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, though he was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize five times in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 & 1948. Nobel committee cited different reasons each time. In 1937, Professor Jacob Worm-Muller found “sharp turns in his policies.” In 1947, historian Jens Arup Seip wrote “"from 1937 up to 1947, led to the event which for Gandhi and his movement was at the same time the greatest victory and the worst defeat – India's independence and India's partition."

Mahatma Gandhi, 60 years after his assassination, lives in memory of the world as a great soul. His last name has dynastic implications for the Indian National Congress that has ruled for about 50 years after the partition.
It is universally believed that India is a country within a country. The upper caste India is the world’s fastest emerging economy. However, there is India of Untouchables and minorities that is known in common parlance as “Bharat.” People belonging to Bharat don’t view Gandhi in the same manner as upper-caste Indians do.

Nowhere this dichotomy became more apparent than in the Indian American community of Sacramento over the question of installation of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the State Capitol. The upper caste Indians mostly Hindus have been campaigning hard to get the legislative support for putting Gandhi’s statue. On the other hand, minorities are opposing it as they allege they remained pitiless victims of upper caste atrocities.
A delegation of the Indian American community met Assembly member Ms. Mariko Yamada on July 28, 2010 in her office situated at the State Capitol, Sacramento. The issue that was brought to her attention was about the installation of a life-size statue of Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi at the State Capitol lawns.

The delegation spokesman Harbhajan Singh Bhinder told the Assemblywoman that tempers had run high during a meeting earlier convened by Dr. Sham Goyal, an upper-caste Hindu and a plant scientist at UC Davis. The agenda of the meeting held on April 24, 2010 at the Evergreen Avenue Holiday Inn in West Sacramento was to canvass support of four California State Senators and eight Assembly members to sponsor a bill to allow the statue at the State Capitol.
The proposal of Dr. Goyal was largely cheered by about 30 members except a few who disagreed with it. Mr. Bhinder who was present then, had expressed a strong disapproval of Gandhi’s name for the statue. “When I think about Gandhi, I am only reminded of India’s partition and bloodshed of a million people.”

During the question answer hours, Mr. Bhinder told that the leaders of the Untouchables & depressed classes, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, and Ms. Mayawati, Chief Minister of the largest state of India, blamed Gandhi for defrauding and keeping them in straitjackets of caste discrimination and hovels of poverty.
The assemblywoman was told how ignominiously and curtly Dr. Goyal had rejected names of leaders of the minority. When he asked whose statue could possibly replace Gandhi, Bhinder suggested Dr. Ambedkar or Bhagat Singh. Goyal taunted: “Who knows Ambedkar?” Bhinder responded: “Nobody knows him because you won’t put up his statue.”

James Featherington, the American who witnessed the attitude of Dr. Goyal, narrated to Ms. Yamada his remarks about leaders of the Untouchables. When Ms. Mayawati’s criticism of Gandhi was mentioned, Goyal responded by calling Mayawati a “Harijan,” stating: “If she is not grateful to Gandhi, then India would be better off if she was dead.”

Goyal and others leading the meeting then insisted Bhinder should keep quiet, but James Featherington, the American gentleman, spoke: “I’ve never heard these things before. In the interest of objectivity, I’d like to hear what Mr. Bhinder has to say.”
James Featherington explained to Assemblywoman Ms. Yamada, that Mr. Goyal’s remarks had created lot of resentment in members of the minority community. Dr. Goyal declared government of India was prepared to spend more than $30,000 on Gandhi’s statue. Journalist Mr. Hussan Laroya Banga also attended the meeting and apprised about the developing situation.

Dr. Amrik Singh who teaches at Sacramento State said that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is an intellectual of high order. Dr. Ambedkar has recorded his experiences with Mr. M.K. Gandhi and other national leaders in his writings, published in 23 volumes 40 years after the independence. Gandhi’s portrayal as an apostle of universal peace has been a special project of government of India, however, it contradicts with observations made by Dr Ambedkar.

To highlight Dr. Ambedkar as the real hero of the downtrodden, Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber runs an Internet magazine. He presented to the Assemblywoman a book of Dr. Ambedkar and printed- copies of Ambedkar Times Newspaper. Dr. Ambedkar is an alumnus of Columbia University New York. Recently, a Legal Chair has been established to commemorate a large body of his writings. Known as an architect of the Indian constitution, Dr. Ambedkar’s name remained ignored for long because he was a low-caste.

However, with the rising wave of Untouchables’ political awareness, Dr. Ambedkar has been emerging as a champion of India’s oppressed and minorities. Historians say Gandhi’s stardom is at stake, as Dr. Ambedkar has documented entirely a different history of India in his writings.
Mr Jaswinder Banga, chairman of Guru Ravidas Society, Rio Linda supports many programs that highlight the contribution Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders of the oppressed classes. He felt greatly hurt at the objectionable and humiliating remarks of Dr. Goyal and Mr. Janak, the leader of a prominent Hindu organization.

Mr. Darshan Singh Mundy, the Public Relation secretary of West Sacramento Gurdwara said that downtrodden and minorities face discrimination in everyday life. Subedar Joginder Singh told that he had attended many political rallies of Mahatma Gandhi and was aware of his negative attitudes towards the oppressed classes.

The delegation requested Ms. Yamada to consider carefully fears and feelings of the Indian American community of the downtrodden and minority classes, and also apprise other assembly and senate members about the ramifications of installing the life-size bronze statue of Gandhi at the Capitol.


(Top): Dr. Kuldip Nayar answers the questions asked by Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento & Prem Kumar Chumber. (Bottom) : Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber, Editor of Ambedkar Times (News Paper, www.ambedkartimes.com & www.mbedkartimes.org ) presents a book of Caste & World Conference against Racism (Durban 2001) and Bharat Rattan Baba Sahib Dr. B R Ambedkar’s “Annihilation of Caste” to Dr. Kuldip Nayar. In the center is Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento

Kuldip Nayar was in Sacramento, California on a special invitation to attend 10th Ghadar Memorial Foundation Conference. The Foundation’s president Charan Singh Judge arranged a special appointment with the noted columnist. It lasted for several hours and touched sensitive issues like Hindutva, terrorism, politics, foreign policy and NRI affairs.

The syndicated columnist Kuldip Nayar has many distinctions to his credit. As a member of the Upper House of Indian parliament, he tried to awaken the dormant conscience of the Indian politicians. He had prevailed upon the then vice president Krishan Kant to tender an unconditional apology for what had happened to Sikhs in 1984. He rued how the very idea was spurned then, and how after a decade of his proposal, Dr. Manmohan Singh had to perforce tender it in the parliament. The pain of 1984 tragedy will remain profound and hard to heal.
At 86, Nayar is nostalgic about his childhood years in Sialkot, now in Pakistan. Guru Granth Sahib occupied a proud place in their house. His mother hailed from a Sikh family. She read Guru Granth Sahib and prepared Parshad on every Sangrand. He reminisces how restlessly they would wait for savoring it. He earned Honors in History and a law degree from FC College Lahore. He had no intention of becoming a journalist. But partition had given deep wounds that only his writing could have healed. Old ones were not healed fully when the new had sprung up in the shape of 1984. He still hopes something could be done to win back the lost confidence of the Sikh community.

During his stint as the High Commissioner London, the first thing Nayar noticed was that very few Sikhs frequented the office. The main entrance and reception remained closed to the Sikhs for security reasons. When on his intervention it was opened for them, he received warning from the office of the Foreign Minister of India to be held solely responsible for any untoward incident. Similar caution came from the British

Scotland Yard Police expressing their inability to provide protection to the Indian Mission if the High Commissioner insisted on giving free access to Sikhs. When Nayar sternly told that the protection of British Embassy in Delhi could be withdrawn as a reaction to it, they relented from raising imaginary fears of Sikhs’ violence. As a Punjabi he empathized with Sikhs’ pain.

Mr. Nayar also shared his experiences when he went to a Sikh Gurdwara in London. He was disturbed at being greeted with epithets like “Indian dogs, go back. Khalistan Zindabad” He remembers granting an appointment to a delegation of Sikhs who wanted to get the Black list revised. Some of the names on the lists were without any rhyme and reasons. Nayar made observation that the Indian bureaucracy most of the times has its ways to impose its will on the functioning of public offices.

Nayar still finds no words for the mass massacre of Sikhs after Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination. He worked with Human Rights organizations to hold the guilty responsible for crimes against humanity. The report “Who are the Guilty?” records whatever little evidence remained after Rajiv Gandhi assumed office of the Prime Minister with a massive mandate. The arrangement of killing Sikhs seems to have originated from the Prime Minister’s office. The President Giani Zail Singh’s car too was stoned when he came back from the foreign tour. But his decision to immediately install immature Rajiv to the august office of the Prime Minister might have given direction to violence against the Sikhs.
To a question how India would have been today, had the collapse of Janta Party not taken place. Nayar clearly stated that India would have been much stronger and more civil than it is today. Jaiparkash Narain revolutionized Indian politics, but the installation of Morarji Desai as the Prime Minister of India proved counterproductive. The name of Jagjivan Ram had also come up for it, but was dropped because he was associated with Emergency resolution. JP was a man of principles and values.

Talking about his stint as Press Officer of the PM JN Nehru, he recalls how Nehru had listened to his briefing patiently.

Speaking about Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to a question of Prem Chumber, Editor of ambedkartimes.com, Mr Nayar said that his contribution in creating Indian Nationalism is tremendous, but unfortunately his writings were not promoted after independence. That is why still many people in high offices feign ignorance about his works. He remembered that Ambedkar didn’t favor the modern version of reservation, because according to him, it was like providing crutches to people who otherwise could be strong both in body and mind. His goal was to remove the disabling conditions of economic, social and emotional slurs and smears which are woefully continuing uninterrupted even today. It was more for politics than for actually improving the lot of Dalits that reservation was introduced initially for ten years.

Referring to Durban conference and his criticism of the lot of Dalits, Nayar regretted that India remained in denial mode about questions of their discrimination and degradations. But international community was kept in dark due to India’s reluctance to admit subhuman treatment to certain sections of society. Nayar said that Kanshi Ram’s contribution will remain invaluable and revolutionary.

Arya Samaj movement initially was a reformative and progressive. The animal and idol worship was condemned and at times caste discrimination was sought to be ended. However, it became reactionary due to politicization of the freedom struggle.

To Nayar’s fervent appeal to all Punjabis for a strong society, the question was asked that Punjabi left to themselves had no problem of living together peacefully and harmoniously. Hatred, however, comes from outside that made Punjabis partner in their own damage.

The central government has not sorted out any issue satisfactorily whether it was reorganization of states, water sharing, Rajiv-Longwal Accord and protection to minorities. Nayar said that Nehru was vehemently opposed to the division of Punjab.
Reminiscing Longowal - Rajiv talks in Delhi, Nayar felt proud that Akalis had lodged full confidence in him. Balwant Singh, the former Finance Minister, had proposed to the then PM Rajiv Gandhi to make him (Nayar) the arbiter in resolving all nagging issues. Bajpai consulted him quite often on Pakistan affairs, but not on Punjab. In Sonia Gandhi’s eyes, Nayar was a staunch opponent of Mrs Indira Gandhi. It might have been the reason that Dr. Manmohan Singh didn’t accept Nayar’s offer of help in domestic and foreign policies.
On being informed about exploitation of Punjabis who got citizenship of the US, Nayar made it clear that the purpose of Indian Missions in foreign countries is basically to provide help and not create obstacles. He promised to take up issues with the Consulate General, Home and Foreign Ministries. Nayar was informed that protests and demonstrations are integral to democracies, therefore, shouldn’t be used against people of Indian origin.

Nayar faced many threats in his life. Threats came in the form of angry letters and phone calls to shoot him and his grandchildren.
To questions about Mumbai Massacre on November 26, 2008, Nayar couldn’t clearly say if a specific plan to target the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare was in place or not. However, Karkar’s wife Mrs. Kavita is very vocal in exposing missing links in the official narrative.
Nayar had a very successful career. He is the strongest witness to the pre and post partition politics of blood and gore. Nayar is very concerned about the widening gulf between countries’s rich and poor.

Posted on July 20, 2010


Picture: Left Dr. Manmohan Singh among G 20 leaders
Picture:Right Bollywood Star Akshay Kumar was invited to G 20 Summit in Toronto.
Canada had asked Chief Justice John Major to complete Public Inquiry of
Air India Flight 182 Bombing. The Report maybe read at the following link:

Dr. Amrik Singh writes from Sacramento

Canada’s special invitation to Akshay Kumar, the Bollywood star of ‘Singh is King’ fame for a specially arranged banquet in honor of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh glamorized the significance of the occasion. In the backdrop of the colonial past of the two countries, a regal approach to socio-economic problems invites a careful attention. Though the focus was to sail through the volatility of fiscal reversals, however, India used the occasion to clinch Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal and garner unflinching support of France and Great Britain for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

India’s participation at G 20 Summit on June 28, 2010 in Toronto hogged maximum attention of the world for many reasons. The fact that world’s largest democracy exuded a great confidence to show 8-9% growth impressed world leaders of Dr. Singh’s professional expertise in economic matters. He doled out pearls of wisdom by stressing fiscal discipline to reduce sovereign deficits and opposed huge cuts by Germany and Britain to stem the tide. By entering Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and bilateral trade of 15 billions, Dr Singh made a mark that top-tier Indian industrialists, highly politicized bureaucrats and Savarkar-type brand of politicians most expected of him. The sternness of their message to the Prime Minister before leaving for Toronto had domino effect on him that reverberated in his strident tone to demonize Canadian Sikhs as outsiders and extremists.

Contrary to it, on July 16, 2009, Dr. Singh after NAM summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt had to cut a sorry figure in the Indian Parliament when he had de-linked Islamic terrorism from the composite dialogue to be pursued by India and Pakistan. Obsessed not to repeat the same unpardonable error at NAM summit, and eager to please Pundits of Indian foreign policy back home, Dr. Singh unambiguously connected Sikhs outside of India as wedded to terrorism.

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada coincided with 25th anniversary of bombing of Air India Flight 182 and the completion of the public Inquiry by Justice John Major. Victims of families and magnet of Indo-Canadian politics hoped terrorists would be identified after 25 years of long investigation. The failure of Canadian Intelligence agencies was solely held responsible for the most horrific act. A few days before the G20 summit, much heat was generated over a petition in Canada Parliament, when two liberal party MP’s succeed in tabling the motion of declaring 1984 Sikh massacre as genocide. India reportedly tried its best to defeat it and define it as anti-India sentiments. Dr. Manmohan Singh earlier in his bilateral talks with Canada PM had apprised him of Canada’s soil being used for anti-India activities by Sikh extremists.

But in an exclusive interview, with the Tronto Star, Dr. Singh showed his complete transformation from his earlier soft stance of suggestiveness to aggressiveness. His tone became authoritarian, harsh and accusatory in warning Canada of providing its resources to Sikh terrorists to destabilize India. The language and measured cadence had all the effect of an arm-twisting that Canada had never experienced before. Canada had ignored the warning of a terrorist attack before the bombing of Air India Flight on June 23, 1985. India had reportedly thorough intelligence of bombing the Air India Flight, but the riddle remained unsolved as to why no extra-precautions were taken up by Air India staff to flop the smuggling of bomb aboard. The suspected Canadian Sikh’s death in Indian Police custody further complicated the investigation. Air India Flight 182 came down exactly one year after the storming of the Golden Temple Amritsar in 1984 and seven months after the Sikh carnage in Delhi and many other cities of India.

The focus of the world media drastically shifted from the State terrorism to the Sikh terrorism. 329 innocent lives could have been saved according to Justice Major in his report. The report still is silent as to who exactly was responsible for the worst attack in the Canadian history.

Some analysts believe that Prime Minister’s forewarning maybe an indication of an impending terrorist attack on a wider scale. Official terrorist cells may arrange such an attack to give weight to Dr. Singh’s words. Only a month before, Ujjal Dosanjh complained of threats to his life. He reportedly warned India to suppress the rising radicalization of Sikhs in Canada. A section of Sikhs believe it is all a political posturing. Some politicians of Indian origin get votes by supporting Sikh issues, and others get a larger vote bank of non-Sikhs by acting as victims of Sikh extremism. A Sikh from Surrey referred to Mr Dosanjh, the First Punjabi Premier of BC as suffering from such an obsessive mindset. He asserted that Dosanjh can get more votes by masquerading cosmopolitan style and at the same time portraying baptized Sikhs as regular terrorists. Dosanjh’s political career has become so much dependent on so-called hatred of Sikhs that he would keep it alive in the Canadian media on usual basis.

During the bilateral talks with his Canadian counterpart, Dr. Manmohan Singh similarly profiled Canadian Sikhs without giving specific details and evidence of a violent trend. He warned “Sikh extremism, separatism and militancy were a problem in India two decades ago. Today, Punjab is at peace and there is a growth and prosperity. ---There are, however, some elements outside India, including in Canada, who try to keep this issue alive for their own purposes. In many cases such elements have links to or are themselves wedded to terrorism.

Their activities are a reason for both governments, in India and Canada to be concerned. We have sensitized the Canadian authorities in this matter, we have been pointing out that Sikh extremism in Canada which has no support in India, is not good for Canada.---We feel that vigilance and close co-operation between both governments on the issue is necessary.” Isn’t Dr. Singh targeting Canadian Sikhs for popularity of a larger audience at home?

Dr Singh seems to have played the majoritarian card by making Canadian Sikhs a soft target of the fascism of the Indian intelligence agencies. In such circumstances, Indian Consulate offices all over the world got a free license to not only demonize average Sikhs, but literally fleece them of their hard earned money. Sikhs have already been facing tremendous problems in practicing their religion. Many European countries have banned Sikhs’ turban in Public. In the wake of stereotyping and making scapegoats of Sikhs at the global level by a Prime Minister who himself is a Sikh, the community feels aggrieved, betrayed and alienated.

By consistently refusing meeting with Sikhs living outside India, Dr. Singh has been demonstrating a poor image of his people. Why an average Sikh in the Indian context has to be apologetic for imaginary view of his community’s extremism? Maybe the only way for claiming one’s Indian identity is to acquiesce in your own vilification? KPS Gill is a national hero because he is a party to fake encounters, elimination of human rights activists and pandering to murderous intents of Indian political leaders. Similarly, Giani Zail Singh had to mislead all members of his community two days before the attack by assuring them that Government had no plan to storm the Golden Temple. His lie cost thousands of devotees on a Sikh historic day trapped in the crossfire in June 1984.

During many of their verbal duels, Congress leaders Rajinder Kaur Bhatthal and Capt. Amrinder Singh accused each other for harboring hardcore Sikh militants in their bungalows. Dr. Singh’s government never found it necessary to interrogate them for their links with terrorists? Wasn’t Samjhauta Express, the dream train of India-Pakistan friendship blown up by the imaginary Muslim terrorists? The use of 60 KG RDX from Indian Military arsenal to destroy the train, however, was traced to the Colonel of the Army. In November 2008, the media hadn’t even learned yet to use the word ‘Hindu Terrorism,’ when 26/11 Mumbai massacre completely wiped it out along with the ATS Chief, Heman Karkare who had dared to link Hindu to terrorism? If Hindu terrorism is a misnomer, why Sikh or Muslim terrorism isn’t?

Prime Minister though has been riding a wave of economic success, isn’t it only to be a King of an Empire in which 80 % poor have no role? Dr. Singh perhaps remembers that Mrs. Indira Gandhi had to play the Sikh extremism card at such a time, when she had miserably failed in checking rising prices, poverty, and inequity of justice. Sikh terrorism card wasn’t a sign of her strength, but an embarrassment to her leadership.

Posted on June 29, 2010

Yuba City occupies a special distinction for Punjabi Community of United States of America. It organizes a largest religious gathering of Punjabi Diaspora outside Punjab every year. About a hundred thousand people converge to celebrate Guru Granth Sahib’s “Gur Gaddi Divas” in the first week of November. Yuba City also enjoys preeminence in the cultural field as the biggest Punjabi Festival is organized annually by Punjabi American Heritage Society. Despite the fact that there are many restrictions for entry, a great number of Punjabis make to the festivities. The main reason of its popularity is that it keeps all norms of Punjabi decency. Organizers never let it deviate into a bad taste. Only those items are presented that promote creative, entertaining and chivalrous aspects of Punjabi culture. Very prominent artists are invited to amuse the audience.

These festivals play a key role in bonding young children with their roots. Competitions are organized to identify talent and creativity in children. This year contests for Miss Punjaban and Mr Punjabi were also introduced. Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang, who is an alumni of Medical College Patiala, is one of the main leaders of the event. The proceedings of this festivals are broadcast both in American and Punjabi media. Maybe this is the only festival to be given so much prominent coverage. Dr. Kang is associated with many activities that promote dialog, mutual understanding and fellow feelings about Punjabis among Americans. He was instrumental in production of many documentary films about Punjabi people in America.

