Category Archives: Social Activity

Anti-Sikh Massacre 1984

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Yesterday, an ex-MP in India, Sajjan Kumar was acquitted of inciting racial hatred and murdering 3 Sikhs during the Anti-Sikh Massacre of 1984 despite the enormous evidence against him. My new blog update gives a background to the Anti-Sikh Massacre of 1984 which occurred in the aftermath of the assassination of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Everyday 10,000 people supposedly visit the grave of one person and every year the Indian prime minister of the time goes to present flowers on the anniversary of this persons death. This person was killed 29 years ago and yet there is no mention of moving on, forgetting. On the other hand thousands of people lost their lives and we are asked not to even remember them, to forget and move on. What makes one ladies life more valuable then that of thousands? Simple, it is the fact that her death can be justified.

You can explain to people that she was assassinated for ordering Operation Blue Star that resulted in thousands of Sikhs being massacred in their own Holy shrines and even then the people that assassinated her where duly punished immediately. But you can not explain the deaths of the innocent people that were killed in response to her assassination. Of course people want Sikhs to forget the Delhi Massacre, it would save them from the many unanswerable questions. Forgetting it seems is better then explaining why the friendly neighbour turned into monster, the politicians into mob leaders and the government institutions closed their doors on those desperate for their help.

Neighbours look out for neighbours but during the Delhi Massacres, all neighbourly love was forgotten. Neighbours joined in the mobs to first kill the men and the children in the most gruesome way possible by putting tires around their necks and burning them alive. The Sikh males died trying to protect their families. With no one to protect them the females, regardless of age, were gang raped. The clothes worn were torn to shreds and the clothes in the houses burned, leaving the women helpless and naked to wander. The people with whom the Sikhs had joined together with to celebrate holidays and other aspects of life, were the same that were attacking them. With Sikhs killed or in hiding, the neighbours and other members of the mob looted the households. Sikhs were left with nothing, not even their dignity.

If there were any neighbors that were merciful and tried to protect their Sikh neighbours, the politicians made sure they didn’t let them.The vilest of criminals and thieves were bused in from other parts of the country to lead the mobs. The mobs were armed with highly flammable white powder and gasoline given to them by the police and politicians and sent of to track Sikhs using voting lists stating where Sikh homes were. If that was not enough politicians like Sajjan Kumar were dictating to mobs “u will not be caught, nothing will happen, kill sikhs” from a louder speaker from a jeep. Sajan and Jagdesh both of whom had lead the mobs were promoted with higher positions in the government within a month of the massacre. Till date both have not been punished and enjoy fruits of their ill earned positions. What they did was only possible because of leaders like Rajiv Gandhi who justified the massacre by saying “when a tree falls the ground shakes” ie Sikhs should expect this treatment. The government failed Sikhs in 1984 and so did the government agencies.

The hospitals, the army and the police all failed its citizens by sitting back and watching the destruction take place. The police refused to protect the Sikhs, not one report filed against members of the mob was acted upon. The police actually went out of their way to assist the mobsters to make sure no Sikhs survived the massacre. The army sat back and watched, did not help in trying to regain order and save the innocent. The hospitals and the doctors broke their oath by not helping save lives, instead turned people back. The popular method of attacking the Sikhs was burning tires and the hospitals closed all burn units. There was no hope for survival. Those that had sworn to help all, turned their backs on one group of citizens, the Sikhs.

The neighbours turned into foes, the politicians into opportunists, the government agencies forgot their vows and it is the Sikhs that are stirring up trouble? We are not asked to move on, to forget because Sikhs are in the wrong. We are asked to move on because we are asking questions, we are accusing the party in the wrong and no one has answers. We are asked to move on because Government wants to get away with it. I implore everybody to read ‘I accuse’ by Jarnail Singh Ji to better understand what happened in 1984 and then tell me, how does one move on from a event like that?

REMEMBER 84…Let the silence be heard!!

-Kirat Raj Singh

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Chasing Happiness

Sometimes our lives are overloaded with notions of practicality and productivity.  We believe that if there’s no planned purpose to an event or activity, there’s no point in doing it.  In reality the best things in life are unplanned and without an appointed purpose.

We sacrifice a great deal of our time and sanity doing what we don’t want to do, so that at some arbitrary point in the future we can establish the freedom to do what we love.

We relentlessly pursue happiness in every imaginable way.  We pursue happiness in material possessions, in social status, and in the acceptance and recognition we get from others.  We even search for happiness in various versions of a future-promised afterlife.  But these pursuits rarely give us more than fleeting moments of joy.  We end up missing out on lots of thrilling life experiences and contentment because we fail to understand a very simple but easily overlooked fact…

The Search for Happiness Causes Misery

You can’t find something that’s already here with you.  Happiness exists in this moment.  It’s not something you need to find.  That’s like trying to find the oxygen you’re breathing right now.

