News & Views
The 63rd All India Sikh Educational Coference
The Chief Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar has been organising the All India Educational conferences since 1908, through its Educational Committee.
The 63rd Educational Conference was organised by the Chief Khalsa Diwan in the premises of Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Sector 26, Chandigarh from November 12 to 14, 2010. The Chief minister, Punjab,Sardar Prakash Singh Badal was the Chief Guest. Sardar Sant Singh Chhatwal (USA) presided over the Conference.
Sardar Iqbal Singh, Lt. Governor, Pondechery inaugurated the Conference. A galaxy of personalities from India and abroad attended the Conference. Important aspects of the issues concerning educational facilities for masses were deliberated upon in various seminars organised and well attended.
The following dignitaries were honoured at the conference on November 14, 2010 for their distinguished achievements for the welfare of the Society, especially in the field of education.
Dr. Upinderjit Kaur, Finance Minister, Punjab.
Dr. Jaspal Singh, Vice-chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala.
Dr. Ajaib Singh Brar, Vice-chancellor, Guru Nnak Dev University, Amritsar.
Dr. S.P. Singh, former Vice-chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
Dr. Amarjit Singh Khehra, former Vice-chancellor, Punjab Agri. University, Ludhiana.
S. Gurdev Singh, President, Sikh Educational Society, Chandigarh.
Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki, Delhi, former Director, PGI, Chandigarh.
Dr. Harshinder Kaur, Patiala.
Dr. Dalbir Singh, President, Punjab School Eucation, Board, Mohali
Col. (retd) Jasmer Singh Bala, Secretary, Sikh Educational Society, Chandigarh.
S. Ajinderpal Singh Chawla, United Kingdom.
Bhai Sahib Ashok Singh Bagrian, Chandigarh.
(Courtesy: A Report by S Gurdev Singh)
Senior Citizens’ Get-together
A meeting of the Senior Citizens of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula organised by Dr Amarjit Singh Khehra, Ex-VC, Agriculture University, Ludhiana was held at Khehra Farm, Kharar on December 12, 2010. A delegate from Nepal was also invited in this meeting. Bhai Ashok Singh, Ex-President and Spokesman of the Institute of Sikh Studies attended the meeting and presented Abstracts of Sikh Studies, a mouth piece of the Institute of Sikh Studies, dedicated to Sikh Religion and Science to the delegates.
Gurbani vision Important: President
New Delhi, December 17. President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has expressed confidence that the teachings contained in the Guru Granth Sahib will continue to guide many generations. Delivering a speech to inaugurate an International Seminar on ‘Pluralistic Vision in the Guru Granth Sahib’ here last evening, she said, “The vision contained in the Gurbani will be important in pluralistic societies and for building bridges of understanding in our multi-hued world”.
Patil quoted historian Arnold J. Toynbee as having written “...religions are going to influence each other more than even before…..Sikh religion and its scriptures will have something of special value to say to the rest of the world.” The contents of the Sikh holy book have provided guidance to the millions belonging to the Sikh community and has contributed immensely to enriching the culture and heritage of India, Patil remarked.
The teachings have remained relevant. The holy book is an example of the great Indian secular tradition, wherein compositions have been included from both Hindu and Muslim saints and given the same importance as the verses of the Gurus. The teachings are behind the success of the Sikh community and its tremendous contribution to the growth of India. All over the globe, even the smallest of Sikh communities have earned respect for themselves through this code of conduct.
The seminar organised by Bhai Vir Singh Sadan will have scholars arguing out their points of view on the Granth Sahib. The academic sessions began this morning with the first session on ‘From Pothi Sahib to Guru Eternal’ and was chaired by. Kuldeep Nayar, eminent journalist. Prof. Gurinder S. Mann, Dr. Sarabjinder Singh, Dr.Karamjit Malhotra presented their papers. In his exposition, Prof. Mann stressed the need to analyse existing sources to understand the journey from ‘Pothi Sahib to Guru Eternal’.