Dr. Kang’s team never fails in recognizing distinguished personalities of the region who have contributed significantly to the community welfare. This year among the prominent persons to be honored are World Wide Promoter Jessie Banga, Director of KVIE television David Hosley, President of Guru Ravidas Sabha Rio Linda Shingara Singh and Professor of Sacramento State University, Dr. Amrik Singh. Jessie Banga was recognized for his positive approach towards community welfare and David Hosley for producing a film “Sikhs in America” for the KVIE network of television.

A Special honor was also accorded to Yuba City’s First Punjabi Mayor Kashmir Singh Gill for creating a favorable history for the community. Along with him many other officials of the Yuba and Sutter county were recognized for their cooperation to the Punjabi community.


A Book Review by
Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento

The Life and Times of Pakher Singh Gill
A Panjabi Californian in the Early Twentieth Century
By Nirmal S. Mann, M.D., Ph.D
89 pp. Rose Dog Books. $14

One of the most difficult tasks for an intellectual is to recover the lost history from the margins of times. Stories of toil and trials remain buried under twists and turns of those at the helm of affairs. Dr. Nirmal S. Mann’s reconstruction of Pakhar Singh’s life is emblematic of towering Punjabi pride that blossoms in the distant lands in spite of all-pervasive threats to its existence. It has a great significance for the emerging history of Punjabis in California. It is a multilayered story that needs to be carefully understood in a larger context. It is as much a saga of struggle and survival as it is a patriotic response to India’s freedom and love for America. Pakhar Singh was first and foremost a Jutt with Scythian blood in his veins. Scythians of Steppe, according to the author, settled in India during 7th B.C. On top of it Pakhar Singh was a Sikh with an outgoing and friendly attitude towards others. Rising from a farm hand to a lease holder of 320 acres land in Imperial Valley, Pakher Singh became an envy of Anglo American settlers. He worked shoulder to shoulder with Mexicans to produce a rich lettuce crop. They looked upon him as their leader. However, it was not a smooth ride for him. Alien Land Act of 1913, 1920 barred Indians to buy lands in their names, therefore, verbal leases became common. Pakher’s three Anglo American friends violated the verbal agreement with him that not only exiled him from his leased-estate but also racially abused him. Since the law was not on his side, Pakher settled scores first by shooting two of them —Victor R. Sterling and William B. Hagar and then battering their heads with his axe. He went off to kill the third one too, but changed his mind on the plea of his pregnant wife. The story created a sensation in the Imperial Valley. Each community reacted differently to two white men’s murders.

The story of Pakhar Singh Gill unfolds in the second half of the book. In the first part, the author tries to solicit all influences that worked in making up of Pakhar Singh’s character. The foremost influence, according to the author is his ancestry and racial stock. Scythians invaded Punjab in 6-7th BC and Jutts according to Mann are the direct descendants. The fearless fighters, great revenge seekers, ruthless killers, Scythians can survive in the most hostile circumstances. They literally sleep on their horsebacks. The next immediate influence, the author has tried to trace is Pakhar Singh’s Sikh heritage. Mann tries to sketch an outline of Sikh history with a view to illustrate the psychological factors in determining Pakher’s volatile action. Pakher started his life in Imperial Valley in 1917 with his active involvement in India’s freedom movement by the Gadhar Party. He would help it in fund raising efforts. Lala Hardyal would stay with him during his visits to the valley. He knew about atrocities on freedom fighters in India by the British. Interestingly, a majority of white settlers in the Imperial Valley hailed from Britain. Some of them behaved like colonial masters. Preceding Pakher Singh’s murders on 1st April, 1925, Jallianwala incident in Amritsar had shaken all Indians. Peace loving protesters were showered with bullets killing several thousands of them just in a single incident.

The gold rush in California drew Anglo-whites to California. They constituted a multi-cornered system of repression to establish their hegemony on other communities. American Indians became the worst victims of discrimination. 100 Native Indians were executed for every white man killed by the American Indian. Black, Mongolians, and American Indians were not admitted in Public schools. When California Constitution was ratified, other minorities didn’t get the right to vote. The slavery was though illegal, but Fugitive Slave Act was operative under which any slave could be arrested. Negroes were not allowed to testify against white people. American Indians and the Chinese being from Mongoloid stock were barred from testifying against whites. In 1870, California formally established segregation system for separate schools. Whites having preemption right to American Indians’ land expelled them from their own lands which they had occupied for thousand of years.

After the annexation of California, Mexicans were the great target of discrimination. Mexicans too became a helpless minority. The California gold rush attracted all sorts of outlaws, gambler, criminals from the west and the Europe. The foreign Miners’ tax in 1850 mainly affected the Chinese and Mexicans. In 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Japanese too were stereotyped. In such a background, Indian immigrants to California shores wouldn’t have been welcome.

When they started settling in the Imperial Valley in 1910, it appeared as if the ‘Turban Tide’ would occupy the whole valley. Most Anglo farmers benefited from Punjabis’ hard work and they relied on them more than anyone else. But they didn’t like voraciousness for owning more and more lands. Punjabis enlarged their land holding to 32,380 acres in a short period of hard labor. They supplied for large corporations and British shipping companies. The trio Victor R. Sterling, John B. Hagar and William Thornburg worked for British Shipping Company. Victor R. Sterling was an agent who entered into lease agreement with Pakher Singh Gill. Sterling was the one who insulted Pakher by blurting out “goddamn Hindu” that triggered his ire to commit the crime. At the time of the murder there were some Mexicans and a white man present there. Their witnesses ultimately bailed Pakher Singh Gill out of the prison.

The author rues the fact that Congressman Dalip Singh Saund hasn’t mentioned his name in his autobiography. It is a fact that Pakher Singh went to Jail for 10 years and after that he was a freeman. It had a very momentous effect on people at large. His friendship with the Judge, Bank Manager of Brawley, and Sherrif point out to the fact that Pakher was regarded basically a good man. Dalip Singh Saund may have been benefited from the situation that was created by Pakher Singh, yet he refrained from acknowledging it simply because he professed Gandhianism in Public.

Nirmal S. Mann’s effort in recreating Pakher Singh’s genealogy deserves appreciation on all accounts. He has done a lot of research work to authenticate his narrative. He seems to have spent sometime in the Imperial Valley to connect bits and ends of Pakher Singh Gill’s story. Mann has tried to incorporate as much background knowledge as possible to delineate the story of Pakher Singh Gill. As a result, his life embodies a multilayered narrative of his struggle. His marriage with 18 years old Mexican women Alicia at 66 years of his age is another chapter. The author’s endeavor to interview Gill’s wife and four sons was not a happy experience. Sons didn’t permit him to interview Alicia. It points out to the alienation that might have taken place in Mexican Punjabis due to the lack of a viable connectivity with the mainstream Punjabi community. Mann’s book raises many a question about the next generation, and the present efforts to integrate them with values. The author suggests that Mexican Punjabis have done a lot to sustain the pioneers in California; therefore, a suitable way of appreciation should be worked out for their honor.

The author appears to be suggesting different and sometimes intersecting perspectives in demonstrating underlying factors of Pakher Singh Gill’s action. The racial superiority shown by Anglos in their actions in India and California comprises a system of exploitation of non-white races. The actions of Udham Singh, Bhagat Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabha were free responses to the regime of repression. Nirmal S. Mann’s Scythian discourse about Jutt’s ancestry appears congratulatory at times. The racial factors are not fixed contingencies in the long history of mankind, but they are manipulated to segregate one from the others. The study of races had been pioneered by the British; therefore, it was a greatest invisible weapon in their hands.

Shakespeare’s predecessor, Christopher Marlowe in his play Tamburlaine presents Timur, the lame as a Scythian shepherd who rose to become the most powerful on earth. Elizabethan knowledge of Timur was influenced by Ottoman Empire and Europe’s anxiousness to stop its expansion whereas the real Timur India knew was much different.

Dr. Nirmal Singh Mann is a Clinical Professor of Medicine & Gastroenterology at UC Davis. He has won many awards for teaching excellence. The biography of Pakher Singh Gill will go down as a major work to reconstruct lives and times of Punjabi Pioneers in California.

Posted on June 25, 2010


Dr. Amrik

Canadian Parliament has recorded a unique petition on June 9th 2010. It is about several thousand Sikhs killed in a planned manner after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1984. The government machinery was allegedly used to identify Sikhs’ houses from the voters’ lists. Delhi police first disarmed some Sikhs by confiscating licensed weapons from their possession, and then collaborated with mobs to kill turbaned citizens of India. The ruling Congress leaders allegedly decided the mode of killing and made available all apparatus for committing crimes. People were targeted on the basis of their appearance. They had no connection whatsoever with the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Despite about a dozen commissions appointed in the last 25 years to apprehend perpetrators of crimes, India failed to punish the guilty. More than 3000 Sikhs lost their lives alone in Delhi. The law of the land became redundant. The ruling party immediately after the Sikh carnage and Bhopal gas tragedy, created a history by winning 411 seats out of 530 in the 1985 parliamentary election. Massive mandate appeared to have ratified the murders of Sikhs. A new definition of the Nation underpinned the collective consciousness. Sikhs as a people had no place in it. Sikhs vaguely characterized as Indians or Hindus however had every chance to shine in the Indian firmament. Those who subscribed to it prospered, those who didn’t, risked there reputations as terrorists and separatists. Punishing the guilty was always interpreted as encouraging Sikh separatism. To discourage it became a new passion for the neo- nationalists. No where it turned out to be as evident as it is in the case of Canadian Sikhs’ audacity to move a petition in the court of people in spite of the heavy odds in its way.

On June 9th the first matter to be taken up on the floor of the Canadian House of Commons was the petition about 1984 Sikh genocide. Two Canadian MP’s Mr. Andrew Kania and Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal read the contents. No objection from any quarters was raised to the motion. The petition is based on the premise that United Nation’s protocol on genocide is very defining and unambiguous. Since Canada has emerged as a multicultural society championing human rights of minorities, the petition seeks to secure justice for victims of 1984 violence. Prominent among those who supported the motion were Gurbax Malhi, Navdeep Bains, Bonnie Crombie and Kristy Duncan. Bains described 25 years of apathy as a “blot on India’s legal system.”

On the other hand, Tory MP Deepak Oberoi worked very hard to defeat the petition by terming it as mischievous and divisive. He lamented “These guys want to use Canada to divide India.” Consulate General of India allegedly coordinated with other organizations to support a consistent drive to influence Canadian lawmakers’ opinion. Canada India Foundation, an advocacy group jointly with Consulate office devised strategies to block the petition.

Canada India Foundation was established in 2007 by high profile Indo-Canadians to promote business and good relations. It actively sought to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it would divide Sikh Community and alienate them from other Indians. The foundation warned Canadian Parliament of dangers in taking up the cause of militant Sikhs.

In a letter written to MP’s the CIF reminded that they should take notice of $12 billion Indian money in Canadian business as compared to Canada’s only 500 millions in India . Aditya Jha, National Convener of CIF tried to emphasize the corporate profiteering over human rights concerns. Jha asserted that Manmohan Singh and Montek Singh Alhuwalia are excellent examples of Sikhs enjoying preeminent positions in the Indian society. Manoj Pandit, spokesman for the Foundation, said that the petition was “ill-advised and ill- intentioned since there is no justification for Canada to take the position that the petition demands.” It will damage stronger Indo Canada bilateral relations.

Mr. Jha in his article for the National Post “Rejecting the Message of the Militant Sikhs” writes that the petition by Liberal MP Andrew Kania and Sukh Dhaliwal is to inflame anti-India sentiments among Sikhs. He impressed on the Canadian lawmakers to ignore the petition as it was the internal matter of India. The resulting damage to Indo-Canadian business ventures would affect both countries. National Post carried out another article on June 9th, asserting that the petition in the House of Commons was Anti-India.
Jha had many supporters in people like Balraj Deol, a Punjabi journalist who expressed that the petition would be a memorial to terrorists. “Elements in the Sikh separatist movement pressurized to move the agenda forward.” Editor of the “Canadian Post”, Jagdish Grewal also condemned the petition as not reflecting Sikhs’ majority opinion.

Canada India Foundation lobbied vehemently to convince MP’s that the petition was designed to appease terrorists and divide those Sikhs who want to live as peaceful citizens of India. CIF brought many lawmakers and Indo Americans to its apprehension of fears of militant Sikhs. CIF successfully persuaded Liberal Chief Michael Ignatieff to denounce the petition publicly. The leader said “It is used here to provoke a changed visceral response which will not bring closer to mutual understanding. His party never stands with those who polarize communities or aggravate the tensions around long standing conflicts that divide us in other lands.” The activists of CIF were sure of the success of their aggressive struggle and defeat of the petition on the floor of the House of Commons. But to their utter shock and dismay, no objections were raised by any member in the house.

According to the Foundation website “Canada India Foundation is a national, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 2007 to foster support for stronger bi-lateral relations between Canada and India; to educate Canadians on the changing face of India; and To increase the participation of Indo-Canadians in the public policy process in Canada. CIF's founding members include industrialists, senior Canadian business executives and top tier professionals.”

The foundation’s claim of being non-partisan compels scrutiny. In the above case it has not only played a partisan role, but also tried to use its clout to defend criminals responsible for a spate of murders. The petition only highlighted how culprits have been given shelter by the government that claims to be fighting terrorism. Punishing them would have strengthened such a fight and made India stronger. But interpreting the demand for justice as anti-India is rather devious and preposterous. It only implies that such killings are pro-India or a nationalist cauase. The Foundation needs to do introspection as to how it got the right to speak for all Indians? When its membership is restricted only to a few top tier industrialists and professionals, how it got the right to speak for the second most populated nation in the world?
The scope of the petition after a quarter century of the bloodshed is to explore peaceful solution to wounds of the psyche. It is a step to unite people and share their pain. When there is a true sharing, a lot of anger disappears automatically. On the contrary, the action of leaders of the Canada India Foundation is partisan, divisive and anti-India in the literal sense.

The petition will go down in Indo-Canadian history as a new chapter of solving global issues. A spirit of dialog and deliberation can solve most intricate issues if taken up in good faith. Ironically it is a method that India most recommends to others but follows least in her own case.

Posted on June 17, 2010


Dr. Amrik Singh

Norwegian Nobel Peace committee applied a different yardstick to award 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. It was more for the possibilities and prospects of peace in the nuclear-armed, terror-ridden and fiscally-starved world than for any accomplishments in these areas. Diplomacy in the 21st century is no more a play of tricks, but a commitment to high ideals of integrity, honesty and humanity. The lack of the same in the last two centuries brought much manmade havoc on humankind. Agent provocateurs, secret societies and pseudo divines only made this planet more vulnerable to devastation. Unethical standards in the shape of scientifically proven policies were more to control one kind with the other. Warfare is no more the same old strategic advantage. The meanings of heroism and patriotism have changed and compel a point of departure from old immorality of conflicting times.

Only a ‘no strike principle’ can save the planet from impending nuclear annihilation. Who can instill such a moral responsibility even in ones who are ready to blow themselves up for their heavenly dreams? Who can stir the conscience of invisible terrorist mentors in administrative set-ups, religious orders and welfare clubs who thrive on people’s money and hog media attention for their facade of diplomatic acumen? May be, no one, but if there is a possibility; it can be the US president.

While accepting the honor, President Obama measured up to verbal expectations in his highly analytical speech. He divested himself from all hangovers that he had used in his famous speeches before and after assuming the office. He realized it was necessary to distinguish the rhetoric from reality. War has been a determining factor for making or unmaking of nations. Regardless of horrors, “just war” as a last resort is waged against evils. Fighting nation enter treaties to protect human rights, end genocide and secure liberty in the hope of establishing “imperatives of just peace.”

During primaries, Obama referred to Martin Luther King, Jr. as his hero for he fought a battle for civil rights through peaceful means. Since it has some connections with Gandhi’s much-hyped struggle for Untouchables of India, Obama made frequent references to both King and Gandhi. But while accepting Nobel Peace Prize, he disassociated from both Gandhi and King by clearly making a statement that they could not be his leaders in his fight against terrorism. To submit to terrorism and allow terrorists to annihilate all symbols of life and liberty with the hope that they will renounce violence themselves one day sounds totally unrealistic. Unchecked Hitler would have left a different world than the one that we see today. Baruch Spinoza rightly puts that peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice. According to Malcolm X “you can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has freedom”

Arthur Koestler’s essay “Mahatma Gandhi - Yogi and Commissar: A Re-valuation” provides profound insights into Bapu’s “Himalyan inconsistencies” in advising Jews to become sacrificial goats to Hitler’s ire. Even when Hitler had six million gas victims, Gandhi advised that the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs---it would have roused the world and the people of Germany. When asked how he would meet the atom bomb with the non-violence, Gandhi said he would bare his chest to the pilot who would change his mind in throwing the bomb. Koestler points out that the Indian establishment attempted not only to suppress Gandhi’s last experiment of sleeping with Manu, but a conspiracy of silence rules the roost to wipe out all inconsistencies of Gandhi’s character. Koestler terms Gandhi as the greatest “anachronism” of twentieth century and emphasizes, “It is equally pleasant but futile to argue with intellectuals who adhere to the Gandhi cult and pay a lip service to a philosophy easy to eulogize and impossible to realize.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. went to India in 1959. He wanted to get inspiration from Gandhi’s life for civil rights movement. That Gandhi lived a life full of contradictions, that British invested in his making, that he grabbed Dalit baton forcibly from Dr. BR Ambedkar, that he got the role of a Mahatma only when Krishna Murti had rejected Annie Besant’s offer, that he was the creation of the Theosophical Society are altogether points of a different story. For deification of Gandhi, the role of Ambedkar, Sikh and Muslim freedom fighters had to be not only driven underground, but also to be discredited. For making the relevance of non-violence with Vedic overtones, theatre of violence has to be established. Similarly for testing his abstinence from sex, a sexual scenario has to be masqueraded with young women.

Gandhi is known to have got inspiration from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. But Tolstoy was critical of Gandhi's style of politics. Tolstoy wrote a “Letter to a Hindu” (1908). It was a reply to Tarak Nath Dass who was the Editor of Free Hindustan. Tolstoy castigates Indians in the following words. “A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these words mean. What does it mean that thirty thousand men, not athletes but rather weak and ordinary people, have subdued two hundred millions vigorous, clever, capable, freedom loving people? Don’t the figures make it clear that it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, but the Indians who have enslaved themselves?-----"
“If the people of India are enslaved by violence it is only because they themselves lived and have lived by violence, and don’t recognize the eternal law of love inherent in humanity.” Tolstoy’s oblique reference to Indians for supporting violence of the British against their own people is obvious. It was so discomfiting for Gandhi that he urged readers not to believe in everything Tolstoy said in "Letter to a Hindu." Gandhi mentioned it in his introduction to Tolstoy's letter.
Two books: Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity by G.B. Singh and Gandhi: under Cross-Examination by G.B. Singh and Tim Watson examine Gandhi’s masked divinity. Their research has questioned many premises of Gandhian philosophy. They claim that his entire philosophy is based on a ‘lie,’ the lie that was needed by the British to steady their shaky foundation and that more suited to lay the foundation of Indian nationalism.

According to Dr. BR Ambedkar, most movements that Gandhi pioneered turned out violent. On 28 December 1931, when Gandhi came back from Round Table Conference, depressed classes welcomed him with “Our Charge sheet against Gandhi and Congress” “Enough of patronizing attitude and lip sympathy. We ask for justice and fair play.” Depressed classes came with black flags. This led to a clash that killed forty people on both sides. Ambedkar writes, “For the first time Mr. Gandhi was made aware that there could be black flags even against him. When he was asked about it later in the day, he said he was not angry, the Untouchables being the flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. This is of course the Mahatmic way of concealing the truth.” George Orwell in his reaction to Tolstoy’s criticism of Shakespeare characterized Tolstoy – and other would-be saints like Gandhi – as forbiddingly inhuman in their attitudes.”

The world accepted Gandhi as he became synonym for peace, non violence and civil rights. But it was more for rhetorical purposes than adapting non-violence in social and political discourses. In the Indian context, non-violent poseur inspired non-alignment on the one hand and an alignment with former Soviet Union on the other. It helped India in International image making and at the same time rejecting any offers of mediation in their disputes. Nelson Mandela was snubbed once when he suggested resolving Kashmir issue. Similarly, many other countries have to eat humble pie, when they offered to mediate in disputed territory. Despite ritualistic vows to non-violence and civil rights, flagrant violation of citizenship rights takes place unchecked ever since India got freedom. India has smartly dodged any International pressure to sign NPT and ratify UN Convention against Torture. According to bureaucratic circles such contradictions only establish India’s unique position in world affairs.

President Obama was honest enough to make it clear to the Nobel Prize Committee that though he used King and Gandhi in his speeches as the guiding North Star, yet they can’t be his leaders to deal with the reality that is more complex, intractable and challenging.

