Thursday, 30 December 2010

Patwant Singh

Patwant Singh was a famous Sikh writer, commentator, journalist, editer and publisher, as well as a frequent TV presenter. He was born in New Delhi on March 28, 1925. He grew up and carried out his school and University education in Delhi. He began his career in the family business of building and engineering but soon merged these interests with his love for writing. He started up his first periodical, The Indian Builder, in 1953 as publisher. In 1957, he unveiled his most influential journal, Design, the only magazine of its kind in the world at that time.

Design was a revolutionary magazine which brought together the latest thinking in the fields of architecture, urban planning, visual arts, graphics, and industrial design. Subject areas that, up to that point, had tended to have isolated audiences that rarely looked at or understood each other’s fields. The journal’s strongly interdisciplinary approach led Singh to begin pondering questions about why Bombay, Delhi and other urban areas in India were being developed in ways that ran counter to his aesthetic and humanitarian sensibilities. When he realized that the answers had less to do with architecture and more to do with politicians, government policies and corruption, he began publishing newspaper articles in the 1960s with the aim of affecting public opinion and official policies.

After 1984, Patwant Singh began to delve into Sikh issues, editing and contributing the opening essay of Punjab: The Fatal Miscalculation, which was published in 1985. The Golden Temple, published in 1989, aimed to be the definitive volume on the Harimandir Sahib and show how central this “fountainhead of inspiration” has been to Sikhs since its construction.

Of Dreams and Demons is Patwant Singh’s 1994 memoir, which highlights the intersections that connect his personal history to India’s history in the 1930s to the 1990s. He returned to the topics of religion and history with his 1999 publication, The Sikhs, a survey of Sikh history beginning with the historical context of South Asia before the time of the Gurus and stretching to the present day.

Garland Around My Neck was published at the beginning of March, 2001. It the remarkable Story of Puran Singh of Pingalwara. The book was co-written with Harinder Kaur Sekhon as a tribute to the remarkable humanitarian, Puran Singh who dedicated his life to sewa in order to bring a more healthy and humane world into existence. It is the real life story of Puran Singh (1904-92), a barefoot colossus who cared for the despairing, disabled and destitute with his own hands restoring to them the dignity of human existence that an uncaring society had denied them. After 23 years of personally caring for ever-increasing numbers of people who were unable to take care of themselves, in 1957, Puran Singh expanded his service to society by establishing Pingalwara, which now serves over 1,000 residents. Unlike a hospital, which has the aim of treating the sick, Pingalwara was built for people–disabled, poor, mentally ill, with terminal diseases–who needed hope and a home. Patwant Singh and Harinder Kaur Sekhon relied on Punjab’s rich tradition of oral history in researching this book.

Patwant Singh’s latest book is The World According to Washington: An Asian View, published in 2005. In this work, the author examines the often violent history of relations between western imperial powers and Asia, including East Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. His perspective is passionately critical of the destruction western interventionists have wrought in Asia, largely through valuing their own political and economic interests over the interests of Asians themselves–and by backing up these interests with firepower. First, Singh writes, there was a time when “Europeans considered the domination of Asia their birthright.”

Now, incursions of US troops, US-made arms, and coercive development plans are the strategies of the world’s only remaining superpower. When Washington, DC and those in its pocket write history and cover current events, their perspective is so imbalanced that the general public in the western world is now ignorant of even the most basic facts about Asia. The World According to Washington was conceived as a corrective and fills in the missing histories of US involvement and interests in hotspots such as—Iran, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India and Pakistan.

Patwant Singh has also written extensively for newspapers and magazines and has appeared on both radio and television. His articles have appeared in many publications including the New York Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail, the UK’s Independent. Patwant Singh gave a lecture on July 22, 2006 at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York in conjunction with, I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion, an exhibition jointly sponsored by the Sikh Foundation and the Sikh Art and Film Foundation.

As Chairman of a family Trust, Patwant Singh established a unique rural medical facility in the state of Haryana in 1977. The Kabliji Hospital and Rural Health Centre is today acknowledged as a one-of-a-kind initiative in providing medical coverage and promoting preventive health in rural India. It was born out of Patwant Singh’s conviction that very little was being done for the medical and educational needs of the rural population in India, and that private initiative must play a role in providing these. A school was also founded next to the hospital a few years later. Both continue to flourish.