In reality, it’s the tension of your mind that causes unhappiness.  If you’re not happy, it’s because your mind is focused on something that’s making you unhappy.  And why is your mind doing this?  Because you’re stuck in a viciouscycle of misdirected judgment, productivity and purpose that has you thinking about every imaginable time and place, except right here, right now.  That’s not to say being productive is irresponsible, or that pursuing goals that have a purpose is wrong.  The problem occurs when you base your entire reason for living on a point in time – an activity or achievement – that doesn’t yet exist. 

When we place all of our happiness on the idea of ‘getting’ something, checking off items on a to-do list, or achieving a future goal, we’re fooling ourselves.  We’re like a puppy that’s chasing her tail.  We keep running around and around, chasing that tail with every bit of energy we have, but we never catch it.  And we never stop to think that it might be all the chasing that’s making us miserable.  We’re too distracted with trying to win the game.  As soon as we beat one level and see some success, we’re instantly in a hurry to upgrade our search and move on to the next level.  We never stop to think that it’s not the failure to win the game that causes our grief, but the game itself.

We neglect to realise that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to simply stand still and breathe.

Sometimes…

  • The smartest way to be happy with the place you live is to stop chasing the mansion you see on TV with five bedrooms, a pool, a fireplace, and a three-car garage.
  • The best way to solve the problem of not having lots of friends is to stop worrying about having more, and instead appreciate the few good ones you do have.
  • The simplest way to be content with yourself is not to achieve high admiration and praise from others, but to accept yourself fully for who you are now.
  • The quickest route to happiness is to stop the pursuit of finding happiness and start the process of being happiness.

By letting go a little we immediately release ourselves of the grasping tension of the mind.  But it’s not easy to stay in this mindset (the mind loves to hold on); it’s something we have to constantly cultivate.

It’s especially difficult when society tends to place more value on things and status, than on experiences.  We are told to value what we do more than how we feel.  This is complete nonsense when you think about it.  The way you feel is far more important than what you own or how others perceive you.  Isn’t the purpose of everything you do to feel good?  Isn’t the purpose of that new gold watch, that important job title, or college degree to give you a feeling of accomplishment?  Aren’t these things supposed to make you happy?

The problem with this is we’re basing our happiness on fleeting things and events.  We’re deriving our joy from an acquisition or an achievement.  This isn’t true, lasting happiness; it’s an addiction.  We get a short burst of endorphins to our bloodstream from our new big screen TV, or new iPhone, or new title on our business cards, and then what happens?  It disappears.  It leaves us feeling empty and we begin looking for our next fix.

Our advertising and consumer driven culture doesn’t help us at all.  We’re persistently showered with messages that we need this, or we need that.  Every day on TV, the radio and online, we hear: “Buy this and it will make your life easier and happier!”  If only we could afford that thing we may finally be happy.  Wrong.  Things aren’t going to make your life any better.  I mean, buying a faster computer or acquiring a solution to a small problem you’ve been meaning to fix is great.  You may feel a sense of joy and achievement for a few moments.  But you’re still looking for your happiness outside yourself, in a thing.

It’s the same with productivity and goals.  If only we could cross off every item on our to-do list, we could be content.  If only we could achieve all of our goals and dreams, we could finally be satisfied.  This thinking is based on the false belief that you’ll reach a certain point where everything is done.  You finally made it!  There’s nothing left in your inbox, all your projects are complete and your lifelong goals are achieved!  Now you can rest easy and be happy.

But, of course, this point will never come.  That’s because life is endlessly evolving.  Every day is a new beginning.  There will always be things to do.  There will always be challenges, because everything in life is changing from moment to moment.  If you reached a point in your life where you had no more problems, no more struggles, no more worries, your life would stop, literally.  Game over.

So, what can we do about this?

We Need to Stop Chasing Happiness

That doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve our goals or striving for personal growth.  It just means that we no longer base our happiness on fleeting, semi-permanent things.

There are obviously some situations where not chasing a task or result may have serious negative consequences (see paying your mortgage or rent).  Excessive chasing, however, will inevitably make you miserable.

The reason chasing too much can be detrimental to your health and happiness, is you’re so focused exclusively on the future.  Your identity is too deeply attached to outcomes that are uncertain.  If something does, or doesn’t go your way, it will likely have an enduring effect on your mood.

Instead, we should base our happiness on the life we are living – on the beauty that is already ours, on desires that don’t shift from moment to moment.  We choose to find in our happiness now – in life itself.  In fact, we don’t even need to ‘find’ happiness.  We can be happiness.

Stop searching.  Stop chasing.  Happiness is already here.

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My Most Inspiring Faith Stories from 2012

Faith and Religion played an integral part in the roller-coaster that was 2012. We saw many stories which brought out the best in people whilst others had us hanging our heads in shame. As 2012 draws to a close, I share with you 4 faith based stories which inspired me this year.

My most inspiring faith stories from 2012:- 

balpreet kaur

1) Huffington Post’s Religious Person of the Year 2012, Balpreet Kaur. Balpreet hit the news after a picture of her standing in line was taken by an editor of Reddit and posted online under the subject heading of ‘funny’ based on her unique appearance. But instead of ignoring the intentional offensive jibes, she responded with a remarkable generosity of spirit:

“Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will… When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away,” Kaur wrote. “However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.”