Image ML King Jr. schema-root.org
Posted on January 11, 2010

Dr. Amrik Singh, Sacramento

Attitude, competency and knowledge are three components of problem-solving and positive environment. Experts believe that mere knowledge gaining skills can’t help in building positive environment if social attitudes that hamper it are not challenged. Indian universities and colleges may have promoted knowledge and competency, but appears to have done very little to challenge social attitudes. Ingrained in our consciousness, attitudes determine our responses to commonplace social situations. Quite often, we become helpless in getting out of the ghettos of our attitudes, even when it is socially and economically unviable. As a consequence, we are ready to jeopardize social cohesion, economic loss and political stability. Political parties form alliances to accommodate prevailing attitudes. Gerrymandering guided the creation of states, constituencies and districts. The challenging and dismantling of all those attitudes which warp our judgment requires a conscious decision.

In Punjab, attitudinal politics of religion, class and caste created two types of diametrically opposite leaderships: urban leadership represented by Congress and BJP and the rural leadership represented by Akali Dal. Left and Dalit parties dangled between these two poles having no solid identity of their own. For their presence they indirectly supported the agenda of the two: quite often one over the other. The urban leadership is based on the assumption that Sikhs’ political aspirations were separatist. It supported the programs that subverted the nucleus of Sikh ambitions at the political and religious levels. Congress coordinated all efforts from within and without to lead other Indians about Sikhs’ secessionism. Four decades of power provided governmental and media support to Congress’s efforts. The rural leadership represented by Akalis couldn’t create support at the national level to reverse Congress and RSS systematic campaign. The support of Dalits could have created national support, but Akalis’ fixation with Hindutva restrained them from going into that direction. Paradoxically, Akali leadership instead helped Congress and RSS with all the proofs they needed to prove Sikhs’ separatism. The opposition between the Secular and the Secessionist had many advantages for Congress and the RSS as it became easier to execute pending plans like demolition of Babri Mosque at a greater scale.

The tension between the secessionist and the secular was allowed to reach climaxes at many times. But attitudes never changed, or challenged or sought to be reconciled, simply because the simmering pot is what determined the unique character of Indian democracy. In the context of Punjab, cows' heads and tails were found once in Hindu temples, cigarettes in Sikh Gurdwaras and pages of Guru Granth Sahib in the streets. People of Punjab still didn’t come out in the streets to slit one another throats. They only wondered why political leaders were thrusting difficult choices on them. Concrete evidence was collected of the involvement of a political party in power, but that was dismissed. Urban leaders created fears of agitating peasantry as a threat to the Nation on the Move. News media promoted passionately all that was imaginary.

It is a time for the public to scrutinize the role of Sikh and Hindu leadership across party lines in maintaining negative attitudes and thus endangering peaceful coexistence. The post emergency politics of the Congress targeted Punjab for its sectarian politics. Sikh-Nirankari disputes should have been only the affair of Sikhs and the Nirankaris, but it developed into Sikhs and the rest of India issue. Lala Jagat Naryan representing Punjabi Hindus supported Nirankaris’ contention that Guru Granth Sahib was not the eleventh Guru. Lala had no intention of accepting Nirankari chief as his spiritual Guru, but he supported him because such an attitude had a record of politics behind it. The confrontation started the row that brought Indian Army to the Golden Temple in 1984 and plunged Punjab in the tragic mode. Even when people of one community were targeted in buses and trains, Hindus and Sikhs didn’t kill each other in the streets. However, mainstream Hindu leaders projected the movement of peasants for their social and political rights as anti-India. The establishment had not only maligned Punjabi peasants, but also everyone professing Sikh religion. Urban Punjab suffered a lot. Many businessmen left Punjab to other states, but couldn’t get traction in their business. The rise of militancy and its veering towards terrorism should have taught many lessons to both Hindu and Sikh leaders, but it only strengthened their resolve to repeat the tragic play again when the politics required it.

The failure of both Sikh and Hindu leaders of Punjab in dismantling negative attitudes speaks of the degradation of ethics in the polity. Sikhs in BJP, Congress, and left parties not only subscribed faithfully to the sectarian party agenda, but also showed more enthusiasm in clobbering members of the maligned community. Instead of challenging negative attitudes of their respective parties, they donned the cloak of pseudo-nationalism that had no place for those Sikhs who demanded their social and political rights under the constitution of India. Such pseudo-nationalism has been also denying basic rights to Dalits from times immemorial.
Ledership of the Shiromni Akali Dal after a prolonged and unsuccessful battle with the Congress conceded defeat and submitted to invincible Hindutva for its political existence. Akalis have come to such a pass that they couldn't even express their difference of opinions. On December 6th, Akalis felt paralyzed in front of supermen of RSS, Shiv Sena and BJP. They yielded to them unconditionally, thus plunging once again a phase of uncertainty in Punjab.

During Dera Sauda melodrama, Punjab BJP at no time shared the perspective of Sikhs that they had a right to respect Guru Granth Sahib as their Guru. Currently, Harish Bedi, a sitting MLA evoked all those attitudes that would humiliate Sikhs. It is strange that Badals could not convince their coalition partners about the explosive nature of the situation. On the other hand, Badals became apologetic to Hindu hardliners. Unable to resist the Congress’s subtle attacking policies, Badal went for a total submission. Badal’s unconditional support to BJP was the only way to maximize his vote bank that he lost to congress. Hindus being in majority would help him more than Sikhs in minority can bring him back to power. His dependence on Hindu hardliners created many anomalies in the practice of Akali Dal’s policies.

Sikh leadership across party lines can't be absolved of its complicity in the genocide of Sikh community. Analysts argue that after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the President Giani Zail Singh appointed Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister of India by violating all the protocols. Gaini only wanted to exhibit his unconditional loyalty to Nehru family. Constitutional experts averred that had Giani been a statesman, he would have appointed the senior most cabinet member as interim PM. The senior most cabinet member at that time was the present Finance Minister Parnab Mukherjee. Recently, his statement in the parliament that 1984 Sikh Massacre was most tragic in India’s history, implied Giani Zail Singh’s faux pas.

Zail Singh's personal allegiance to Nehrus crossed all limits of decorum. By appointing the senior most cabinet member in 1984, the president would have given time to Congress party to decide the leadership questions later. Giani acting out of his extreme servitude had cleared all decks for party members to concentrate their energies in arranging Sikh massacre all over India. It was the only way to show devotion to newly appointed Prime Minister who happened to be the grieving son of the assassinated leader. It is often alleged that Giani Zail Singh by indulging in unprofessional, un-statesmanlike behavior prepared grounds for tragic events of Delhi. The Sikh president clearly saw how circumstances were building up, but he didn’t respond even when he could have. Giani Zail Singh blinded by his unconditional faithfulness, abject servility, and apologetic fixation might have made an oblique statement that he would remain a lapdog at the doormat of Nehrus even at the cost of his people. Is it the only way for Sikh leaders to show their loyalty?

Posted on December 28, 2009


Dr. Amrik Singh, Sacramento

Shooting rampage at the largest military installation has sent tremors all over the world. Fort Hood was no combatant zone, it was no enemy territory, but it was a 340 square mile military base for more than 40, 000 fellow US soldiers. The shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan was no teenager brainwashed to act as a suicide bomber, but a high ranked military officer in the medical corps who was trained in etiquettes of the elite force that educated and employed him. He took two guns in the fashion of a Virginia Tech killer and positioned reportedly like a Jihadist to inflict the maximum damage on fellow soldiers. He wantonly killed 13 and injured more than two dozens others. He may face death sentence for his crimes.

The brutal massacre has raised many questions, the answers for which are not easy to find. The foremost is the mental health of soldiers who are sent in the combatant zone. The fight against terrorism that the former President George W. Bush had vowed to take to the enemy’s home ground, has struck a tragic note in our own home. The phrases like axis of evil or a crusade against America’s enemies had earlier evoked weird associations with early medieval times. In an effort to decipher the shape and size of the monster of terrorism, Bush administration came under heavy criticism for putting American troops in the harm’s way. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental agony interpreted as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a physician Nidal Malik Hasan assuaged their frayed feelings and suggested the ways to cope with their fears and obsessions The therapeutic practice rests on the premise that when the patients narrate the contours of their obsession, mental health starts returning. But this kind of practice needs time. Major Hasan appeared to have no time for increasing number of wounded soldiers. He might have become bearer of so many gruesome stories from the field. It reportedly leads to “compassion fatigue” or second hand post traumatic stress disorder. The evaluation of mental health of the psychiatrists is non-existent.

The training to keep everything private might have created an overload of hypersensitive secret knowledge. Patients’ narratives might have been hard for him to grasp. No evidence shows that other military officers discussed with him any strategies that could have put salve on their emotional and psychological wounds. He had no family to share his grief with. He sought a discharge when he couldn’t handle himself. 408 psychiatrists in the cadre of more than 500 thousand soldiers reveal a reality that remained overlooked during war times. Caught in the trauma of the battlefield, some soldiers had more than a year wait time for consulting a psychiatrist. In 2009, about 117 soldiers suffering from unspeakable emotional and psychological setbacks committed suicide. The rising number of physically wounded and mentally hit could not be practically accommodated in psychiatrists’ schedule. Overwhelmed and affected with the secondary trauma, Major Hasan might have sought comfort in religion. But finding no cure for his inner afflictions, Hasan allegedly became obsessed with stories of suicide bombers.

He went to a Mosque to make sense of his mental agony. But he was not able to communicate what he felt deep inside. It is said when feelings become pent up, it leads to disaster. Investigation points out to his communication with radical leaders, but tone and tenor didn’t arouse any suspicion. The catastrophe that befell too soon on unarmed, unsuspecting and welcoming group of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas was unimaginable. It is not clear what triggered such a hostile behavior.

On August 15, 2009, John Van de Walker, a soldier who returned from Iraq scratched the passenger side of his car and ripped the bumper sticker “Allah is love.” The incident caused a damage of $ 1000 and resulted in a police case. The accused was evicted from the apartment. But Major Hasan could not afford to be angry during Ramadan fast that lasted from Aug 21, --September 19, 2009.

It is reported that Hasan gave two week notice to the apartment Manager before the shooting rampage. If the ripping of the bumper sticker “Allah is Love” is the trigger, Hasan probably planned massacre after September 19 to the day when he gave two week notice on October 23. The alarm signals were already there. The incendiary feelings raging inside his mind only needed a trigger. Once ignited flames engulfed whatever was in the vicinity.

Today, the US policy makers are struggling to identify goals to be achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But during the primaries, the Iraq war was projected as unnecessary and avoidable. The candidate for President Barack Obama promised to bring troops back home and protect them from harm’s way. Hillary Clinton’s judgment of supporting the unjust war in the Senate became the rallying point for Barack Obama’s criticism. The talk of withdrawal now having been replaced with the question of surge in Afghanistan is totally a reversal of the situation.

There are very serious questions before the investigators. The fact that the psychiatrist indulged in killing spree due to his weak mental health should draw serious attention. Many massacres earlier occasioned only a momentary reflection. Due to their disturbed family life, such criminals find alibi for their depression in violence. Since they have no sense of good and bad, they pick their target randomly. As obsessed with their action plan, they only think of themselves and their grievances, and has no sense of what is chivalrous and what is cowardly behavior? For them, their very act of shooting is a brave gesture that supposedly would attract the attention of the entire world. They become apathetic to the feelings of their victims. They find refuse in some kind of their own martyrdom for their fellow beings. Since they have not been confronted with opposing views, they are convinced in their own righteousness. Major Hasan might have been victim of such a mindset.
Suicide bombs have been causing a heavy toll both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several thousands of Muslims have lost their lives inside mosques, public squares and office buildings. American troops’ success is predicated on the cooperation of Muslim populations. American media’s effort to malign all American Muslims as would be terrorists may jeopardize US Military’s plans to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most American –Muslim organizations have condemned the massacre as a heinous crime. But still the fear of backlash bothered the army mandarins. One brutal act should not result in hitting American tradition of diversity in the military. It is easier to stereotype all Muslims for what Major Nidal Hasan has done, but it will be disastrous for the American forces. The patriotism of Muslims who are serving the US army can’t be doubted simply because Major Hasan involved his faith to attack his fellow soldiers. Every mental wreck would find cover in the archetypes of what he believes in, whereas the real culprit maybe wounds of the psyche which are not unique to Muslims alone. The alienation and malignity exists within. The manifestation often results in painful moments. Major Nidal might have been treated badly for his faith at Walter Reed. But it is no justification for what he did. There are many acceptable ways of voicing one’s grievances. .

It is sad that alarm signals were ignored for long. The military top brass should have intervened on time. Mental health of soldiers should be a top priority. The psychiatrists involved in the process should have some evaluation or exit strategy. The chaos of mind often causes a bigger chaos in the society.

Posted on December 23, 2009



Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento

Ludhiana violence on the eve of 17th anniversary of Babri Masjid’s demolition and 53rd Death anniversary of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar portends dangerous signals for Punjab. Nothing happens in Punjab that has not a history to it. The state has been a theatre of manipulative politics, intricate designs and provocative rationalities since ancient times. In the last hundred years, it remained a target of a colonial milieu, vivisection, and diversionary techniques. The name of one such policy was “the Great Game” of 1885 that the British had designed to provoke sectarian identities to dissipate anti-colonial venom from the hearts of Punjabis. The British in 1947 left a colonial heritage which new rulers of India followed in letter and spirit. New masters revised “the Great Game” and named it “Secularism.” As per its unofficial agenda , non-Hindu religious beliefs have to be discouraged, destroyed and dismantled to an extent that people accept the supremacy of Secularism, which experts believe is just a strategic name for Hinduism.

Hardly anyone knew Dayanand Sarswati when he tried his luck in Maharashtra and in his home state , Gujrat. But when he came to Punjab under a special mission to alienate the poor from Sikh religion, he drew everybody’s attention, especially the British. Earlier, nobody listened to his discourses of returning to Vedic glory, but the moment he made controversial comments on Gurbani, he achieved stardom. He created in Hindu intelligentsia a desire to not only control Punjab, but the whole Indian sub-continent with their racial superiority and intricate designing, scheming and maligning. The dream didn’t appear far-fetched when the English were ready to fulfill their aspirations.

M.K. Gandhi was non-entity when he came back from South Africa. The moment he entered Punjab after the Jallianwallah massacre in 1919, he found an easy route to nationalize his leadership role. The peaceful protests of Sikhs for freeing Gurdwaras from Hindu-oriented Mahants, inspired him to fashion his non-violence mainly for suppressing Punjabis’ rising patriotism and anti-colonial venom. British highlighted Gandhi’s role for their colonial ends because Punjab seemed to pose a growing threat to them. Gandhi kept delaying freedom until the way for Hindu Nationalism was charted by alienating Muslims, forcing Dr. Ambedkar to enter Poona Pact and defrauding Sikh leadership with a state where they would relish the glow of freedom. The epicenter of three grand frauds was Punjab. Undivided Punjab would hinder Hindu nationalistic goals, therefore, suppress the emerging alliance of Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs. All efforts were directed for provoking violence that led to the partition of India.

Divya Jyoti Sanghthan’s founder Asutosh appended Maharaj with his name when he came to Punjab in 1984. His arrival in the state was under a special mission that related to 1984 attack on Harmandir Sahib. Austosh believed Operation Blue star was necessary to stop Pakistan from helping militants. He declared he would not let terrorism again raise its head in Punjab. Although, an elected government at the center and a trained military were in place for meeting any foreign threat, yet Asutosh assumed the extra- constitutional role of the state to free Punjab of terrorists. He questioned Sikh traditions that inspired Amritdhari Sikhs to recite Gurbani daily, which according to him, is just parroting to no effect. He considered Sikhism an offshoot of Hinduism. One of his followers projected Guru Gobind Singh seeking blessings of Hindu Gods and the Khalsa created by him as a misconception. The real Khalsa, according to one of his deputies, was a body of Asutosh’s devotees.
The controversial remarks were brought to the notice of the Akal Takhat. Ashutosh was refrained from creating unnecessary controversies, but his influence reportedly runs in Badal’s family. The state BJP stood behind him even at the cost of the coalition politics. The minority commission had censured Ashutosh for poisoning Punjab’s atmosphere, but could not deter it to abandon provocative speeches in the name of Braham Gyan and to the disparagement of Gurbani.
BJP is of the opinion that every one has right to practice whatever religion one believes in. Therefore, the action of Sikh bodies’ to march towards the venue of the function undermined the freedom of religion. Sikh bodies argue that the BJP didn’t comment on Asutosh’s interference in the practice of other religions. The freedom as a right only exists so long as it doesn’t undermine freedom of the other. Damdami Taksal Chief Harnam Singh Dhumma blamed the government for misleading Punjabi Hindus and creating an anti-Punjab atmosphere.

Mohan Rao Bhagwat, chief of radical Hindu organization RSS, selected historical Babri Masjid’s demolition day for his visit to Punjab. On December 6, 2009, he held a RSS camp and a press conference in Chandigarh . He declared that he had no regrets for what happened in Ayodhiya on December 6, 1992. He also made it clear that all minorities (Muslims and Christians) are descendants of former Hindu forefathers. The aim of Hindu raj should be to take them back in its fold. On December 6, posters of the controversial sect leader displayed all over Ludhiana were said to ridicule Sikhs and create ruckus that might deflect attention from 17th anniversary of Babri mosque demolition. The shooting of Darshan Singh is a sad commentary of Akali-BJP alliance in Punjab.
It is an open secret that Ashutosh’s function was organized by Ludhiana Ashok Malhotra Group of Industries at the behest of BJP party. The top leadership’s incarceration in the Librahan Report motivated them to seek the theatrical protection of the controversial religious leader. Raising the bogey of Sikh terrorism and linking it with Pakistan could wash blood from hands of both Congress and BJP.

The dangerous trends point to apprehensions that the Punjab will burn again. The hatred comes here packaged in the name of peace and non-violence. Mantras of annihilation are chanted to decimate the voices which don't conform to Brahamanical codes. RSS chief has already pronounced that all minorities have their origin in Hinduism. Bhagwat is looking forward to times when minorities will submerge in the ocean of Hinduism. He is fantasizing Mahan Bharat that will include Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet as well. If viewed in the background of colonial history nothing has changed even after one hundred years. Science has broken many frontiers of knowledge, but more the development in India, the greater the slide into primitive fantasies.

When Arya Samaj came to Punjab as part of the “Great Game,” it focused on Amritdhari Sikhs and Guru Granth Sahib. In the beginning years, Arya Samaj's programs included reading from Guru Granth Sahib . But it was only to denigrate Gurbani in comparison to the purity of eternal Vedas. The founder of Khalsa Akhbar, Bhai Dit Singh objected to Dayanand’s derogatory commentary on Gurbani and challenged him to debate with him about Vedas and Gurbani. It was Bhai Dit Singh’s genius that exposed Swami Dayanand’s imperfect knowledge about planetary revolution. Swami Dayanand kept insisting that the Sun revolves round the earth. The dynamic personality of Bhai Dit Singh had experienced at Dera Gulab Dass Chatthianwala a negative mindset that degraded Gurabani simply because it had hymns of Saints who owe their origin to Shudra families. Later, he joined Arya Samaj for there appeared a promise that caste would not be followed. Shuddhi of dalits attracted many followers. When Bhai Sahib saw the proponents of Arya Samaj raging with their superiority and replete with blasphemous words for Gurus and Saints, he vowed to give up that faith forever. He met Bhai Gurmukh Singh and embarked on a mission to inculcate true Sikh spirit through his discourses and writings. Bhai Sahib left the world in 1901, but his influence on Sikh history is tremendous and invaluable.

Punjab has seen the blood-soaked politics of Congress in the past decades. The militancy can’t be studied by separating it from the culture that created it. Ludhiana violence has shown that BJP is apathetic to interests of Punjab. Sikhs are either with Congress or with BJP. They barter Sikh ideals for the hateful campaign of their political masters. Right-minded Hindus should rise to discourage nexus of politicians and criminals. Guilty politicians’ attempts to hide behind religious sentiments of people should never be allowed to succeed in Punjab. If Punjabis keep their house in order, no foreign threat can vanquish them. The unity of Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Hindus in a new alliance can force BJP, Congress and their allies to shift the Gory Theatre to some other place.

Posted on December 11, 2009

Diplomacy and
Indian Americans

By Dr.
Amrik Singh, Sacramento

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wife Gursharan Kaur, as they arrive for the G-20 summit dinner in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sept. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Right) President Barack Obama greets Michaele and Tareq Salahi during a receiving line in the Blue Room of the White House before the state dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. (Samantha Appleton/White House)

President Barack Obama’s first State dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on November 24, 2009 became a star attraction of worldwide media. Besides people of fame, and pageantry, the sight of the first lady in a hand woven silky gown from India compelled the fashion industry to alter meanings of beauty. Party crashers jolted not only the secret service, but also exposed how vulnerable the president and prime minister were to the captivating charms of a lady in the red sari. However, one can safely say all is well that ends well. For Indo-American community, the honor was historic as well as a productive achievement.

