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Singing All the Way, The Sikh Journey in America is on the Move now ; Gurpreet Singh Sarin, ” The Turbanator ” On American Idol

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Discussion | 0 comments

I was very happy to see a young Sikh American named Gurpreet Singh Sarin nicknamed ‘ Turbanator ’ on American Idol. He has set out to spread Sikh Awareness in his own artistic way.  I had recently watched him on American Idol. Gurpreet appears to have decided to sing it all the way!  As I watched this video, I couldn’t help but think back to a few months ago when I attended the Western Scholars Conference 2012: Sikh journey in America, hosted at University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. In celebration of the centennial anniversary of Stockton Gurduara, founded in October 24, 1912, the conference was organized by the Sikh-American Research Center of the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society and Stockton Gurduara Centennial Committee. I had driven down to the conference with my wife and we were both very appreciative of the Sikh American youth volunteers from local schools, colleges and universities, who welcomed the guests at the registration front desk with a genuine smile, and conducted and moderated presentations in a timely and professional manner. It is very uplifting to my spirits to know that this generation is taking up the mantel and does not run everything with Indian Standard Time!

The conference understandably, revolved around the founding of the Stockton Sikh Temple and the formation of the Ghadar Party in 1912/13 in California.  We were delighted to see the conference hall packed and well attended with more than a dozen distinguished speakers, who made thought provoking power point presentations. Although I did not agree with some of the scholars who in their own dramatic way, tried to redefine the Ghadarites, their motives and thus rewrite the history as if it were. My attention was specifically drawn to the presentation by Dr. Harold A. Gould, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Referring to the Oakcreek Sikh Temple tragedy, he said that no one could even pronounce the name of our religion properly when the news first came out that an unidentified gunman had murdered five members of the Sikh faith within the confines of their temple in a Milwaukie suburb in Wisconsin. He went on to say that most Americans, and even most members of the press, had no accurate idea of who and what the Sikhs are. Media reporters couldn’t pronounce the community’s name properly-calling them ‘Seeks’ or some variation of that. “At most,” he had said, “they probably knew that Sikhs are originally from some part of India, who came to this country, God knows how and when, as immigrants of some kind. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney more than once called them “Sheiks”(a Muslim term for an Arab leader) instead of “Sikhs”(the name of their cultural community)!” These words repeated in my head as I watched the Turbanator very funnily charm Nicky Minaj by telling her he had a turban the color of her hair!

Following a huge backlash of Oakcreek, where many condemned this heinous crime at Milwaukee with pouring in of sympathy and goodwill from all quarters –from marching down City Hall to the White House. There started to be a lot of talk about the Sikhs in America in the media, and an honest look at who we are. A significant legislation pertaining to Sikh Awareness and to include necessary information about Sikhi in the Public School Curriculum in California which had been kept at the back burner for years was swiftly passed by the legislature, largely because of this media attention. Equally swiftly it was signed in to law by the California Governor Jerry Brown last year in November 2012. There is a long way to getting it all right but at least, American press and general public now can finally pronounce the name right.

It takes a century, tragic and ironical as it is, the proverbial Duddu (frog) is finally out of the well and well into the main stream America. The Sikh journey in America and beyond is now on the move. But where did it all begin? As Sikhs living in the Diaspora especially in America, do we really appreciate it or are we really even fully aware of it? That has to go back to the Ghadrites era or even before, when the circumstances drove ordinary field and saw-mill Indian workers (called Hindoos) to become radicalized and began to turn to human right activists and Ghadrites. But that is the subject of a separate post.

While it may not seem like Gurpreet Singh Sarin, “The Turbanator,” is a cultural or religious ambassador for Sikhs or Sikh-Americans, I believe he is presenting a wonderful message to all Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. That we are all human and you should never judge a book by its cover. During the time of Guru Gobind Singh and during the struggle for Independence, it was time to take up arms. In the 21st century, today, may be it is time to pick up the ‘Rabab’ again and sing! Let us wish American Idol hopeful, Gurpreet Singh Sarin “The Turbanator,” the best of luck in his creative endeavour and for presenting a loving and wonderful image of Sikhs to the world! As always let me know your thoughts on my face book or on my website:

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A Call to All Sikh Organizations: November is Sikh Awareness & Appreciation Month

Posted by on Sep 5, 2010 in Discussion, Sikh Council of Central California | 3 comments

