Sikh Author Wins Mind Book of the Year Award

77.jpgLast year we discussed Satnam Sanghera’s memoir, If You Dont Know Me By Now: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhamptom, and dialogued aroundthe issue of mental health in the Punjabi Sikh community. The memoir was recently awarded the MindBook of the Year Award for its literary contributions to raising awareness around issues of mental distress. The Boy with the Topknot, as it is now known, was picked from 110 entries by Mind, a non-profit organization in the UK committed to creating a “better life for everyone with experience of mental distress”.

On winning the award last night, Sathnam Sanghera said:”It was such a strong shortlist, and this award is judged by some of the greatest authors in the UK, so this is a real privilege. There are hardly any books about Asian communities’ experiences of mental health problems, so I hope people read this book and it leads to more understanding.” [link]

I would highly recommend this book as I found the story to be sincere and enlightening. However, I would add that while it is important to provide this type of insight to the English-speaking literary community, itis just as (or perhapseven more so)important to ensure this type of literature is accessible to the Punjabi-speaking community. Perhaps we can strive to have these types of memoirs translated into Punjabi or madeavailable viaaudiorecordings?


Sikhi by fear, guilt or love?

He locked the washroom door, unravelled the nine-metre turban, took a pair of scissors and started cutting. Ten minutes later, three feet of hair lay in a pile and Charanbir Singh sat down and cried.

Outside, his parents and grandmother were in tears. Two friends persuaded him to come out, but Charanbir, his head wrapped in a towel, rushed to his room.

That was a year ago. Charanbir, now 17, still shudders at the memory. “I had to cut my hair.”(Link)

One of ironies of life in the 21st century western world is that despite an unparalleled degree of freedom of religion, the majority of people seem to be opting for freedom from religion.

Last week, Raveena Aulakh, a reporter from the Toronto Star, put a Canadian twist on the worldwide issue of apostasy amongst Sikh Youth.

Sikhism dates back to 15th-century India. Adherents are required to not cut their hair, considered a visible testament to their connection with their creator. The turban was adopted to manage long hair and make Sikhs easily identifiable.

For many young men in Greater Toronto, that is the problem: They don’t want to stand out.

Like other new or second-generation immigrants, many Sikh youngsters are desperate to fit in with the school crowd, while others complain of racism because they wear the turban. Add to that cultural influences, peer pressure and the desire to assimilate.

The end result? Many youngsters cut their hair, leading to family friction and, in some cases, lasting estrangement.

As a counterpoint, in the article and video above, Pardeep Singh Nagra (of boxing fame) presents his thoughts on why hes decided to keep his hair.

Fear & Guilt

Ive often wondered why so many Sikh youth keep their hair through high school but cut it as soon as they feel free from their parent’s control? From my perspective I see this as symptomatic of a great challenge facing Sikhs around the world today. Somehow, someway, we have fallen into the trap of pushing Sikhi to the next generation with fear and guilt, rather than sharing Sikhi through love.

Take your typical Sikh family; actually take mine. My now 25 year old cousin in Punjab had wanted to cut his hair since he was a teenager but two things stopped him. He was afraid that if he cut his hair his dad would beat him and then disown him. Secondly, he knew that if he did get a haircut and shave he wouldnt be able to look his crying mom in the eye.

Unfortunately, there was little positive reinforcement around Sikhi in his life. Sure there was Sikhi by osmosis: visiting Gurdwaras, gurbani playing in the background, the odd sakhi told by our visiting grandfather. However, my cousin had little exposure to the aspects of Sikhi (nitnem, kirtan, seva, simran) that would have connected him with his faith on a deeper level. Most of the discussions with his parents were a flavour of the famous Goodness Gracious Me clip. So not surprisingly, upon entering college, he too cut his hair. And sure enough, he became our family’s black sheep, making a kid with already low self-esteem, feel even worse.

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When Sikh Lions Roar in Canada

June soon approaches and many in the Sikh community will take the time to remember the events beginning in 1984. While some traditional sites of remembrance, mainly Gurdwaras, will continue to fulfill their duties to celebrate those that gave their lives and remember those families devastated by the Indian states violence, especially encouraging are new Sikh youth initiatives. Last week I discussed the Jakara Movement Sikh Conference and even the initiative Sukhmani Sahib for the Shaheeds. Now in Canada, the Sikh Activists Network is hosting two tremendous events.