Indo-American partnership in the emerging global leadership was never as strategic as it is today. Owing to the history of more than a hundred years, Indo-American community has been playing a significant role in restructuring of international relations. Early pioneers, who set foot on this land, brought with them their culture of hard work, spirit of sharing, human rights’ awareness, and commitment to the best thought and practiced in the world. American Revolution had fired their imagination and they embarked on a mission to free their land from the British occupation. The efforts of less than five thousand people in 1913-1914 had international implications. The British colonialists lobbied to secure United States’ military support to suppress German alliance in World War I. The English succeeded in getting American Foreign policy amended accordingly and held San Francisco conspiracy trials in 1917 to prosecute activists of Ghadar movement and their German allies. Scholars view Americans’ uncritical tilt towards the United Kingdom in 1917, as a major drawback of their foreign policy.

Ghadar created a culture in which freedom of spirit became necessary. Efforts of early pioneers continued until after the World War II. A battle for American citizenship was won a few months before India got freedom. Earlier, United States had bluntly told the British to negotiate with Indians about granting their freedom. The British duplicity, however, was exposed as they tried to influence President Roosevelt’s decision against freedom of India. A confidential memo by Ambassador William Phillips, the US special envoy to India in 1943, had created a media sensation as its leakage bewildered the US State Department, and frustrated the British efforts in maligning freedom fighters. The story in Washington Post was path breaking for activists of Indian freedom. It came to light that the President Roosevelt had made British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to consider questions of withdrawal from India and form an interim government until the complete withdrawal. The US had advanced such an argument for India’s full participation in war efforts.

Harold A. Gould’s book : Sikhs, Swamis, Students, and Spies: The Indian Lobby in the United States, 1900-1946, highlights how seeds of freedom sown by Punjabi pioneers grew into so big a campaign as to make the US presidents plead their cause from 1943-1946. The ethno-demographic base of these early pioneers, according to Gould, was “a mélange of South Asians who had found their way to the United States by diverse routes. They were scattered all across the country but, as noted, the bulk of them at first were concentrated on the Pacific coast, in California, Oregon and the state of Washington. Most were Sikhs but there were also Hindus and Muslims plus a few Parsi Zorastrian and Indian Christians as well.”
A few thousands have grown into a mass of 2.7 millions. Their influence is seen in almost every field of American life. Congressman Dalip Singh Saund brought laurels to the community in 1950’s; Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mayor Kashmir Singh Gill are heroes of today. The social, economic and political clout has increased many times. But something is missing that early pioneers had in abundance: their commitment to serve the country of their origin according to the best ideals of human potential. Today, Indo-Americans sequester themselves in mutually exclusive groups and take refuge in their own superiority.
It appears as if they have no regard for those who kissed noose in the hope of a dream for their country. Early pioneers like Kartar Singh Sarabha wanted nothing except an honorable place in their countrymen’s memory. Their dream never translated into reality. Rather its murder was celebrated on the intervening night of August 14th & 15th 1947. No lessons were learned from blood that streamed in the Indus through its five tributaries. A fence was again erected. Seeds of poison on both sides have grown into a bumper crop. Both sides want to profit from it, but marketing skills of the one are the ruin of the other.

Indo-American community is afraid to go back to the roots. All efforts end in frustration as very few share pioneers’ vision. Indo American community’s time is either spent in securing US visa for discredited leaders like Gujrat CM Narender Modi or celebrating the Independence Day by flaunting national flags in the face of some on the side of the street. People who might have emotional ties with such events have to participate in a different way. Black flags in their hands are interrogatives which remained unanswered for one quarter of a century. Indo-Americans have never joined heads to tell modern politicians of India what early pioneers had dreamed about their country. Why Amnesty International has to write to President Obama to speak to the Indian Prime Minister about what happened in November, 1984? Why couldn’t Indo-American community question Prime Minister to invoke law of the land against perpetrators of mass murders? Any step in this direction would have honored those who paid the price of their lives to just secure a place in the collective memory.

The red carpet welcome to India’s Prime Minister has undoubtedly provided a momentary relief from painful memories of November. Dr. Singh expressed his confidence in President Obama’s leadership in operationalizing Civil Nuclear Deal he entered with former President George W. Bush. He also resolved to jointly end terrorism that threatened the civilized world. President Obama expressed that Al Qaeda’s effectiveness had to be dismantled. While welcoming Dr. Singh, President Obama used Hindi greetings and mentioned celebration of Guru Nanak’s birthday in the White house. He also honored M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King in fighting for civil rights of the downtrodden. United States sought India’s partnership in educational exchange, knowledge initiatives, intelligence sharing and fight against infectious diseases.

Obama-Singh negotiations have been described as meeting of minds. Obama’s joint statement with China had created feverish nervousness in Indian circles. Doubts were expressed about a halfhearted treatment to the Indian Prime Minister. But the glitz, glamour and gaiety at the party have squashed all premature reactions.
The mood at the First banquet was celebratory as well as thought provoking. Obama’s presidency seems to be all set to follow a crucial path of making the world a friendlier place. The president asserted that United States stood committed to work with India for a better world. The lavish American hospitality to the Indian PM would have upset China, had Obama not made it to Beijing earlier. In that case, it would have some serious consequences for the struggling economy of the United States as China is a tremendous partner in all efforts for recovery and growth.

Posted on December 03, 2009

Masked Genocide
and Posturing for Peace

By Dr. Amrik Singh, Sacramento


Image Courtesy : theprudentindian


The ruling Congress is overwhelmingly convinced that Jagdish Tytler is no embarrassment, but a zealous soldier of the party. It doesn’t matter if law makers in the parliament once forced Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government to dispense with his tainted services in the Union Cabinet. Tytler has greater resilience to bounce back. Though a shoe missile had hit him in the eye, Tytler startled the civil society again with his appointment as chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee. It seems Sonia Gandhi can go to great lengths to accommodate his interests. Dr. Manmohan Singh can imperil his own fair name for the sake of the like of Tytler and suggest to the Sikhs to forget the past. Home Minister P. Chidambram endured the slight of the shoe but did not miss defending Tytler. What a shame for a sovereign India that one of its top dignitaries could be arrested in London for murders committed in Delhi 25 years ago!

Vir Sanghvi of Hindustan Times had reacted to shoe fiasco in a questioning way. He wondered why Congress issued tickets to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in the first place? Then why had it withdrawn their names after Jarnail Singh’s impatience stared in its face? Sanghvi knows quite well that the politicians who become an eyesore for minority politics are in fact trump cards for majority politics. Mainstream media that Sanghvi represents does not stand up for the muffled people. When Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi declared in tandem that Dr. Manmohan Singh was their candidate, think tanks of the party negated his Sikh credentials by purposely issuing tickets to Tytler and Kumar who clearly are champions of turban terminators. Congress’ think tanks were sure of Sikhs’ protests and that was what they needed to stir the nerve of the Hindu majority rule in the ensuing elections. In their view, it was a device par excellence!
Rewarding mass murderers has been in vogue since ancient times. Shudras suffered wrath of marauding mobs at different times. Convinced of their status at “the holy feet of Brahma”, they had no language, no myth, no religion that could liberate them from their subjugation. Those who aspired to a better life were either absorbed in the Vedic dharma or were torn from the community they vowed to serve. Deprived and depraved of any life affirming forces, Shudras’ highest pleasure was to serve their masters without question. That was the only condition of peace in the Brahmnical order.

Buddhists once embarked on a path to reverse the said dictum of peace. A systematic invasion continued until Buddhists stopped claiming their religion as separate from Hinduism. In the early seventeenth century, when Shudras’ voice found a parallel status with all other spiritual traditions in Aad Granth, an earthshaking paranoia seized the top tier of Brahman hierarchy. It erupted in an organized plot against the Holy text and the Harmandir built to preserve it.
Armed with all arts, knowledge and occult mantras, Brahmins found allies in rulers of the time. They aligned all their goals with those of the rulers with a view to decimate emerging Dharma. Any attempts to empower Shudras over and above Vedic edicts amounted to blasphemy. The West believes that occult Brahmins are unparalleled in smearing campaign. Pandits’ slander follows uninterrupted path until a majority becomes polarized to their opinions.

That precisely is the signal for henchmen “Strike when the iron is hot.” Blue Star operation came after a consistent campaign of projecting the entire Sikh community as violent and bloodthirsty. In November, Indira’s India rose to rid the land of “Sikh demons”. The message traveled with equal emphasis to the executive, the judiciary and the parliament to suspend their operation completely for 72 hours and partially thereafter. Earlier in June 1984, the Indian Military was given 48 hours to finish everything in the Golden Temple. The symbolic sweep of secretive messaging affected all political parties. The 1985 parliamentary elections ratified genocidal hunger in the shape of ¾ majority to Indira Gandhi’s Congress. Her party won 408 parliamentary seats to convince the world how necessary it was to kill Sikhs in free India. The largest democracy in the world set new precedents: bash minorities to save democracy.
Orwell’s 1984 is so true in case of Sikhs’ persecution. Totalitarian regimes’ guiding principle is ‘who controls the past, controls the future.’ In Orwell’s novel, Ministry of Truth is engaged in altering old poems to the spirit of party’s ideology. In the similar fashion, the Indian Army ransacked Golden Temple reference library at the behest of Indian Big Brothers. Their attempt to control the Sikh past is quite obvious in sheltering anti-Sikh spiritual traditions and fearless interference in the practice of their religion. All pervasive surveillance, mind control strategies, and voiding of citizenship rights are themes of George Orwell’s novel 1984 that he wrote in 1948.
Orwell had served in Indian Imperial Police for five years from 1922 to 27 and had remained the BBC Talk Producer for India in 1941. Thus, he had witnessed the alliance of the British with Occult Brahmins as sure steps towards totalitarianism. Orwell’s vision is often referred to Stalinism, but his oblique references to the desire of the British and Brahmins to control religious, social and the political life of people round the globe are often ignored.

True to Orwellian vision, Sikhs are target of all pervasive government surveillance, mind control strategies through diversionary techniques, and voiding of their citizenship rights. So far they demanded justice for 3000 murders in the Capital of the country. A greater number of Sikhs were killed in other cities, for which even victims have not raised their voice yet.
In the month of November, Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary and Sikh pogroms evoke mixed memories. Congress makes every effort to laud Indira Gandhi role in Indian politics and ignore Sikhs’ demand for justice. Some gestures sound satirical, deliberate and depressive for victims of anti Sikh violence. For instance on November 15, 2004 “Seavey Awards” was given to Delhi police for ‘High Quality Enforcement Through Community Policing.’ In November, Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development worth 25 Lac Rupees is given to renowned national and international figures. Among 22 recipients, Jimmy Carter, Bill Gates, Mikhail Gorbachev, Kofi Annan are few of prominent personalities.

Director Krishna Shah has announced making a film in English on Indira Gandhi that will be shot in India, U.K. U.S.A and Russia. Madhuri Dixit has agreed to play the role of Indira Gandhi. The Film “Mother: The Indira Gandhi’s Story” will probably constitute a myth of Indira’s greatness in quelling Sikhs’ seditious intents.

With 22 recipients of Indira peace awards, a film in English shot in most influential countries of the world, and a Sikh prime minister at the helm of affairs will establish Indira’s credentials for peace and non-violence. Sikhs with their self-contradictory statements, and murky politics of Delhi and Amritsar Gurdwara Prabandhak Committees will probably indulge in self-defeating posturing to lay blame somewhere else.
Posted on December 03, 2009


Photos by: Prem Kumar Chumber Ambedkartimes.com

In North America, Gadhar Movement 1914-1915 was the first organized movement to free India from British occupation. A few thousands Indians pooled their resources to plan an armed insurrection against British colonialists. Though they could not succeed in their mission, they awakened a longing for freedom in their countrymen. They started their freedom struggle even before the Russian revolution. More than 200 freedom lovers were martyred for their patriotism. An appeal was made to raise a suitable memorial for them in Sacramento. They tilled their lands in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley and supported the campaign until India got freedom in 1947.

These views were expressed during a Conference on 22 August 2009 at Sheldon High School Sacramento organized by Gadhar Memorial Foundation. The keynote speaker was Dr. Harish Puri who authored a book about Gadhar movement and held the Chair of Ambedkar Studies at Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar. Dr. Jaspal Singh Vice Chancellor Punjabi University Patiala, Dr. Surinder Singh Mand Government College Talwara and Dr Jaswant Singh Neki also addressed the audience. Earlier, Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, a renowned agriculture scientist, inaugurated the conference. ‘Gadhar Express’ a play written by Dr. Atamjit Singh and directed by Surinder Dhanoa was staged after the conference.

Dr. Harish Puri underlined the role of intellectuals in Gadhar Lehar. It was their learned guidance that was responsible for building the movement. Gadharis according to him were secular in their vision. He quoted Harold Gould to stress that Gadhar activists were naive and unorganized. Most of them, according to him, were uneducated. Dr. Harish Puri, however, didn’t go further to investigate the causes of movement’s failure. Commenting on papers of the main speakers, Dr. Amrik Singh pointed out that conferences become totally irrelevant if the history becomes a casualty of ideology and false opinions. He referred to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s book on the question of Pakistan published in 1941. Dr. Ambedkar quotes Lala Hardayal’s statement that appeared in 1925 in “Partap” as part of a Hindu solution to the question of Pakistan. Dr. Ambedkar clearly outlines that Hindu hardliners like Lala Hardayal and V.D. Savarkar pushed Muslims to entertain ideas of Pakistan. Hindu chauvinists’ proposal for “Shuddhi” was an expression of intolerance and threat to other minorities. Dr. Amrik Singh regretted that historians ignore authentic resources and fabricate imaginary and mythical account of selected leaders under the influence of the majoritarian mindset. He also referred to the need of understanding why Gadri activist Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia had to start Ad Dharm Movement in 1926. The selective use of history by the majority escalates sectarian tendencies. That is why the role of great rebels like Mehraj Singh, Baba Ram Singh and Maharaja Dalip Singh has not been made part of the national heritage. Their rebellion had caused the British to pump huge resources to suppress their popularity among the masses.

Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki held that Guru Nanak was the greatest revolutionary. Gadharis were influenced by the revolutionary spirit of Guru Nanak. The construction of Gurdwara in Stockton in 1912 was a precursor in building up the Gadhar movement. Dr. Jaspal Singh referred to the publication of two books by Punjabi University Patiala that are compilation of poems and essays written during the Gadhar movement. He said Gadhariss contribution was not recognized mainly due to an unusual stress on Gandhianism. Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement was built by the government beyond proportion. As a result, the armed incursion of Gadharis was reduced to insignificance. He said Gadhar failed due to the treachery of some insiders. Dr. Jaspal Singh said that it was a challenge to historians to reevaluate Gadhar movement and rewrite its history. Dr. Surinder Singh Mand’s lecture focused on the monumental contribution of Gadhris in the struggle for India’s freedom. According to him, they influenced Punjabi literature and language by writing revolutionary poems and essays.

Kuldip Singh Dhaliwal, chairman of Gadhar Memorial foundation announced that to commemorate 100 years of Gadhar movement in 2013, a big conference will be held. The patron of the foundation, Charan Singh Judge, thanked the audience for coming from far off places to attend the conference. Among other speakers, Dr. Sukhwinder Kamboj, Major Bhupinder Singh Daler, Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhaliwal of Punjabi University Patiala also commented on the success of the conference.

After the conference, the audience waited with bated breath for the staging of “Gadhar Express.” A renowned playwright from Punjab, Dr. Atamjit Singh stated that he faced an uphill task in writing the script about Gadhar history. Surinder Singh Dhanoa directed the play.

As soon as the curtain lifted, a big book with the title “History” written on it appeared as a stage setting. The characters emerge from the book and look totally strangers not only to the audience, but also to the actors themselves. Through this device, the playwright ironically denounces the apathetic ignorance about the glorious history of the Gadhar. Gadhar Express is a play within the play. The rehearsal is a part of the play, thus it demonstrates lapses in acting at places. The director’s efforts to improve the performance of his cast appear natural. The play sometimes gets buried under too much load of historical information. But it successfully comes out from the darkness of history and appeals to audience to empathize with characters’ pain and longing for freedom. The actors who play the role of historical characters can’t remain untouched. The role of Ram Singh who shot Ram Chandar is highlighted to emphasize his patriotism for the cause of freedom. Darshan Aujala takes pride in acting as Ram Singh. Whereas, Kamal Randhawa, the actor playing Ram Chander expresses his shock and shame for betraying his colleagues. In this way, the playwright deftly solved difficulties of handling historical matter. Kamal also felt elevated by playing the role of Kartar Singh Sarabha and his undying love for freedom.

Given the time needed for rehearsals, the director achieved a remarkable feat in blocking the movements. In his role of a director-actor, Mr. Dhanoa was impressive. He appeared to be heading a team of like-minded, mutually appreciative, and self-motivated actors who enlightened by playing their specific roles exhort audience to recognize what so far remained concealed in history books. For the audience, the play was a challenge. As Punjabi audiences’ conditioning of mind is more towards music and traditional dances, the historical play posed problem of an intrusive consciousness. A large number remained stuck to their seats to make sense of the historical knowledge. They might have for the first time realized that entertainment was also possible through historical theatre. The staging of the play succeeded in engendering eagerness to know more about history.

The play prominently figures incidents revolving round murders of William Hopkinson by Mewa Singh, Vancouver in 1914, and Ram Chander, San Francisco by Ram Singh in 1917. Both incidents took place during the court proceedings. A Canadian Immigration inspector and a British Spy, Hopkinson headed a network of Sikh agents engaged by the British to diffuse rising wave of patriotism among Sikhs of California. Ram Chander at the height of Gadhar movement, engineered dissensions that led to the failure of Gadhar. He received huge funds from Germany that he appropriated in his personal accounts.

Dharm Paul in his role as Jodh Singh was at his theatrical best. Dilawar Chahal acted Hopkinson in a very impressive manner. He understood his character and brought out expressions of his anti-Punjabi zeal on the stage. Balwinder Mahey successfully performed traitor Bela Singh. Harmesh Sidhu, as Gen O ‘Dwayer and Pandit Kanshi Ram; Gursharan Sekhon, as Rahmat Ali Wajidke; Sonu Randhawa, as Ganesh Pingley; Jaswinder Dhanoa, as Lady Judge and Rukmani; Jaswinder Bawa, as Sarkari Vakeel; Jaswinder Chhoti, as Bela Singh’s wife Bhindi; Jaspal Saini, as Cleveland, Surinder Dhanoa, as Dirctor and Hafifz Abdullah; Rashpal Khangura, as Tarknath Dass; Manjit Singh, as Bhagwan Singh, played their roles appreciably. Cool Punjabi Virsa Academy’s Parmjit Singh and Renu Singh of Stockton provided music. Punjab Lok Rang was honored for its excellent performance.

Many organizations were seen present on the occasion. Journalists Daljit Sra Chief Editor of Amritsar Times, Prem Chumber of Ambedkartimes.com, Gurjatinder Singh Randhawa of Punjab Mail, Husan Laroya of Ajit Jalandhar were there to cover the event. Punjabi Sahit Sabha California was represented on the stage Manjit Kaur Sekhon, and Vishav Punjabi Academy by poet Kulvinder.

Posted on September 17, 2009

Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

Harmandir Sahib ( Golden Temple) occupies a special place in the Sikh psyche. It is an exclusive territory of the Sikhs open to people of all persuasions. Disturbing its reigning peace and harmony with artillery fire led to utter shock and disbelief. 1984 invasion came after 219 years. Though the English had their agents in Sikh Gurdwaras, they avoided launching an attack on Sikhs’ most revered shrine. Earlier attacks on Golden Temple had identical response of the Sikhs, but June 1984 traumatized the community in a different way. Sardar Ajmer Singh, author of his third book on Sikh polity: 1984 Unchitviya Kehar (1984 Unimaginable Tyranny) expressed his views during a talk on Saturday, June 27 2009 arranged by Sikh Youth of America (Bay Area Unit). Introducing the author, Jasjeet Singh of Amritsar Group of Newspapers, urged a distinguished gathering of scholars to participate in the discussion and dwell on points raised by Sardar Ajmer Singh in his third book. The book will hit the bookstands shortly.

The author stated that some Sikh intellectuals blamed Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale for the desecration of the holy place. Alternative sites like Mehta Chowk would have been appropriate for fighting with the army. Challenging the audience about their perception of Sant Jarnail Singh’s decision to fight from the precincts of the Akal Takht, the author characterized it as necessary for safeguarding Sikh legacy. Earlier taking part in debate some said Sant Jarnail Singh’s action was to defend the Harminder Sahib, and others believed it was the only option left to appropriate the spirit of Miri Piri. Sant Bhindrawale, however, had premonition of a tactically planned military operation. He was aware that Pundits had predicted a rollercoaster ride for Indira Gandhi in general elections due that year after the Blue Star operation. A coordinated attack on 37 other gurdwaras was to give the severest blow to the Sikh psyche. November 1984 tyranny against Sikhs outside Punjab speaks a lot about the structuring of the Hindu nationalism regardless of its rhetoric of secularism and universal brotherhood.

