Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How would Sikh women fair in a Khalsa Raj to a secular India?

As I read the news story below of discrimination against women in Punjab police, I start to think about the role of Khalsa women in a truly run Khalsa Rule! The key word here is truly run! and not a pseudo Khalsa Raj of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or a pseudo –democracy of India which is full of corruption, bias, casteism, chauvinism, and other problems that work against betterment and respect of women. Sometimes, I even wonder about the authority and role of women within the framework of SGPC and Akal Takhat. When I say true Khalsa rule, I mean, the one envisioned by our Tenth Master. Even though at times it seems like a very idealistic world and far removed from reality, but somehow my heart tells me that it very possible depending upon how much a person has belief in the daily Ardas and how close the person leading Sikhs and non-Sikhs would be to being a true Gursikh. And, that is the million dollar question? Is there such a thing called a perfect person or a true Gursikh? We all have some faults and impurities of some sort. A Gursikh (man or woman) would have to be truly pure and the definition of this purity would depends upon interpretation of Guru’s teaching. Sometimes I think Sikhs can even make democracies, autocracies, dictatorships and all other forms of other governments etc. work in their favor to make them into Khalsa rules wherever they live. This would mean the Khalsa men or women that lead and serve in their professions may it be as mayors, councilmembers, managers, coaches, teachers, senators, Memebrs of Parliament or congressmen and congresswomen or council members, sarpanchs, panchayat members, adminstrators, granthis, sevadars, Presidents, Prime-ministers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, farmers or whatever would have to really truly be of very high caliber and true model Gursikhs. In real world, that would mean i.e. honest, truthful, caring, loving, and brave, and virtually free from lust, anger, greed, worldly attachments, and false pride. It just all depends upon thinking and doing the right thing towards betterment and treatment of humanity, which in actuality is another name for Dharma and is part of what is enshrined in our Guru Granth Sahib's teaching. Look at it this way, what if you are given an opportunity to lead? How would you lead? Would you try to do the right thing, try to be a Gursikh (honest, humble, strong, righteous, caring, visionary etc.), follow Guru’s teaching, and treat everyone equal? If you will, then you in people’s eyes you will be a Gursikh and a true Khalsa and would be leading a Khalsa nation in a sense. If you fail to lead people the right way, it would be the failing of the Sikh values. This is what I wish to teach my children but at times it feels it is not working. If all Sikhs strive toward these qualities that Gurus have been trying to instill in us for 500 years, then we already are sort of living in a Khalsa rule and don’t need to keep fighting for some hypothetical Khalsa nation. I don’t remember the exact quote, but Abraham Lincoln even once said, it is not “Might is Right”, but it is the right that men do makes them might. That is also one of the things our Guru’s have been trying to teach us for all these centuries, but somehow we tend to forget or ignore in daily scheme of things. The thoughts of the post may seem farfetched to some, but I think it would be worth exploring given our belief in our Guru’s teachings and the ardas we do for a Khalsa rule which is free from tyranny, corruption, materialism, chauvinism, machoism, casteism, alcoholism, anger, hatred, fear, false prides and all those other illusions of maya that this World offers us everyday. Somehow, I truly believe that Sikhs are capable of leading the World towards righteousness, love, and compassion as they themselves are guided by Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Here is a really funny video I just saw on Shinda Singh's blog.. Check it out! It has really excellent rthymic beat:


How much can Sikhs trust Pakistan for their welfare?

Here are some contrasting views and treatment of Sikhs, Sikhism and historical references coming from the eyes of various Pakistanis or muslims.

Sikhism as compared to Hinduism:


Treatment of Sikh Gurdwaras:




(be careful with this one! Why is it that BBC and other foreign media always seems to use the most inflammatory language available to create divide and people play into their hands)


Sikhs and Sikh history in the eyes of Pakistan:

Interesting things to read are the description below of Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and Nur Jehan’s Tomb.


Pakistani connection in yet another dark Sikh period in eyes of India:


Friday, February 24, 2006

How does rise of China, India, and Brazil compare with the Western countries so far?

