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Organ Donation in the Sikh Community

On Sunday 9th December, Sikh educational project Basics of Sikhi will be joined by several medical professionals to discuss the issue of organ donation.  The panel will include Rohit Sagoo, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and founder of British Sikh Nurses, who writes here about his experiences of organ donation and the Sikh community: 

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Anaya Kaur Kandola was born with little chance of survival and has fought battle after battle to be here. She has Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD) is a condition in which growing cysts leave little room for other organs and create serious difficulties such as underdeveloped lungs, vulnerability to infections and heart conditions. This left the doctors with no choice but to remove Anaya’s kidneys soon after birth. Dialysis helps to cleans Anaya’s blood by being on a machine 10-12 hours every day and right now it is the only thing keeping her alive.

Anaya is coming up to 2 years of age. The difficulties of her condition and being attached to a machine for almost half the day has severely impacted her growth and development. This is all Anaya has known in her short life.

As Sikhs we often think about helping others, growing Sikhi, and instilling the values our Guru Jis left behind in ourselves and our children going forward. Here, our child has opened our eyes to the greatest Seva: giving life to others when we pass by donating our organs to those in need.

It is widely reported that in the UK there is a shortfall of organ donors from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities. According to statistics from NHS Blood and Transport, around one third of patients awaiting an organ are from BAME communities. However, a significantly smaller proportion of the BAME community registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register. 3.3% of registrants were Asian, 2% were mixed race, and just 1% were black. These statistics show the pressing need for the Asian community to respond to the needs of organ patients.

In 2017/18, just over 1,500 donated organs after their death. Of these, 114 were from ethnic minority groups and just 37 (or 2.4%) were of Asian heritage. Such a disparity between those who need organs and those who donate them is clear to see: nearly 20% of those requiring an organ transplant are from the Asian community, but only 1% of organ donors each year are South Asian.

23826273_1761163110856533_5889134186192688564_oConsidering this, how is organ donation received in the Sikh community?

Organ donation is generally viewed positively in the Sikh Community. General attitudes to organ donation from South Asians, express religious, sociocultural, and environmental pressures. Though the sociocultural and environmental pressures may exist for the Sikh community, there is no evidence to suggest that the Sikh community is deterred from donating organs on religious grounds.  

The Sikh faith is underpinned by the ethos of executing noble deeds for all of humankind. Therefore, it can be suggested that organ donation would be considered as one of those noble acts according to the Sikh faith. Sri Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh holy scripture – states:

“The true servants of God are those who serve Him through helping others” Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

With this in mind, it is important to consider organ donation as a service to those in need. Many of the individuals within the Sikh community that require organ transplantation have raised awareness through campaigning through the Gurdwaras and other forms of media. The sharing of learned experiences has expanded the discussion of organ donation within the Sikh community. But what more can be done?

Dialogue with Sikhs of all ages has shown that what happens to our bodies after life can be a positive discussion.  Many acknowledge the need for education and awareness, and welcome the opportunity to share their own thoughts on how they wish to serve others.  The concept of saving a life as the highest form of seva has been echoed many times over.

In addition, older members of the community have expressed concern that health issues would eliminate them from being able to donate, but they have been assured that donations have been taken from those in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, and that the medical team will be able to assess whether any of the transplantable organs would benefit someone in need.

skynews-organ-donation-nhs_4180497It is encouraging to all of us to note that both those previously unaware of the Organ Donor Register, and those that are already on it, have expressed their gratitude to volunteers for bringing this message to the Sikh community. Everybody involved hopes that the issue of a lack of organ donors can be addressed, and ultimately provides hope to those waiting for organs to survive.

As many have said in their parting comments, none of us know when we or our loved ones maybe the ones on a waiting list, and if we are prepared to receive an organ, we should equally be prepared to donate them when our time comes.

Sunday’s discussion will be held from 7.30pm (after katha) upstairs at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Park Avenue, Southall. 

