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Election Thoughts – How do the Tories/Labour serve the purpose of the Guru?

Mandeep Singh is a London based Amritdhari Sikh with 30 years of experience in the financial sector. He has worked in senior roles and been responsible for investment assets worth over $6billion. Here he shares some thoughts on the upcoming election in relation to Sikh principles and ethos.


A balance needs to be struck between socialist and conservative ideals. This is the most traditional Labour Party in two generations, against a most traditional Tory party.


Whilst there are differences in the approaches of the two parties, essentially it boils down to;

A) The Tories ideology is to shrink the state and its cost, to put more money back in your pocket and rely on businesses to generate wealth that trickles down the chain. It is “Laissezfaire” politics, geared towards the individual. The current reduction of the state is being conducted with the backdrop of austerity, making this a very traditional Tory government.

B) Labour’s ideology on the other hand, is to grow the state, increasing its cost. But this state provides a certain levels of employment and infrastructure to support the more down trodden – it is more community/collective driven.

As far as the economy is concerned – having seen elections since the 1970s and all the events since then – the economy is cyclical and there is a downturn every 12-14 years irrespective of which party is in power. In every decade since the 1970s there has been a crash and none of the parties have had any control over this.



1970s: The oil crisis – we remember having to sit in the car as our father lined up in long queues to get petrol. Also, impact of Falklands War.

1980s: The first major stock market and housing crash.

1990s: Dot com bubble crash followed by another market and housing crash. Also, impact of the first Gulf War.

2000s: The impact of 9/11, second Gulf War and 2008 credit crisis.

2010s: Continuing impact of austerity.


It really just boils down to how you feel or are led to believe through the media which approach will best fit your ideals.

We only have the choice of two main approaches in this country, or the Lib Dems in the middle. When the Tories get in, they change everything Labour did, and when Labour get in, they reverse Tory policies. We are stuck in this swing politics. This unfortunately does not allow for any meaningful length of stability and allow industries and infrastructure to mature, e.g. rail, to nationalise or not?

Taking the example of Ireland and many western EU countries where rail has remained nationalised, political stability has allowed those rail services to be efficient and better run than in the U.K, where regular changes and tendering for contracts has not allowed this to happen.


The question for Sikhs should really be How does this then align with Guru?

The follow on question for us is “Do you feel it is more important to help the downtrodden by growing the state and paying more for it, or by shrinking the state so you have more in your pocket to help directly and letting wealth spread down?”.

Why are we asking this question? Because from our understanding this is what Guru did. From the downtrodden Guru created kings and rulers, through the Guru Khalsa, who spread dharma (righteousness). The Khalsa (initiated Sikhs) were and are sovereign.


The next question is “How does either party serve the purpose of Guru Khalsa?”.

Naturally, many Sikhs have aligned with Labour for the ideology of the state helping more people. This does align with Gurmat – e.g. Langar (communal kitchens), creating dharamsals (centres of learning), centres for medicine, building of a mosque, etc.

The Tories also believe in hard work and reaping the benefits for the progress of society and nation. This also within Gurmat – creating centres of commerce around a base mainly near flowing waters, centres of education/dharma etc.

No one really articulates this from a Guru centric perspective and we end up voting based on our feelings and perceptions.

From our perspective, the elections are really just a best fit scenario for us and a bit of a con. They are a distraction from capitalism and large corporations having their way. The majority view wins and suppresses the minority view, who must sit in opposition ‘to keep in check’ the ruling party, creating a distraction of politics. This is essentially divide and rule by any other name by keeping us occupied.


For capitalism to work and thrive, democracy is the oil. People say this is freedom. This depends on how you define “freedom”. Is living in debt, stuck in the rat race, answering to someone else and sucking away your precious time really ‘freedom’?

Guru tells us “bhaiee parapat maanukh dhehureeaa Gobind milan kee eh theree bareeaa” – This human body has been given to you, this is your turn to meet the Lord of the Universe.

You got this human form with great difficulty. Now is the time to meet paramatma – the supreme soul. It is your turn to play this game.


How do you apply this?

In ithihaas (Sikh history) we see that leadership was based on merit – a meritocracy. Examples of Bhai Mani Singh and Jassa Singh alhuwalia come to mind.

Compared to the yardstick of these Khalsa (initiated Sikhs), how does either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn measure up?