The author explained how the course of history changes when unique acts of valor occur for the expression of self respect. Baba Deep Singh’s decision to liberate Golden temple was one such action. He inspired many on the way to enact legendary heroism in the history of mankind. His battle played a dynamic role in Sikh history. The symbolic sacrifice set a paradigm for generations to come. Among unique dynamic exploits before Baba Deep Singh, Baba Banda Bahudar is remembered as the first to cut a hole in the mighty Mughal Empire. It not only led to the establishment of the Khalsa Raj in 1799, but also excited the East India Company to fantasize their rule in the rest of India.

Sardar Ajmer Singh reminded that 1984 attack on Golden Temple remains a contrast to earlier attacks. A significant section of Sikh community perceived it with the eyes that were colored by the Hindu nationalist media. Ajmer Singh pointed out that pens had stopped to make sense of the acute pain of 1984. In the post 1984 era, even writers like Khushwant Singh had to revise his earlier discredited opinions; he joined with other writers to stress on Sikhs’ subjugation. The author admits it was not easy to write about one of the severest crises in the written history of the Sikhs. It has to be put in the perspective that encompasses the entire tragedy of Sikhs’ dreams, hopes and aspirations in free India.

Guru Arjun Dev Ji after having completed Aad Granth and Harmandar Sahib had sensed that conspiracy was afoot to destroy his work. He had already ordered buying horses, so that Sikhs’ spirit could be elevated and made fearless to defend the legacy of Saints, Bhagats and Gurus. Turning points in history are hard to understand at the time of occurrence. Contradictory claims and counterclaims mark the beginning of such phases. But it is the concluding stage that establishes the truth of an epoch. Sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind’s war–like spirit had created a crisis for even devout Sikhs of his time. It is no wonder Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale had mixed response from Sikhs in the twentieth century.

Baba Deep Singh’s decision might have been naive from the tactical point of view, but that was precisely vibrant push for the history. Sant Jarnail Singh’s counterattack was a defining moment for Sikhs who had been suffering onslaughts of media, police, paramilitary and military operations. November 1984 exemplified the modus operandi of the fifth column, the faceless mob. That is why in 25 years, Indian criminal justice could not identify any faces so far who were responsible for thousands of Sikhs’ lynching.

The whole discussion took place in an atmosphere of peace. The author respected others’ difference of opinions. He answered questions focused around the viewpoint that Sant Jarnail Singh was a ploy of the politics of Darbara Singh and Giani Zail Singh. The destruction of reference library also figured in the discussion. Dr. Harbans Singh Saroan moderated the discussion deftly.

Posted on June 30, 2009

Recently the world saw the disappearance of an A330 Air Frane during a trans Atlantic flight between Rio to Paris. Two shots taken inside the plane before it crashed. Unbelievable! Photos taken inside the GOL B 737 aircraft that was involved in a mid air collision and crashed.....


The two photos attached were apparently taken by one of the passengers in the B737, . The photos were retrieved from the camera's memory stick. You will never get to see photos like this. In the first photo, there is a gaping hole in the fuselage through which you can see the tailplane and vertical fin of the aircraft. In the second photo, one of the passengers is being sucked out of the gaping hole.

These photos were found in a digital Casio Z750, amidst the remains in Serra do Cachimbo. Although the camera was destroyed, the Memory Stick was recovered. Investigating the serial number of the camera, the owner was identified as Paulo G. Muller, an actor of a theatre for children known in the outskirts of Porto  Alegre. It can be imagined that he was standing during the impact with the Embraer Legacy and during the turbulence, he managed to take these photos, just seconds after the tail loss the aircraft plunged. So the camera was found near the cockpit. The structural stress probably ripped the engines away, diminishing the falling speed, protecting the electronic equipment but not unfortunately the victims. Paulo Muller leaves behind two daughters, Bruna and Beatriz.

Sent by Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento
Posted on June 17, 2009


By Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento

Vienna incident on May 24 is still under investigation. Police released partial identity of six attackers. One of the suspects has been released for lack of concrete evidence. Vienna police suspect the attack was planned and circumspectly executed. The mastermind of the crime suffered a bullet injury in his head. He continues to be in the artificially induced coma at one of the Vienna Hospitals. Nothing is clear as to who shot the ringleader of the crime. The news sent by followers through phones, text messages, emails and Youtubes spread within few minutes evoking memories of thousand years of oppression of dominant castes against Dalit community.

As per the messages from different sources, six people with flowing beards wearing five K’s, symbols of the baptized Sikhs, entered Guru Ravidass Temple in Vienna, and shot Dera Sachkhand Ballan’s Sant Niranjan Dass and Sant Ramanand Dass in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. Dera followers interpreted immediately the dastardly killing of Sant Ramanand as committed by radical upper caste Sikhs. The speculation led to widespread arson, vandalism and violence in Punjab. The news of the immediate arrest of all six suspects could not bring peace in Punjab. Badal government came under severe criticism for being soft to the arsonists. Badal’s arch rival Capt. Amrinder Singh viewed disturbances as an opportunity for dismissal of Badal government. Had law and orders been enforced forcefully, according to Capt., violation of curfew orders would not have happened resulting in an unprecedented loss of the state property. The protesters viewed baptized Sikh attackers in Vienna as terrorists and even held mainstream Jat Sikh community responsible for the attack.

Vienna shooting jolted many Sikh organizations because the incident put them in lurid lights. Dera Sach Khand Ballan, according to some of them, was preaching Gurubani to the ignored section of India's society. Attackers' criminal activity by Sikh standards is a violation of the Sikh Code of Conduct that prohibits obscenity, profanity and violence in presence of the most revered holy book. In this case attackers disguised as Sikhs frightened people who were congregated in the name of Akal Purakh. Second they abused the martial tradition of the Khalsa that inspires hope and confidence in the unarmed and unguarded. Third, unlike other Deras such as Sauda and Bharniarewala, the Khalsa Panth had no known history of dispute with Dera Sach Khand Ballan that would have required the use of weapons in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. Sikh organizations never reported to Akal Takhat any Code of Conduct problems. If there are any complaints, Akal Takhat normally attempts to sort out Maryada problems through peaceful dialog and moral persuasion. In extreme circumstances of impasse and standoff, Akal Takhat may issue a boycott call, as it happened in case of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa. But there was no such call from the highest seat of the Sikh religion.

The condemnation of violence in Austria by the highest seat of Akal Takht, the president of SGPC, Chief Minister and deputy CM of Punjab poured forth immediately after the incident. Radical Sikh organizations like Babbar Khalsa International and Khalistan Zindabad Force condemned the incident and pointed finger at the Indian government agencies’ campaign to defame Sikhs. According to a telephone call to a certain Radio Station in England, Khalistan Zinda Force had earlier claimed responsibility, but later denied it. Dal Khalsa convener Kanwarpal Singh Dhami advised SGPC to send a fact-finding mission to Vienna to probe shooting. Diaspora Sikhs in North America and Europe too came out with denunciation of dastardly killing of the Sant. They demanded investigation from every angle of the conspiracy and pressed to disclose detailed background of the masterminds of the crime.

Sikh activists across the world feared a severe setback to their efforts to get Sikh turban and ceremonial sword recognized in Europe. Vienna incident has negatively portrayed Sikh community as intolerant, bigoted and violent.

Some people allege violence was the natural outcome of controversies such as preaching of casteism in the name of Gurbani and promoting image- worship in direct contravention to the original message of Guru Granth Sahib. Even though it maybe plausible explanation, however, the tone and tenor of such claimants seemed to imply justification of violence. Experts opine that since eternal Guru of Sikhs is Granth Sahib, therefore, there should be no controversy of Gurbani as Guru. Sikhs bow their head not alone to the holy book but to the eternal spirit symbolized in Gurus' and Bhagats' messages of unity of mankind and God. Analysts blame SGPC for abdicating its duty in working with different religious groups and sorting out problems of Maryada in the true spirit of dialog, discussion and consensus. No directions have ever been issued not to install paintings, pictures and images in the main hall of Sikh Gurdwaras. Famous paintings of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh by painter Shobha Singh adorn in the main Darbar halls of many Gurdwaras. Sikh scholars consider it a gross violation of Sikh Maryada. They assert that no picture of any Guru should be displayed where Guru Granth Sahib is present. They assert that it amounts to (Murti Puja or image-worship). Paintings are creation of artistic mind of its creator, therefore, have no spiritual value worth to be equated with Gurbani. They suggest Gurudwaras may mark a separate place for installation of pictures of Gurus and martyrs elsewhere in the complex, but not in the main hall. The failure Akal Takhat and SGPC in this regard created anomalous situation.

Many Guru Ravidass Sabhas in Punjab expressed their thanks to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for standing by Dera Sachkhand in the hour of great tragedy. A charted plane was sent to Vienna with a team of distinguished personalities to bring back injured Sant Niranjan Dass and the body of Sant Rama Nand. Punjab government ordered a State Funeral for the Sant and made all arrangement in collaboration with officials of the Dera. Everything passed off peacefully. Km. Mayawati Chief Minister of UP expressed her shock and apprehended a great conspiracy to eliminate Dalit leaders. She promised to meet PM Dr. Manmohan Singh to apprise him of enemies of Dalits. Capt. Amrinder Singh along with many congress leaders attended the funeral and also condemned Badal for being incompetent and inefficient head of Punjab government. He didn’t mince his words while appealing to people at the funeral to pack off Badal government at the earliest. Some followers didn’t appreciate the former Chief Minister’s words on the occasion that required solemnity of expression.

Three weeks after the Vienna incident, followers of Guru Ravidass Sabha all over the world are trying to figure out the contours of their pain. Unscrupulous elements are adding fuel to the fire by posting hateful contents on Youtube and other internet sites. They present themselves to be the guardian angels of Sikhism little realizing how their very actions are antithesis of their very faith. Gurbani preaches humility, tolerance and selfless service. Some messages I read were highly sectarian, chauvinistic and hurtful.

It is a time for introspection for Sikhs of all persuasions to reflect on how their actions are compatible with the universal spirit of Guru Granth Sahib. The charity begins at home. Let us not sit back to explore all avenues of common grounds of peace and amity.

Posted on June 13, 2009


Dr. Amrik Singh writes from Sacramento

The projected Prime Ministerial candidates in 15 th Lok Sabha elections tried to convince voters that India needed a strong prime minister. BJP’s Lal Krishan Advani portrayed Dr. Manmohan Singh as the weakest prime minister in the history. He presented himself as iron- willed to combat Pakistan terrorism. Dr. Manmohan Singh in his characteristic soft and suave style admitted shrillness of Advani`s rhetoric but exposed his weakness on terrorism front. Km. Mayawati took cudgels with Sonia Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi on different occasions to give an impression that she was the strongest of all. International media reported as if Mayawati would repeat Obama in India. In the post poll scenario, the star campaigner N.K. Modi’s strident tone proved spiteful and Fascistic. Gandhi family (Sonia, Pariyanka and Rahul) not only defended Dr. Manmohan Singh from all invasions on his leadership, but also hinted at the strength of his character in negotiating Nuclear deal and Mumbai massacre. Dr. Singh avoided a war with Pakistan despite provocations; otherwise Pakistan and Taliban would have fought side by side against India. Now Pakistanis are fighting against Talibans.

The recent election results in favor of UPA have given a heavy drubbing to NDA, third and fourth fronts. Parkash Karat had earlier tested his might by withdrawing support to Singh’s government and then he planned a non-congress and non BJP government. A desire to don the role of a kingmaker in the style of his predecessor Harkishan Sujeet, Karat extolled BSP chief’s social engineering. He thought Obama factor would blow in their favor. But everything went haywire. Analysts believe UPA mainly gained because rival parties’ rhetoric was all vitriolic and unpalatable.

For Parkash Karat, it was his first opportunity after Harkishan Singh Surjeet to prove his ingenuity in striking successful national alliances. He could not muster the magic of veteran communist leader who always remained at the center of secular governments. Karat’s failure to become iconic in his political wizardry, led to the party humiliation. Though BSP Supremo came into power in 2007 apparently garnering sympathy vote after Kanshi Ram’s death, she failed to gauge voters’ mood.    She depended too much on magical promises of her Brahmin Gen Secretary, Satish K Mishra who was key factor in distribution of tickets. Mishra is said to have moved BSP from sectarian to the universal approach. However, the founder of BSP Kanshi Ram had preferred regimental control on Dalit votes taking inspiration from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s ideology. Critics say that the transformation from ‘Bahujan’ to ‘Sarvjan’ erased all distinctive marks of Dalit connectivity. They say the weakening of BSP is the singular reason of UPA success at the national level.

In 1984 elections Congress had won 404 seats alone. The party had a dictatorial mandate to legalize and legislate anything it wanted.  As November 1984 violence against Sikhs was historic, so was the landslide victory for the congress. Barely a month before Blue Star operation in Golden Temple, Kanshi Ram founded BSP on 14 April 1984 with a view to end dictatorship of one party.  Kanshi Ram was the only voice from outside the Congress periphery that had become instrumental in reducing Congress to coalition politics. VP Singh, I. K. Gujral and H.D. Gowda, however, were congressmen at some point of their careers. Kanshi Ram exposed Hindu nationalism hidden in the ‘secular ideology’ of the congress party. He exhorted Dalits to desist from voting for Fascism of the upper castes and successfully weaned away a major chunk of congress’s dalit vote bank.  This led to shattering of the proverbial truth “ who rules in Utter Pardesh, rules in the Center.” Too great hype on Mayawati, as the next prime minister might have been based on the above adage.  In view of the reversal of the dictum in recent election, “who rules in the Center, rules in UP,” compelled Mayawati to ditch the third front in less than a week.

2009 election appears to have reintroduced the old Mantra, the UP factor in Delhi power struggle. Rahul’s successes in UP have sent shock waves in Mayawati camp. A Chief Minister who was non-compliant, disagreeable and intolerant only a week before, has extended unconditional support to Congress at the center. A last ditch effort to save her own skin, some say. Interestingly, Mayawati’s arch rival Mulayam S. Yadav too has extended support to UPA without any reservation. Submission of both protagonist and antagonist is literally Congress’s victory in UP. Maybe it is the first step of two parties’ gradual extinction or merger in the Indian Nation Congress.

The strength of Congress in general and PM in particular is obvious from the fact that parties outside UPA are competing with one another to extend unconditional support. These are signs of Congress’s consolidation among its traditional voters who had veered off the track due to emergence of third -alternative parties. It is doubtful if a leader critical both of Congress- and BJP- centered politics will ever arise.  Mayawati has missed the boat. Sympathizers assert that Mayawati could have risen  to stardom had she avoided many controversies. Nationally projected conflict with Kanshi Ram’s mother had put her in lurid lights. Alluding to it, Maneka Gandhi had unleashed barbed attack on Mayawati for being apathetic to mother’s pain.

As pointed out earlier, the success of UPA is an utter failure of Karat, the architect of the third front. Karat looks more of a bureaucrat than a socialist leader. He could have easily spared veteran leader Som Nath Chatterji for rising above party lines while in House Speaker’s seat. He pushed congress to Mamta Banerjee’s fold in Bengal. Politburo is trying to control the damage. But the left should accept the reality and stop taking opportunistic measures for its stability.

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s second term gives him more freedom to introduce his reforms. One of his top priorities is to restructure governance. But it is not clear how Prime Minister will deal with issues like clean chit to Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and Otavio Quattrocchi in Bofors gun case. These contradictions appeared during the campaign also. Dr. Manmohan Singh commands a considerable reputation among the majority of people for his personal integrity. In the last phase of election, Sonia  and Rahul Gandhi acted as if pro-Sikh in their approach. But Sikhs all around the globe were shocked when the party president refused to withdraw tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar until a shoe was thrown toward Union Home Minister.

A few days before the poll, Captain Amrinder Singh, the former chief Minister of Punjab visited Dera Sauda for votes and support of the controversial sect apparently defying the edict of Jathedar of Akal Takht. In Malwa some of his strong supporters were shocked at his flirtation with the discredited religious leader.  Three youths have already lost their lives in the stand off. Bathinda voters shocked Captain by electing Harsimrat Kaur. Parkash Singh Badal, who always harped on Congress’s anti-Sikh policies, stunned his supporters especially Sikhs and Muslims by inviting N.K. Modi to campaign for his candidates.  It seems Malwa region voters discarded Captain’s bonhomie with Dera Sauda.  In the same vein, Doaba and Majha region rejected Badal’s love for disgusting Modi.

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s second term seems to have enthused most Sikhs for his symbolic representation of the Sikh community. But PM’s suggestion to forget and forgive 1984 confounded Sikh leadership and it may continue to do so for times to come. Captain’s friendship with Dera Sauda and Badal’s with Modi have similar consequences. 

Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento


Amid the din of Mumbai attack on November 26, 2008, Manmohan Singh government succeeded in getting bipartisan support for National Investigation Agency Bill and Unlawful Activities (prevention amendment) Bill. The way two bills have been passed without much debate and safeguards for minorities speaks a lot about militancy of the majority rule. Congress and BJP voices merged to pass draconian laws over and above the fundamental rights granted to citizens in the Indian constitution. The impression was given as if there were virtually no laws to prevent terrorists. In spite of about a dozen radars in the distance of 500 nautical miles between Karachi and Mumbai, the Indian Navy and Maharashtra law enforcement could not wake up from politically-induced slumber, how can new laws ensure that these will prevent future terrorist strikes?

If the laws strengthen the same set of people, it is not hard to predict where it is going to be used and when it will become completely inoperative.

The kind of hurry shown to get the new law passed, points out that it will be exercised only on terrorists of certain kinds, whereas others will be allowed to preach hatred, disaffection and smearing against the people they don’t like. But what kind of terrorists? The only clue is that who threaten India’s sovereignty. In that case, terrorist are vaguely defined someone who are suspected to invade India. But the new law is silent on another kind of terrorists who use ‘terrorism’ in the name of India’s sovereignty; the kind of terrorism fallen cop Hemant Karkare was investigating. Their activities include the lobbying of bombs, destroying train and massacring minorities with ‘false flag’ covert operations. Radicals of this type assert that their violence is to safeguard the sovereignty of their country. BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena all stood behind Sadhvi, Swami and Col. Prohit to defend them as soldier of Bharat Mata.

The way Bal Thackeray’s inflammatory statement has been ignored is a pointer towards the intention of the lawmakers. The new law may make Indian constitution useless for certain groups of Indian citizens. Thackeray’s statement in his editorial that mini Pakistan should be destroyed first amounted to demonizing Indians who happen to be Muslims. Indian Muslims not only condemned Mumbai attacks but also expressed their loyalty to defend India. But they will always remain suspect in the eyes of stalwarts in BJP and Congress. Tytlers, Thackerays and Modis will have free play of their hatred in the meanwhile. . If India is a secular democracy, why some Hindus are allowed rabble rousing? Should not the new law have made provisions to deal with such people? As a matter of fact, there is no dearth of laws, but the majority militancy always takes a back seat.

In the midst of strained relations between India and Pakistan, media outlets have been showing irresponsible, provocative and contemptible behavior in covering the aftermath of Mumbai attacks. For instance Zee T.V meant for oversea Indians is most slipshod in choosing language that is an insult to journalistic ethics. Such coverage fails to inform appropriately and acts only to add fuel to the fire. The corporate media crosses all boundaries to serve politicians’ illegitimate, corrupt and hateful plans. Full length Editorials and Opinion pages were written to misinterpret suggestion of Union Minister A.R. Auntalay. They ascribed unthinkable motives, conspiracy theories and treacherous designs to the Minister’s statement. Corporate media simply reflected majority militancy giving a severe setback to India’s secular credentials. Auntulay’s episode has given early signs of how Unlawful Activities (Prevention) amendment (UAPA)and National Investigation Agency (NIA)will be used in times to come. If Hemant Karkare was not killed in the terrorists’ attack, wasn’t he on the hit list of Shiv Sena? Congress should have been proud of Auntulay for acting as a voice of conscience for the party. But to enlist support of BJP for new laws, Congress chose to endorse saffron agenda. Wasn’t it BJP only that bailed out Manmohan Singh’s government from Indo-US nuclear debacle?

Criminal Justice in Contrast

Congress I leader Jagdish Tytler continues to enjoy his party’s support in avoiding his direct involvement in anti-Sikh violence in 1984. CBI tried to close his case for the lack of witnesses who have also been identified in various inquiry commissions. But witnesses proved CBI wrong. On the direction of the court, CBI had to record statements of Surinder Singh in New York and Jasbir Singh in San Francisco. More than 3000 murder victims have been waiting for justice for 24 years.