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Sikh anger worldwide as Twitter blocks 1984 Sikh genocide site

Sikhs across the world have been left shocked and angered at a Twitter block of a prominent Sikh human rights website.

Twitter, one of the world’s most popular social media platforms and most visited sites, is currently blocking any tweet containing a link to www.1984sikhgenocide.org   

The website is a portal from Sikh advocacy group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) which allows constituents to send pre-drafted emails to their political representative (e.g. Congressmen and Senators in the US, MPs in the UK etc.). More than 25,000 emails have been sent via the website.

This is part of a campaign launched by SFJ on October 21st urging various governments to recognise November 1st as Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day. Through tests, the Sikh Press Association has confirmed the block is nothing to do with a word filter or a webpage security issue.

Twitter has also suspended the personal account (under his own name) of SFJ Legal Advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Gurpatwant Singh also has his work account which still exists. He said, “This is yet another example of trading human rights for business considerations wherein Twitter has blocked tweets about SFJ’s Sikh genocide commemoration campaign on the behest of Indian authorities”.

This action has sparked the anger of Sikhs across the world who have accused Twitter of suppressing legitimate human rights activism.

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Pav Singh, author of 1984: India’s Guilty Secret, issued a warning to Twitter via a tweet saying: “Indian authorities having been blocking the truth about #1984SikhGenocide for 34 years. @Twitter @TwitterSupport don’t follow suit. Never compromise over Human Rights & Freedom of Speech despite govt pressure.”

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Rahul Tripathi, a journalist at the Indian Express, tweeted on Thursday morning: Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba met with reps from #Facebook, #Google, #Twitter, #Whatsapp, You Tube, Instagram to prevent misuse of social media sites by undesirable elements / miscreants to spread rumours, cause unrest, incite cyber crimes.” He added: Gauba asked social media gaints [sic] to take steps & nominate India based grievance redressal officers, develop a monitoring mechanism for time bound preventive & to remove objectionable contents from public view & prompt sharing of information sought by agencies. #lynching.”

It seems likely that the blocking of such a high-profile Sikh genocide website is connected to the Home Secretary’s meeting, although this has not been confirmed.

Twitter have not yet responded to the online tweets about the block, leading to Sikhs being urged to contact Twitter via an online complaint form, which can be accessed here.

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Sikh PA Statement regarding The Sun’s Front Page 25.09.18

STATEMENT REGARDING THE SUN’S FRONT PAGE ON 25th SEPTEMBER 2018

‘Today, the front page of The Sun prominently featured a story regarding a Sikh accompanied by an article less than 300 words long. It is ridiculous that an article regarding a single individual in an internal disciplinary situation made the front page. This is not front page news, even for the sensationalist Sun newspaper.

‘The MoD have confirmed that this story involves ‘a number of soldiers from the Coldstream Guards’. While pictures of the Sikh soldier and his family have been included, not even the names of the other two personnel have been disclosed. The Sun’s coverage talked only of the Sikh guard’s ‘shame’.

‘In just four months last year more than 200 service personnel tested positive for drugs; how many of them have made the front pages of national newspapers? What are each of their religious affiliations?

‘This exceptional and exclusive coverage, determined by religion, has deliberately ignored what is a more widespread issue involving hundreds of service personnel each year. Almost every Army regiment has had soldiers testing positive for drugs. Selective coverage like today’s only fans the flames of racial and religious intolerance.

‘Last week, Sikh human rights activists in the UK had their houses raided by counter-terror police after pressure from the Indian authorities, according to Indian media. There was widespread concern in the Sikh community that these were politically motivated to disrupt legitimate human rights activism rather than an investigation of criminal acts. Instead of reporting the suppression of those British Sikhs exposing state genocide, The Sun has opted to splash this on its front page.’

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs announces bail for detained Shillong Sikhs

Two Sikhs detained by police during the anti-Sikh violence in Shillong, India, have been released on bail after the intervention of international Sikh charity United Sikhs.