Just some thoughts in trying to align the election to Guru…

Arjan Singh Bhullar signs

Sikh fighter signs with UFC

“When you are headed into battle and need the job done right, you call a Sikh.”

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Bhullar (right) in action.

Sikh Canadian MMA (mixed martial-arts) fighter and former Olympic wrestler Arjan Singh Bhullar yesterday announced that he has officially signed for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

For information directly from Bhullar, you can follow him on facebook, twitter or instagram

The news was celebrated by Sikhs, Punjabis and Asians all over the world, with many welcoming the news of having a representative in the biggest MMA organisation in the world. Throughout the sporting world – outside of golf and cricket – there have not been any Sikh representatives in the highest level of the world’s more popular professional sports. With physical training and competition heavily advocated within Sikh teachings, many from within the community have been waiting and working for a breakthrough Sikh athlete to represent this in modern form.

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Bhullar wrote on his instagram of the signing, “When you are headed into battle and need the job done right, you call a Sikh….and they called the right one. I will proudly represent the Maple Leaf and be the ambassador for over 1.7 billion South Asians. I fully appreciate the significance of this moment, and understand the seriousness of the task at hand. We will prepare accordingly.”

Fans of the UFC – which is also one of the most recognised brands in sport – were also delighted to hear of the addition, with Bhullar set to provide new blood in the organisation’s heavyweight division. Having turned to professional MMA in 2014, Bhullar comes into the UFC with a record of 6-0. The undefeated heavyweight also has a wrestling pedigree which includes a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal, Pan-American Games Bronze Medal and competing in the 2012 Olympics, as well as many Canadian national titles, which is why many see 31 year old Bhullar as an exciting prospect with real title contention potential in the UFC. Bhullar has also spent time training with current UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
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Bhullar, whose father was also a decorated wrestler, has long been active in Vancouver community projects to tackle bullying and gang crime, alongside his sporting career. He also works as a wrestling coach for students at the University of Fraser Valley.

The Sikh community can now boast several great prospects and even champions – both male and female – in the world of combat sport. To keep up to date with news on Sikh athletes from various sports, you can follow Official Sikh Athletes on facebook.

Boris JOhnson dastaar

Stage time and siropas – Thoughts from Harwinder Singh on Boris Johnson’s whiskey comments in a Gurdwara

Following the incident involving Boris Johnson promoting the whiskey trade at the Shri Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Bristol, Sikh PA have been sharing various reactions from within the Sikh community.

This includes a statement from Wolverhampton South-West MP candidate Jagmeet Singh and a reaction from the Sikh Tories, as well as many of the comments we have received via social media.

Here we share some thoughts from Harwinder Singh, editor of news and opinion website Harwinder is one of the UK Sikh community’s most respected social commentators, as well as a writer, broadcaster and film-maker. 

Issues arising following footage of Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, speaking at a Bristol Gurdwara:

  • Mr Johnson is in the Gurdwara being given time to speak on stage before the congregation. The opportunity to speak on a Gurdwara stage to the Sikh sangat (congregation) in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scriptural Guru) is a privilege that should not be afforded so lightly, particularly to a politician who is canvassing for votes in an upcoming general election. Not only have other candidates standing in the same constituency not been afforded this platform, presumably because of the political allegiance of members of the Gurdwara’s management committee, but neither the candidate himself nor his party have been endorsed more generally by the Sikh community such that they should be given this privilege (as have none of the standing political parties). This makes a mockery of the Guru’s Darbar (Guru’s court) and is entirely the responsibility of the Gurdwara committee. They are not alone in committing such an indiscretion, but the high profile nature of this incident offers us the opportunity to reconsider how our Gurdwara stages are run. I would strongly urge every Gurdwara to refrain from inviting political candidates to address the Sikh sangat before the upcoming General election; Gurdwaras wanting to engage in the political process through hustings or other such events are advised to do so away from the Darbar. Until such a time that the Sikh community has addressed the fallacies in how our Gurdwaras operate, which presently contradict Sikh ideology and practice in many ways, we would do well to refuse all who request to use the House of Guru Nanak as a backdrop in their campaign.