The Details:

When Lions Roar: A Night of Music, Poetry, and Performance
Remembering the Sikh Genocide of 1984

Toronto: Friday June 5th, Crown Banquet Hall (Malton), 6pm
Vancouver: Friday July 3rd, Rhizome Caf (Vancouver), 6pm

Admission is FREE, but give a donation so that they can continue this initiative

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Latest Update on Sikhs and Dera SachKhand from the Punjab

My last post was about what we knew at that time. Since then, there are new updates.

After the attack in the Vienna temple (actually a dera of the Sach Khand group), there are news confirmations that Sant Rama Nand has passed away from his injuries, while the Dera head Niranjan Das is in stable condition.

There are also reports of violence in Punjab. IBN live reports the death of 2 people in the Doaba region and also one should note that it seems that the army has been called in to parts of Punjab.

One person was killed and four others were injured as Army jawans opened fire in Lambra village, 30 kms from Jalandhar. Another person was killed after the police opened fire on protesters at Jalandhar Cantonment railway station. [link]

In some ways I believe that this is a tragedy of the 80s and 90s.

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Sikhs and Dera SachKhand – Vienna and Jalandhar

sikhvienna.jpgAs suggested by our readers (pagh salute: ambi and an indian Sikh), I am posting on the tragedy in Vienna. The facts are still coming in, so we have little perspective on what exactly occurred.

This much is known. In the Austrian capital of Vienna, six Sikh men carrying various weapons and a handgun entered a Dera [Some media are calling this a Sikh temple or a gurdwara, but it seems to be a dera attached to the Sach Khand group]. The men proceeded to go towards the preachers of the Dera and in the melee 16 people have been reported injured, including 6 seriously two names have been reported amongst the injured – Niranjan Das and Sant Rama Nand and the other 4 were the attackers (there are rumors that Sant Rama Nand may have been killed, but this has not yet been confirmed. Sant Rama Nand is one of the highest leaders of the SachaKhand Dera).

Some of the media is attempting to frame the dispute in terms of caste, asserting that the Dera is set up to honor Bhagat Ravi Das, whose own Bani can be found in the Guru Granth Sahib. Other reports for a cause have provided the following:

[the attackers] accused one or both of the preachers of being disrespectful of the Holy Book [Sri Guru Granth Sahib]. Indian news reports said the attackers were incensed that one of the preachers was given a ceremonial shawl considered a high Sikh honor. [link]

Still some of the local press has provided the following reason:

It was assumed by local media that the conflict between the temples like competing for worshipers might be the reason of this shooting incident. [link]

The story does not end there.

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The Coercive Uses of Rescue Aid in Pakistan

Regional Map of the Afghani-Pakistani borderEarlier this month I asked if the Taliban’s rising influence in Pakistan and their removal of Sikhs from the Swat Valley was a harbinger for more extreme religious persecution. This week, two articles caught my eye:

The first depicted multi-religious protests in Kashmir over Pakistan’s inaction in the region. The second implied complicity between the Jawat-ud-dawa (JuD) and the Taliban to use “rescue aid” as a coercive tactic.

The use of “aid” to buy sympathy, garner political favor, or build political support is nothing new, and is described extensively in Machiavelli’s The Prince [source]. Similar concerns were raised in the wake of the Indonesian tsunami, when Muslim communities alleged that Christian aid organizations were forcibly converting orphaned children and the injured by withholding necessary aid. The extent, or veracity, of those allegations was relatively unknown/unquantifiable. Given the Taliban’s extensive campaign-based strategies, in addition to the narrow regional focus of its impact, it should be less difficult to quantify the JuD’s impact.

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Sukhmani Sahibs for the Sikh Shaheeds

sukhmani.jpgIn The Langar Hall, we do our best to keep you up-to-date with the latest 1984 events. From conferences, to concerts, if its happening, well post it.

With the 25th commemoration of the Ghallughara, a great initiative called ‘Sukhmani Sahibs for the Sikh Shaheeds‘ (being held the first week of June, 2009) is being coordinated by the Jakara Movement throughout the United States. Starting in California, facebook groups have sprung up in Michigan, and the numbers of people participating are increasing. Texas and Washington DC have added to the list.