The Ghadar Party

The Ghadar Party

Although the Sikhs have lived in the United States for over a century, many people are still unaware of who the Sikhs really are and where they originally come from. Following the 9/11 attacks, many Sikhs were targeted in cases of mistakenly identity; Sikh children continue to be harassed and bullied both during and outside of school hours. And the reason is not because of any ill will, but ignorance. People simply don’t know who the Sikhs are. And the reasons appear to be a lack of public education and media awareness in our multiethnic and multicultural society. And even within the Sikh Community, our own self created illusions and pre-occupations with non-issues made to be major issues have all coalesced and resulted in being detrimental to the Sikhs as a community. Because of our internal bickering, there has not even been a mention of Sikhi or Sikhism in the California school books although it is now the 5th largest religion in the world and almost 200,000 Sikhs made California their home by making valuable contributions right from serving in the American Armed forces, farming fields, and everything else in between for over a century now. Having said that, there have been many Sikh organizations who have made strides to educate people about Sikhs, but the point I am making is that we all need to join forces and do what is best for the Sikh Community as a whole.

 

Along with many other individuals and Sikh organizations, I have been working with the Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC) to set the records straight in the school curriculums and content standards which ensures inclusion in the classrooms. The Yuba city Sikh Community, for example, has been paving the way in getting Punjabi classes started in their school districts and also getting the legislation to pass the resolution to make November 2010 Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month starting in California. Under the leadership of some selfless individuals and with the support of the Sikh community, I am delighted to report that this endeavor is bearing fruit on both of these fronts.

While the November 2010 Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month is great news for the Sikh Community, November is just around the corner and there is a special message for the American Sikh community: Unite and create awareness of who the Sikhs are in your respective communities. Also, please listen to KBIF 900 AM this Sunday to listen to Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang, M.D. of Yuba city’s interview with Punjab News and Views.

A friend of mine, former professor and alumni of U.C. Berkeley- Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra – just sent me the details of resolution No. 181 (California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month), introduced on August 2, 2010 by Assembly Member Daniel R. Logue, at the request of Marysville-Yuba City Sikhs. Remember to pass along the message of who the Sikhs are through your words and most importantly, through your actions:

November 2010 Has Been Designated Sikh Awareness & Appreciation Month in California.
Written by Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra

California legislature has unanimously approved the Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 181 (California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month). Introduced on August 2, 2010 by Assembly Member Daniel R. Logue, at the request of Marysville-Yuba City Sikhs, it designates November 2010 as California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. His press release in appealdemocrat.com states,This is the first time in state history that Sikhs are receiving recognition for their outstanding contributions to California. He added, “month’s designation should serve to honor one of the state’s notable and accomplished communities.”

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, the resolution reads “ That the Legislature hereby designates the month of November 2010 to be California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month; and be it further Resolved, That the Legislature recognizes and acknowledges the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh heritage to our state, and by adoption of this resolution, seeks to afford all Californians the opportunity to better understand, recognize, and appreciate the rich history and shared principles of Sikh Americans, their monotheistic religion and the tenets of their faith, and the important role that Sikh Americans play in furthering mutual understanding and respect among all peoples; and be it further Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution to the Members of the Legislature, members of the California Sikh American community, and other interested persons.”

The resolution, it is hoped, “would recognize and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh heritage to California and afford all Californians the opportunity to understand, recognize, and appreciate the rich history, shared principles, religion, faith, and role Sikh Americans play in furthering mutual understanding and respect among all peoples.”

The following provided a justification for the resolution.

  1. California and our nation are at once blessed and enriched by the unparalleled diversity of our residents;
  2. Among this unprecedented diversity in California, there reside an estimated 200,000 Americans of Sikh origin, comprising nearly 40 percent of the nation’s estimated Sikh population;
  3. Sikh immigrants have resided in California for more than a century, with the first Sikh immigrants believed to have labored on railroad construction projects, in lumber mills, and in the agricultural heartlands of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Imperial Valleys;
  4. The first Sikh temple (Gurdwara) in California was established in Stockton in 1912, and Sikh temples have since been established in communities throughout California;
  5. While Sikh Americans have distinguished themselves in numerous areas of endeavor, they have demonstrated particular success in the areas of agriculture, trucking, medicine, and in the creation of small, family-owned businesses;
  6. Yuba City, California, boasts the largest population one of the largest confirmed populations of Sikh and Punjabi Americans in the nation;
  7. Dalip Singh Saund was the first Sikh American and Asian American member of the United States Congress;
  8. Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind struggled and fought for Asian Indians to be allowed to become American citizens;
  9. Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany of Palo Alto is acknowledged by many to be the father of fiber optics;
  10. Sikh Americans have served as mayors of California cities, including David Dhillon in El Centro, Gurpal Samra in Livingston, Amarpreet “Ruby” Dhaliwal in San Joaquin, and Kashmir Singh Gill in Yuba City, and numerous Sikh Americans have served as council members of California cities;
  11. The Sikh and Punjabi American communities of California continue to make important contributions to our state and nation;
  12. Sikh Americans City throughout California celebrates the coronation day of Sikh Scripture as Guru Gaddi Divas, along with parades in cities across California, the largest being held in Yuba City on the first Sunday of every November.