  • Mr Johnson is adorning a kesri-coloured dastar. Whilst turban-tying events have become popular in recent years for Sikhs to engage with other communities, the wearing of a dastar (turban/crown) by a non-Sikh whilst speaking on a Gurdwara stage promoting the political agenda of his party is incredibly disrespectful. The dastar has a political significance to Sikhs and to wear it in this specific context is an all too obvious attempt to curry favour to garner more votes. The dastar is not a costume accessory that one can dress up in to make the Sikh community more at ease – in fact his doing so has quite the opposite effect for thinking Sikhs. Our community should not be used to promote the ‘down with diversity’ appeal of any political party, least of all one originating in a country that has used and abused our community to further their own imperialist agenda for over a century. I would like to say to Mr Johnson that the era in which the transgressions of he and his ilk go unnoticed because of a more unsubtle gaffe (alcohol, in this instance) are over, and whether or not members of the Sikh community vote for him or indeed any other candidate of any of the political parties will be based on more than their ability to play dress-up. Any Sikhs advising political candidates would do well to urge them to focus on the issues of importance to their constituents rather than make weak attempts to say ‘Fateh’, ‘Sat Sri Akal’ or other such greetings when speaking to the Sikh community, amongst other things.


  • Mr Johnson has been given a kesri-coloured siropa – an honorific sash draped around the neck. It may have become commonplace for Gurdwaras in the UK to present any and every person that visits the Darbar with a siropa (honourary dressing place around the neck), but this custom must be brought to an end so that the meaning attributed to the gifting of a siropa once again has value. This was an act outside of the control of Mr Johnson or his team, but I would advise them and all politicians to employ Sikh advisors on their campaign teams who can explain the sensitivities of the wide-ranging customs of the Guru’s Darbar. Every Sikh Gurdwara and organisation should consider the history, significance and value of gifting a person with a siropa, and use this incident as an opportunity to set a precedent in the Sikh World of today by rethinking when and why we engage in this act. Only if we consider this practice fully and properly, can we make a decision about how to implement it in the future.


  • Free trade with India. That the topic of greater free trade with India was raised at all represents how far removed from the political process Sikhs are, less so in my opinion about the education of Mr Johnson. There are far too many Sikh organisations that serve alcohol at their events for he or others to understand why intoxicants including alcohol are absent from the Gurdwara and banned for consumption by the Khalsa. It is of greater significance that his comments about cheaper whiskey have taken all of the headlines, and whilst being irrelevant and inappropriate to utter in the Guru’s Darbar, the greater issue in this regard is that a politician might still think that the Sikh community can be bought off for votes so easily as using cheaper import of spirits. This is something that we need to discuss as a community and going further I would appeal to thinkers and organisers of all political persuasions to engage one another in public discourse so that we can better appreciate why we find ourselves in this position. (Social media and online debates is not that space.)


Related content by naujawani:

Boris JOhnson dastaar

Sikh MP candidate calls Boris Johnson “out of touch” and “disrespectful” for whiskey Gurdwara gaff

Jagmeet Singh of newly formed Sikh-ethos political group The Panth Party has spoken out about Boris Johnson promoting a cheaper whiskey trade in a Gurdwara (Sikh temple).

Earlier today (May 17) Boris Johnson was reprimanded by a woman in Shri Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Bristol for mentioning a free trade deal with India would allow for tariff free scotch whiskey imports. Boris apologised when told the Sikh faith opposes the use of any intoxicants. He was admonished by the woman who related the comments to alcoholism in her own family.

Running for a seat in his hometown constituency of Wolverhampton South-West, Jagmeet Singh is the first and only current MP candidate for The Panth Party. In an official statement shared via social media, Jagmeet Singh stated “The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson coming into a Gurdwara and speaking about the whiskey trade with India shows just how out of touch some of our politicians are not just with the Sikh community but with the general British public too.”

JAGMEET Singh - bos

Jagmeet Singh, Panth Party MP candidate for Wolverhampton South-West.

Jagmeet Singh went on to criticise a Conservative Party spokesman, who was quoted in some media outlets as saying his remarks were welcomed by all but one of those in Boris Johnson’s presence. Jagmeet Singh said it “is surprising that a Conservative spokesman has defended Boris Johnson’s comments and tried to make out it was only one woman who has an issue with it. I know for a fact that our Foreign Secretary’s comments in Shri Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Bristol will have insulted millions of Sikhs across the world. The Conservatives should be apologetic and embarrassed about the incident.”

You can see the full statement below. For more from Jagmeet Singh visit his official campaign page – You can also email him on or call 07590 008248.

Social media has shown varied responses in regards to Boris Johnson’s mistake. Below we share some of the social media comments going around about the incident.