From their Facebook page:

The simplest, yet most powerful, thing one can offer another soul is a prayer.

Many of our parents are involved in Sukhmani Sahib groups in their local Gurdwaras. The Sikh Memorial Center is asking these groups, as well as any others that wish to participate, to come together and remember Guru Arjuns Shahadat and the Memory of the Shaheeds that gave their lives in the third Ghallughara (June 1984). How to we propose this remembrance? We are asking for these groups across the North America to perform Sukhmani Sahib during the first week of June and open the event to their entire local Sangat.

So how can you help? Well if your parents or someone that you know participates within a Sukhmani Sahib group, help us get them on board with this project! This event is not exclusive to parents, if you or your friends would like to put together a Sukhmani Sahib group of your own, contact me.

The coordinators task is difficult. For many of us, our mothers are part of these groups and the organizers are calling males at Gurdwaras to get in touch with these groups. If your mother is part of such a group, help the coordinators leap frog the males and send an email to them. At least help out that much. Better is to join your mother in the Sukhmani Sahib. Best of all, start your own group! Get in touch to get the information packet mailed out to you.

AND, if you live near Fremont Gurdwara:

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Immigrant Women: Perseverance & Agency

This past weekend, as I was talking to a Punjabi Sikh woman who came to the United States about 13-14 years ago, I heard how agency and perseverance define the experiences of immigrant women in the United States. She told me about the great new apartment she just got for her family and how the laundry is free. A new apartment building with free laundry, that is absolutely awesome! Her smile, confidence, and enthusiasm were strongly lined with struggle and hard work; although she never directly said it. Her hard work and perseverance resounded clearly and loudly as it lay nestled in her comment about how her children had seen a lot of struggle in their lives. This statement meant that they had witnessed her struggle to provide the basic necessities in life, which means not always having access to the privileges other children gain more easily. I sensed her confidence in her and her familys work ethic, but also her own guilt of not being able to provide more.

This month, New America Media (NAM) released the results of a historic poll on woman immigrants to America. Often the experiences of women immigrants are not fore grounded in immigration research. They and their children are general viewed as the dependents of the sojourner husband/father. Their struggle, as the one mentioned above, are rarely brought to the center of the immigrant narrative.

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Sukhdeep Kaur Receives Zeff Fellowship

0501_Suhkeep.jpgRice University senior, Sukhdeep Kaur, has received the Roy and Hazel Zeff Memorial Fellowship – a $25,000 grant, which will allow her to study issues of human rights and access to justice in areas around the world. The news release states:

A political science and policy studies major with a focus on law and justice, Kaur has a longstanding interest in human rights and justice issues that stems from the violent history between the Indian government and Sikhs in Punjab.

For her fellowship, Kaur will travel to four countries — Chile, Rwanda, Israel and France — to work with minority populations on the issues of access to human rights and justice.

I recently interviewed Sukhdeep and we discussed how she first got involved with human rights. “I knew I wanted to work with law and justice but wasn’t really sure whether to focus on civil rights or human rights,” Kaur said. However, after taking a human rights course her sophomore year and her personal study of the violence toward Sikhs in India in 1984 and subsequent human rights violations, she decided to make this the focus of her field work.

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More Sikh Art: mool mantar through oil paintings

Thematically Sikh paintings are rare. Thus, when I came across the paintings below, I thought I should share. The oil paintings below are the work of Jaswant Singh Zafar. He’s a poet, photographer, and painter in his free time and an engineer in Ludhiana by day. This year, he’s spending his free time creating a series of paintings under the theme of ‘Gurbani.’ The paintings completed thus far weave the mool mantar through various aspects of nature, shapes, and other backgrounds.

At the end of the year, the series will be in an exhibition at the Artmosphere Gallery in Ludhiana. Artmosphere was created to provide a platform for budding artists in Ludhiana and Punjab such as Jaswant Singh Zafar. Such an endeavor cheers me and gives hope that the visual arts scene there is growing.

sikhart.jpg

I appreciate these paintings because they provide some insight into the art scene in Punjab- an example of what’s happening there. More works from this series can be found here.