There is not much time left before November 2010. I urge all Sikh organizations in California (Gurdwara Managements, Cultural Associations, Sikh Students Associations in California, Jakara, Sikh Foundation, SALDEF, Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs, World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR), Punjabi American Heritage Society (PAHS), Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC), KBIF900AM PunjabNewsandViews other Sikh organizations, and Sikh intellectuals to consider it their duty to arrange functions for awareness and appreciation of Sikhs in November 2010 throughout California. Museums, Libraries, School Districts and Media (TV, radio, print media, internet media – Blogs, twitter, Facebook) can all help. I recommend the use of PBS Sikh videos like “Meet the Sikhs”, “Sikhs in America”, and “A Dream in Doubt” etc., and Kaur Foundation’s “Cultural Safari”. Further, we need to hold open houses, exhibitions, seminars etc. and invite neighbors and teachers, and to hold teacher appreciation functions.  Furthermore, we must participate in Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11 (Displaying a life-size picture of Bhagat Singh Thind, when he was in the United States army during WWI) and in other neighborhood parades, and distribute a brief leaflet about Sikh identity, religion, culture and history in California.

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Remembering Ghadari Babas, the Unsung Heroes of 1947 – the Indian Struggle for Independence

Posted by on Aug 30, 2010 in Discussion | 0 comments

The Ghadar Party

The Sikh Temple, Stockton, California (U.S.A.) 1912: One of the Centres of Ghadar Activities

Tune in to KBIF AM 900 every Sunday between 3-4pm (PST) to listen to Punjab News and Views.
Don’t have a radio? Listen to it live at www.asianradioam.com

Download and listen to any of the radio shows at your leisure by subscribing to the podcast at http://www.punjabnewsandviews.com/radio/JasPodcast.rss

This week’s topic: Remembering the Ghadari Babas

Every nation has a history and a story of their patriot warriors who at one critical juncture or another of a dire need, had stood up to the tyrant to be counted, fought and had sacrificed their all to protect its freedom and foster its nationhood.  Years later, in national celebrations and thanksgivings however, only those few are remembered who somehow find a place in its history books and thus in peoples’ minds; others remain unknown, ignored or forgotten as the time goes by. Ghadri babas affectionately known as the elderly revolutionaries appear to have met a similar fate in India’s history books and consequently in peoples’ minds.

The Indian Flag

The Indian Flag

These elderly revolutionaries had sacrificed their all, not only fighting for Indias’ freedom alone but equally importantly to reclaim its nationhood as one Indian nation lost under the 200 years of the ‘Divide and Conquer British Rule’. Although it all began here in California, not many Indians, especially the younger generation now living in California as free citizens knew or much cared about them either. This is not to say that left of the center political parties in India, mainly the communist parties did not keep the torch alive; they did but the Ghadri babas were hardly mentioned in the national celebrations by the ruling governments where they deserved their rightful place and where it really mattered.

Interestingly a century later, there are now a number of Indo – U.S. organizations which have been organizing meetings dedicated to the Ghadrites in some of the major Californian cities starting in Fresno followed by Sacramento and San Francisco, where the Ghadrites mostly met and where the story began.
Read my previous article, “Legacy of the Ghadarites” for background on their achievements.