Balpreet’s ability to express herself and to disarm ignorance with wisdom led to a sincere apology by the original editor who expressed his true change of heart:

“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post… I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.”

Balpreet Kaur showed that grace, kindness and goodness are the best antidote to ignorance online as well as offline and thus was made Huffington Post’s Religious person of the Year joining people such as the Dalai Lama in an exclusive club.

Tulsi Gabbard

2) With the 2012 US Presidential Election, a lot of attention was given to the Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney’s faith and his beliefs as a Mormon. However these elections brought another 2 historic firsts for religion in American politics: a Buddhist was elected to Hawaii’s Senate and a Hindu was elected to the Hawaiian Congress. Supporters of newly elected senator Mazie Hirono and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said that the win paved the way for a lot more representatives from the ethnic minority communities to come forward and make an impact on the political arena.

wisconsin-sikh-temple-shooting

3)  In August 2012, I watched in horror as news filtered in of a gunman who shot dead 6 worshippers in a Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship) in Wisconsin, USA in an act of domestic terrorism. The gunman was later found to have had links to white supremacist groups. However as Sikhs across the world mourned at the loss, I was touched by the support and messages of condolences that the Sikh Community received from people of other faiths and of no faith. I personally received a letter from faith based student organisations condemning the incident in Wisconsin. The letter signed by the Union of Jewish Students, Federation of Student Islamic Societies, National Hindu Students Forum,  and the Student Christian Movement stated,

“We wholeheartedly condemn the horrific attack that took place on the 5th August at the Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We send our sympathy and solidarity to the Sikh community, both in Wisconsin and across the world, at this difficult time. The student movement stands in solidarity with all victims of racism and far right aggression. We recognise the need to challenge and oppose racists and neo-Nazis, both in words and on the streets. We also struggle against the poverty, inequality and alienation that help fuel racist and far right ideas. We reaffirm our solidarity with the Sikh community and our commitment to working with them to try and prevent atrocities like the attack in Milwaukee from ever taking place again.”

The unity showed by other faith groups brought out the best in others even in the time of a tragedy.

jewish

4)  In a world with big problems, it is often the small gestures that make the loudest noise. As the world remained in fear, praying for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a small appeal for peace captured the attention of the online community after the picture above went viral on Facebook and Twitter. The simple photograph showed 2 men holding cardboard signs. One sign reads, “I’m Jewish and I am from Israel.” Another reads, “I’m Muslim and I am from Palestine.”The simple photograph showed two men standing in midtown Manhattan holding cardboard signs. Together the men hold a third sign: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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Poem dedicated to the Delhi Gangrape Victim

Maa bahut Dard seh kar
Bahut dard deh kar
Tujhse kuch keh kar main jaa rahi hun

Aaj meri vidai main jab Sakhiyaan milne aayengi
Safaid Jode main lipti dekh sisak sisak mar jayengi
Ladki hone ka khud pe fir woh Afsos jatayengi
Maa tu unse itna keh dena Darindo k duniya main Sambhal kar rehna

Maa Raakhi par jab Bhaiya Kalai suni reh jayegi
Yaad mujhe kar kar jab unki Aankh bhar ayegi
Tilak mathe par karne ko Maa rooh meri bhi Machal jayegi…
Maa tu bhaiya ko rone na dena
Main sath hu har Pal unse kah dena

Maa Papa bhi chhup chhup bohot royenge
Main kuch na kar paya ye kah k khud ko kosenge
Maa dard unhe ye hone na dena
ilzaam koi lene na dena
Wo Abhimaan hai mera samman hai mera
Tu unse itna keh dena

Maa tere liye ab kya kahu..
Dard ko tere shabdon main kaise bandhu…
Fir se jeene ka moka kaise maangu

Maa log tujhe satayenge
mujhe azaadi dene ka tujhpe ilzaam lagayenge
Maa sab sah lena par ye na kahna
“Agle janam Mohe Bitiya na dena”

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Stop the Silence- Marking the International Human Rights Day 2012

A short film raising awareness of the injustices Sikhs faced in 1984. All the information is based on factual accounts and have been validated by many sources.

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by | December 10, 2012 · 9:43 pm

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2012

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2012, provides an opportunity to address the exclusion of persons with disabilities by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society. It also serves as a reminder that disabled persons are to be treated with respect and fairness like all other citizens of the world who have the right to live their aspirations.

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

My personal inspiration comes from Bhagat Puran Singh ji, who in the early 20th century fought against discrimination of disabled people in India. In a society where non-abled people were declared outcasts and no welfare system was in place to take care of them, Bhagat Puran Singh ji dedicated his life in serving these abandoned forlorn people and set up Pingalwara, a home for the destitute. Today Pingalwara continues the work  started by Bhagat ji, by running a shelter for disabled people and a school for intellectually disabled children all over India.

It is not easily possible to sum up a multi-dimensional institution that Bhagat Puran Singh surely was but his shining example will continue to serve as a model for generations to come. And today on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, may it remind us all of the barriers which yet still need be knocked down so that people with disabilities can lead a respectful and empowering life.

Bhagat_Puran_Singh

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