H.S. Sabharwal was a professor in Madhav College Ujjain in Madhaya Pradesh. On August 26, 2006 he was murdered in broad day light in the presence of police and students by ABVP leaders. BJP government refused to arrest the criminals and started intimidating witnesses and Proessor’s son, Himanshu Sabharwal. Some witnesses turned hostile due to threats to their life. Himanshu approached Supreme Court of India for shifting his case from Madhya Pradesh to some other state. The court transferred his case to Nagpur in Maharashtra. Professor’s son is still fighting to get ABVP leaders punished.

Bal Thackeray’s name figures in Srikrishna Commission report for inciting anti Muslim violence in 1993. But after that Shiv Sena came to power in Maharashtra. The Srikrishna report was shelved permanently. Bal Thackeray continues to escape any scrutiny of Indian Law. BSP MLA from Auraiyya in UP Shekhar Tiwari was arrested for murdering Engineer Manoj Gupta on December 23, 2008 who had refused to donate hefty amount for state chief Minister’s birthday. BSP MLA and his supports indulged in his severe beating that led to his death. MLA and his supporters were arrested without any delay. National Security Act was invoked against him. CM Ms. Mayawati has agreed to CBI investigations also if it was ordered in similar cases. The arrest of her own party’s MLA immediately after the murder stands out in the backdrop of unscrupulous protection to criminals by Congress and BJP. Ms. Mayawati maybe the only CM to act so promptly and decisively.

Posted on December 31, 2008  

Margins of Peace: South Asians in America

History of East Indians in America :
The First Half-Century Experience of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims by Harold S. Jacoby
B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh Amritsar ( India ) Pages 280

Book review by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento (916) 212-8550

Dr. Amrik Singh

Today, South Asia is flashing all signs of turning into a battlefield for the most horrific war, the humanity has ever seen. The leadership of India and Pakistan has mostly been on the edge of escalation of a major armed conflict. It is feared that the third World War maybe fought in the Indus Valley . The nuclear rivals though share a common culture, language and lifestyle, but still are bent upon terminating each other. The last strand of hope maybe found in probing the history of the region, and analyzing the handling of social and political life in the last 100 years. Is it the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi or the British that made South Asia so vulnerable? The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 had deeply upset the Punjabi Pioneers in North America because their struggle was said to be for complete emancipation from the colonial kitsch. Dreams, hopes and aspirations of Ghadar movement influenced the freedom struggle of the region that has been well brought up in Harold S. Jacoby’s book History of East Indians in America . It is a profound, thought-provoking and well researched study of Indian Diaspora in 1900-1950. Jacoby was a very popular professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Pacific Stockton California .

The book under review has seen the light solely due to efforts of Dr. Amarjit Singh Bal, a Ph.D. in Education from University of California Berkeley . The chance meeting of Bal and Jacoby matured into an association of lifelong relationship of mutual empathy and trust. Jacoby couldn’t get his research published during his lifetime as he fell seriously ill. While working for War Relocation Authority in World War II for repositioning of Japanese American internees, Jacoby was appalled by his total ignorance about social and political life of East Indians. The story of Ghadar fascinated him and he thought he would make an important contribution to document Punjabi Pioneers’ arrival, pains they went through, life they built, struggles they made, martyrdom they achieved, and alienation they suffered at the hands of new rulers of free India .

Forwarding Harold Jacoby’s book, Dr. Bal records circumstances and bouts of factional politics rampant in historical Sikh Gurdwara at Stockton during which Jacoby completed his book. Jacoby wonders how the Sikh community’s tendency to remain aloof, separate and uninformed actually made it susceptible to bias, misunderstanding and racial attacks. A systematic promotion of religious, cultural and historical understanding requires a different line of actions. Bal concurs that exhibitionistic tendencies as shown in organizing religious processions, fairs and other cultural shows can be more effective if a meaningful dialogue is continued with the American mainstream through participation in social and political life.

Jacoby questions appellation of “Hindoos” to a majority of Sikhs and Muslims as inappropriate because Hindus comprised not more than ten percent of the entire group.

Bellingham , Everett and Vancouver rioting against Sikh immigrants were testament of their faith. Driven from their temporary settlement, they tried a number of options but with dismal results. Among the early immigrant there was only one Christian, no member of Jain, Parsee and Buddhist faith. Hindus were just 5% of the whole population of immigrants who were mainly from urban areas with affluent background. Muslim and Sikhs shared almost a similar background. Sikhs comprised 78% of the entire immigrant population. Though they were not homogenous group, they were united as a community for the achievement of freedom for their country. Punjabi was the common language, though Urdu and Hindi were also used very selectively.

The book can be divided in three sections. The first deals with the trials and tribulations of East Indians and their response and resilience to adapt to circumstances of both adversity and prosperity. The institution of Khalsa Diwan Society in 1912 paves the way for the Hindu Association of the Pacific Coast in 1913. Extreme discrimination in Canada and America had already brought together revolutionaries like Kartar Singh, Kanshi Ram, Udham Singh, Sohan Singh and Harnam Singh Tundilat to carry out propaganda against the British. Patriotic sentiments impel them to devise ways to free their country from the foreign rule through an armed conflict. The unstinted financial and sentimental support of Sikhs and Muslims, and the intellectual and administrative support of urban-bred educated Hindus had succeeded in building up a revolutionary movement with sufficient resources. Radical literature was published to carry out a popular rebellion to oust British from India . The single factor that united three communities was the fervor for freedom. All other differences of religion, region, caste and language were relegated to the background. Activists like Babu Mangoo Ram Mugowalia, though a low caste, were equal partners in revolutionary activities.

In the second part, the relationships of the three communities start deteriorating as the British succeeded in discrediting their freedom movement through covert operations. A wide surveillance network was spread and a huge amount of money pumped to diffuse the explosive situation. Fissiparous tendencies start appearing to the fore as the British bust their plan. Religion and caste that were insignificant in the first part started dividing people. The incident of Lala Hardayal’s arrest by American authorities, his release and disappearance confounded the Ghadarites. Ram Chandra assumed the leadership and got popular support of all initially. Lala Hardyal’s departure was coupled with the Komagata Maru tragedy. Later, shooting in Calcutta at Budge Budge had shaken the morale of leaders who were fantasizing total freedom from the British rule. The outbreak of First World War and the involvement of Berlin committee further complicated the problem. The prosecution of leaders of Ghadar movement in California had given the setback that broke the movement before its complete birth. Recipient of secret transactions with Germans, Ram Chandra stopped taking his party into confidence. His leadership touched the lowest point as he started misleading his own executive. He bought property in his own name. All this resulted into his murder in the court by Ram Singh.

Suspicion suggested that Ram Chander was in collusion with Germans on the one hand and the British on the other. The inclusion of his name immediately among heroes of Indian independence in 1930 by the National Congress created resentment. The evidence was that he handled Annie Larsen incident in such a way that five Sikhs accompanying the ship were executed for smuggling arms to India . In the meanwhile, Lala Hardyal had become totally reconciled to the British which also meant that he later worked for Indian National Congress.

In the third part, Jacoby points out how a large number of organizations for the freedom of India had collapsed after independence was achieved. The only Khalsa Diwan Society and Ghadar party continued to function and monitor the new leadership. The desire to serve their country on getting freedom, Ghadrites went to India . However, they became disillusioned with the new government and declared that India had not achieved any change. The same people who had colluded with the British were now manning position in the new administration. Frustrated and sidelined, many joined the communist ranks. Partition of India had the most devastating effect on them. The sense of unity that existed among East Indians in North America had evaporated.

Jacoby indeed makes an important contribution to Ghadar research that will go a long way to reconstruct authentic narratives of forgotten freedom fighters.

Posted on December 23, 2008

Terrorists’ violence has devastated, crippled and snatched hopes of thousand of families. Wounds may never heal. Tourists may disdain to choose the city in their itinerary. The reason maybe simply that the city shelters impudent provocateurs. The fallen ATF chief’s family has shown great respect to late Hemant Karkare’s soul by rejecting Gujrat CM Narender Modi’s tempting grant. Right in the middle of tragedy and rescue operation, he tried to exploit sentiments of the victims. Nobody liked it. Widow of the fallen soldier deserves sympathy of every self-respecting Indian.
Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

A little less than a dozen heavily armed men descended on the so called resilient Mumbai on November 26, 2008 and started their operation to the minutest detail of their planning. Splitting in squads, they hit the ten different locations at a time when in Europe government officials finished their day, went home to relax before their TV’s, and when in North America people started their day for the “Thanksgiving break.” Indian Elite commandos’ three-day stand off with terrorists shook India , and the international community. The impact of the brutal rampage starting on Wednesday and ending on Saturday is said to be even greater than 9/11 because of the lingering effects of the little by little unfolding details of gore and blood. Terrorists’ single-minded determination and high motivation became the state-of-the-art focus of the world’s media.

The utter failure or willful negligence of the Indian intelligence came under heavy attack of the global society. The questions were raised if the Indian intelligence, as claimed, had foreboding of the impending mayhem, what measures were taken to stop it? If none, can it be said that Intelligence bureaus wanted it to happen─ maybe for some secretive political gain? Agencies’ warning of a major terrorist activity in Mumbai at the end of the year was published in prominent newspapers in September, 2008. In view of the gravity of the situation, law enforcement had three months to coordinate efforts to stop the impending carnage. Mumbai citizens are angry and frustrated at gunmen’s easy access to city’s landmarks of socialization. The fact that they faced virtually no obstruction, whatsoever, should compel the central government to hold the state administration responsible and if possible dismiss it.

The non-entity status of Maharashtra government has manifested in its failure to enforce rule of law. It is a common knowledge in Mumbai that the state government runs through the offices of Hindu supremacist Bal Thackeray of Shiv Sena, and Raj Thackeray of Nav Nirman Sena. In January 1993, Bal Thackeray allegedly coordinated with police to teach lesson to Mumbai Muslims; they were protesting against the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindus on December 6, 1992 . The anarchy let loose in the city led to deaths of about 1000 people, a majority of these were Muslims. Though indicted by Justice Srikrishna Commission, Bal Thackeray continues to enjoy elite status in Mumbai. Thackeray’s writ is no secret. Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachan and Shahrukh Khan bow their heads to them for their safety in Mumbai.

According to analysts, three months time after intelligence agencies’ warning of a 9/11- type invasion should not have been wasted in allowing Thackerays to hold Mumbai to ransom. Raj Thackeray’s threat to cleanse the city of Biharis , and their beating by his men should have invoked stringent measures to restore the confidence of minorities vital to Mumbai’s economy.

At the close of rescue operation on Saturday, among 200 dead were foreigners, commandos, Mumbai’s elites, visitors and hotel personnel. Death toll still could go higher as more than 400 people are still nursing their wounds in various hospitals. Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, DIG Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar were reportedly killed in the crossfire. However, many bloggers allege that domestic gangs have shot them under the cover of terrorist attack. This theory maybe utterly untrue though. The magnificent Taj Mahal building, a Mumbai landmark was last to be cleared of terrorists holed up in its 460 rooms. The glitz and glamour may take a long time to return to Taj. Six deaths in Jewish center including of Rabbi and his wife shattered relatives in Israel and America . The conflicting reports that were still pouring in on Saturday raised questions of the real identity of the terrorists. Initial evidence, however, points the finger at Pakistan .

US president George Bush and the state secretary Condoleezza Rice monitored the situation from minute to minute at David camp. A FBI squad was dispatched to the besieged Indian city. British Prime Minister asked the Scotland Yard Police to probe Mumbai massacre. Israel deployed a team for investigation of the origin of the well-coordinated attack. In a stern warning, the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to send ISI chief to come to India for cooperation in the investigation.

The amount of attention Mumbai attack has attracted is a pointer towards the possibility of some consensus on the war on terrorism. But the question still remains, when there is no single definition of terrorism, how can there be a common strategy to fight it? Will the participating nations address the flagrant violation of human rights linked to terrorist activities? Or will terrorism be considered a mental disorder, the remedy of which is yet to be found? Such questions may create divergence of opinions of the world leaders.

The war on terrorism requires honesty of purpose, commitment to uphold rule of law, acceptance of diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities. Some states act as provocateur with a view to strengthen their control on citizens. Looking at 60 year history of independence, India may fit in the definition of a provocateur state. The modus operandi of provocation is to play with religious, ethnic and caste identities of minorities. Intelligence agencies are believed to have set up their offices incognito in religious places, social and academic centers to provoke violence. The recent attempt of using Dera Sauda chief in infuriating the entire Sikh community both in Punjab and Maharashtra had almost succeeded. Earlier Nirankari Mission and Punjabi Kesri newspaper played the role of a provocateur. Currently, Dera Sauda, Bhanairewala, Divya Jyoti and the Spokesman newspaper are stirring cauldron of hatred. Anti-Sikh violence in 1984, Anti-Muslim Violence in 1993 and 2002, and Anti-Christian violence in 2008 constitute one message that ‘you are not as free as your Hindu brethrens are.’ If Christians are planning any protest peaceful or violent for Kandhamal deaths, they should be prepared for what happened to others in similar situation. “Militant Majoritism’ is represented by Thackerays, Modis, some Colonels and Generals of private military academies. They qualify the title of provocateurs of violence we find hard to deal with.

The former defense secretary in Bush administration Donald Rumsfeld was accused of inciting provocateur style of terrorism and deceit. Rumsfeld planned “a Super-intelligence Support Activity” to “stir the pot of spiraling global violence.” Frank Morales in his well-researched article “The Provocateur State: Is the CIA Behind the Iraqi “Insurgents” and Global Terrorism?” Outlined that Rumsfeld sought a secret army─ the “Proactive, Preemptive Operation Group (P2OG) ─would actually carry out secret missions designed to provoke terrorist groups into committing violent acts. – In other words, the plan is to execute secret military operations (assassination, sabotage, “deception”) which would intentionally result in terrorist attacks on innocent people, including Americans—essentially to “combat terrorism” by causing it !”

Bhonsala Military Academy at Nasik , a private school for weapon training by a retired Army Col. Raiker and Maj. Prabhakar Kulkarni authenticates the existence of covert operations to provoke terrorism. Col. Raiker belonged to the same unit in which serving Col. Srikant Purohit was in active service before his arrest. The bomb blast in Muslim dominated Malegaon and Samjhauta Express train between India and Pakistan are deliberate acts to aggravate terrorism. The role of a Hindu Sadhwi and Sadhu in terrorist activities had outraged Hindu organizations. They came in support of their imperiled leaders. A former commander in chief of Western Command, Lt. General P.N. Hoon’s statement on November 14 in Telegraph, Calcutta claimed that he was training Hindu suicide squads on the inspiration of Bal Thackeray. He attested to the fact that a tremendous response came from young men who wanted achieve martyrdom. Col. Jayant Chitale said that he prepared 50 young men for military like operations at Ambernath in Pune. He said, “I will wait for another month to see the progress of cross border terrorism. Then we will start our action and devise ways of infiltrating our suicide squads into Pakistan .” What greater provocation could there be for cross-border terrorism than the comments of Col. Chitale?

Terrorists’ violence has devastated, crippled and snatched hopes of thousand of families. Wounds may never heal. Tourists may disdain to choose the city in their itinerary. The reason maybe simply that the city shelters impudent provocateurs. The fallen ATF chief’s family has shown great respect to late Hemant Karkare’s soul by rejecting Gujrat CM Narender Modi’s tempting grant. Right in the middle of tragedy and rescue operation, he tried to exploit sentiments of the victims. Nobody liked it. Widow of the fallen soldier deserves sympathy of every self-respecting Indian.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com
(Image: www.thedailystar.net ) Posted on Nobember 30, 2008


Dr Amrik Singh writes from Sacramento

On November 4, 2008, Americans didn’t have to wait long for results of the presidential election. The voting was still current in some parts when the news of landslide win struck the world. No more trammels that marked Al Gore’s election in 2000 and John Kerry’s in 2004. The mandate was loud and clear. African Americans’ expression of freedom became their inalienable right. They needed proof and it came after two centuries. Barack Hussein Obama’s name will forever resonate among the Firsts of human history. He turned out to be the bearer of a special knowledge of the black community that has now transformed into the unquestionable power of United State of America. A majority of ninety five percent blacks ardently stood behind their leader who first probed his roots before choosing to guide their relentless march. Their steps in unison convinced white America of change. The message went across the color line and all fears of the unknown were scotched. The rant of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the lectures of the radical professor Bill Ayers and the black theology of Louis Farrakhan didn’t matter at all. The media hype of their association with Obama, in fact, only highlighted the urgency of changing America.

The longest ever campaign, first with Hillary Clinton, and then with John McCain helped only in electrifying the dormant regions of voters’ consciousness. A lot of soul searching by whites, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans created strong currents of change. Moving into that direction happened to be a sort of spiritual journey for many who wanted to shake off the dirt of stereotypes, color blindness, and genetic superlatives. Multi-million March to Washington, DC to the affirmation and the beat of black music had finally found a decent entry to the White House. It became ‘a carnival of desires.’ Shadrack, in Toni Morrison’s novel Sula provides blacks ‘a slit-in-the veil.’ Back then January stood as the “National Suicide Day” for blacks of Medallion. But at the moment it transformed into the “National Integration Day.” The journey from the fear of the White to the fight for the White House ended on a welcome note. All the pain suffered by black ancestors found its way in tears streaming down eyes of strong men like Collin Powell and Rev. Jessie Jackson. No more tearing of the ‘Bottom’ a derogatory label for Black neighborhood of Medallion in Morrison’s novel. It took four hundred years to build a man who was confident of his roots and knew how to engage his white counterparts in a nation building exercise.

African American writers though created black characters journeying towards faith, but in real life it still was a dream. When Bill Clinton was under a scathing attack for his clandestine escapades with his intern, media widely highlighted Toni Morrison’s comments. The Nobel laureate portrayed Clinton as the First Black President of America, the status he enjoyed until Barack Obama decided to run for the President. In February 2007, Toni Morrison endorsed Barack Obama clarifying her earlier metaphoric depiction of Clinton as imaginary. Clinton maybe allegorically black, but Obama is in reality intelligent (black) in his demeanor and destiny. Morrison emphasized in her letter to Barack Obama, “ that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

--------There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.” Academic circles were indeed mesmerized with so strong an endorsement.

The change first came in the corridors of universities and colleges. A host of black writers questioned white American literary giants for undergrounding black desires. Freeing the representation of African Americans from stereotypes of genetic inferiority, Black writers stressed on firmness of roots and consistency of character. Barack Obama’s story though is identical with Golden Boy of Morrison’s Jazz; he however has the strength of Son Green of Tar Baby. He is no more perturbed by Jadine Childes, the elusive black model. He achieved bonding with black men on galloping horses. They told him of Black beauty that he ultimately finds in Michelle Obama.

Nothing is separate from the whole. The American meltdown has demonstrated how the nations are interconnected. The meteoric rise of Barack Obama, a catalytic factor, is bound to touch the core of international relations. The credibility of United States in world affairs appears to be back on track. Analysts believe percept and practice as two nodal points of leadership will inform policymaking of Obama presidency. The superiority of US armed forces has given way to ideals of liberty and equality. The campaign run by President elect Barack Obama objectified many lessons for the rest of the world.

One of the most significant lessons is the renewal of hierarchical equations relative to the grassroots level. Barack Obama became the first African American nominee of a major political party. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had all the muckraking usual in politics, but Clinton’s unstinted support became unprecedented. Eighteen millions who voted for Clinton had explicit prodding from her to support Obama. Secondly, the battle between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain in spite of reaching feverish pitches, ended on a friendly note. McCain’s congratulations and promise of bipartisan support to historic change, symbolized American civility in political life. Obama’s presidency has emerged as a world leadership on the one hand and the ‘audacity of hope’ for Americans on the other. He is right in recognizing that the road is long and steep.

His success depends upon the kind of team he chooses to work with. Pundits always find a niche in the administrative circles with their keen analyses and fear parading. Along with these fortune-tellers move pressure groups, the lobbyists, and corporate houses. If Obama succeeds in reading only pro-people agenda in their proposals, he will change America for a long to come. He needs to be cautious of sugar-coated ideas which appear attractive and marketable, but actually may poison the whole advancement made in human relationships. If he stays the course for the next eight years with his vision, American Presidency will never be the same again.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on November 17, 2008

Dalit Emancipation
and Sahib Kanshi Ram’s Captivity

Dr Amrik Singh writes from Sacramento

In the modern context, Sahib Kanshi Ram’s name has become synonymous with Dalit empowerment. The complexion of Indian democracy significantly changed with his rise on the political horizon of India. Major Indian political parties were taken by surprise. The era of one-party rule ended paving a way for the coalition politics at the Center. He entered in politics like an ascetic by renouncing the comfort of hearth and home for writing a new chapter on making of the Indian Nation. Utter Pradesh Chief Minister Kumari Mayawati, his keen follower, created history by winning absolute majority in predominantly Hindu majority state of Utter Pradesh. A spate of pro-Dalit developments undergoing in Utter Pradesh would not have been otherwise possible for several decades. The day is not far when she may even occupy the seat of power in Delhi. A majority of Dalits are proud of Kanshi Ram and his protégé Kumari Mayawati for empowering them, but few experience alienation for not being allowed to participate in the celebratory moments of their patriarch’s vision.