Boris Johnson tweets


Boris Johnson tweets


Boris Johnson fb comment

Boris Johnson tweets

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Boris Johnson fb comment


Jagmeet Singh Statement on Boris Johnson’s Gurdwara visit

The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson coming into a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) and speaking about the whiskey trade with India shows just how out of touch some of our politicians are not just with the Sikh community but with the general British public too.

It seems Boris Johnson thought that free trade of whiskey from India to the UK would be something the Sikh community would be happy to hear about. This is completely disrespectful to people who belong to a faith which categorically opposes the use of any intoxicants. It is especially disrespectful considering it was mentioned in a Gurdwara, where Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj resides.

It also clearly demonstrates Boris Johnson has no understanding about the Sikh faith or the concerns of the Sikh community. The fact that any politician is ignorant of this is not surprising in the least. It is for this very reason I decided to run for MP for Wolverhampton South-West. What is surprising though is that a Conservative spokesman has defended Boris Johnson’s comments and tried to make out it was only one woman who has an issue with it. I know for a fact that our Foreign Secretary’s comments in Shri Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Bristol will have insulted millions of Sikhs across the world. The Conservatives should be apologetic and embarrassed about the incident.

However, Boris Johnson’s mistake is not one which should just upset the Sikh community. At a time when the general British public are concerned about the NHS, about benefits cuts, about our foreign policy and so much more, for our Foreign Secretary to think he can gain support from the mention of boosting the whiskey trade is patronising and condescending to all of our nation’s voters.

I implore all of the Sikh community to stop letting our politicians use the home of our Guru for publicity and photo opportunities. If a politician wishes to visit for the purpose of campaigning, they should be open to the questions of all locals. I also implore all of the great British public to demand more from your politicians. Do not be fobbed off or fooled by shallow suggestions of things which will supposedly benefit the general public, espoused by someone who has no connection to the general public. It is time for the British voter to demand real answers and real action. For the people of Wolverhampton South-West, this is what I promise to deliver.



Sikhs react to Italian Supreme Court Kirpan ban

An Italian Supreme Court ruling banning a Sikh from wearing the Kirpan has been met with widespread condemnation by the Sikh diaspora.

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The ruling from Rome was made on May 15 after a migrant Sikh man was arrested and subsequently fined for leaving his home in Goito, northern Italy, wearing the Kirpan, which was described by media outlets as “a knife measuring nearly 20cm”. The man, who is yet to be named, was appealing against the fine on religious grounds. The ruling is believed to apply solely to the wearing of this type of Kirpan, with smaller sizes believed to be acceptable. Sikh rights advocacy organisations are looking for official confirmation of this.

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The Kirpan – a small sword – is one of five articles of faith called the punj kakkar (five Ks), which all Amritdhari (initiated) Sikhs wear. The Kirpan is legal to wear under UK law. See more on UK law and the Kirpan here, via The Sikh Helpline.

Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of Human Rights advocacy organisation UNITED SIKHS, has helped fight for the religious rights of Sikhs across the world. She said of the case, “It’s regrettable that the Italian Supreme Court  judgment is based on the view that  immigrants should live in ‘Rome as Romans do’. Religious freedom is global and goes across borders. UNITED SIKHS believes that this case should be referred  to the UN Human Rights Committee, as we successfully did for our clients who were affected by the French turban ban”.

UNITED SIKHS are looking into the situation and hope to provide clarity on what this means for Amritdhari Sikhs in Italy. Many feel European countries that impose such laws on Sikhs are forcing them into becoming refugees for the right of religious freedom.

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The court ruling stated that although “the multi-ethnic society is a necessity, public safety is an asset to be protected”. A BBC article on the story claimed the ruling “said that migrants who choose to live in Italy must respect Italian laws prohibiting the carrying of weapons even though many Sikhs regard ceremonial knives as sacred.”

The same BBC article also described Sikhs that wear the Kirpan as “orthodox”. This is a term used to describe levels of practice within the Abrahamic faith, and one which many Sikh educators feel is both misplaced and inappropriate in describing the Khalsa. We thank BBC journalist Paul Kirby for working with us to correct this orthodox sikhs


bbc orthodox sikhs correction

It is believed, although not yet certified, that the ban only refers to the length of the blade of the Kirpan, and not the Kirpan itself. The Sikh Press Association can confirm that Sikh organisations are looking to take on the Italian Supreme Court Kirpan ban and we will share any more news on the issue as soon as possible.