Patwant Singh will be remembered through his literary works and his charity.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Dr Anarkali Kaur

Dr Anarkali Kaur Honaryar is a leading campaigner for the rights of women in Afghanistan. She was chosen in 2009 by Radio Free Europe's Afghan chapter as their "Person of the Year" for her work at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. The award has gone onto make Kaur a household name in Kabul. Dr Honaryar is a trained dentist and is one of about 3,000 Sikhs who remain in Afghanistan. As a child she had dreamed of being a pilot, but soon she recognised that this was going to be impossible in the country in which she lived. Today she presents a radio show and is on the official Constitution Committee. She has been a part of the council that selected the interim government that replaced the Taliban. Dr Honaryar has been on the human rights commission in Afghanistan since 2006 and fights for the rights of women whose culture can go against them. Currently the female literacy rate in Afghanistan is less than 20%, which is something Dr Honaryar wants to change.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Surjan Singh Duhra

Councillor Surjan Singh Dohra was the Mayor of Wolverhampton, UK for the year 2009-10. The city of Wolverhampton is a city of over 250,000 people in the West Midlands area of England. Councillor Surjan Singh was born and educated in India, where he trained to be a teacher and taught in secondary schools. He immigrated to England in 1964. He lived and worked in Leicester before moving to Wolverhampton in 1965 where he worked for British Leyland until it closed in 1982. He then started his own business until his retirement in 1996. Surjan first became a councillor for the St. Peters ward of the city in 1978. Since then he has served on commitees and was first elected mayor in 1991/1992.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Ranbir Kaur

Ranbir Kaur was the first Sikh woman to join the US armed forces in 2003. She went on a one-and-a-half-year mission to Afghanistan. She had joined the National Guards at the age of 17. She was born in Nijjran village of Jalandhar district, Punjab, the young fighter reached the US as a seven-year-old after her father Mahan Singh, pursuing the American dream, secured a green card in 1990. She was brought up in an isolated town called Earlimart, in California, her brush with the uniform dates back to 2001 when she was a freshman (Grade IX) in high school at Delano, which was the closest city. In 2003, the daughter of a Sikh grape grower faced the ire of white supremacists, who posted spam emails terming her recruitment as a means to seek citizenship. However she was already a US citizen, and the young girl set about proving her detractors wrong through hard training. During the 2005 Katrina hurricane in New Orleans, the devout Sikh was instrumental in the recovery of the Guru Granth Sahib after the New Orleans gurudwara was submerged. United Sikhs, an organisation, had sought her assistance and Ranbir had got everybody moving after she announced that the living Guru of the Sikhs was under water. Amid random shootings, air force rescue experts David Cruz and Tom Bausmas had rescued the scriptures in an operation that lasted 22 hours.

Famous Sikhs has been informed by Dr Jaspreet Mundeir, that Ranbir Kaur was not the first Sikh woman to be in the US army as she herself served before Ranbir did. However we believe Dr Mundeir served as a medic and this entry states that Ranbir served in the armed forces so to our knowledge she is still the first Sikh woman to have specifically joined the armed forces. We may occasionally get things wrong so thank you for getting in touch with us, so if you know any different then please do get in touch with us.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Sukhman Dhami

Sukhman Dhami, pictured with Jaskaran Kaur, is the co-founder and co-Director of Ensaaf. He was the recipient of the 2004 Unity Award from the San Francisco Coalition of Minority Bars and South Asian Bar Association for his outstanding service to the legal community. Dhami is a 2006 Echoing Green fellow. Sukhman also received a two-year fellowship through the Ford Foundation to address issues of accountability and impunity for human rights abuses in India. He serves on the Advisory Board to the Public International Law and Policy Group, which provides pro bono legal services to States in conflict and transition on issues of peace and conflict resolution and human rights abuses. Dhami earned his M.A. and J.D. from the American University.