Anil Singh, 24, and Bittu Maci, 36, were detained by police in the state of Meghalaya after the targeting of the minority Sikh community in Shillong at the end of May.

Rumours following the harassment of a Sikh woman by a bus driver claimed that Sikhs in Shillong had murdered members of Khasi community in revenge. A mob of over 200 people attacked the Gurdwara there, with local authorities disabling phone-lines, cutting internet access and imposing a curfew to try and restore calm.

Bittu was detained on 31st May, with Anil’s detention coming five days later. They have had no contact with their families for the duration of their detention.

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

The Sikh community in Shillong is also battling the government over proposals to relocate the Sikhs living in the Punjabi Lane area of the city.

Mejindarpal Kaur, Legal Director at United Sikhs said: ‘We are pleased by the court’s decision to approve bail for Anil and Bittu. Working in tandem with local officials and community leaders, we will continue to seek justice for the Sikh community, who are still under pressure of losing the homes bestowed to their forefathers two centuries ago.’

Supreme Court Advocate Girdhar Govind added: ‘This was a great team effort to release these young Sikh men who were detained on false charges. We thank UNITED SIKHS for their service to humanity through this victory.’

United Sikhs continues to work with the Sikh community of Shillong. Volunteers have been regularly present in the area since the violence in May and continue to address critical needs of the Sikhs including physical and mental health provision. United Sikhs have met with local officials including Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P S Dkhar, and Superintendent Davis N.R. Marak, Assistant to Director General of Police S B Singh.

Click here for a video of interviews with Anil and Bittu’s families

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One year ago today: the Sikh response to Grenfell

As the nation marks one year since the Grenfell Tower fire, some Sikhs who were among the first to respond recall their experiences that day.

While the nation woke up to pictures of the blaze, local Sikh sevadaars were already on the scene. Nearby resident Satnam Othee was woken in the early hours by the noise of the commotion. He tied his dastaar (Sikh turban) and left his house, buying as many bottles of water as he could from nearby supermarkets to distribute to the survivors and firefighters.

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A few hours later he was joined by Khalsa Aid founder and CEO Ravi Singh. Numerous other Sikh charities including SWAT, MLSS, and Basics of Sikhi arrived throughout the morning as the scale of the seva requirement became clear. There was coordination not just between Sikh organisations, but between all organisations – people of different faiths and backgrounds – who had come together to do as much as they could.

 

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Reflecting on the day, Ravi Singh told Sikh PA:

‘The tragedy of Grenfell touched us all, it was something beyond imagination. The whole country was in shock. The response from the public was simply amazing. It seems we all became part of Grenfell. Out of such a terrible tragedy came hope & humanity, It made me proud to be a Brit!’

While the Central Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha is mere minutes away from the site, at the time of the fire it was undergoing renovation. However, its sevadaars were on the ground, relaying requests to wider sangat via social media. That day a Facebook page was launched to coordinate between different Sikh organisations.

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By the afternoon several donation centres had opened and the Sikh sevadaars present went to each of them to ascertain what was needed.

One of the most pressing needs was for food and water. It is a testament to the fact that langar (the Sikh communal kitchen) can function anywhere, that despite the renovation of the local gurdwara, langar was set up at Grenfell and continued for months afterwards.

 

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Instrumental in this was Bhupinder Singh, who recounted the process to Sikh PA:

‘The first task was to serve volunteers, survivors and family members with food and water. Then we found out lots of donations were arriving. So we helped managed the task, people and arranged for transport and storage.’

The langar, staffed by sevadaars and provided by Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Southall) as well as other organisations, played a greater role than just the food it served: ‘Our langar stall became a night stop for residents that couldn’t sleep.’

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By the end of 14th June 2017, Sikhs and their gurdwaras from across the country had pledged manpower, langar and donations. While so much had been achieved by the community in a single day, this was to be just the beginning of the Sikh contribution to the Grenfell response.

 

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London Gurdwara bidding to bring Sikh artefact back to the community

A Gurdwara in the Sikh stronghold of Southall will bid for an artefact of the last sovereign ruler of Punjab and the Sikh kingdom that goes on auction tomorrow.

The Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall has come together with stakeholders including activists, businessmen and community figures to acquire the earrings of Maharani Jind Kaur.

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The auctioning of them tomorrow at Bonhams in London represents the first opportunity in over 150 years to re-acquire such a rare artefact from Sikh history. They are expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000.

Maharani Jind Kaur was the wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sikh empire, who led the Khalsa in two wars against the British and was subsequently imprisoned and exiled, before escaping to England to see her son Maharaja Duleep Singh.

It is hoped that the entire Sikh community shows solidarity with Sri Guru Singh Sabha’s bid tomorrow in acquiring the earrings for their preservation within the Sikh community and display for generations of Sikhs to come.

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Sikh Political Prisoner Released

A Sikh political prisoner from France has been released on bail after seven years in a prison in India thanks to the work of UK based humanitarian charity Sikh Relief.

Pal Singh, a French citizen and well-known human rights campaigner in Europe and America, was working in his native Punjab state in India, helping those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. It was during this work that Pal Singh was arrested by the Punjab Police which was reported by the Punjabi newspaper Daily Ajit to have been on 22nd July 2010.

Chairman of Sikh Relief, Balbir Singh Bains said: “It has taken years for the justice system to acknowledge the right to liberty of those who are demonstrably innocent, even if only granting bail pending appeal. The Indian justice system would benefit society greatly if it worked with an organisation like ours and helped heal the mistrust of a Sikh community that feels oppressed by the judiciary and political classes.”

In the immediate aftermath of Pal Singh’s arrest, the Punjab Police denied that he had been arrested, leading to the Sikh Relief legal team filing a case for Habeas Corpus on 26th July 2010. Only then was his detention confirmed. This is another example of similar cases where men have been detained illegally by the police in Punjab, with the arrests being denied often for weeks at a time. Allegations from within the Sikh community suggest this time window provides an opportunity for the police to torture the illegally detained suspects, which then results in forced “confessions”.

Pal Singh faced charges of terrorism in an evidently flawed trial and was sentenced. Thanks to Sikh Relief, he has now been freed on bail ahead of his appeal against the conviction, which is due next year.

Jagtar Singh Gill, Secretary General Elect of the Sikh Council UK said: “The Sikh Council welcomes the news that Bhai Pal Singh, a citizen of France, has been released on bail and commends the hard work and perseverance of Sikh Relief in assisting with the release.”

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Is the Indian government sabotaging a Canadian election?

Jagmeet Singh, a candidate in the New Democratic Party leadership election in Canada, has talked about possible interference from the Indian government in his campaign.

In interviews with several Canadian newspapers, Mr Singh revealed that he had been informed by members of the Indian community there that people with links to the Indian High Commission in Canada were attempting to dissuade people from supporting him. This included people expressing an interest in donating to his campaign but later backing out after pressure from third parties. Confirming that he has received these reports, Mr Singh said ‘this is what they told me […] I am still trying to get as many witnesses as I can to prove this so that an appropriate action can be taken.’

The Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh would be the first ethnic minority leader of a major political party in Canada. He has previously been vocal in condemning the abuse of Sikh human rights in India, culminating in a visa refusal to the country in 2013, leaving Singh unable to return to the country of his parents.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/in-jagmeet-singh-a-unifying-figure-with-divisive-potential/article35659994/

http://www.straight.com/news/934441/gurpreet-singh-ndp-leadership-candidate-jagmeet-singh-questions-if-india-destabilizing

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When the Guru supported the better man – post from Elusive Fighter

The following article has been taken from a post made by the Art of Elusive Fighting page, a Sikh martial-arts social media account. Based on Jeremy Corbyn’s political ethos, this article uses references to Sikh history to advocate Sikhs voting for Labour (to bring Jeremy Corbyn into power).

Please note – Sikh PA are an apolitical organisation and share this to promote political dialogue within the Sikh community. We have previously shared thoughts on Sikhs advocating the Green Party and abstaining. 