Dr Sarabjinder Singh alluded to different religious traditions to point out codifications of divine revelations through prophets and their followers. Dr Karamjit Malhotra cited 18th century historical records to point out the centrality of Guru Granth Sahib in the lives of Sikhs as Guru Eternal.
The special session on “Spreading the Word: Contribution of Bhai Vir Singh” was chaired by Dr. J.S. Neki. Prof Nikky Guninder Kaur extensively cited poetry of Bhai Vir Singh to show his life journey immersed in Guru Granth Sahib. The third session on Pluralistic Vision in Guru Granth Sahib was chaired by Dr Jaspal Singh.
Golden Temple to Witness Diwali Celebrations under CCTV Cameras
Amritsar, November 4. Tomorrow when thousands of devotees will throng the Golden Temple to celebrate Divali and Bandi Chhor Divas, a hidden eye will be keeping a close watch on the event. CCTV cameras, numbering 85, installed recently by the SGPC at a cost of Rs 2 crore will undergo their first acid test tomorrow, as the entire Golden Temple complex will be jam-packed with devotees celebrating Divali.
SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh said a control room had been set up near Akal Takht to monitor activities at the complex. According to him, CCTV cameras had been installed across the ‘parikarma, ‘jora ghars’ (shoe-deposit centres), inns, community kitchen, SGPC office, and the entrance.
The cameras can capture colour images even at night and come with tilt-zoom and range-adjustment features. He said if need be the number of cameras might be increased up to 100.
SGPC President Avtar Singh said CCTV cameras would provide foolproof security to lakhs of devotees visiting the Golden Temple adding that the facility would be formally inaugurated soon.
He said they would also be recruiting 10 trained personnel at the control room besides facilitating the required training to the SGPC staff. He said the SGPC staff, if need be, would also be equipped with security instrument like walkie-talkie. The SGPC since long was contemplating the installation of CCTV cameras for more security at the Golden Temple and Akal Takht complex. The proposal was first mooted when Bibi Jagir Kaur was heading the SGPC.
The decision to put up CCTV cameras was apparently taken following attacks on religious places in South Asia. Cases of picking of pockets, garment thefts at the complexes and reports of children missing also prompted the SGPC to act on the proposal.
Meanwhile, the stage is all set for Bandi Chhor Divas and Divali celebrations at the Golden Temple. SGPC President Avtar Singh and Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh will address the community from the Darshani Deodhi at 5 pm tomorrow. Thousands of devotees have already converged in the holy city. The entire complex has been illuminated with lights. Noted ‘raagi jathas’ will perform ‘shabad kirtan’ at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, which will be followed by a ‘dhadi darbar’ at 8 pm. The evening will also witness a spectacular display of fireworks. (Courtesy: The Tribune, November 5, 2010)
Nirvikar Singh: New Chair for Sikh & Punjabi Strudies, University of California, Santa Cruz
WILLIAM A. LADUSAW, Interim Dean of Humanities, UCSC: I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Nirvikar Singh to the Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz (“UCSC”).
The Chair established through the Sikh Foundation by Hardit and Harbhajan Kaur Singh in memory of their son, Sarbjit Singh Aurora – supports research and teaching in Sikh and Punjabi studies from a multicultural and global perspective.
Nirvikar Singh brings both a rich heritage and strong research and teaching acumen to the position, and we are fortunate to have his expertise and experience as a longtime member of the faculty in Economics at UCSC.
His research and published articles in this area have included work on healthcare systems in Punjab, the Punjab economy, comparison of past conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir, Sikh literature as an agent of social change in the early 20th century, and analysis of the fundamental doctrines of Sikhism in historical context.
Nirvikar is also one of the leading scholars on India’s political economy, and has researched and published extensively on topics such as federalism, governance, and macroeconomic policies.