So Many Questions

sikhyouth.jpgSometimes (or may be it more often), you read an article that just doesnt seem to make any sense. My google newsfeeder caught on such article titled: Sikh youth moving away from teachings of Sikhism. The author of the article Harleen Kaur seems to be at all places at once, reporting stories on Chandigarh, Malaysia, Leicester, and New York all on the same day. It does raise eyebrows into the type of reportage it can claim.

The story reports:

The young Sikhs seem to be moving away from the teachings of Sikhism largely due to lack of knowledge and faith in their culture and religion.

Hardly anything surprising there. Sikhs have been saying that for years.

The article is trying to promote the Sikh Naujawan Sabhas Vaisakhi-fest, but some of the analysis seems off, even bordering on the absurd:

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Towards a Sikh Perspective on the Indian Elections

india_election.jpgThe election results in India seem to be in. The Congress Party has increased its power in the center and even some of the commenters here in The Langar Hall have been jubilant.

While the Indian elections have received brief commentary, here and there in The Langar Hall, the results call out for some analysis towards a Sikh perspective.

Overwhelming have been the shouts of Singh is King as it seems that Manmohan Singh will continue to keep the Prime Minister position, at least if his victory-speech is any indication, until his political overseers the Gandhi family are ready to replace the kursi-warmer with Rahul Gandhi. Others in The Langar Hall have already written critical pieces of this so-called Great Sikh Hype.

News media have rightly commented on the Congress Partys sweeping electoral victories in Delhi on the partys dumping of the mass-murderers Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar (albeit it seems more political maneuvering with one of the positions filled by Sajjan Kumars brother, than any true remorse) and the projection of Manmohan Singh as a way to draw Sikh votes in Delhi away from BJP candidates. As a strategic community, Sikhs in no way should they tether their votes to a single party.

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Ravi Bhalla advances in Hoboken City Council elections

Ravinder At the Langar Hall, we’ve covered a number of Sikh candidates’ campaigns for local government office. I just wanted to include a brief update about Ravi Bhalla, who looks poised to become one of Hoboken’s first Sikh city councilmembers as he enters a run-off election next month:

While it is clear that Peter Cammarano and Dawn Zimmer will vie for the Hoboken mayoralty on June 9, the provisional ballots may still change the neck-and-neck race to see which of the last three of six council-at-large candidates get into the runoff on that date. [...]

As of Tuesday night, it looked like the top six will be as follows:
[1.] Carol Marsh 3,719
[2.] Ravi Bhalla 3,698
[3.] Dave Mello 3,361 [link]

When we last covered this story, Ravi was running as an independent for office. Since then, he joined a “reform” slate and has been campaigning extensively. His success comes as a surprise to some, who don’t understand how a practicing Sikh could get so far…

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Building Human Rights Culture

Breakthrough is an innovative, international human rights organization using the power of popular culture, media, leadership development and community education to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity. Through initiatives in India and the United States, Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights. [link]

A friend directed me to this video which reflects the use of media to educate society about human rights issue. The video I have included below is one of many produced by Breakthrough, an organization whose aim is to create a culture of human rights. “Breakthrough’s multi-media campaign, “Is This Justice?” aims to bring public attention to the stigma and discrimination faced by women living with HIV/AIDS-most of whom have been infected by their husbands or male partners.” I found this piece, titled A man looks at me but I’m the one who isbeing punished,to be quite powerful. Is this justice?

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Gurbakhash Kaur: Standing Up For Our Rights joe-biden3

One of the major issues affecting the Sikh community is increasing civic engagement in the United States. We often focus on getting more Sikhs to vote and lobby our politicians about the issues affecting our community. This lobbying general pertains to writing letters and signing petitions that ask our community members to move beyond taking pictures with politicians at fundraising events or giving them awards at local melas. This past week, a young Sikh woman, Gurbakhash Kaur, highlighted what it means for a Sikh to be civically engaged. She questioned Vice President Biden about two Sikhs in the United States Army who were told to cut their hair in order to serve and Governor Jon Corzine about rising health education costs, while her Sikh peers stood by her side. These handshaking events were not a forum set-up for accountability, but more as photo-ops for the politicians. However, Gurbakhash Kaur was determined to make hand-shaking an opportunity to hold our elected officials accountable to their Sikh constituency.