Please read, share and comment!


 
There are many that keep ‘their politics separate’. There are others who think Sikhs should not get involved and focus only on our own raaj* (we live in the UK..?).

I’ve not taken any interest in elections for 2 decades (all my adult life). Why? Because it has always been clear after some basic reaearch and checking candidates manifestos, as well as the consistency (lack of) in their ideals… that these parties were simply one corrupt beast in different bodies (be it Labour or Tories).

But since Corbyn has taken control of Labour, I have been watching him with interest. He has always had the courage to speak his mind, speak against whomever he feels is warmongering, against those who put short term gain above long term stability, against those who create rules to empower the rich and further weaken the poor, against those who happily deal and trade with oppressive terrorist supporting regimes, against the ruin of our once world class public services (e.g. Education, NHS etc).. etc.

Here is a man who genuinely tries to embody Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s wisdom of ‘Sarbat da Bhalla’ (betterment of all mankind). Here is man who is a voice for the oppressed and the poor. Here is a man who is willing to challenge those in his own family (Party) when they step into the realm of corruption. Here is a man who does not degrade himself to the level of sleazy propoganda and feel the need to degrade, lie about or insult his opposition.

Looking to puratan ithihaas (traditional Sikh history), we learn that the Khalsa is Niyara (Unique and Independent) and supports only dharam (just rule) and the greater good. In ithihaas a wonderful example is given when Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji gives his support to Bahadur Shah who previously challenged his own TYRANT father Emporer Aurangzeb when he was ordered to fight the Guru. Guru provides help by way of Khalsa soldiers to help Bahadur Shah defeat his brother who has snatched his rule. Guru supports the better man, one who will ‘not be a tyrant’. Guru helps him to the throne of rule.

Further, and as an important caveat, Guru later refuses to help Bahadur Shah fight against the Marathas, who are on the war path in retaliation for the atrocities meted out by Bahadurs Tyrant grandfather.

Guru (Khalsa) can give but can also take. Then can support, but can retract the support depending on the scenario (dharam).

Today, you all have a chance to apply GurMat principles and show support for someone who refuses to sell arms to those who supply ISIS. Who is prepared to do immense work to bring respectability to our public services and support to our poor again.

Do the right thing. Vote ‘Corbyn’. This is your chance to change the face of 3 decades of corrupt, propoganda lead politics.

Sri Gur Panth Prakash

Chaupai :(Thereupon) Farukhsiar responded to (their instigation) by saying, That his grandfather (Bahadur Shah) had given him an advice. He had advised that there existed a house (dynasty) of Nanak, with whom he (Farukhsiar) must not enter into any conflict.

When his great grand father (Aurangzeb) had felt offended (with the Guru), He had ordered Farukhsiar’s grandfather to wage a war against the Guru. But his grandfather (Bahadurshah) did not proceed against the Guru, and sent his soldiers to work in favour of the Guru.

On that day, the Guru had told his grandfather (Bahadur Shah), that he (the Guru) had blessed him (Bahadur Shah) with a sovereignty. The Guru had made his grandfather a sovereign with active support, Otherwise how could he become sovereign without Guru’s (support).

*Raaj = Rule.

How a Sikh engineer from Gujarat developed a Ramadan app that crossed half-a-million downloads – YourStory.com

At a time when the world is bleeding, and people seem more divided than ever, there are a few who are dedicating their lives to bringing them together. Kuldeep Singh Saini, a mechatronics engineer turned app developer’s story is a prime example. His app, Ramadan 2016, helps keep a track of the direction of prayer, iftar (meal after sunset), sehri (pre-dawn meal), prayer timings, and has been downloaded more than 500,000 times!