Courts find no proof Indian Army tried to spare civilians during 1984 massacre

Here we share a news story from India about the Punjab government having to compensate 40 Sikhs due to findings that there is no evidence to show the Indian army asked civilians to leave the Harmandir Sahib complex during the infamous Operation Bluestar attack in 1984. This resulted in allegedly thousands of civilians being illegally detained and hundreds killed during the attack. 

This particular story highlights how it took 33 years for the courts to admit these particular Sikhs were illegally detained for “four to five years even after discharge order by a local court”. This kind of story further confirms the reality of the injustices and human rights breaches that thousands of Sikhs have felt at the hands of the Indian state. Thanks to the tireless work of activists in India, the Indian state is now regularly finding itself unable to deny the accusations aimed at them from the Sikh community for decades. You can read the news report below.

Sikh Relief are a humanitarian organisation that work to help free Sikh political prisoners who are often illegally detained or denied due process. You can donate to them here –

Report by Surjit Singh.

‘No proof of announcement for civilians before Op Bluestar’: 33 yrs on, court orders relief for 40 Sikhs

The court has directed the Centre and state government to award compensation of ₹4 lakh each to the 40 Sikhs who were kept in illegal custody and later shifted to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for four to five years even after discharge order by a local court.

In a first, a local court questioned the role of army during Operation Bluestar in a recent judgement. The court observed, “There is no evidence that army made any announcements asking ordinary civilians to leave Golden Temple complex before launching the operation in 1984.”

The court had ordered the Punjab government to compensate 40 Sikhs who were arrested from inside the Golden Temple complex by the army and Punjab Police ‘illegally’. The victims won the legal battle after 33 years.

The court has directed the Centre and state government to award compensation of ₹4 lakh each to the 40 Sikhs who were kept in illegal custody and later shifted to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for four to five years even after discharge order by a local court.

The judgment by district judge Gurbir Singh raised many other questions during the hearing.  “There is no written record of any public announcement by the civil authorities requesting the people to come out the complex. No log of vehicle used for making such announcements is there,”reads the judgment.  Although, the judgment endorses the operation stating, “The main aim of the armed forces was to target militants.” “The event underlines the human rights violations by troops during the operation,” observed the court.

The court stated “The plaintiff is entitled to interest on the compensation amount at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filling the suit till today. The plaintiff is further entitled to future interest at same rate from the date of decision till actual realization of the decretal amount.”  In June 1984, around 365 persons were arrested from the Golden Temple complex. The arrested were either SGPC employees or people who had come to pay obeisance. Welcoming the Court’s order to compensate 40 Sikhs the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has stated that it is victory of truth. Badungar announced to honour advocate Bhagwant Singh Sialka legal counsel in the case.

SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar said, “Army attack on Sri Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht Sahib was inhuman and detaining innocent Sikhs was unfair. It is sorry to say that victims of state atrocities had to struggle for so long to get justice.”

Via –

Sikligar Sikhs

Sikligar Sikhs: Tale of a forgotten people – Tehelka

This story is about the plight of those people from the Khalsa Panth who according to some accounts, took to weapons manufacturing on the order of the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in order to defend the country. Even three centuries later, they are longing to return to the mainstream. Far away from education and development, this Sikligar Sikh community is forced to lead a life hidden along the far flung villages of the hilly jungle terrain of the Satpura.  reports.

Khaknar tehsil, situated in the tribal belt of Burhanpur district in south western , serves as home to the Sikligar Sikhs. Behind the lone petrol pump located along the main road of the tehsil is a half beaten track leading towards the hills of Satpura. Twenty six kilometers further down this path, after crossing thick jungles and valleys, Pachauri village becomes visible sitting atop Satpura’s hills. Amid 100 families residing in the village only 500 people belong to the Sikligar Sikh community. Staying here for the last 46 years, all these Sikhs are masters in the craft of making country , revolvers, self loading rifles (SLR) and other deadly weapons.

This community, crafting from iron for generations for their livelihood has not only had to endure social neglect but has now come under the scanner of security agencies. If the intelligence wing of is to be believed then the Sikligars are the primary suspects in the manufacturing of illegal country made weapons, huge caches of which have been confiscated in the tribal belt of the state recently. It is noteworthy that during the arrest of Sikligars in the past 2 years, have claimed for the first time that these people illegally manufacture and supply weapons to arms smugglers and militant groups. ATS (anti-terror squad) believes that country made pistols and revolvers retrieved from 18 SIMI (Student’s Islamic Movement of ) activists, arrested in the state in June 2011, had been manufactured by the Sikligars.

