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  1. new course running from Havard U online, guess sikhi is getting profile in the USA https://www.edx.org/course/sikhism-through-its-scriptures
  2. Summer 2016 applications will be considered on a rolling basis until March 31, 2016. http://www.sikhcoalition.org/get-involved/internship
  3. Decorated Sikh Soldier Presses for End to Ban on Sikh Military Service WASHINGTON, DC (June 1, 2013) – Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi --- a decorated US Army soldier who in 2009 received an exception to a decades-old rule barring Sikh turbans and unshorn hair --- provided compelling testimony yesterday about why the US military should open its doors to Sikh soldiers at a United States Civil Rights Commission hearing. ”The time has come and passed for our military to openly embrace those Sikhs who want to serve our country by removing the rules that exclude them,” said Major Kalsi at yesterday’s hearing. Click here to watch the testimony Click here to see photos from the hearing In 1981, the United States military banned new Sikh soldiers from maintaining their religiously-mandated turbans and unshorn hair. Previously, turbaned Sikhs had been serving in the United States military since World War I. In 2009 and 2010, the United States Army agreed to individual exceptions for three Sikh soldiers so that they could maintain their religious articles of faith while serving their country. All three accommodated Sikh soldiers --- Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, and Specialist Simran Preet Lamba ---- are clients of the Sikh Coalition. Major Kalsi received the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Afghanistan. In support of the award, an official recommendation from Major Kalsi's superiors cites his resuscitation of two patients who were clinically dead on arrival; his "expert" emergency care of over 750 soldiers and civilians; and his general "commitment and leadership above and beyond that of his general duties.” During yesterday’s testimony, Major Kalsi made clear that Sikh practices do not prevent soldiers from performing with excellence: “By making this call to end the presumptive ban on Sikh military service, let me make clear that I would never advocate for anything that would put my fellow soldiers in harm’s way,” said Major Kalsi. “If Sikhs could not wear helmets or gas masks when required, I would never call on my military to accommodate Sikh American soldiers. But that is simply not the case. Sikh soldiers have served on special forces teams. They have jumped out of airplanes as paratroopers, and have deployed in far forward combat operations. We can serve our country and be Sikh at the same time.” The Sikh Coalition has spearheaded the fight to end the presumptive ban on Sikh military service in the US since 2009. While the Sikh Coalition applauds the individual accommodations made by the US Army for its three Sikh clients, the Sikh Coalition calls on the US military to eliminate the presumptive prohibition on Sikh American service in our military. “If our military needs ‘proof of concept’ that Sikhs can serve with excellence, it needs to look no further than Major Kalsi, Captain Rattan, and Specialist Lamba,” said Amardeep Singh, Program Director of the Sikh Coalition. “In the last year we’ve thankfully seen the military end bans on openly gay service members and females in combat positions. It’s time to end the Sikh ban as well. It’s critical that our military looks like the America it serves and that it embodies America’s core founding principle that it matters not who you are but what you do. Major Kalsi made clear today that Sikhs can excel as soldiers. The time has come and passed to start welcoming them into our military.” http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/1607/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=146188
  4. April 25, 2013 (Washington, DC) – History was made yesterday as Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative David Valadao (R-CA) announced the launch of the first-ever American Sikh Congressional Caucus. Representatives Chu and Valadao are the Co-Chairs of the Caucus. As of yesterday’s launch, 30 bipartisan Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have already joined the Caucus. The purpose of the Caucus is to educate Members of Congress and the general public about Sikh American issues. It will also allow Members to strategize on how to support the Sikh American community. Addressing Sikh community leaders, Members of Congress, and journalists on Capitol Hill yesterday, Congresswoman Chu said, "Today marks the day when Sikh Americans will finally have a unified voice to advocate for them in the United States House of Representatives. This bipartisan caucus, made up of members from California to Virginia, from New Jersey to Arizona, will stand by your side, and fight for you." Chu continued, "More than a decade after 9/11, too many Sikhs across America face discrimination, bullying, and even bias-motivated violence from misguided individuals associating them with the terrorist attacks." Citing the American founding principles of religious freedom, acceptance and tolerance, Chu hoped that the newly formed American Sikh Congressional Caucus for Sikh Americans "will finally have a united bipartisan voice in Congress." Congressman Valadao noted, "The Central Valley is home to more than 25,000 Sikhs, the largest population in the United States. Just in my district, California's 21st congressional district, there are at least seven Gurdwaras," adding, "I am excited and honored that I will be able to represent the Sikh community in Washington