Yogantara Ashram

Yogantara Ashram, San Francisco, California

It is a story where ordinary Indian laborers working in north America in the early 20th century, led by a handful of Punjabi Sikh revolutionaries all became Ghadrites, a name later taken after their newspaper ‘Ghadar’ they had started to publish from their headquarters, Yogantara Ashram in San Francisco. The story of the Ghadri babas is worth knowing for all Indians as a nation, be they from the east, west, north or south of India; for residents and NRIs’ alike.
Ghadri Babas, also known as Ghadrites for short, had sacrificed everything they had, including their lives, not only fighting for India’s freedom from foreign rule, but equally importantly to foster its nationhood as one Indian nation. While the British used the strategy of “divide and conquer,” the Ghadri Babas used it in reverse and unified Indians regardless of their regional, religious, or linguistic ties. In so doing they not only challenged Indians to oust the British by force from India but more importantly fight them under a one Indian banner.

While Indians who were in North America during this time were predominantly Punjabi Sikhs and the movement was propelled by a handful of Punjabi Sikh revolutionaries, all Indians, regardless of their backgrounds joined forces to become one revolutionary entity, the Ghadar Party. It didn’t matter to them that Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna was Sikh, Mahomed Barakatullah was Muslim, Lala Hardyal was Hindu, or that Tarak Nath Das had regional and linguistic ties to Bengal. Having played a crucial role in the Indian Independence movement , the story of these Indian revolutionaries rising above religion, regionalism, ethnicity, language, cast or creed for a common cause to rid India of foreign rule, is worth knowing for all Indians, no matter what subdivision they have created for themselves. The bottom line is that regardless of anything else,  all Indians are Indians and have India’s best intentions at heart.

Indian Independence Day Celebration in Fresno, California

Indian Independence Day Celebration in Fresno, CaliforniaHarry Gill, Linda Haldermann, Mike Villines and Me

It is encouraging to see that this recent phenomenon of remembering and bringing these unsung heroes into focus started in the central valley California is now gaining momemtum.  Just a few days ago, I attended an Indian Independence Celebration in Fresno put on by both Hindu and Sikh organizations. And just before that the Ghadar Memorial Foundation of America held a meeting in Sacramento attended by Californians from all over the state which included half a dozen distinguished intellectuals, who travelled all the way from Punjab. These included Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, Vice Chancellor Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana and the widely respected journalist and diplomat Kuldip Nayar who presided over the conference and was also the Keynote speaker. He wrote an article, “The Ignored Revolutionaries: How They Contributed to India’s Freedom” was published in the Tribune detailing his experience there.

Also dedicated to the awareness for Ghadrites, the Indo-US Heritage Association Fresno is organizing a ‘Mela’ in the Fresno Fairgrounds on Sunday August 29, 2010. TV Sadda Channel CEO, Sidhu Damdami will be the Keynote speaker.

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Indian Independence Day Celebration at California State University, Fresno.

Posted by on Aug 17, 2010 in Discussion | 0 comments

Pashaura Singh Dhillon at Independence Day Celebration, Fresno

Harry Gill, Linda Haldermann, Mike Villines and Me at Independence Day Celebration

As soon as we arrived at California State University, Fresno’s Satellite Student Union Hall to celebrate Independence Day, an interesting conversation began. Was it the 63rd or 64th Independence Day celebration? After a few more people around us joined in the conversation, we quickly calculated that it was the 63rd Indian Independence birthday, but the 64th Indian Independence Anniversary.

But putting aside this minutia, it was a great show of Indianness by the community of Indian origin living in and around the Fresno area 10,000 miles away from “home.” In a show of solidarity, Indians with origins in east, west, north and south India, organized, performed, sang, mingled, and enjoyed the celebration together.  The whole event was very well organized, a rarity for functions such as these, and a special congratulations goes out to The Independence Day Celebration Committee for their tireless effort.

There were nineteen local organizations, predominantly of Punjabis, who all rallied together for the occasion. This was the first time when almost all of the various Indian organizations in the central valley channeled their differences in language, regional ties, and religions, and focused on the unifying factor: Being Indian and celebrating this fact together.

Ghadrites, 1936This, in a way, was a reminder of the days of the Ghadrites in the early 20th century. According to some estimates 35 organizations of Indian workers and students big and small, assembled in Astoria, Oregon in April 1913. The Hindi Association of the Pacific Coast was formed with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its President,  Lala Hardyal  as Secretary and Pandit Kashi Ram elected as its treasurer. Later renaming itself after its slogan, “Ghadar” meaning rebellion, this Hindi Association became better known as the Ghadar Party.

