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Poet, Singer, and Activist

Irony of Punjabis and our 2012 Election (Part 1)

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 in Discussion, Radio Show | 3 comments

Punjab Elections 2012Punjab Assembly Elections are here one more time at Punjab’s doorsteps. In the spirit of “freedom,” there will be candidates and party propagandists from the parties in power and aspiring for power, selling their new slogans and others repackaging or coining new phrases to sell the old ones, all in the hopes of getting our votes and becoming elected in the 2012 Elections. The voter, on the other hand, is also getting smarter and shrewder if not totally fatigued and frustrated over this seasonal drama recurring every 5 years since 1952. The voter is expected to look and listen more carefully this year before casting his or her vote. As far as the NRIs in the Diaspora are concerned, since they have no vote or have no bowl of rice directly at stake one way or the other, it is big community news and the subject of gossip and discussion anywhere Punjabis congregate: at Gurdwaras, Mandirs, and Masjids all over the world, including California, where I and many other Punjabis, live.

Eying the voter at home in Punjab, there will be horse trading, arm twisting and dangling of all kinds of carrots to lure the voters in and keep the candidates to toe the line. Paid news, muscle power, threats, blackmailing, bribery, alcohol, and drugs are almost seen as acceptable and “natural” means to seduce the bride to come to the altar for all states in India. Falling for an extra fancy for it, and taking it to new heights or depths (depending on your perspective), this practice has been especially facilitated in the land of five rivers by our successive governments over the years so much so that this has slowly but surely crept into our most sacred of elections for our religious institutions such as the SGPC. People in general and that includes our political parties, have little faith in the local police. Running an honest and ethical election has become quite the challenge for the Election Commission who is contemplating import policing to conduct their business this time; this is what democracy looks like today!

View Irony of Punjabis and Our 2012 Election (Part 2)


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My Father’s Day Present: Heer CD Cover Design

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011 in Discussion, Punjabi Poetry | 0 comments

Audio CD for Waris Shah's "Heer" sung by Pashaura Singh Dhillon (artwork by Navreet Kaur Dhillon)

Audio CD for Waris Shah’s “Heer” sung by Pashaura Singh Dhillon

This year for Father’s Day, I received a very nice joint gift. My daughter, Navreet Kaur Dhillon, is a physician in the Bay Area, and also a very talented artist. My son, Navdeep Singh Dhillon, is a Creative Writing/English Literature lecturer in New York City.

Both my son and daughter collaborated via phone and internet from East and West Coast to create a CD cover for “Heer,” an album I didn’t even know I was making! I had recorded one track giving my own interpretation to Waris Shah’s epic poem, and uploaded it to FaceBook after several people requested me. It was (and still is) available for free download in a blog post I wrote, “Heer Forever Stands Tall (ਗੁੱਝੀ ਰਹੇ ਨਾ ਹੀਰ ਹਜ਼ਾਰ ਵਿਚੋਂ )” in addition to Audio Downloads (above in the navigation bar). Many have since asked me to sing some more tracks, which I had said I would do in my own time. Now, it looks like I better get moving!

Below is my daughter’s original drawing:

Artwork for Waris Shah's "Heer - Ranjha" by Navreet Kaur Dhillon

Original Artwork for CD Cover of “Heer” by Navreet Kaur Dhillon

And below is my son’s contribution. Have a listen to this CD, which currently only has one track, but there will more soon! Let me know what you think!

While you wait for “Heer” to be completed, check out my e-books, available in Punjabi (both Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts) and English. You can also download/listen to completed digital albums/CDs at


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Leila Khaled: a Revolutionary Symbol

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Discussion | 4 comments

Hijacker, Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled

Times come around and the revolutionaries of yesterday become legendary symbols and potential peacemakers for the future. One of the most such legendary figures of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation is Leila Khaled, who re-visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon recently.  A refugee herself, Leila was forced to flee Haifa as a 4 year old girl in 1948 and later became the first female member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1967. She remains a member in the PFLP Leadership Council and no doubt a potential participant for any lasting peace treaty whenever that happens.

Leila made herself and the Palestinian cause the newspapers headlines, when she first hijacked a TWA plane going from Rome to Athens and landed at the Heathrow London Airport in 1969. This was perhaps the first hijacking of its kind carried out by a young woman ever in the history of aviation to draw to the attention of its global community, an international problem blatantly ignored. Ironically, her cause remains as potent today as it was then 42 years ago. What followed in the Middle East and elsewhere for that matter, relating to this festering saga, directly or indirectly, turned uglier and uglier. Supporting the rights of Palestinians now automatically means being anti Israel and a support for suicide bombings and violence against innocent people, while the fact remains that the Israel has a right to exist and displaced Palestinians need their home and their rights restored. It is eerily similar to how people react to prolonged and polarizing issues of the not-so distant past in Punjab. Land, Language and Water rights in Punjab somehow became relegated to “Sikh issues,” which caused the further partition of Punjab and further loss of culture and Punjabiat. Discussing the grave situation Punjab and its people have been subjected through in the 1980s ending with the horrifying state sponsored massacre of innocent Sikhs in New Delhi, usually ends up being a politicized argument based on religion, and political affiliation.

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Leila Khalid: Ik Kissa Kahani (Gurmukhi/Romanized Poem)

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Gurmukhi Poems, Punjabi Poetry, Romanized Punjabi Poems | 2 comments

Leila Khalid: A Legend by Pashaura Singh Dhillon

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