As a resident of Lodi, New Jersey, she got face-time with Vice President Biden during his visit for a new construction project to widen Main Street and US Route 46. During her questioning, World Sikh News reports that:

Vice President Biden interrupted Kaur to tell her a member of his staff is a Sikh and did not allow her to finish her question. Afterwards, Kaur said, “I want the story to get coverage, as hardly anyone pays attention to our issues . . . we need a lot more legal support and begging and pleading to get our issues addressed.”

Ultimately, Gurbakhash Kaurs actions are inspiring because she highlights an example of Sikhs standing up for our rights through self-empowerment. More importantly, she acted through self-organizing rather than taking part in an event organized by other groups to mobilize the Sikh community.

Kuddos to Gurbakhash Kaur for demanding accountability from our elected officials!


The North American Gurdwara: Are We Expecting Too Much?

g_b5.jpgPhulkari’s post a few weeks back got me thinking about Gurdwaras – their origin and the role they play in Sikh society today. History tells us that Guru Nanak Patshah created Dharmshalas in Kartarpur where Sikhs would rise early and meet for Keertan, Veechar, reflection, and Guru-ka-Langar. It was a central element to the ideal society that Kartarpur would become.

Over a century ago, Sikhs first arrived in North America – working at lumber mills, railroads, and as migrant laborers. They settled their families and chose to establish Gurdwaras (as early as 1908 in West Vancouver, BC and 1912 in Stockton, CA) to preserve both their spiritual and cultural roots in the land far from their history.

Now with hundreds of thousands of Sikhs in North America and the needs of our communities growing, the Gurdwara has expanded the services it offers far beyond its humble beginnings. Many Gurdwaras have Khalsa schools and libraries. Others plan for fitness centers, basketball courts, and healthcare clinics. One of the local Gurdwaras here hosts an annual Panjabi cultural show and mela, with weekly Giddha and Bhangra practices held at the Gurdwara facility itself. The North American Gurdwara has become not only a spiritual center, but also a community center, serving all the needs of the Sikh and Panjabi population.

On the one hand, I like having a Gurdwara as the center for our community’s activity. Although not all people have an initial interest in Sikhi, all these other events and programs at least keep people coming. And even a short “ritualistic” trip to the Gurdwara could develop in to something more. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonderare we asking too much from our Gurdwaras?

With such different and competing interests, leadersfight for position so they can make their agenda the focus, and control Gurdwara resources accordingly. This drives much of the political drama and power struggles that surround our Gurdwaras today. As a result, many programs (such as Khalsa schools) end up mismanaged, poorly resourced, and inefficient.

Secondly, with all the programs our Gurdwaras offer, I question – are we taking away from the primary purpose of the Gurdwaralearning Gurmat (the Guru’s way)? How well do our Gurdwaras focus on Simran and Veechar? How well do our Gurdwaras connect the youth with the Guru’s message? What about services for non-Panjabi speakers or introducing non-Sikhs to our faith? What about programs emphasizing Sikh culture – like Gatka or Gurmat Sangeet? Are our Gurdwaras really institutions for learning? If the answer is less than perfect, shouldn’t we re-prioritize and change the focus of our Gurdwaras?

Many Gurdwaras serve small communities in rural areas where limited resources force the Gurdwara to serve multiple purposes. However, in larger communities, where resources are plenty – should we consider separating out our organizations? Maybe create separate Punjabi societies, Khalsa schools, clinics, and even Sikh community centers that focuses on outreach, youth counseling, and seva projects?

Perhaps under separate structures and management, these organizations will be able to thrive and meet their goals more efficiently with less resistance. And with our community’s growing needs, why not grow our presence with more diverse organizations?

Thoughts?


Hair for a Sikh, an African American, and a trichotillomaniac

Kes is an important part of the Sikh identity but it also carries social, cultural, and political meaning for more than just Sikhs. Recently, a film student from NYU explored this less explored cross-cultural perspective by speaking with 3 individuals from various backgrounds in an interesting (and short-18 minute) documentary.

The film engages with a Sikh (Sonny Singh from the Sikh Coalition’s New York office), an African-American woman, and a woman with trichotillomania – a disorder that causes the sufferer to compulsively pull out hair. We often consider kes in the context of religion, beauty, and identity; but rarely do we do so in a cross-cultural perspective (unless you grew up in a culturally diverse community). The film is thoughtful and thought-provoking, so I’ll let it speak for itself. It includes footage from the recent Sikh Day parade in New York City, as well as a pagh tying competition in Richmond Hill.