Jaskaran Kaur

Jaskaran Kaur is the co-Founder and co-Director of Ensaaf, an international human rights organisation that works to bring justice to the people of Punjab by documenting and exposing human rights violations, bringing perpetrators to justice, and organizing survivors to advocate for their rights. Jaskaran has authored reports on human rights abuses in India, including Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India, and, as a contributing author, Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab, analyzing over 600 cases of extrajudicial execution and disappearance by India’s security forces. She is a 2006 Echoing Green fellow. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Discrimination & National Security Initiative of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. From 2003 to 2005 she was the recipient of the Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship from Harvard Law School. In 2001, she went to Punjab on a Harvard Human Rights Program Summer Fellowship to study the role of the judiciary in handling habeas corpus petitions filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court by families of the disappeared; her study was published in the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Jaskaran graduated with distinction from Yale College and Harvard Law School. SikhTruth reccommends you visit Ensaaf's website and if possible help them by making a donation.

Manjit Singh

Manjit Singh was born and raised in Bombay, India. He completed his Bachelor of Engineering, from the University of Bombay in 1989. After completing his Bachelor’s, Manjit worked as a Systems Engineer for sometime with International Data Machines (IDM) in Bombay. Then in late 1990, Manjit came to the United States for further education. He received his Master’s Degree in Computer Science in 1992 from the State University of New York (SUNY) in Albany, New York. Manjit is a Computer Scientist by training and profession. While working at IBM, Manjit was one of the key persons responsible for designing a software program called “Key Ring Organizer (KRO)--a client software application for digital certificate management. Multiple private keys and digital certificates are securely stored and managed in disk files, Smart Cards and PC Cards. The KRO can generate, store and select keys for use in signing of digital information or authenticating the end-user to a host of secure client/server applications. Manjit currently holds the patent for this KRO software.

In 1996 Manjit co-founded SMART, which later became SALDEF, the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund, and has been active in the Washington D.C. metro area Sikh community since early 1993. He serves on the Victim Services Advisory Board of the Montgomery County, Maryland. He is a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Washington DC region of the International Channel He served on the Advisory Board of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. He also served for two years as Member-at-Large on the Board of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

Ajit Singh

Ajit Singh is an Indian economist who graduated from the Punjab University and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been teaching economics at Cambridge University since 1965. He is currently a Professor of Economics at the University and Senior Fellow at Queens' College Cambridge. He has been a senior economic adviser to the governments of Mexico and Tanzania and a consultant to various UN developmental organisations, including the World Bank, the ILO, UNCTAD and UNIDO. He has also done a lot of research in economics, in areas such as take-overs, corporate organisation and markets. He has authored several books including, Takeovers: Their Relevance to the Stock market and the Theory of the Firm and co-author of Growth, Profitability and Valuation, both published by Cambridge University Press. He has also published extensively in academic economic journals. His books include his co-edited volume with C. Howes Competitiveness Matters: Industry and Economic Performance in the U.S., published in 2000 by the University of Michigan Press; the edited volume, (with A. Dutt and K. Kim).

Friday, 30 January 2009

Ajay Singh Banga

Ajay Banga is the Chief Executive Officer of Citi Asia Pacific, a geography spanning markets from Japan to India. In this role, he is responsible for all the company's business lines in the Asian region, including institutional banking, alternative investments, wealth management, consumer banking and credit cards. He is a member of Citi's Senior Leadership and Executive Committees.

From 2005 to 2008, Ajay was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Citi's International Global Consumer Group, which included all credit card and consumer banking operations outside of North America. Before this, he served as the President, Retail Banking North America. At that time, he was responsible for branch banking, commercial banking, commercial real estate, commercial financing and leasing, mortgages, student loans, and the Primerica Financial Services distribution channel. He also had additional responsibility for the operations and technology of all the real estate businesses in the consumer bank.

Ajay joined the Citi group in 1996 and has served as the business head of CitiFinancial and the U.S. Consumer Assets Division from 2000 to 2002. Previously, he worked in London as Division Executive for the Consumer Bank in Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent from 1998 to 2000. Early in his Citibank career, he was based in Brussels, where he was the Head of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Ajay began his business career with Nestle in 1981. He spent the next 13 years in a variety of assignments spanning sales, marketing, and general management. He later joined PepsiCo and was instrumental in the launch of its international fast food franchises in India as the economy liberalised.