From mechanical engineering to app development

Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Kuldeep studied Mechatronics Engineering at Ganpat University. After completing his graduation, he was keen to study design at the National Institute Of Design (NID), but despite reaching the last round of admissions twice, he could not get through. He then tried his luck with various core mechanical companies, but they too were not very keen on recruiting him as he was a newcomer. Around the same time, Kuldeep was drawn to app development. He had never coded before and was more interested in the design aspect of apps.  He learnt how to code from his brother, who runs an app development company called App Aspect in Ahmedabad. He started by developing basic utility apps for Android and iOS.

Kuldeep, 27, was always intrigued by how the workers at his father’s garage diligently observed the various religious customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and had always wanted to make it easier for them to do the same. Armed with basic coding knowledge and a fair experience in app development, he started working on a Ramadan App in 2015.  He started by researching religious practices by talking to the workers in his father’s garage. It took him two months to finish work on the UI and UX, while the actual coding took him another two months. The app was launched on the Google Playstore on May 10 , 2015, and got 53,000 downloads on the first day of the fast.

What the app does

Kuldeep’s Ramadan 2016 App has crossed 750,000 downloads and contains the 2016 Ramadan Calendar, namaz prayer times, Qibla Compass, Asma-Al-Husna (99 names of Allah), hijri (Islamic Calendar), hijri date convertor, Ramadan duas and each day’s sehri andiftar timing.

The features include:

  1. Ramadan time and calendar: Shows the daily sehri/iftar time to start and end fasting, set alarms, shows the whole month’s suhoor and iftar timetable, auto identifies user location, and auto adjusts according to the Ramadan calendar, and also lets the user add a location manually from a database of 250+ countries.
  2. Salat (prayer) times: Shows the five Muslim prayer times (fajr (dawn), dhuhr (noon), asr(dusk), maghrib (West Sun prayer) and isha (night-time prayer), lets the user set waktu solat (daily five-time prayer) alarm with azan (prayer call), set a ringtone for namaz, and view the previous day’s waktu solat.
  3. Al Quran: The app has the complete Quran in eight different languages with an Arabic audio of the Holy Book.
  4. Qibla (direction of the Kaaba) compass: The app lets the user find the direction of Mecca from any part of the world, shows the Islamic Compass Degree change in live view, and checks the distance to Mecca from any particular location. All these features can also be accessed offline.

While Kuldeep was inspired by the workers in his father’s garage to build the app, he updated it with features that could help young Muslims around the world. The app also shows five Muslim prayer times, helps the user with the pronunciations of duas and gives the English meaning of all the duas.

Other apps helping Muslims keep a track of their religious activities during the Holy Month include Muslim Pro, an app that not only tells the user prayer timings, but also locates the nearest mosque. If there is no mosque nearby, it shows the user the direction in which they should offer prayers. Some apps also feature essays by Islamic scholars on various social, political, economic, and personal issues. Some of them also have animated stories of prominent Islamic figures.

Ramadan 2016

Ramadan 2016

Mixed Responses

“Users from all over the world write to me about how this app has simplified their lives and that inspires me to think of more updates to add year after year” says Kuldeep. However, the initial response was not very encouraging.

“I remember how a guy had commented saying the app was unreliable and inaccurate as it had been developed by a non-Muslim. There were several comments of the sort. My father’s friends also ridiculed me for developing an app for the people of a religion I didn’t belong to. But I was undeterred,” he says.

His efforts have paid off as the app now boasts 96,000 active users and the positive reviews just won’t stop pouring in!

“I recently received a message from a user who used the app to name his niece,” he exclaims.

While the revenue aspect is taken care of by native advertising, there is also an ad-free PRO version of the app, which costs Rs 99.

Kuldeep is currently working on a QR Code scanner, a heart-rate monitor, and a few other basic utility apps. Along with building his own app development company, Kuldeep also dreams of a more inclusive world, but can technology help unite this strife-ridden world?

“Technology can only create awareness. It is up to the user; you can use it for what you want to. While people like me are trying to bridge gaps, a terrorist somewhere is using technology to claim responsibility for an attack that has killed thousands.” he laments.

 

Via – http://yourstory.com/2016/07/ramadan-2016-app/