In June 2011 raided Sikligar Deras in Burhanpur after 10 SIMI activists were arrested in neighbouring Khandwa district. In the meantime, Jaspal Singh, son of the state president of all the deras in Sikligar, Sardar Prem Singh Patwa, was arrested on murder and charges. In a talk with Tehelka, Prem Singh says, “Our main protest is against the branding of our children as collaborators of terrorists. We are Khalsa Sikhs, willing to lay down our lives for our country, how can we help terrorists? They can slap arms act on us because we manufacture arms, but we started doing so for defending this country.”

The arrest of Sikligars from Pachauri village is not new. In a raid conducted in 2002 the local had arrested five Sikligars. These also include the priests of the village Gurudwara. Atiq Singh, one of those arrested during the raid, alleges that on many occasions the arrested people from his community on fabricated charges just to win accolades. He says, “In 2002, the who came to raid came disguised as buyers. Our community is so illiterate and backward that we couldn’t recognise the . We are poor people who just wanted to sell our goods and get paid. Then the started beating us up, and arrested the priest of our Gurudwara, Gyani Takdir Singh and Gyani Deewan Singh, who were walking by at that time.”


The Sikligar community outraged at the arrest of its religious heads protested against this operation but all the five arrested Sikligars, along with the priests, are still being tried under the Arms Act. In May 2003, a few months after this incident, the entire Sikligar community of Pachauri upset at the continuing arrests of its members surrendered before the government.

After talking to the Sikligars, it is apparent they need to be provided with some alternate means of employment. Prem Singh says, “Our people have no other skills to earn a livelihood. We have made thousands of requests to the government but they have made no effort to align us to the mainstream. We are forced to make weapons to feed our children.” Following a High Court’s order all charges against Jaspal Singh, of being associated with groups, have been dropped. But for Prem Singh it is just a new beginning of an old fight.

During the course of this conversation all the families of Pachauri village have gathered around the main chaupal. Pointing towards the village children, Prem Singh says “We don’t want our next generation to make weapons. You see for yourself, even after this legal battle my son has been restrained by the authorities from entering the village and is still being charged under Section 302. Sikligars have never been involved in any violent crime. We only made weapons, and sold it to whoever wanted to buy. Because all we know is to make weapons.”


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Amjyot Singh - Sikh Basketballer

Sikhs hail FIBA decision to lift ban on headgear – India Today

Via –

From Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 5 (PTI) Top American lawmakers and the Sikh-Americans have hailed the basketball governing body FIBA for reversing a controversial ban on religious headgear, which would allow professional players to play wearing the turban and the hijab during competition.

The announcement made by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) yesterday is said to be a game changer for Sikh athletes and other religious groups, who have been prohibited from basketball competitions because of their articles of faith.

“The decision of FIBA to allow Sikhs and other players to wear articles of religious faith while competing is a welcome news,” Congressman Joe Crowley and Ami Bera said in a joint statement.

Ahead of the FIBAs long-awaited decision, the two top Democratic lawmakers had on Wednesday, urged the sports body to change its discriminatory policy against Sikh players that requires them to remove their turbans during the game.

“It has been a long campaign to make this a reality, and praise should go to FIBA and the Sikh community — they both helped ensure that Sikhs can compete just like anyone else,” they said.

“Sports can uplift communities and individuals by being a source of pride, collaboration, and friendly competition. This decision will help expand benefits to those who deserve a fair chance at competition,” Crowley and Bera said in their statement.

The ruling allowing turbans, yarmulkes, and hijabs in international basketball competitions comes after several years of interfaith advocacy with Jewish, Muslim, and other groups.

Both the lawmakers had been pushing FIBA to do so for the past few years.

The new decisions would come into effect after October 2017.

“There is zero conflict between my faith and my ability to play basketball,” said Darsh Preet Singh, the first turbaned Sikh basketball player in the NCAA.

“I am thrilled about FIBAs decision which will allow athletes across the world to pursue their dreams without compromising their faith,” he said.

The new policy lifts would benefit the players from Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious groups.

“FIBA is sending a very clear message to the rest of the world that diversity and tolerance matter in sport,” said Sikh Coalition senior religion fellow Simran Jeet Singh.