[hat tip: sonny]

Hair… As one of the most important aspects of how others see us, how has our hair become interwoven with issues of race, religion, beauty, and identity?

Sikhism mandates that the hair is never cut. We explore the rationale behind this and the discrimination that Sikhs face today in a post 9-11 world.

Many women of African descent grow up to think negatively about their natural hair. So begins the burdensome, expensive, and often painful process of weaves and chemical straightening, as a however subconscious attempt to achieve a homogenized concept of beauty. We speak to a woman who takes pride in her natural hair and is committed to show others how truly beautiful “nappy” hair can be.

Sometimes what we do with our hair is not a choice. Trichotillomania is a disorder that causes the sufferer to compulsively pull out hair. We will meet a long-term lash/brow puller who describes how people have reacted to her disorder and how these experiences have shaped her. [link]


Bleed India

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The last day of India’s 5 day, 6 week general election is tomorrow, May 13th. And only one political party has been speaking honestly about what they will do for the country post-election: Bleed India. Pappu Raj is the candidate. And select excerpts from his “moneyfesto” are as follows:

On Taxes: “Direct taxes will come Directly – to me.”

On Global Warming: “Buy A/C.”

On Heartfelt Public Health: “Run Round in Circle Act. : Run from one department to another one: Round and Round. Round and Round. This is the aerobic exercise. It gives the good muscles, improves heart and Cardio. Plus blood will flow. And we are liking your blood.”

On Jail Reform:

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Leaving Punjab on the Cancer Train

train.jpg“…the first troubling clues in the late 1980s and early ’90s: Peacocks – India’s national bird – disappeared from the fields.”

A recent story on NPR discussed the “cancer train” in Punjab. The train is so named as it routinely carries about 60 patients and their families from Bathinda to the town of Bikaner in order to get treatment at the government’s regional cancer center. Studies now suggest that populations with high use of pesticides have an increased risk of cancer. This seems to be the case in Punjab, where the introduction of the Green Revolution in the 1960s not only led to increased production of agriculture but also adverse health outcomes. The NPR piece discusses how villages that use pesticides were shown to have higher rates of cancer than villages that did not use pesticides.

On a recent evening, just before the train arrives, waiting passengers wrapped in shawls sit glumly on the bare pavement. Vendors hawk tea and chapattis. “He has blood cancer,” says one man, explaining his upcoming journey by gesturing at his skinny, pale 16-year-old son, Jassa Singh, beside him. Another man points toward his little boy, and says bone cancer has attacked his hip.

A gaunt but dignified-looking man wearing a bright yellow turban says he is going to Bikaner for treatment of cancer in his throat. “It’s difficult to talk,” he says, pushing a button in a device inserted in his throat that makes his voice sound like a computer synthesizer.

It is important to note, however, that as with many public health studies – an association between pesticide use and cancer does not necessarily suggest a causal link. Many people are hesitant to blame the Green Revolution and new technologies on the prevalence of cancer in Punjab. Neverthless, it seems clear that the correlation with the higher rates of cancer can not be understated and suggests that environmental factors could quite possibly be the cause.

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A Sikh Response on Ruby Dhalla?

ruby_dhalla.jpgFor those that follow The Langar Hall, Ruby Dhalla is no stranger to our coverage on Canadian politics. Whether it be on our list of Sikh MPs throughout the world, a Sikh Barack Obama, a horrible beating that is symptomatic of the nightmare that is the Punjab Police, or even attendance at NRI Punjabi conference, she has found mention.

In this post, she becomes the focus. Since last week after the Star published a story, Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal Member of Parliament, representing Brampton-Springdale, has been on the receiving end of a flood of media criticism for the following allegations

[Immigrant home care-givers] claimed that they earned $250 a week working 12- to 16-hour days at the Dhalla family home, that Dhalla herself had seized their passports and that other family members made them wash cars, shovel snow and clean chiropractic clinics owned by the family. [link]

The Canadian press has had a field day and has likened the case to the controversy that led to Eliot Spitzers resignation as the governor of New York due to his relationship with a prostitute after being seen as a moralizer. Ruby Dhalla has been known to champion immigrant rights issues and women and thus it is for this reason that the allegations have been such damning.

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