With the recent growth of economies of China, India, Brazil etc., growing cultural and religious clashes between Christianity and Islam thru war on terror, the questions that come to my mind are how the West would react and handle this whole mess? Somehow past history and imperialist culture that dominated from the 1800’s thru 1900’s tells me that, western countries are not just going to sit on their hands and take it in very easily. The West it seems is becoming more protectionists rather than an open society of the late 1900’s as this cultural clash and economic pressure builds up. The examples can be seen with recent uproar against the buy out of U.S. oil company by one of the big Chinese oil companies and this recent port security contract deal with United Arab Emirates. Even with all of the technological progress the man has made (mostly by west in the 100 years), somehow it just seems like we are going back in 1500’s or something, time when most cultures were isolated. In this month’s Global Affairs magazine, it is predicted that India will even outsmart China since India has better knowledge base of people when it comes to economic independence. The problem I see is that India unlike the west does not know yet how to efficiently plan, organize and harness the powers, skills and knowledge of her more than one billion people. This is kind of like, a person having 1000 volumes of best books and reads them, but if he or she does not apply and uses what was read, all those books and reading is worthless. At the same time, a person has two books and reads and applies them well; it is worth all of the effort. There is a great talent and knowledge base in India, but if India does not recognize the potential of this talent, somebody else like the western countries will and India will eventually lose out. I would agree with the magazine on the economic development front but India needs to continue to utilize its knowledge base of people and organize the information base properly. A few good men and women can make a big difference, let alone a billion people. Having been gone to schools in India and seeing the treatment of children in classrooms, and comparing the schools in the west, I say India has a long way to go when it comes to human development, encouraging creativity, and instilling ethics in the children. The teachers along with parents are the ones creating future of a country, and need to make sure they don’t fail to do their job of raising and creating future leaders with right ethics and skills. And that depends upon how honest, hard working, knowledgeable, spiritual and ethical these teachers are themselves becasue these are some of the essential traits of any leader.

Here is an interesting article about U.S. engineering decline and competition within U.S. and with China, India and others. Letters to the editors are even more eye openers. On the humorous side, to Indian and Chinese engineers, I say, you guys better role your sleeves up! U.S.A is not going down that easy. You have a long way to go!


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Movers and Shakers of Punjab and India- Please email them with suggestions and problems!

Here are some website of government of Punjab and India to write to CM Amrinder Singh and PM Manmohan Singh and other departments. It looks like Punjab site has just added the email addresses because it wasn't there a few months ago. This is great, because if you want to see changes in Punjab or any Sikh issues, please send them suggestions, ideas, complaints and make it your favorite site. And also don't forget to visit Punjab Police website as well and write to them about law and order issues. Even if one out of thousands that will be carried out, is a good done.


Is culling chickens the real answer?

I understand the prevention of spread of H5N1 bird flu virus is of utmost importance, but I always question if culling and burying them is really solving the underlying problem which is how the animals are treated in confined spaces. Sometimes I wonder if problems like this virus or mad cow disease will go away, if people would not consume meat and animals won’t have to be treated badly to feed people’s demand for meat. What would happen, if this spreads to humans, are they just going to bury people alive or gas them up in order to avoid a widespread? I am not a doctor and really don’t know the science behind this whole thing, but how can burying a chicken prevent the spread? Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought deadly viruses like Anthrax and others can stay dormant for a long time and have possibility of emerging again. What happens if these chickens or their bones get dug up by a kid or an animal 50 years from now? Would there be any chances of spread again? And, what part does the spirituality, karma, ethics, and love for animals play in this whole thing? It seems as if the natural balance of things is shifting. Don't really know what the solution is here, except for urging people to go vegetarian and take care of personal hygine. Read and comment if you wish:


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who is really American and whose land is it anyways?

Here is an interesting two-part article on illegal immigration, racism and socio-economic problems of my adopted country. The questions that come to mind are that who really is American and whose land is it? It depends how deep and how far back in history you want to go and whom you ask! I mean, on one side, if everybody goes back to where they came from, only people left would be Native Americans. If 40 million Irish, Italians, Jews, and other Europeans were allowed in the country without papers, why not Mexicans or Chinese or others? Even my daughter once got mad and told me to go back to India. I told her to go back to wherever she came from. I guess, best thing for me would have been to shut up and let her vent off. I sure can use some help and advice in dealing with a teenager who was born and grew up in America. Anyways, read if you like:

http://www.michnews.com/a/article_11_15_05.shtml (part 1)

http://www.michnews.com/b/article_12_28_05.shtml (part 2)

On the same thought, here is a funny car sticker I saw a few months ago.
“In 1492, Indians discovered Columbus!”.
Well! Not much to post this week. Various thoughts came to mind, but decided against posting them. Kind of like writing a letter, you start it, read it and tear it off to start again. Anyways, was able to get up and do some yoga exercise and then visit the Fremont gurdwara this morning. I wish I could just get a routine going, but need to work on more self discipline. But, everytime it is very refreshing and peaceful feeling to listen to banis and Asa di var.