“If implemented appropriately, ending this discriminatory policy opens the door to millions of young people to practice their faith and pursue their dreams. Nobody should ever be forced to choose between their sport and faith,” Singh said.

In a separate statement, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) commended the FIBA for taking the decision to end the ban.

“Basketball players can finally play freely with their respective articles of faith, without process or paperwork, and beyond their home countries,” said Zoya Singh, communications coordinator at SALDEF.

“We hope this ruling sends a strong message to other sports bodies that being an observant religious person and an athlete are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

sikhs protest france turban ban

Sikhs on the French Election

Sikh PA have been looking to speak to Sikhs from France about their thoughts on the nation’s election, which will come to a conclusion at the end of this week.

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Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Sikhs have been particularly concerned because of the very real chance that Marine Le Pen – former president of far-right party the National Front – could be elected as the country’s president. Marine Le Pen has been open about furthering the ban on religious symbols from France’s schools to all public spaces, which she confirmed will impact Sikhs wearing the dastaar (turbans).

Sikh PA spoke with Ranjit Singh, a 30 year old legal counsellor from Paris, about his thoughts on the election and the potential for Le Pen to be President.

Ranjit Singh, a French Sikh.

Ranjit Singh, a French Sikh.

“A french presidency in the hands of Marine Le Pen is not only a danger for the French Sikh, but is especially perilous for the French Republic, which embodies the values of fraternity, equality and freedom.
“The National Front has an exclusive and extremely radical view of laicité (secularity). They have misappropriated, and diverted the essence of the principle of laicité. Its prohibition of any religious symbol in public spaces goes against the principle of laicité provided by the 1905 Act of the separation of church and state. Laicité is a principle of national harmony, guaranteeing religious diversity. Thus, whatever the belief or not of an individual, they are free to exercise it, or not.
“The presence of Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election is a political disaster. It signals the failure of the political class to understand and redo democracy in our society. All hope of a common project is rejected by the racist and xenophobic ideas of the National Front party. Discrimination against visible minorities are increasingly recurrent.”
Another Parisian Sikh, Nina Kaur Chandok also shared her thoughts with us.

“The arrival of Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections is not a surprise, this was unfortunately predictable, just like the rise of extremism in many countries.

“The real shock is to realize that thousands of people who voted for her have a similar vision of France and adhere to her ideas. As a result, many people today feel uninhibited and allow themselves to make offensive remarks. Thus, discrimination and racism multiply.

“Marine Le Pen has proved that she has a biased view of reality and a lack of knowledge of the people who make up the French population. She seemed surprised by the presence of French Sikhs.

“The arrival of an extreme party is a fear not only for the French Sikhs, but also for all minorities and democracy in a more general way.”

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Film star says Bollywood misrepresents Sikhs – News 18

Sikh PA share this article as another example of continued concern about how Indian mainstream media portrays Sikhs.

Mumbai: Actor-singer Gippy Grewal, who features in latest Punjabi release Manje Bistre and will soon be seen in upcoming Bollywood film Lucknow Central, says characters of Sikh community are mostly projected as silly and comical, which is a misrepresentation.

Gippy plays a ‘sardar’ in his Farhan Akhtar-starrer Lucknow Central.

He said: “I think ‘sardarji’ characters are misrepresented in Bollywood films many times. People make fun of sardar characters… There are so many jokes on them. I think that is happening because of lack of insight and knowledge about our community, our culture and contribution to our country.”

“For instance, in ‘Lucknow Central’, there are sequences where I suggested to do a scene in a certain way to build an emotional connection with Punjabi audience. We did that. I think just putting a turban on head and changing the language from Hindi to Punjabi does not make a one a Punjabi. Punjabi da dil hona chaida (you need the heart of a Punjabi),” Gippy added.

Born in Ludhiana, Gippy learnt folk music and grew up listening to various Punjabi singers including Kuldeep Manak and watched yesteryear superstar Dharmendra’s film. His singing talent was noticed with the song Phulkari, and he has also featured in movies like Mirza: The Untold Story and Jatt James Bond.

“Since Dharam-paji is from our village (Ludhiana), I remember in my childhood, how we would go to watch his movies with families and neighbours riding our cars, just to support his films at the first place. Of course, he is a great actor. but he is our star, he is from our village. It was same emotion with Sunny Deol, his son. We Punjabis are emotional people,” Gippy said.
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