and am looking forward to working with my colleagues to address the unique issues this community faces." While Sikhs have contributed greatly to our nation’s prosperity, they do face challenges to the enjoyment of their rights. Although Sikhs have served with distinction in the U.S. Armed Forces in both World Wars, Vietnam and most recently in Afghanistan, Sikhs are not presumptively permitted to join the U.S. Armed Forces because of restrictive appearance regulations. Similarly, in the aftermath of September 11th, Sikh Americans have experienced a sharp rise in incidents of bias-motivated violence and bullying. The Associated Press reported that more than 700 such incidents took place in the U.S. over the last decade. Surveys have also found that up to three out of every four Sikh boys in the United States are bullied due to their appearance. The shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last year is a tragic example of why Congress must focus on Sikh American issues. The effort to create the Caucus was spearheaded by community members Harpreet Sandhu and Dr. Pritpal Singh from California. Sikh organizations SALDEF, Sikh Coalition and UNITED SIKHS, worked together to increase Congressional support for the Caucus. Sikh Americans and Sikh organizations are hopeful that the Caucus will serve as a platform for better engagement with the United States Congress. Current Members of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus are listed below. If you do not see your Member of Congress listed as a member of the Caucus, please email or call us so that we can work with you to secure their participation in the Caucus. Current Members of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus as of April 25, 2013 Democrats Rep. Judy Chu Rep. Karen Bass Rep. Ami Bera Rep. Gerry Connolly Rep. John Conyers Jr. Rep. Jim Costa Rep. John Garamendi Rep. Raul Grijalva Rep. Rush Holt Rep. Mike Honda Rep. Hank Johnson Rep. Zoe Lofgren Rep. Carolyn Maloney Rep. Doris Matsui Rep. Jerry McNerney Rep. George Miller Rep. Frank Pallone Rep. Bill Pascrell Rep. Gary Peters Rep. Jan Schakowsky Rep. Jackie Speier Rep. Chris Van Hollen Republicans Rep. David Valadao Rep. Jeff Denham Rep. Joe Heck Rep. Doug LaMalfa Rep. Devin Nunes Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Rep. Tom McClintock Rep. Pat Meehan
  5. Legal Victory: Sikh Corrections Officer, Threatened with Termination, Accommodated by AZ Department of Corrections Officer Ikhbinder S. Bassin Maintains Job with Articles of Faith Intact February 6, 2013 – The Sikh Coalition welcomes the decision of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to accommodate Corrections Officer Ikhbinder S. Bassin’s Sikh articles of faith, including his unshorn beard and kara. Officer Bassin’s struggle to maintain his job required an aggressive and multi-layered approach by the Sikh Coalition. Officer Bassin has worked at ADC for almost a decade while maintaining an unshorn beard and wearing a kara. However, in late December 2012, ADC suddenly found him out of compliance with department regulations, which do not permit corrections officers to have beards longer than a ½ inch or to wear bracelets (except medical bracelets). Officer Bassin was told he would be fired if he did not trim his beard or remove his kara within ten days. Sikh Coalition Fights For Officer Bassin Officer Bassin contacted the Sikh Coalition, who requested that ADC grant him a religious accommodation. ADC, however, denied the request and once again threatened to fire Officer Bassin if he did not comply by January 31, 2013. With a tight deadline, the Sikh Coalition aggressively fought for Officer Bassin’s rights by taking the following actions: Sikh Coalition attorneys sent detailed legal letters to ADC threatening a lawsuit. The Sikh Coalition assisted Officer Bassin in filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Sikh Coalition sought intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Sikh Coalition engaged the office of an Arizona State Senator. The Sikh Coalition consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Sikh Coalition successfully solicited support letters from the Anti-Defamation League, the Arizona Interfaith Movement, and local Sikh leaders and elected officials. The Sikh Coalition issued a press release. Victory – Accommodation Granted On January 31, 2013, under extreme pressure, the ADC agreed to let Officer Bassin keep his job with a full religious accommodation to maintain an unshorn beard and a kara at all times. The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, State Senator Barbara McGuire, the Anti-Defamation League, the Arizona Interfaith Movement, and local Sikh leaders Rana S. Sodhi, Dr. Jaswant S. Sachdev, and Guru Roop Kaur Khalsa for their support. As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. “With Akaal Purukh’s blessings and with hard work on the part of all involved, especially the highly organized and trained team of smart attorneys at the Sikh Coalition, wisdom has ultimately prevailed.” -Dr. Jaswant S. Sachdev, Arizona Sikh Community Leader --- "The [sikh C]oalition’s efforts to ensure Mr. Bassin’s ongoing employment within the Department demonstrate the importance of local and national engagement in regional civil rights issues." -Justine K. Fanarof, ADL Jean and Jerry Moore Southwest Civil Rights Counsel --- "By accommodating Officer Bassin, the ADC has made a tremendous leap toward equal opportunity for all and upheld religious freedom and diversity in the workplace. Not only is ADC's decision legally sound, but it is a welcoming gesture to the Arizona Sikh community, still vulnerable years after the tragic hate crime murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi." -Gurjot Kaur, Staff Attorney