Mr. Banga also serves on the Board of Kraft Foods Inc. In addition, he is on the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society and has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New York Hall of Science and was a Board member of the National Urban League. Ajay graduated with a BA in Economics Honors from Delhi University and is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Dr. Chiranjeev Kohli

Dr. Chiranjeev Kohli is a professor of marketing. He holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Indiana University. His dissertation received honorable mention in the International Doctoral Dissertation Competition. As a Professor of Marketing at California State University Fullerton, he was honored with the Business School’s Best Professor Award for 1998/1999 and Distinguished Faculty Award for 1999/2000. His research has been reported in academic journals and newspapers including Business Horizons, European Journal of Marketing, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Consumer Marketing, The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register. The Young Presidents Organisation of Southern California has honored him for excellence in academia. He has consulted for major companies including, Bionutrics, Canon USA, Contact East Networking, Dean Health System, Odetics, Regency Healthcare, Transamerica, and Verizon.

In his spare time he enjoys comedy, winning the Indiana University Comedy Competition and has opened for Dennis Miller of Saturday Night Live.

Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh is a professor of Economics at the University of California Santa Cruz where he directs the he directs the Business Management Economics program and is codirector of the Santa Cruz Institute of International Economics. He has also taught at the Delhi School of Economics. He has been a visiting researcher at Stanford University; the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University; National Institute for Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi; Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi; Centre for Development Economics, Delhi; and Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Professor Singh's main current research is on federalism, governance, and economic reform in India. He is also working with Dr. Govinda Rao on a book, The Political Economy of Indian Federalism. He has worked on decentralization and local government reform in India for the World Bank. His other research topics include electronic commerce, technology and innovation, the strategic behavior of governments toward multinational corporations, international technology transfer, international water disputes, and economic growth and development in South and East Asia.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Nikky-Guninder Kaur

Nikky-Gunninder Kaur is a Professor of Religion at Colby College in Maine, USA and she has written several books on Sikhism, focusing on the equality of Sikh women. Nikky received her BA in Philosophy and Religion from Wellesley College, her MA from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD from Temple University.

She is the Crawford Family Professor at Colby College in Maine, USA. Her interests focus on poetics and feminist issues. She has published extensively in the field of Sikhism, including The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus (HarperCollins and Penguin), Metaphysics and Physics of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sterling). Her book on Sikhism was translated into Japanese. She has lectured widely in North America, England, France, India, and Singapore, and her views have been aired on television and radio in America, Canada, and India.

Suneet Singh Tulli

Suneet Singh Tulli is an entrepeneur who is the CEO of Datawind. Suneet's company Datawind has created the PocketSurfer2 which is currently the world's fastest handheld Internet device, it is an ultra thin, sleek mobile device, the first of its kind to actually deliver the full power and original graphic intensity of the desktop web, rapidly and wirelessly - to the palm of your hand. Suneet was 11 years old when he and his family moved from India to Canada. He studied Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto and soon after formed his first company with his brother Raja called WideCom that addressed the problem of fax machines only being able to handle small documents. The product which they produced was featured in the Guinness book of records and this helped generate business for it as it was expensive at 20,000 Canadian dollars. Suneet's second company DocuPort Inc focused on portable peripherals, making handheld scanners and battery operated handheld printers. By 1999 the Tuli brothers were excited by the possibilities of the wireless Internet and launched Datawind Ltd which launched PocketSurfer2 which has been released in the UK, Germany and Spain, as well as Canada and the USA. Always on the lookout for new opportunities Suneet is now focusing his attentions to India and other emerging economies.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Jatinder Rakhra

Jatinder Rakhra, born 9th April 1989, is a wrestler who is currently the British junior champion in the under 55kg division, and he was ranked 10th in the world juniors in Beijing 2007. He is training to represent Britain at the 2012 London Olympics and is expected to be a serious title contender. Jatinder was born in Slough, England but now resides in Manchester, England where he trains most days. Jatinder began wrestling at the age of 4 when he joined the gym of his dad's friend who was a wrestler in India. When that closed he joined the Slough Olypic club and he quickly progressed to British Championship level. Wrestling is not a very popular sport in Britain, as it does not have a foothold in schools, as a result there also not many wrestlers and especially not at an Olympic level. So Jatinder hopes to raise awareness of the real wrestling, which unlike the WWE wrestling is not that well-known. Jatinder was awarded the Best UK Asian Athlete of the Year in 2006 and the the Most Up and Coming Sports Personality of the Year 2007 at the British Asian Sports Awards.