According to a report published in Times of India on 10/19/2008 , Sadhanshu Kumar, a youth from Bhagalpur and an ardent follower of BSP icon Kanshi Ram has been singularly campaigning at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for a CBI probe into his unnatural death. Nobody can miss the banner displaying, “Kanshi Ram Ne Di Sardari, Mayawati Ne Ki Gaddari” (Kanshi Ram put a crown on her, but she betrayed him.) Sadhanshu Kumar may be among very few who would try to belittle Mayawati’s remarkable history being the first woman of Dalit origin to command so much authority. Everyone knows that UP CM could jolt influential persons like Mrs. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi out of their smugness, sometimes just to demonstrate the sweep of her unquestionable power. Dedicated supporters of Kanshi Ram like Sadhanshu Kumar from Bihar are relatively very poor and non-entities in comparison to the immensurable strength of Utter Pradesh Chief Minister.

On Kanshi Ram’s second death anniversary, Kumari Mayawati announced 3000 crores development projects. One of the projects, “Dr. Shakuntala Mishra Handicapped University” has been named after BSP General Secretary, Satish Chandra Mishra’s mother. Mishra, a Brahmin is currently the undisputed king of Utter Pradesh CM’s strategies and policies. The naming of the Handicapped University after Mishra’s mother to memorialize Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary, appears to be a cruel reminder of Kanshi Ram’s 95 year old mother who died during a prolonged struggle to liberate her ailing son from Mayawati’s clutches. Critics say Mayawati used purposely Mishra’s mother to demoralize Kanshi Ram’s relatives who still allege that Mr. Ram was killed while in her captivity. The act of naming Handicapped University after her General Secretary’s mother, according to a Kanshi Ram’s supporter, is like rubbing salt in the festering wounds of his survivors.

A school teacher who had dreamed of becoming a civil servant at the most, Mayawati fantasized her life on the roller coaster when she met Kanshi Ram in 1980. Kanshi Ram’s matter-of- fact style captivated her. She could not get over what he had prophesied about her ‘being the ruler instead of being ruled.’ She started monopolizing him from the very first day of her meeting with him; and thought she would not only win him over to her side completely, but also not tolerate anyone sharing the special pride he had.

Mayawati recognized that Kanshi Ram had set a mission on a higher plane where wealth, marriage and family ties could not distract him. His vows about not marrying and amassing wealth during his BAMCEF days reflected the singularity of his purpose and extreme dedication to the cause of Dalit upliftment.

Mayawati figured out that Kanshi Ram’s detachment from worldly allures had created a void that he wanted to fill by empowering Dalits in the national politics. She set her eye on the empty space of his life and started filling it with her domineering presence. She presented herself as the agent of change that Kanshi Ram had most advertized. The aggressiveness she showed by venting her vitriol against Brahmins, Bania and Thakurs had convinced Kanshi Ram of her potential and eagerness to work for the party cause.

The experience of being three time chief minister of India’s most populous state during Kanshi Ram’s life time, Mayawati had carved her own independent line that ran contrary to her mentor’s beliefs. Some supporters feel Kanshi Ram’s resolve to remain unaffected by political corruption and relatives’ promotion was woefully reversed. She showed her tendency to amass unlimited wealth and got embroiled in Taj Corridor corruption case.

After 1998, Kanshi Ram decided not to contest any election for the public office.

He planned to improve the party functioning and make it more attached to the grassroots level. But by 2000, he realized that he had lost the command of the party to Mayawati’s new alliances and tremendous financial clout. As he had no wealth, no home, no friends, he experienced helplessness typically like millions of Dalits who end up in traps of Chankayan making. Since Mayawati increased her surveillance to monitor his movements and people he met with, Kanshi Ram apprehended a grave threat to his life. He allegedly gave hints of a conspiracy to his supporters. Before Kanshi Ram could wriggle out of the trap, he suffered the paralytic stroke making him completely at the mercy of Mayawati, an Amazonian figure in Dalit politics. Earlier, Kanshi Ram tried to spend more time in Punjab. Mayawati had vehemently disapproved of his new love for his family. According to a report, she even used a filthy language for his 93 year old mother. Mayawati now had resolved to demonize Kanshi Ram’s family, and she spared no effort to succeed in her mission. Consequently, all the aggressiveness that was reserved previously for Brahmins, Banias and Thakurs had shifted singularly against Ram’s family whom she considered as a threat to her fiefdom. She skillfully substituted slandering Brahmins in UP with vilifying his family in Punjab.

Kanshi Ram’s increasing interest in Punjab was ascribed to his remote fixation with his family. Mayawati needed a strategy to project his family, and the Sikh background as fundamentally opposed to the national interests. Such a scheme had a greater traction in it as it would help Kanshi Ram become harbinger of hopes for Dalits and Brahmins in UP. As the paralytic stroke affected the right side of his brain, it was strong reason to retire him compulsorily to the bed. Mayawati idolized him to an extent that he existed as an Icon of Dalit revolution, but had nothing to do with everyday politics. Kanshi Ram tragic withdrawal from active politics left a void. Circumspect Dalit leaders apprehend that Brahmins were looking for long to fill the void created by Ram’s absence.

In real politics, Kanshi Ram was immediately replaced by Satish Chander Mishra as the most dominant influence in Mayawati’s life. She said that Mishra helped her in difficult times when Kanshi Ram had a stroke and his family was instigated against her. The son of the former Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court, Satish Mishra as her legal counsel, bailed her out of Taj Corridor corruption case. Mayawati got Mishra elected to Rajya Sabha seat. She also appointed him general secretary of BSP. As soon as Mishra took the center stage, it is believed, a major shift in Ambedkar’s ideology took place.

According to a report, Satish Mishra travelled 22,000 Kilometer across about 70 districts of Utter Pradesh between July1, 2006 to Sept 2006. Earlier, he had convinced Mayawati that the iconic value of Kanshi Ram’s life could not be allowed to waste away by his family in Punjab. A few days before his death, Mishra had completed his tour of magnetizing Brahmins to the BSP fold. He now needed to manipulate media so that the family feud turns to BSP advantage. After Kanshi Ram’s death on October 9, 2006, a host of well coordinated strategies were seen in operation.

Since Delhi High Court unexpectedly rejected the plea of Kanshi Ram’s family for the post-mortem of the body, his brother and sister became mute spectators to what followed at the funeral rites. The manner of hurriedly disposing of Kanshi Ram’s body aroused some people’s suspicion. The body was supposed to be for the public view for about two hours, but it reached one hour late leaving hardly any time for his supporters to have the last look. The funeral was advanced from 3PM to 2 PM. The cremation was carried out hurriedly according to Buddhists rites. Kanshi Ram’s family had neither any leader nor any court on their side. The funeral pyre was lit by Mayawati herself in the presence of the BSP founder’s brother and sisters. The last severe blow came with the announcement that his ashes would be the exclusive property of the party.

Satish Mishra next planned strategies to cash on the sympathy wave in ensuing 2007 elections. On October 17, 2006, Mayawati took Kanshi Ram’s ashes in an urn to Lucknow. It took six hours from Lucknow Airport to Ambedkar Bhawan where she made one hour speech to several hundred thousand people emphasizing that she was the sole inheritor of his political legacy. She appealed to voters to honor Sahib Kanshi Ram by electing her with absolute majority. Voters indeed surprised pollsters by giving Mayawati absolute majority in the Vidhan Sabha. On the eve of his two death anniversaries, many development projects were announced, but the question still remains, “Is Mayawati, the sole inheritor of what Kanshi Ram’s symbolized in his life?” If she is, she will definitely give a program for social emancipation of Dalits in accordance with the ideology of Kanshi Ram and Ambedkar.

Kanshi Ram said that once Dalits ‘capture power, social emancipation would follow keeping in line with most progressive political philosophy and ideology.’ In the next Parliamentary elections, Mayawati maybe a strong candidate for Prime Ministerial berth; if she gets the coveted post, she will fulfill the prophecy of her mentor. The question of ‘social emancipation’ as it is more complex and subtle, will require entirely a different strategy. Dalits have to be extricated from the swamp of ‘inferiority complex’ on the one hand and their self-esteem has to be attached with power structures of the social domain on the other. Social emancipation is more akin to personal growth of character and conviction. It has a fundamental difference with the Varna system which seeks to empower through exclusion. Social emancipation takes guidance from spiritual stock that promotes inclusiveness and bipartisanship even with rivals. Kanshi Ram’s siblings in such circumstances maybe partners with Mayawati for a new era of pride and glory

BSP founder Sahib Kanshi Ram was an alumnus of Government College Ropar where the writer once worked as a teacher. drsinghamrik@gmail.co

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on October 30, 2008

The Saga of Abhinav Bindra
Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

His gold came like the rainfall in a parched land. He struck the chord that lilted hearts of a billion Indians. He shot near perfect in the bull's eye. Many a foot rose in unison to the beat of the drum. He had done it! The history recorded it as the first Solo Olympic Gold of Independent India. Punjab at the crest again figured in our discourses. He practiced his best shots in Zirkpur (Mohali) Punjab. The small town in the outskirts of Chandigarh struggled for a legal recognition due to the Chandigarh Periphery Act. The beleaguered residents now feel, it is almost over because an auspicious star has risen in its skies. It is a time for celebrations. No mean looks, no rivalry, no politics, no bad word can obscure the golden shine. Abhinav created a heartthrob in millions who are capable of striking the gold mine, but may not be lucky to be on the roster.  Will Abhinav be their leader in Gold tally?

Yes, if the bad shooters in politics won't make him their prized victim. If we ring them out and ring in those who aim at the bull's-eye, India could be the nation of performers as a replacement for manipulators.  Abhinav appears to beckon us to take pride in what is best in us and ignore all that provokes the worst.

 At the time Abhinav in Beijing was concentrating on 'shooting good shots', his parents were offering prayers in Sector 8 Gurdwara in Chandigarh. A few hours later, their wish was granted. Abhinav had no idea of making the history. His goal was to 'shoot well and shoot aggressively.'

Abhinav's earlier recognitions paved the way for his ace achievement in Beijing. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal wasted no time in announcing 10 millions Rupees for 'the Son of Punjab.' The windfall of wealth continues to come in his way.  The saga of Abhinav Bindra's success will create a desire in millions of youths to go his way. But they need parents like Bindra’s. If government of India plays the parental role for the ones who are promising but poor, hundred years of alienation will sure end announcing the dawn of a new era.

 Posted on August 15, 2008

  The Sovereignty of Demagogues and the Akal Takht

Written by Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

The way Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was packed off raises serious questions about the functioning of the parliament of Sikhs.  Supreme sacrifices of Sikhs to get this body had even fired up the freedom movement in 1925. The architects of SGPC had great expectations of saving Sikhs from anarchy by providing far-sighted leadership. The miserable failure of SGPC in providing a good management now compels attention of the community. Over the years, it has not developed any long lasting institution that the future generation may take pride in. It has not risen above bickering of its members which become major stories in the media every other day. . It is deeply mired in controversies, crises and climaxes. Democratically elected SGPC members have been underperforming their role by giving free access to demagogues to temper with the religious affairs.

The heavy politicization of SGPC has created a situation of religious neglect of the very people it was supposed to serve. Instead of spreading Guru's word for uplifting the lower classes, SGPC has contributed in shoving them off to the fold of Deras for solace. The politicization process has promoted elitist attitudes confining the democratic body to only privileged classes. To keep their hold on to the reins, they have adopted all divisive agendas that Gurus stood against like a rock. Indeed, SGPC has touched its lowest ebb.

The blame squarely falls on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the present mess. He has donned all powers of an undisputed demagogue who can appoint anybody to the office of SGPC president and the august seat of the historical Akal Takht. His will can immobilize SGPC members to mere nobodies. SGPC president has to check with his Pasha on regular basis about his loyalty not to the Office of the SGPC but to his godfather. Such charges though have been making rounds for long, the arbitrary removal of the Jathedar has proved beyond doubt that the Sovereign Seat of the Akal Takht is subordinated to the pleasure of the dictator.

Badal has given a lot of ammunition to anti-Sikh forces to play havoc with Sikhs' future. There is no use blaming excommunicated editor of Spokesman and his gang for showing disrespect to the institution of Akal Takht, when Badal has done it ten times worse than any adversary of the Akal Takht. He has joined the bandwagon of Joginder Singh who will now decide which Granth to read and which not. His hands became stronger as the removal of Jathedar has been matched with the installation of Captain Amrinder Singh at the heart of Punjab Congress party. Whatever reasons might have compelled Badal to take this decision, but the Vedanti controversy will affect him politically a great deal. Capt. Amrinder Singh's clout both in  Dera Sauda and Delhi Akali Dal is an open secret. Earlier, Captain tried to stage a coup in SGPC during his term as CM of Punjab. Vedanti controversy now has undoubtedly proved auspicious for projecting him as the future leader of Punjab.  

Centralizing all powers of SGPC, a democratically elected body, by S. PS Badal is in direct contradiction to his personal belief in federalism and decentralization of powers. Badal is nationally well known for more rights to States, and recently he vehemently countered Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil's proposal for the establishment of a Central Agency to monitor terrorist threats. The veteran Akali leader should have practiced his beliefs in SGPC where his clout ran uninterruptedly. Even a little allegiance to his own Anandpur Sahib Resolution would have made him devise an honorable way to dispense with the services of a Jathedar who did his best to negotiate the controversies despite his (Badal's) unethical pressure.  

The institution of Akal Takht remains embroiled in political controversies because no due process or procedures have been developed to run its affairs, meetings with other Takhts' representatives, and SGPC house committees to deal with historical, sociological and cinematic representation of Sikhs in text books and films. It doesn't appear SGPC is sensitive to maintain religious heritage by restoring historical sites, maintaining relics of Sikhs' past and saving rare manuscripts of Sikhs' enterprise. The result is the mess we are in today.  

Insiders say there is a nagging fear of inviting enlightened Sikhs to work with the SGPC. The cadre that has been enjoying power through manipulations feels threatened when any innovations are suggested to cope with the technological and corporate culture. The tendency of SGPC to confine pious resources to a few is identical with ancient Brahmanical traditions that denied access of knowledge to the commoners. Neglect of lower castes by the mainstream leadership points a finger in that direction. Divisive mindset in such circumstances reigns supreme contradicting the philosophy of Sikh Gurus.  

SGPC over the years could have become a laboratory of refined democratic values, had it adopted rational approach to cultivate culture of value-based consensus among SGPC members to solve problems Sikhs face from day to day. The diminution of SGPC members to mere puppets has barred any progress in Sikh affairs. Members should have been given greater role in sorting controversies than burdening priests with the controversial decisions. The critics too should share the blame as they shirked to go in stronghold of Sikh voters.

The Akal Takht and other Takhts are symbolic of moral authority. These institutions maybe used only for a symbolic acceptance of decisions reached in SGPC house or committees. The procedure maybe developed after a series of discussions, debates and deliberations that will save the institution of Akal Takht or its Jathedar from mockery of its detractors. If any decision becomes debatable, it will be the responsibility of the committees, not of the Jathedars who are now merely symbolic heads. In case of extreme religious importance, these heads may return controversial proposal to the house for incorporating suggestions. But this will be entirely up to the house to review and explain decisions made under the seal of Akal Takht.

SGPC may seek opinions of Sikh Diaspora on vital issues and ask representatives to work with committees for value-based decisions. The procedure for dissenting views should be adopted so that no bitter memories are left. The right to differ should be encouraged instead of suppressing it.

The process of appointing Akal Takht Jathedar should start at least one year before the actual appointment. The nominee should face the SGPC house, other Takhts, Sikh bodies and answer questions of members across party lines. The nominee should have track record of immaculate service and vast knowledge of Gurbani and Sikh history. The way the nominee handles questions in the house will make clear how the Jathedar will best symbolize the tradition of Sikhs' aspirations. Diaspora too can arrange a session with the nominees through internet for answers of their questions.

These suggestions are just to set the ball rolling. If the SGPC still won't wake up, the demagogues like Parkash Singh Badal or Capt. Amrinder Singh or Sarnas, or Joginders or Dera Chiefs will keep embarrassing Sikhs. The responsibility of all the mess will be of SGPC for abdicating its fundamental role in spreading Guru's word to the oppressed members of the society.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on August 11, 2008

The Tragedy of Ishmeet Singh: Amul Star Voice of India

Dr. Amrik Singh, Sacramento


The heartrending story of nineteen year old Ishmeet Singh, winner of ‘Amul Star Voice of India’ on November 24, 2007 sent parents in a traumatic condition. Barely nine months of wonder after the rare recognition ended in a tragedy that created pathos in all who had set great hopes of glory. A soft spoken turbaned young Sikh, Ishmeet had no airs of his celebrity status. His death by drowning in the swimming pool of a resort near Male, the capital of Maldives , aroused immediate suspicion of the family. The only son of Gurpinder Singh Sodhi of Ludhiana , Punjab , Ishmeet was down to earth in his life style.

The contradicting details of death by naively entering into deeper end of the pool, crying for help that was mistaken by other singers merely as teasing, and dying immediately before those singers discovered it was too late appear unbelievable. BBC reported the statement of a member of the hotel staff that said he dived straight into the deep end of the swimming pool and ran into difficulties. Circumstantial evidence that slowly trickled after the tragedy indicates suspicion of a criminal conspiracy. The preliminary investigations should have started right after the tragic news. Statements of the hotel staff, the event company managers and all those who company officers communicated with before leaving for Maldives should have been recorded without parents demanding it.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has written to Prime Minister demanding inquiry of Ishmeet’s death, but no action has been taken so far. It is true that Ishmeet had no enemies as he was friendly and respectful to all, but when parents expressed their suspicion of a foul play it should have been honored right away. On examining his body, Ishmeet’s uncle was very upset to see black mark on the Ishmeet’s forehead, injury marks on his chest and the swollen face.

Legendary Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsale were among those who mourned his death. Punjab government provided the state funeral to the budding star. His fans all over the world expressed heart felt sorrows. Sikhs of Pakistan held special prayers in historical Nankana Sahib.

An institute of Excellence in Music will be set up to commemorate the voice of Star of India. But all this won’t be enough, if circumstances of his death remain mysterious. Let the truth prevail.

Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on August 08, 2008

The Fourth Dimension of the Indian Republic
Dr. Amrik Singh ( writes from Sacramento)

A typical government consists of three branches-the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, but India has the fourth branch as well. The framers of the Indian constitution could not visualize that the fourth branch will sprout to acquire its most dominant form. The country’s intelligence system has outgrown into the fourth organ of the government.

It has acquired gigantic powers that can force other three domains to toe its line. It derives its extra-constitutional authority by waving extreme version of patriotism and impending dangers to freedom. Having exclusive access to devious secrets, it overrides all other wings and even goes to the extent of playing McCarthyism to clear the path for its relentless march.

The fourth wing operates through the agency of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It invests its energies most in the executive and makes it cross the constitutional boundaries at times. It can immobilize the judiciary and even interpret law for it. It can maneuver the parliament members to do their duties towards the nation-state. Though by definition, India being a multicultural country, cannot subscribe to the concept of the nation-state, the fourth wing however has all historical, sociological and psychological reasoning to justify its agenda and force the government to implement it. As a matter of fact, the country’s intelligence system is supposed to remain subordinated to the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature, but in the Indian context, it has become a colossal machine superimposed on three wings of the government. In sixty years of its functioning, it has established its independent credentials to be fairly considered as the fourth wing of the government. For our analysis we can name it as “Meta-surveillance.”

Hence, the government of India (Executive) in complicity with the fourth division, ‘Meta-surveillance’ exercises more authority than is granted to it by the constitution of India . Supreme Court (Judiciary) in most cases instead of protecting the constitution becomes an extended instrument of the arbitrary, ruthless and bigoted policies of the executive. Parliament (legislature) acts only to prop up the executive regardless of the fact, whether it follows the laws of the land or not. Parliament makes only those laws that are required by the executive to continue its unlimited power. The absolute authority enjoyed by the executive can make or mar any individuals, groups, institutions, state administrations and social organizations.

The intermediary role of the nation’s intelligence between the executive, judiciary and legislature requires a serious review of the intellectuals, lawyers, social activists and conscientious leaders. It has grown into a monolithic institution beyond the control of either wing of the government. It thrives on parading fears of the unknown to the republic of India , defense of the country, borders, individual life of leaders, and its functionaries. Sources reveal it receives huge unaccounted funds that it employs to inflict extrajudicial damage to the ones who are inimical to its interests. The Executive has strategic convenience to commit to the Meta-surveillance’s despotic authority and in return the Executive takes upon itself to run its affairs. In most western democracies, the intelligence is answerable to the legislature. The entire system is put under the scanner of lawmakers. The representatives of people discourage and openly question intelligence agencies’ extra-constitutional overtures.