  6. Sikh Coalition Invited Back to Train NYPD’s Newest Graduat​es January 18, 2013 (New York, New York) - The Sikh Coalition was invited back to the New York City Police Academy on December 19-20, 2012 to train its newest graduating class of police officers. Over 1200 New York Police Department (NYPD) recruits were given information about Sikh beliefs including the significance of the turban and the Sikh articles of faith. Special attention was given on how to respectfully interact with a Sikh who wears a turban or kirpan and how to effectively engage with Sikhs in New York City. The presentations lasted ninety minutes each and included a question and answer session as well as a turban tying demonstration. Last year, the Coalition’s Director of Programs and Education Director led the presentations for the NYPD. This year, two members of the New York Sikh Presenter’s Course were also invited to deliver presentations: Jaspreet Kaur Bansal and Japkeerat Singh. The Coalition would like to thank New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and the leadership of the New York City Police Academy for allowing the Coalition to conduct the training. The Coalition would especially like to thank Lt. Christine Seppa, Commanding Officer for the Curriculum and Evaluation Unit, for organizing these trainings sessions with the Coalition. The Coalition also thanks Police Officer Harinder Singh Khela of the Community Affairs Bureau for participating in and supporting the training sessions. http://www.sikhcoalition.org/advisories/2013/sikh-coalition-invited-back-to-train-nypds-newest-graduates
  7. Well I remember talking to my chachaji a while back about his meeting with the Singh who wrote the book Gandhi : Behind the Mask of Divinity (US army Colonel G.B. Singh). What G.B. Singh told was he came from a family that was very much a Brahmanistic thought. If i'm not mistaken (don't quote me on this) part of his family was Sikh and part was Hindu Brahman and he used to follow Gandhi. To cut a long story short, he understands the caste system structure and he sees how it's still a very powerful tool that makes India 'go'. His claim to bring the Sikh population up again is to do what Sikhs have been doing in the past, to empower and help the needy. In today's terms, just like in history, it's the lowest castes. The Gurus abolished casteism and even fought with the pahari rajas because they Hindu hill rajas felt they needed to enforce casteism. Despite the caste system being formally and practically abolished along with the implementation of complete gender equality by the Guru Sahiban, today we see this backward tradition crept back into the psyche of the Sikhs of surprisingly not only Punjab, but even in Sikhs living abroad. How can we help bring an end to casteism? Help empower the lower castes (Dalits and other lowe casts) in Punjab by giving them necessary supplies which include: food, medicine, educational support and establish places where people can come and listen to REAL Sikh parchar if they want to (parchar of Sach). The SGPC is corrupted in laalach and no one in Punjab really cares to an extent to organize something like this and those that do care aren't in positions where they can empower themselves to bring such a movement. G.B. Singh said if he did this he knows he would be banned from India and sent back to the USA. The reason why this isn't happening is because groups are trying to cause further division and fighting among Sikhs so we can't come to a consensus as one Khalsa Panth and move forward. I was watching a interview by Giani Pinderpal Singh ji and he said the main problem is not that Sikhi is gone in Punjab, but because Sikhs in Punjab don't have a direction and if given one they will take it. He also says that some people only tie white dastar, some only neeli, some only kesri but each flower has it's own traits and we should appreciate it. My interpretation is that we shouldn't become so hard lined in which school of thought we prescribe to when it divides us as a Khalsa Panth. The main problem isn't money, the main problem isn't being able to devote time, the main problem isn't a lack of sewadars and the main problem isn't with the average Sikh. The problem is that we see too many differences and have too much ego to come together and tackle this issue. How do we come together as one Panth and accomplish this task of helping the down trodden people of Punjab. What i think we'll find is, if we can manage to accomplish this task, it will solve many problems that we currently face
  8. The Sikh Coalition, a US based community group, has launched FlyRights, an innovative mobile application that allows users to report instances of airport profiling in real time. Reports filed through the FlyRights app will be considered official, actionable complaints by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the group said. "FlyRights creates a novel marriage between technology and civil rights activism. It is the first and only mobile application created to combat racial profiling at airports," the coalition said. The application becomes available for download April 30 in the Apple App Store and the Android market. Asking its supporters to download FlyRights on their phones and start filing reports of unfair treatment at airports, the group said: "Policy will not change unless you make your voice heard." "This application is easy to use and will ensure that your voice will officially be heard by the TSA and DHS," it added. http://timesofindia....ow/12933526.cms
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