The Ghadar Party exemplified itself in fostering nationalism to the extent that they returned to India with one purpose in mind: to convince other Indians, regardless of what part of the country they were from, what religion they practiced, or the language they spoke, to rebel and oust the British colonizers by the use of arms. By not just talking the talk, but actually walking the walk, despite the repercussions (including jail, exile, and death), the Ghadrites humbled the sleeping Indian giant out of its 700 year long slumber to wake up and free itself. While their story is a part of history now, their legacy lives on.

President Obama and Priminster Manmohan SinghThe United States today is a very different place than it was in the time of the Ghadarites and it is because of them that we are able to live like human beings and are treated with dignity. The United States of America that greeted the Indian workers and students in Astoria, Oregon in 1913, by contrast, was not so hospitable. They were constantly ridiculed because of the food they ate, the way they looked, the clothes they wore, and even their names, all elements of their Indian identity. They were called Indian coolies, and worst of all, a nation of cowards who, numbering millions, were ruled by a handful of British living 10,000 miles away? There were degrading signs at restaurants and other public places that read ‘Indians and dogs not allowed,’ and laws enacted to prevent Indians from owning property and even getting married.

The celebration in Fresno however, was a great celebration of the progress we, as Indians, have made both in India and in our adopted country through the heroism shown by the Ghadrites. There were great speeches from all of the guests which included mayors, assembly members and senators from all over California. The speeches, one after another, genuinely conveyed their admiration of how the Indian community has made a difference by their positive contribution to American society and how proud they were in having us here.

Pashaura Singh Dhillon at the Indian Independance Day Celebration

Indian Independance Day Celebration

But the most powerful speech was by Mrs. Susmita G. Thomas, Consulate General of India, who traveled by road from San Francisco to attend this celebration. Standing like a rock and addressing the packed hall from the podium, apart from saying the niceties usually said on such occasions, she dedicated a large part of her speech to the Ghadrites’ role in Indian Independence, a fact rarely mentioned by politicians. Standing on the land where the Ghadrites had their century old footsteps still visible, however fading fast, she paid them a glowing tribute on this auspicious day that they deserved. She even went on to read a Ghadrite poem from one of the Ghadar magazines, a weekly paper which began publishing with its first issue in Urdu on November 1, 1913 from 5 Wood Street, San Francisco. She also promised to open to the public, the Yugantar Asharm, the then headquarter of the Ghadrites, named after a Bengali revolutionary paper Yugantar in San Francisco.

Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna

Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna

Mrs. Susmita G. Thomas’ speech was very Nehruesque speech to say the least. At least, I haven’t heard anyone mentioning the name of the Ghadrites on such occasions, with such a passion since Pandit Jawahar  Lal Nehru. India’s first Prime Minister, I believe, had a great respect for the Ghadri Babas. As the story goes  when Nehru came to attend a public meeting at Lahore during the days of struggle for independence, he saw Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna sitting among others on the floor mat in front of the chair he was to be seated and address the meeting. As soon as Pandit Ji saw him, he went straight to touch Baba Ji’s knees as a sign of respect. And grabbing Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna by the arm, he requested him to sit on the only chair which was brought for Nehru. Of course Baba Bhakna thanked Nehru for showing him that kind of respect but politely declined to sit on the chair. Nehru wouldn’t sit on the chair either. So another chair was brought for the Ghadri Baba before the meeting could start.

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Legacy of the Ghadarites

Posted by on Jul 27, 2010 in Discussion, Radio Show | 0 comments

Tune in to KBIF AM 900 every Sunday between 3-4pm (PST) to listen to Punjab News and Views.
Don’t have a radio? Listen to it live at www.asianradioam.com

Download and listen to any of the radio shows at your leisure by subscribing to the podcast at http://www.punjabnewsandviews.com/radio/JasPodcast.rss

This week’s topic: Legacy of the Ghadarites

Looking Back:

Baba Sohan Singh BhaknaThe term “Ghadar” means revolt, to overthrow power by force.
The scene is early 20th century America. The people had been enjoying the fruits of freedom for over a century now as they had overthrown their colonial masters , the British, as far back as in 1776.  But it was not the same for the communities of color as they had to struggle for another 100 years plus to get it close to where we are today. Nonetheless, the United States of America was indeed a new world

with stories of dreams come true abound. As the saying goes that workers home is where work takes them, USA the great country of ours  today, had already become a magnate  for workers all over the world.

