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Sikhs in the Indian Constitution

The contents of an email from Tarlochan Singh, a member of the Indian Parliament, to Jagpal Singh Tiwana were published in The Sikh Times recently. constitution_of_india.jpgApparently, the member of Parliament is trying to have the Indian Constitution amended so that Sikhs are no longer referred to as Hindus for the purposes of Article 25 (freedom of religion).

Dear S. Tiwana Ji,

When I became a Member of Parliament I moved a Private Members Bill for an amendment of Section 25 of the Indian Constitution such that the Sikhs are treated as an independent religion. Under the present Constitution Sikhs are regarded as part of the Hindus. So this amendment is required for getting us independent status. My bill came before the House for discussion twice but due to disturbances in the House no proceeding could take place. Now I am waiting for the next opportunity. [The Sikh Times]

Currently, freedom of religion in India’s Constitution (Article 25) reads as follows:


Business Booming For Meat and Doda Shops

I know that we Punjabis love importing our culture and traditions to the countries we now call home, but this is getting ridiculous.

punjabmeats.jpgBrampton city councillor Vicky Dhillon is on a crusade to stop stores in his area from selling two kinds of decorative poppy flowers, which he said contain addictive opium.

Dhillon said the flowers and stalks are ground into a brownish powder — called doda — that is openly sold for about $10 for 10 grams at about eight meat stores in his Wards 9 and 10. The powder gets a person high when mixed with water and ingested, he said. “This drug is causing a lot of problems in the community,” said the councillor, adding it’s largely used in the Sikh and Hindu communities. His ridings contain more than 100,000 Sikhs.

Dhillon said he’s concerned the use of doda will spread to area schools due to its low cost. Peel Regional Police raided several businesses two weeks ago that were allegedly selling the drug. One man was arrested and 38 kilos of doda seized. Dhillon said he’s raised his concerns with Peel and Brampton city councils and health officials are looking into the problem.

Several varieties of poppies are allowed into Canada as decorative flowers, but only a few have a high opium content. Dhillon is calling for a ban on sales of two specific poppies — Arizona and Holland. “In the last two years, the use of doda has exploded,” he said yesterday. “This is a big threat to the younger people in our community.” Some of the stores selling the “ornamental flowers” were conducting brisk business yesterday. (Link)

I guess I should not be surprised. If drug use is at epidemic levels in Punjab, its naïve to assume people are going to magically clean up their act when the come to Canada. In fact, the culture shock, isolation and life changes that usually come with immigration, probably only make existing drug dependencies worse.

I was always amazed by the number of “meat shops” in Punjabi communities across Canada. I didn’t think there was enough demand for specialized Punjabi meat products to justify the supply. What I hadn’t taken into account was the “premium products” offered at the back of the store.

US Employers: the Turban is un-American and not Sexy [Updated]

nwl-150x100.gifThe Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (better known as SALDEF, and SMART before that) has been vigorously defending a turbaned Sikh man, Sukhbir Channa, who was told by Disney that he would not be hired for a position because he did not have the “Disney look.”  Angela Bliss, a spokesperson for Disneyland, explained that, “The Disney look is a fresh, clean and approachable look, ensuring that every guest feels comfortable with our entire cast.”  Apparently a turbaned Sikh is neither fresh, clean, nor approachable, and makes others uncomfortable.  Apparently in a “magical” environment that contains oversized pigs, mice, and other characters, it is a human with a simple religious headdress that is unwelcome.  Apparently a major company whose creations are an integral part of practically every American child’s upbringing cannot teach those very children the  fundamental values of tolerance, respect, and acceptance in this increasingly diverse and pluralistic nation.  Rather than work to alleviate any possible (though not demonstrated) discomfort with a turbaned Sikh, Disney has pandered to and thereby legitimized the notion that turbaned Sikhs are to be marginalized and excluded from aspects of American society.  I could go on and on.

This week, I learned that another major company informed a Sikh that a turban should not be worn in the presence of customers.


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