Oh! almost forgot. Also helped my 8 year old son, Kiran, start his own blog. He loves it. He wanted to call everything "THE" but some how wasn't allowed. Check it out!


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Roles, Responsibilities and Authority of a Sikh Jathedar!

Sitting on my desk, as I am reading the daily Tribune, the top two stories in the link below just makes me sad and wonder why Sikh leadership is so split and always at each other’s throat. Even though, democratically, it is a healthy thing to argue and disagree on issues, but sad thing is that issues that are being argued by various parties are just full of negative energies, hate and ignorance and are almost not worth arguing. Almost everyday there are news about Saropas being bestowed to wrong people, who is more politically important and powerful, who is more linked to corruption, who is making millions, who is a better and proper Sikh, who is joining or not joining a religious procession etc. These issues seem so trivial in the big picture of things, which are facing Sikhs such as how to help develop Sikh community better so that future generations can enjoy the benefits of Sikhi and live in peace. Where are the children’s books on Sikhi, where are Gurbani kirtan Schools, what scholarships are available for kids to learn Sikhi, science, medicine and environment, what funds are available for hospitals and shelters for elders, widows, orphans and the sick? Whose responsibilty is it for the welfare of Sikhs, the Government of country where Sikhs reside or the Sikhs themselves or both or none? Instead, all these important issues are being avoided and things like Saropas are discussed on everyday basis which don't seem to be helping no one. There are a lot of resources and money within the Sikh community but the organization within the community is not there to utilize these resources better. What is the use of having millions of dollars or rupees, if Sikhs don’t even have the knowledge as to how to use these moneys and resources for their benefits? It is kind of like having the best weapon in the world in your hands, but you have no clue how to efficiently plan, organize, fight and use the weapon to your own benefit and ultimately end up losing. There seems to be no vision within the leadership with a very few exceptions. Sikhs should be able to separate the Sikh religious roles of leadership such as Jathedars from the Sikh political organizations such as Akalis, SGPC, DSGPC etc. But I think the problems is leadership needs to learn and have the guts, strength and will to sit together and resolve issues peacefully and decide what issues are worth discussing and will benefit the whole community. I think people want to see positive energy coming out of the Sikh leaders and want to see humble role models with honesty, integrity, compassion, vision, and drive to be true gursikhs themselves and uplift the World Sikh community as well. Formal Education is very important but not at expense of above qualities.

This brings the question of what are the roles and responsibilities of a Sikh Jathedar within the framework of Indian and Punjab constitutions. Personally, I think it is not an easy job and may be even harder than the President of United States or Prime Minister of India. On one side, the Jathedars are expected to make decisions on issue concerning Sikhi such as spreading message of Sikh Gurus and look out for the peace, welfare and betterment of the whole Sikh community by tackling issues such as turban issue in France, wearing of Kirpan, women seva and ensuring Sikh edicts are followed. But at the same time, Jathedars are also expected to work within a variety of legal, constitutional and political framework ranging from democracies of India, U.S., Canada, Europe and other countries, to complete dictatorships in nature such as Middle East, Pakistan and communism in some other parts of the world. The task is not an easy one. Keeping all of this in mind, a line similar to famous line from John F. Kennedy come to mind:

“Ask not what your Jathedar can do for you, Ask what you can do for your Jathedars”