As holder of the Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair, Professor Nirvikar Singh will add to the scholarship of Sikh and Punjabi Studies in areas that are as yet under-represented, including economy and society. He will chart a new and much-needed direction in Sikh and Punjabi Studies, and bring Sikh Studies scholars together in a discussion of an enlarged perspective of Sikh and Punjabi Studies.
He will draw on his heritage and family links with global Sikh communities to build bridges beyond the university, and to fulfill the University of California’s mission to serve the population of the state, including its vibrant and long-present Sikh-American community. He will also collaborate with Sikh Studies chairholders at UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside to help provide access for UCSC students to the rich offerings in Sikh and Punjabi Studies at those campuses.
Dr. Nirvikar Singh, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has served as Director of the Santa Cruz Center for International Economics, Co-Director of the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Director of the South Asian Studies Initiative, and Special Advisor to the Chancellor. He organized one of the first major US conferences on Indian economic reform. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, where he was awarded the Allyn Young Prize, Gonner Prize and Ely Devons Prize. His current research topics include information technology and development, electronic commerce, business strategy, political economy, federalism, economic growth and the Indian economy. He has authored over 100 research papers and co-authored three books: Joint Ventures, International Investment and Technology Transfer; The Political Economy of Federalism in India; and Waiting to Connect: India IT Revolution Bypasses the Domestic Industry. He has also served as an adviser for several startups and knowledge services firms in Silicon Valley and in India.
Nirvikar is the grandson of Bhai Mohan Singh Vaid (1881-1936), a distinguished Punjabi writer of early 20th Century. (Courtesy : firstname.lastname@example.org)
Honour the turban
French discrimination against schoolchildren
You cannot be a turban-wearing Sikh and a school student in France. The Sikhs are not required to remove their turban anywhere except in French schools. Turban-wearing Sikh students have been taken off the rolls of public-funded educational institutions ever since France introduced a rule in 2004 that banned schoolchildren from wearing articles of religious significance. This move primarily affected the Muslim girls who wore the headscarf or the hijab, and the Sikh boys who sported turbans. The French rule is based on a narrow interpretation of the principle of secularism, which demands the separation of the Church and the State. The same rule also bans the wearing of the turban for ID document photos. Thus, for purposes of all ID photographs, including driving licences, the Sikhs have to have their pictures taken without their turbans on, which is embarrassing to the individuals concerned. The Sikhs are a tiny minority in France, and till now they have had no relief from various courts where they have challenged the rule.
The official French response generally is that “minority communities must respect rules that need to be followed in France”. While no one can fault this statement, we must remember that the so-called melting-pot model of immigration, where immigrants were expected to subsume their identity to that of their host country, has now been replaced by a far more progressive one in which immigrants contribute to their new home the diversity of their beliefs, culture, skills and education.
The recent visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to New Delhi brought the issue to the fore again when protesters, especially schoolchildren, took to the streets of the Capital to press their demand. The Prime Minister is well acquainted with the matter, but it remains to be seen if his government can aggressively pursue the case to end this discriminatory practice in a nation that seeks to enhance its role as India’s partner in different fields. (Courtesy: The Tribune, Editorial, December 10, 2010)
Letters to Editor
We do hope this letter finds you in the best of health and your usual high spirits. May Akal Purakh grant you a long and healthy life to enable you continue to serve the Sikh Panth for a long time.
Enclosed please find a cheque for Rs 11,000/- (Eleven Thousand only) drawn on the State Bank of India, Parliament Street, New Delhi, as my donation to the Institute of Sikh Studies.
Please acknowledge receipt of the cheque through e-mail. With very warm regards and best wishes for the ever Charhdi Kala of the Institute.
Col Avtar Singh
2339-68 Corporate Drive
Scarborough - Ontario – M1H 3H3
I have posted a cheque of Rs. 11,000/-(Rs Eleven thousand only) to you for building construction on 10th November. I hope you will receive within a few days. In case my subscription for the journal has exhausted, please inform me or adjust the same out of the cheque sent to you. Please acknowledge.
21 Chloe Crescent,
Markham Ont. L3S 2H3 - Canada