The government of India ’s recent ban on former spies to write books exemplifies how the fourth wing functions. Apprehending that the former spies can expose Meta-surveillance’s antidemocratic actions, it has become instrumental in making the government pass controversial gag orders. The stance of M. K. Dhar, the former joint director of IB who wrote books about the inner-functioning of intelligence unnerved the administrators of ‘Meta-surveillance’; they lobbied to pass gag orders against former spies in a deceitful way. To muzzle former spies’ reflective observations in writing books, an amendment has been enforced in Central Services and Pension Rules. Government by agreeing to take unconstitutional step has bowed to the unrestrained supremacy of the fourth sector now known as ‘Meta-surveillance’

Meta-surveillance traces its origin to the colonial policies of the British Rule. It inherited a highly developed system of social engineering by playing one group against the other. It will promote ethnic, caste-related, religious, racial and regional identities not for the integration but for the division of people. British ruled over India for about two centuries through these divisive policies. But when Meta-surveillance provided extra-judicial strategies to the modern political parties, they couldn’t deny the secretive benefits. Meta-surveillance honed its skills with the four decades of Congress rule. It was due to its alliance with the Congress that it cut short regime of non-congress governments. But now it has spread its wings to take any party under its extra-constitutional umbrella.

Meta-surveillance can create atmosphere in which dastardly crimes not only look less painful but also necessary for the imagined nation state. Millions of crimes in the shape of communal riots were absorbed because Meta-surveillance is continuously at the ideological work to shape up imagined national consciousness. Killings of Sikhs, Muslims and Christians in the backdrop of imagined national consciousness look entirely unimportant to the three main wings of government; only because Meta-surveillance has created such an euphoria. That is why Politicians like Narendra Modi and Bal Thackeray successfully evade the constitutional scrutiny.

In the recent nuclear imbroglio, Meta-surveillance is engaged in creating circumstances for the passage of the US deal. The CBI’s affidavit in the Supreme Court for prosecuting UP Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati in 2003 Taj Corridor case maybe the result of a bargain with Samajwadi leader Mulayam Singh Yadav for support on the floor of the house. Grilling of Sumedh Singh Saini in disappearance of IAS officer’s son by CBI and then his getting relief in the Supreme Court all speak of politicization of criminal justice of the country. The dangling of sword (CBI charge-sheet) on the head of Gurmeet Ram Rahim on the one hand, and not arresting him and providing him Z Plus security on the other all may be to keep him as an instrument of convenience.

Meta-surveillance is a free floating ruthless force that makes unscrupulous allies for its mission. It can make a coalition of criminals, gang rapists, molesters, drug addicts first by entangling them in cases, then promising them security so that they may render dark services. Political parties accept their usefulness for the obvious benefits at the poll.

Meta-surveillance became a force to reckon with because majority of elected officials shed their responsibility due to either ignorance of the constitution or lack of initiatives. The enormous development made during the last sixty years remained lopsided. Millions of slum dwellers, Dalits, farmers, and laborers continue to live in extreme inhuman conditions. Meta-surveillance maybe accused of distracting politicians’ attention from policy making that could have made citizens relish the fruit of freedom.

Asian countries with Buddhist background developed in a different way. Japan and China recorded a massive development the fruits of which have trickled down to the lowest of the lows. They subordinated their surveillance to the goals they wanted to achieve. But India subordinated its executive, legislature and judiciary to the undeclared agenda of the Meta-surveillance. The largest democracy is woefully trapped in its colonial past and voracious hunger of politicians. The decadence has touched the new pinnacle of injustice, exploitation and violations of human rights. The brand of politicians we see on the horizons belies any hope of resurgence. Who will bell the cat, then?

© Copyright Note: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of  ambedkartimes.com

Posted on July 16, 2008

The Legend of Tejinder Singh Sibia

(From left to right) Mr. Tejinder Sibia, Mr. Tejinder Sibia with his wife Manjit Kaur Sibia and Tejinder Sibia is seen with Hon. Dave Jones - Assembly member, State of California IVQACC picnic August 2007.

By Dr. Amrik Singh from Sacramento

Email: amrik15@msn.com

Isabel Garcia, 73, was expecting a phone call from Tejinder Singh Sibia (Ted Sibia) when she noticed his obituary in Sacramento Bee on March 9, 2008. “I hated him to go and leave us profoundly shocked.” Daughter of Mr. Memel Singh, a Punjabi Pioneer who came to the US in 1906, and Isabel Singh Garcia acknowledged that she was rich with history because “Ted restored our Mexican Punjabi identity to us and researched on the narrative of the lost race. I am afraid the new generation of Punjabis isn’t interested in us any more.” Mrs. Garcia regretted that Ted didn’t live to see the museum to honor Punjabi pioneers in Sutter County. Sibia was advisor to Punjabi American Heritage Society that according to Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang is in the fourth of five phases of Museum’s completion.Tejinder Sibia will be known as one of the stalwarts who modeled core values of Punjabi culture during his most rewarding career in the US. A strong gathering of more than 400 in North Sacramento Funeral Home at El Camino and at Sikh Gurdwara, West Sacramento on March 9, 2008 was unanimous in recognizing Mr. Tejinder Sibia’s monumental contribution in enhancing historical, cultural and linguistic awareness of Punjabis in American society. He loved his circle of friends as much as he loved his family. He touched hearts of young men and women who looked upon him as their mentor and perennial source of inspiration. As a boss, he is remembered as the most benevolent, approachable and entertaining. Irwin Weintraub ( Brooklyn, NY) reminisces the time at Virginia Tech during 1973-77 as “blessed to have Ted as my supervisor.” Charlie Priore ( Kengon, MN) recalls Mr. Sibia during 1980-84 at UC Davis, “His wisdom and mentoring have followed me all of my many years after leaving.” Similar messages have been recorded by David Washburn and Carrie Rushby (Cascade, ID) who happened to work under Ted’s supervision. Mr. Sibia migrated to the US in 1960 after graduating from PAU Ludhiana. Born in August, 1937 in Killa Raipur, Ted seemed to have imbibed the spirit of sportsmanship in the serene environments of his village, known as the site of historic rural Olympics. He worked hard to earn master's degrees in horticulture at Kansas State University and library science at Emporia State University in Kansas . Mr. Sibia headed Shield Library, Research Unit of Biology and Agriculture at the University of California , Davis . Community events were vital source of his high-spiritedness. One month before his death, on February 3, 2008, Ted made sure that he didn’t miss honoring of Dr. David Hosley, Emeritus President and General Manager of PBS/KVIE TV Channel 6 for the production of “Sikhs in America .” The picture of the event at Gurdwara West Sacramento was taken by him and widely published in various newspapers. His article “Immortal Komagata Maru” in Pioneer Asian Immigration to the Pacific Coast throws light on his profound psychological bonding with Punjabi pioneers who in spite of unbearable sufferings kept the flame of India ’s freedom burning. His website www.sikhpioneers.org makes accessible to researchers rare documents of historical importance. How he collected artifacts from now isolated Mexican Punjabi families, is subject of another story. As a member of Kohinoor Club, Mr. Sibia was an asset to the institution. Mr. Sibia supported efforts of the community to introduce Sikh history in California school textbooks. He often accompanied Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra for lobbying to introduce teaching of Punjabi in schools and colleges. Ted was instrumental in starting Punjabi at Sacramento City College. Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang remembered that Mr. Sibia was the first to organize cultural events under the banner of Punjabi Cultural society in 1970-80. Mrs. Manjit Sibia wife of Mr. Sibia said that he established liaison with Asians like Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese to build a senior center for the community. He loved counseling young boys and girls to make them proud of their identities. Sukh Chain Singh one of his closest friends shared with the community his last meeting with Ted that touched everybody’s heart. Mr. Singh told that his last wish was that since he had had a wonderful life and enjoyed love and gratitude of his friends, he wanted that his funeral and memorial service (Bhog) should take place on the same day. Tejinder didn’t want his friends to put to any inconvenience. He got ready for his death the way he would get ready with a smile for attending social events. Ted appeared to be fully in control of events that were related with his last rites.

Revised & re-posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 26, 2008 )Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 22, 2008 )


Tejinder S. Sibia indeed was the soul of the community. The Sacramento Bee’s Guestbook for Ted Sibia reminds us how high his stature in the community was. The Guestbook will remain online for a year. http://www.legacy.com/SacBee/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=105255676 The entry by young Riars is one of heartfelt ovations to Mr Tejinder Singh Sibia’s legendary life lived for others.


Ode to Uncle Ji

To the heavens you must depart, leaving behind broken hearts; Lost is now a husband, father, and good friend, he stayed strong until the end A proud member of our community, who lived life with so much glee A smile on his face with his infamous "Hey!" would spread laughter without delay A punctual man, always on time, a man of his word, a man who was kind. His life was once shattered with the loss of his son; He picked up the pieces and was able to continue on. Despite the burden, hardship and strife He had a wonderful passion for life.

Navi, Navreen, Junior Riar (Antelope, CA)

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 22, 2008 )


Dear Editor Ji,

Jai Gurdev! Mr. Sibia was a great personality. His service to the community will be remembered for long time. In year, 2004 Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver) organized a function dedicated to Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia Ji. After visiting the site, http://www.sikhpioneers.org/famous.html, I noticed that something was missing there. That was Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia's name from that site. I e-mailed Mr. Sibia and requested him to include Babu Mangu Ram MuggowaliaJi's name and write something about him. In a day or two, he had that information on the site and he had informed by e-mail. Mr. Sibia will be greatly missed.
Tej Pal Gangar Muggowalia (Canada)
Posted on
www.ambedkartimes.com ( March 24, 2008 )

Tej Pal Gangar Muggowalia (Canada)


Whither Went Sovereignty?”Debated


Dr. Amrik Singh (From
Sacramento , California )

Indian Government‘s Blue Start operation created a turmoil in Sikhs’ relationship with the Indian nation state. If 9/11 attack on twin towers rocked the whole world especially the western , in the same way Indian military raid on Harmandir Sahib(Golden Temple) precipitated an upheaval in Sikhs’ socio-political world. These were the views expressed by Ajmer Singh author of two books on the twentieth century polity of the Sikhs. While defending his argument in his famous book “Whither went Sovereignty?” the author Ajmer Singh asserted that June, 1984 was a defining chapter in the history of the estranged community. Sikh Information Center arranged a discussion on his books in the new conference hall of West Sacramento Sikh Gurudwara on 12 January 2008 . About a hundred members of the community and dozens of intellectuals took part in the discussion and debated the position taken by the author...

Dwelling on two Sikh holocausts and four invasions on Harmandir Sahib in eighteenth century, Ajmer distinguished Blue Star relatively as a highly organized incursion to devastate the whole community. According to the author, it has become necessary to analyze the situation after Blue Star as it has been eating into the vitals of the community. The failure to do so by Sikh intelligentsia, opines Mr. Singh, has created a sense of uncertainty, confusion and divisiveness. Giving an analogy of primaries for the US presidential election, he said that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tear droplets could be both interpreted as her pain for the country or merely a pretext to win the election. Similarly, he welcomed different interpretations of his arguments ruling out the singularity of opinions.

The paradigmatic shift produced by June, 1984 will render conceptual structures of previous knowledge as redundant. The author emphatically asserted that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale stood by what he preached. His insistence on shaping Sikh identity raised awareness among Sikhs for a life of freedom and dignity. The resounding victory of Congress in parliamentary election in 1985 was predicated on what happened in Amritsar . The Indian nation acquired a new Hindutva identity by making Sikhs as scapegoats. Multi-national character of the Indian state was compromised.

Ajmer Singh upheld that Sikhs are a separate nation. Though it cannot be denied that they mostly came from Hindus, however, they are a generation apart in their beliefs. The strength of Hindu Varna system can never be the backbone of Sikh theological view. Brahminical attitude may be tolerant, yet when challenged, can unleash violence. Sikhs have a right to differ with the mainstream Hindu thought and seek their emancipation from its subjugating structures.

Ajmer Singh said that there is a hidden genocidal impulse in the Hindu belief system and congratulated the Sikh community for rejecting it. He pointed out that when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had slightly hinted at direct action, even then the majority of Sikhs used restraint and did not participate in any civil strife. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi while Sikhs were targeted in Delhi and other cities, Sikhs in Punjab did not fight in streets. However, he regretted that Sikhs became instruments of evil design during partition riots. Ajmer Singh expressed his horror had Sikh militancy succeeded in wresting power as disorganized and devoid of Sikh vision it had been.

In the ensuing discussion, Baldev Singh who often writes for www.Sikhspectrum.com, applauded Ajmer Singh for holding on to his arguments. Wadhava Singh argued that Sikhs were being attacked indirectly through the agency of people like Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Gurdial Singh argued that Sikhs would remain a part of Hindus so long they believed in caste system. The curse of the caste would reverse any progress made by them. He pointed out to the deterioration in morals. He was, however, skeptical about any improvement in the near future. While answering questions raised by the audience, Ajmer Singh asked why no Dalit was ever allowed to contest from a general quota seat? Sikhs should have created such examples to get rid of the century old caste system. Dr. Amrik Singh referred to some of the questions raised by Dr. Jaspal Singh in his review of Ajmer Singh’s books. He also commented that Sikhs had not yet fully understood the colonialism that was mainly responsible for subjugating them. In the modern times, they have to grasp the process of globalization and their transnational identity to fully integrate into the postmodern societies. Sarbjit Singh sought clarifications on Sikhs’ observance of caste system and their failure to extricate themselves from its morass. Gurbakshish Singh of “India Spices” also raised interesting questions. Bhajan Singh Bhinder conducted the stage very well.

The audience vehemently cheered the speakers and showed their appreciation for a lively discussion.

West Sacramento Gurudwara President Balbir Singh Dhillon, Revered Wadhawa Singh Gill, trustee Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra and Mrs. Bindra, Dr. Pargat Singh Hundal, S. Kuldeep Singh, Er. Jatinder Singh Hundal, Bhai Ranjit Singh and associates were some of the prominent personalities among the audience.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com ( January 18, 2008 )

Book Review by

Dr. Amrik Singh Sacramento

Sikhs, Swamis, Students
and Spies The India lobby
in the United States,

By Harold A. Gould
460 pp. Sage Publications.


Harold A Gould’s book, Sikhs, Swamis, Students, And Spies: The India Lobby in the United States 1900-1946 is a landmark study of pioneers’ quest for freedom, love and justice both in lands of their birth and the lands they bowed to make green. Their contribution, according to Gould, will remain exceptional in the annals of history. Their dream of undivided India, though, could not become a reality due to the inept handling, yet their extraordinary role in becoming catalytic agent of change would alter our perception. Gould focuses on 1900-1946 period to dig out the truth behind the British’s eviction from India. His narrative flows uninterrupted through out 460 pages, mainly because he avoids hot spots of controversies for a more authentic account. Unlike most post-independence Indian historians, Gould constructs a comprehensive image of Ghadrites in championing the cause of freedom. Obstacles in the way to attain citizenship roused their ire creating a response that ironically advanced the cause of civil rights on both sides of the globe.

The author clearly explains how a small community of not more than 5000-6000 in 1910-20, had originally conceived a dream of claiming their country from clutches of the colonialists. In their monumental efforts, they struggled on behalf of then 260 million Indians who were being magnetized and mesmerized with glamour and glitz of colonial lifestyles. Pioneers’ lobbying efforts promoted the cause of freedom in American media, academia, and the society. The armed incursion of revolutionaries, though, suffered many jolts as British intelligence had made deep inroads into the very heart of Ghadr, however, it fueled the imagination of Indians to explore possibilities of free India. The title of the book, in fact, is a quip of Lala Hardyal who used it to categorize Indians in America as Sikhs, Swamis, Students and spies; it is so apt and apposite to the subject matter that it holds readers’ interest until the end.

The main plot revolves round Ambassador William Phillips’s assignment to India and his highly confidential report on British Raj’s hollowness and callousness in suppressing the voice of freedom and jeopardizing ongoing war efforts. Through his private report, Phillips urged the President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take action against the British in view of the common agenda adopted by allies in World War II. Since the lobbyists had sympathizers in the US state department, the confidential letter to the President found its way in the most popular column of the Washington Post. Drew Pearson’s “The Washington Merry-Go-Round” created a rift right in the middle of World War II. Who had leaked the information to the press? Gould reveals the name for the first time in the book under review.

The book has been dedicated to Professor I. Crane (1922-97) whose name is linked for the first time to the greatest mystery in the state department leakage case of 1943 to one of the columnists of the Washington Post. This disclosure hit hard at the British’s orchestrated campaign of constructing myths in America about benevolence of the British Raj. J.J. Singh, who was known as ‘one-man lobby’ and a genius of public relations among his American sympathizers, had worked hard to advertise Indian freedom movement. The author comments that firebrand leader like Lala Har Dyal though provided organizational support initially, yet could not manage to run the affairs for long due to British operatives’ threat. However the recruits mostly Sikhs, some Hindus and Muslims as well stood trial and some achieved martyrdom as wages for their allegiance. Professor Crane says about Sikhs: “They were all patriots and wanted India to be free, but they also wanted American citizenship.”

The intertwined motif of ending discrimination on the basis of race made pioneers willing partners in fight to the finish. The struggle for freedom starting in 1900 in North America continued with the same fervor though different routes had to be followed for achieving results. After the First World War, Punjabi pioneers’ influence looked unstoppable as they had 122,000 acreage in their possessions. Immigration & Naturalization Services’ decision to challenge the verdict of a district court in the US Supreme Court won support of Anglo Americans as a deterrent measure. Their main angst was pioneers’ unquenchable thirst for agricultural lands. The British Raj succeeded in convincing US government to try in court of law all revolutionaries for conspiring an armed incursion with money pumped by imperial Germany. The trials, according to Gould, were a media circus. “It lasted 155 days; cost the US government $450, 000 and the British government 2.5 million. The amount the British spent is obviously a measure of how threatening they believed Ghadr, in concert with the German enemy, had become.” In trials, the British had a motive for using American media for stereotyping ‘Hindoos’ as people of violent and criminal bent of mind. The phenomenal amount of dollar spending to suppress a small group of radicals through infiltration on the one hand and to egg on non-violent movement involving a larger population was the only course left to sidetrack barrels of guns from faces of Raj’s custodians.

In the 47 years of journey, Ghadr pioneers and their friends continued financial, moral and nationalistic support to the lobbyists. The median income of Indian Americans in 2005 is over $60.000 per annum, according to Gould, higher than any other minority group. Sufferings and energies of Sohan Singh Bhakna, Har Dayal, Taraknath Das, Syud Hossain, Anup Singh, Sridharani, JJ Singh, the Sikh leaders on the Pacific Coast, and so many others like Professor Robert Crane made it possible. The tenacity of their purpose and steady financial support won a badge of American citizenship when President Harry S. Truman signed ‘Celler-Luce Bill’ on July 2, 1946. The relief applied to all people of the Indian subcontinent. Gould emphasizes that isolating Ghadr from the latter-day campaigns will result in belittling its historical role. Gould opines, “The intellectuals were especially crucial in developing the various organizations that promoted political awareness and provided framework for collective action. Ghadr was a classic manifestation of this fateful conjecture, as were the organizations that followed, such as the Friends for Freedom of India, the India League of America, the Indian Chamber of Commerce of America, and the National Committee for Indian Freedom, the India Welfare League, etc.”

The armed invasion for liberation fantasized by Ghadrites may look a mere figment of imagination today, but for British intelligence it was a big plot to single out and dispatch white people from India. The interception of a ship, Henry S loaded with 5000 pistols at the sea was though a major success of the British intelligence, yet it spread panic among whites. The great enthusiasm of revolutionaries had stunned the ruling minority of India. The intelligence planned to create a counter political movement that might be not only culturally savvy and socially well-liked, but also damaging to the radicals. The double edged sword fashioned by master minds of the British intelligence both worked to decimate the influence of radicals in India as well as in the US. The main goal of underground operatives was to send early signals of an impending uprising.
Lobbyists’ efforts definitely increased American intervention in forcing the British to leave India. The President Harry S. Truman’s declaration of citizenship to Indians in 1946, in fact, was the precursor to India’s liberation in 1947. It is a different matter though colonialism continued in post-independent era in different indigenous forms. This could have been the only reason that Indian successive governments became apathetic to the demand of erecting a commemorative structure for Ghadr martyrs.

Sage Publication has done a good job except for errors in Professor l. Crane’s year of birth. Readers won’t know which one is right— 1920, 1922 and 1927.

Posted on www.ambedkartimes.com (December 20, 2007)



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