Across the seven seas and thousands of miles away hopelessness drove hoards of workers from India to the United States, especially Punjabis, many of whom were predominantly Sikhs. Although the United States was affectionately known as a nation of immigrants, they were not welcome here. None of the Asians were, but Indians, being ruled by the British, were subject to even more ridicule. They were discriminated against every which way. They were addressed as ‘coolies,’ ‘Hindu slaves’ and to add injury to the insult a nation of a cowards, a population of millions ruled by a few hundred British who came 10,000 miles away. One of the horrendous stories I heard from Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, was that in a restaurant in Sanfrancisco, the manager refused to serve them meals when he visited the restaurant with a friend. There were  writings displaced at certain premises that said,”Indians and dogs not allowed”. These Indian immigrants, majority of whom were not that highly educated, not only read the writings on the wall but their wisdom, integrity and foresight enabled them to read between the lines also. These were the kinds of straw which instead of breaking camel’s back turned these ordinary workers in to Ghadrites.

Baba Bhakna who was pretty young at that time, along with other Indians working in North America helped found the Ghadar Party in America and became its president along with Dr. Lala Hardyal as its general secretary. Baba Ji had a profound influence on my life as I graduated from Janta High School Bhakna, also founded by him  . It was here in Sacramento-California in December 1913, a second meeting was held as a follow up from Astoria- Oregon in which more members in the executive committee were included and they vowed to free India at any cost, which was better known as ‘Ghadar’, perhaps taking the name after the Ghadar news paper which began to publish in Sanfrancisco. As the history bears witness, its members were all Indian workers, regardless of what language they spoke or the religion they practiced (or didn’t practice). As an organization, Ghadar party was a model of Indianness which stood the test of time through thick and thin as they returned to India to free their motherland. They not only talked the talk but also walked the walk as they went to the gallows together while fighting to overthrow the British Rule from India. True to the spirit of the word which JFK said many years later to his own country men here in America,” Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you ca do for the country,” the Ghadrites gave it all to the freedom movement without asking anything in return.

Although the Indian government  did not give it its due place after the independence, the Ghadar Movement is generally considered to be the first potent freedom fighter movement against the British Rule in India, which shook the sleeping Indian giant into its yearning  for freedom, some 15 years before the  Indian National Congress Resolution of 1928 was adopted by the INC. There was an armed uprising in 1857 against the British, which is also referred to as Ghadar. Brutally crushed by the British however, it was considerd by many to be an uprising to regain the the lost princely states rather than the complete freedom for the Indian populace as a whole.

The price these Ghadarites paid as a movement and the role it played for Indian Independence is history now. It is another matter, however, that their dreams of prosperity for all countrymen still remains unfulfilled and the vision incomplete.

Looking Forward:
Ghadar Memorial Punjabi Conference 2010

Dedicated to the Ghadar Movement, the Ghadar Memorial Foundatiion of America held a Ghadar Memorial Punjabi Conference and 10th cultural fair in Sacramento on July 10, 2010. If you can read Punjabi and are interested in the poem I wrote for Preet Lari, click here.

This was the first conference of its kind  in which half a dozen stalwarts of sorts from Punjab also participated.  They came all the way from Punjab to take part in this unique  conference and to help pave the way forward.

Kuldip Nayar at Ghadar Memorial Conference, Sacramento, CA

Kuldip Nayar at Ghadar Memorial Conference, Sacramento, CA

Paying a tribute and sharing his vision at a place where it all began some 97 years ago, Kuldip Nayar, a vetern journalist and widely respected diplomat from India, presiding over the conference attended mostly by Punjabis said in his address that in order to build Punjab of the Ghadrites dreams, we need to be Punjabis first and then reclaim self confidence of being Indians. He added that because of the Ghadarites, India is now a democratic country and as Indians we have the right to criticize her as much as we like but never turn our backs on our mother country.

Dr. Sucha Singh, a reknowned economist from the Punjabi University Patiala read an exhaustive research paper on the economy of Punjab. He concluded with the remarks that the dreams of the Ghadrites can be fulfilled only if the economic prosperity reaches all sections of its countrymen. Each and every citizen becomes a partner in the progress and prosperity, cultivating a society which does not discriminate based on religion, caste , gender or ethinicity or geographic location of its citizenry.


Your Thoughts?

What do you think? Can Indians ever be united again to fix its moral compass as did the Ghadrites and fight against the  corruption and decadence in all walks of Indian society or is it inevitable that we quibble over non issues made into issues such like language, region, religion, and caste? How can we move forward in the 21st century?

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