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Archive for the ‘Punjab’ tag

Obama Pays Tribute To First Sikh-American Congressman

Dalip Singh Saund (C), the first Asian-American elected to the Congress, flanked by US President John F. Kennedy (L) and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

from The Link, Leading Indo-Canadian Newspaper

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama on Tuesday heaped praise on Punjab-born Dalip Singh Saund, the country’s first Indian-American member of the Congress. In his address at the annual gala of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, the US President described the late Saund as a “trailblazer”.

“They were trailblazers like Dalip Singh Saund, a young man from India who came to study agriculture in 1920, stayed to become a farmer, and took on the cause of citizenship for all people of South Asian descent,” the President said to applause.

“And once Dalip earned his own citizenship, he stepped up to serve the country he loved-and became the first Asian-American elected to the Congress,” he added.

Saund was born in 1899 in Chhajalwadi village of Punjab. He came to the US in 1920 to study food preservation at the University of California at Berkeley. He eventually switched to mathematics and earned a master degree and a PhD in the subject.

Despite his educational qualifications, Saund took a job as a lettuce farmer since farm labour was the only work South Asians were permitted to do in the US in the 1920s. Indians were also not eligible for US citizenship at that time.

Following an amendment to the law, Saund became a citizen in 1949 and in 1956 was elected as a lawmaker representing California in the Congress, where he served three terms.

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Gift of Blood Ends Pakistani Town’s Bloody History

By Rick Westhead
from Toronto Star

BASTI MAHRAN, PAKISTAN—A single act of kindness, profound because it was so rare and unexpected, transformed this sun-bleached village in a remote corner of the Punjab.

A Hindu man gave his blood to save the life of a Muslim woman who had lost too much in childbirth.

In the seven years since, the 1,600 Muslims and 1,400 Hindus in this town live in peaceful co-existence, extraordinary because sectarian violence has marked the histories of Pakistan and India since the bloody partition of 1947.

“I was afraid, for sure. But it was the right thing to do,” says Bachu Ram, the blood donor. He is smoking a cigarette in the home of a Muslim village elder, who once was so steeped in hatred that he led the charge on the clinic to take Ram’s life.

Hatred and violence once defined life in Basti Mahran. Muslim men routinely raped Hindu girls — “we would have 20 cases a year,” says one local. Muslim men beat Hindus with sticks and fists, seemingly with tacit approval of the local police. Cattle belonging to Hindu families were slaughtered if they strayed too close to Muslim homes.

Mahar Abdul Latif, the host who now pours Ram tea, spent three years during the late 1990s as a member of the extremist religious group Jaish-e-Mohammad. He patrolled the rugged mountain passes and valleys of Kashmir, a region claimed both by India and Pakistan, killing Hindus when they crossed his path.

“I have done much I am ashamed of,” says Latif, a 37-year-old father of three. “But we are friends now. Our kids are friends, too. They study and play together.”

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September 30th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Hindus, Muslims work collectively in a Sikh owned press

from Asian News International

Punjab – the land of five rivers – lies in North West India. Bhangra and Gidda are world famous dances, which have their roots in Punjab. Punjabi culture reflects the colour and happiness in one, and has been successful in binding people from different faiths together against all odds. And in Mohali District, which houses many small and medium enterprises, the spirit of amity exist between different communities that live and work here. One such example can be found at Majestic Printers, where Hindu and Muslim employees work together in an environment of complete harmony. Though owned by a Sikh, the supervisor of the press is a Muslim. The product range includes cards, magazines, brochures and stationary items. In addition, the press also prints a special page from Gurbani, that is, teachings by Sikh spiritual leaders, free of cost.

Click here to watch the short video

June 24th, 2011 at 5:35 pm