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

United Punjab after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharaf

After being selected in 2005, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the first Sikh leader to lead India since the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his siblings which ended in 1849, is a quite a change of pace in usual Indian politics. India is on an economic boom that has never been achieved before by any Prime Minister and Pakistan is following as well. In all of this hype and economic success, which is good for all Indians including Sikhs, my concern is about what happens to Sikhs after his term ends in 2009-2010, especially with relations to Pakistan. Even though a lot of peace progress that is being made thru people to people contacts, buses running between cities etc., the future of Sikhs within this framework of India and Pakistan governments is still uncertain. Sikhs seem like they are in a very awkward position in this peace deal at this moment given all the political and emotional hype of United Punjab. This seems achievable but hopefully with less emotional and political appeal and more with some concrete steps from both sides. Buses are a really a good start, but the next steps such as drafting peace and trade agreements, economic proposals, and other territorial agreements need to be drafted so as not to miss this golden opportunity during Manmohan Singh’s government.

First thing is that Pakistan does not seem to be reciprocating the friendly gesture of handshake with same will and compassion. Analogy would be that of a extending a finger instead of whole hand.

Secondly, the recent wave of religious processions such as Golden Palki to Nankana Sahib from Delhi and another one planned from Tarn Tarn this summer. Yes, at the current moment they are good for Sikhs given the emotions and are helping towards building bridges between the Punjabis, but what happens after Manmohan Singh who is not an elected Prime Minister or President Musharaf who came to power thru a coup are not in power? What is going to be the attitude of each country? Would the next Prime Minister of India and President/PM of Pakistan be able to continue the peace process and achieve the same success? Can Sikhs expect Pakistan and India to be still accepting towards them or things are going to change with the regime change? I hope processions like above will still be allowed when a new Hindu government in India or another Muslim one in Pakistan comes to power or Would Sikhs have to wait another 50+ years for another Golden Palki and various family reunions? Personally, I wish these decisions are taken before another procession is taken to Pakistan. I feel the Sikh community is so emotionally involved right now that the important peace progress steps are not being taken to ensure the future will be bright for Sikhs no matter what government comes to power. I wish the Manmohan Singh will be able to strengthen the Sikh community militarily and politically so much that the future generations will be able to live and enjoy life in peace for ever. These are just thoughts and questions and hope are being resolved by both sides on the table.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Punjab and Sikh history misrepresented, again!

Here is an interesting site I happen to stumble upon about Flags of Indian Princely States. The authors of the site totally seem to have no understanding of Sikhism or are familiar with Sikh or Punjab history facts. I can't say about the rest of Indian states or religions. Here is what the site has on the History of Princely State of Patiala:

“History: Claiming descent from Jaisal, founder of the State of Jaisalmer in 1156, the founder of the Sikh dynasty, Phul, was Chaudhri (Governor) of a country located at the south east of Dihli. Phul's descendants founded 3 States: Patiala, Jind and Nabha. In 1763, the Emir of Afghanistan awarded the Chaudhri the dignity of Raja."

Founder of Sikh dynasity in 1156, give me a break! There is no such thing as Sikh dynasity because true Gursikhs do not give preference to blood lineage. If that was the case, then Guruship would have only gone to the sons of Guru Nanak. The second thing is that Sikhism was not even a religion in 1156, so calling something a Sikh dynasity is misleading and just shows ignorance about Punjabi and Sikh history. A year of 1756 may seem more like it but I don't have the facts. Actually, I think Sikh history and facts often get misrepresented in the foreign media. I don't know if inadvertantly or intentional.

The last thing about Flags, the only true flag of the Sikhs is Nishan Sahib which all Sikhs will recognize.

Read and comment if you wish:



Friday, February 10, 2006

Caste and trash! Is there a relation?

Sorry! This post is not to offend anyone, but venting off of my frustration. During my 2003 trip to India with my daughter, the two things that disappointed me the most were the trash and traffic chaos in all of the four states that we visited including Punjab. Thing about trash is that it is kind of related to the attitude of majority of the people in India which in turn is related to casteism. Yes, I can see it happening in Hindu tradition, but at least majority of Punjab should be clean given the Sikh attitude towards caste being an unsikh thing. The problem is that so many people want to belong to the some sort of upper caste be it a Brahaman in Hinduism, and Jat in Sikhism, but it happens all the times. If we take a look at the matrimonials in every Punjabi newspaper, we see caste and status etc. mentioned in almost every ad . The part I don’t understand is that even some of the newer generation that is growing up in the western countries like Canada, U.S., England etc. acts the same way towards picking up trash. I remember, a few years ago, my kids and I decided to clean up the Gurdwara hillside where trash gets blown away due to wind and sometimes intentional thrown away in our local Gurdwara in the Bay Area here. A little kid was watching us and asked why we are picking up trash? Our answer was who is going to pick it up? What surprises me the most everytime is that out of thousands of people in the Sangat, a lot of them watch us but I have yet to see a person come out and help. Interestingly though, some of these same people would have no problem at picking up trash or doing similar clean up work at jobs at convenience stores, restaurants, homes, hospitals. airports or all other places where they work and live. Is it the egos or a caste thing or laziness? I really don't have the answer. This may be a little too harsh of a post and does not generalize all Sikhs or Indians, or Punjabis, but I do feel that picking up trash should not be considered a lowly task for a Gursikh, especially in Gurdwara premises. I wish the attitude would change one day and would be an exception not a rule, but somehow I get disappointed lot of times. Please try it yourself and you will see what I mean?

And, secondly the traffic in India, all it takes is a few thousand gallons to paint lanes by the highway department, but somehow the attitude and will is not there! With India's goal of becoming an advanced country by 2020, the attitude at grass roots level has to change.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

How would Sikhs react to a depiction similar to Islamic cartoons in Europe?

With the recent wave of Muslim reaction to cartoons of prophet of Islam, I am wondering what the Sikh reaction would be if a similar thing were to happen in future to our community. I hope for it to not happen, but there are always people (both Sikhs and non-Sikhs) out there, that would want to start all kinds of controversies in the World for personal or political gains or may be just by their own ignorance and hatred. So far, our community has been pretty much blessed without a major incident of this sort except of some books, movies like So Bole So Nihal and plays like Behzati that have offended Sikhs. My personal feeling is that even though almost all of us would be offended depending upon the seriousness of the depiction and follow up reaction (apologies etc.) of the person responsible, the first or a second reaction of our community would be a little bit more tolerant than the Islamic reaction since history of our community has been of tolerance and giving peace a chance as taught by all of our Gurus. Another reason that we will prevail peacefully is that Sikhs have had so much experience with people that have tried to distort and misuse our rich Sikh history and tradition, starting with the Moslem, then the British and then the Hindu Governments of the past, that nothing else would phase us anymore. This kind of makes me even more proud of how tolerant we have been in the past 300-400 years. We have had a so many people (both Sikhs and non-Sikhs) who have analyzed, hypothesized, researched and criticized our Gurus teachings within the last 150 years, but the eternal nature of Guru Granth Sahib has always prevailed. This tells me that the next 300, 400 or infinite number of years will pass by, but the greatness of the light of Truth that Sikh Gurus shine upon us, will never be diminished. "Aad sach jugad sach, hai bhee sach Nanak, hosee bhee sach". What is your take on all this?

Thursday, February 2, 2006

India’s tech innovation boom – the economic train is just picking up steam

Here is another article in EE Times on Indian Semiconductor growth, forcasting thousands of jobs within and outside of India. I hope Punjab would also see benefits of this growth and is not left to agriculture and military recruitment only. Personally, with the current situation of farmers committing suicides, water shortage problem, devlopment effort of Punjab government, big companies like Pepsico and lenders taking advantage of poor Sikh farmers thru “ahrtiay” or government dealers, I hope Punjabi farmers and younger geenration will learn to make a transition from an agrarian society to high tech innovators, service providers, lenders, company owners and manufacturers. I think farming is only for the biggest farmers now who have money and connections. The small guys are just debt ridden and barely making ends meet. May be one day if India will starve, it will see the harm it has done to Sikhs farmers over the last fifty years. May Waheguru help them and keep them in high spirit!

Also, below are articles on high technology and engineering companies around Chandigarh for those job seekers out there in Punjab. Those EE’s out there, send them your resume everyone and don’t be afraid to ask for more money than average. Multinationals like Samsung will make billions out of your design innovations in the world market and not just in India. My advice is: the more creative you are in your design effort (hardware, software, mechanical, civil etc), the more successful you will be in the engineering field. And this creativity come from experimenting with anything and everything and a lot of common sense. Read if you like and good luck on job search:








Here is an interesting comparison of China's and India's economic progress: