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.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Jot Singh Khalsa

Jot Singh Khalsa is a weapons master who is a trained metal smith. Jot Sing grew up in Mills, Massachusetts and when he was 19 started studying fine arts at college, with a focus on gold and silversmithing. He started studying Kundalini Yoga, which he has done for over 30 years, and through this he met Yogi Bhajan. He found the Sikh religion appealing so decided to become a Sikh. Coming into contact with the Sikh religion he came across the Sikh Kirpan (click here to learn more about the 5 K's) which Sikh's wear to remind them to be a protector of the weak and innocent. So he started making Sikh Kirpan's after making his first knife in 1977. He has won many awards for his knife making , including Best Damascus Knife from Damascus USA, Best Art Knife from the Chicago Custom Knife Show and Best Knifemaker at the California Knife Show. Jot Singh is a full practising Sikh and is also a Sikh Minister.

Amongst his works he has made a sword with the entire Jaap Sahib prayer by Guru Gobind Singh to commemorate 300 years of the Khalsa in 1999. Besides forging the blade and metal work, he also supervised the engraving and finishing work. Jot Singh’s wife, Harbhajan Kaur, collected the many donations that funded the expense of the sword. Below are some images of this special sword and other examples of his work.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bhai Ram Singh

Bhai Ram Singh was an architect who designed the Khalsa College (now the Guru Nanak University), Amritsar in 1982. He also designed late 19th century, much sought after buildings in the princely states of Jind, Nabha, Patiala, Bhawalpore, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysore and so on. He has also designed a room in Osbourne House, England called the Durbar Room. In Lahore, he has designed the Chiefs College, Lahore Museum, the Mayo School of Arts, Punjab University Senate House and scores of other buildings, including the Governor's House in Simla. At Lyallpur, he designed the College of Agriculture. He was the chief designer of buildings in Punjab. He was born in a family of carpenters in a village near Batala and had a good sense of design and understanding of things mechanical. He was not even 14 when he repaired the piano of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, even though he had no training of any kind. He integrated the colonial style with the native tradition in furniture making, tapestry making, interior decoration and architecture. He invented Indo-sarsenic style of architecture which is a mixture of Indian traditional and Mughal style of architecture. In the early 1880's, Principal Kipling (whose son, Rudyard, went on to win the Noble Prize) took him to Calcutta for an exhibition and introduced him to the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, who admired his work and invited him to the UK a little later. He performed so well there that Queen Victoria asked him to design an Indian Room in one of her palaces. His portrait is displayed in one of the Queen's palaces in England. Below is the portrait of Ram Singh and some images of his buildings inculding Khalsa College and the Durbar room.

Parmjit Singh Dhanda

Parmjit Singh Dhanda, born September 17, 1971, is a British Labour Party politician for Gloucester. He is the youngest Asian MP in the UK parliament. He was elected Member of Parliament for Gloucester in the 2001 general election, succeeding Tess Kingham as the Labour MP for the seat. He was re-elected in the 2005 general election. Parmjit attended the University of Nottingham, where he received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1993, and a MA in information technology in 1995. Parmjit Dhanda is married and lives with his family in Matson, Gloucester. Has been a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) since 1999. He speaks both Punjabi and French, in addition to English. Parmjit Dhanda became a Labour Party organiser in West London, Hampshire and Wiltshire in 1996, then went on to be assistant national organiser with Connect in 1998 where he remained until he was elected to Westminster. He was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1998 and served on the council until 2002. He was selected to contest the House of Commons seat of Gloucester at the 2001 General Election following the retirement of Tess Kingham. Parmjit Dhanda held the seat with a majority of 3,880 and has remained an MP since. In parliament, Parmjit Dhanda became a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee from his election until 2003. He helped setup an all-party group on Telecommunications, of which he's a Secretary.

Arjan Singh

Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, born 15th April 1919, is the only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to five star rank, equal to a Field Marshal, to which he was promoted in 2002. He is also the first Marshal of the Air force. He was born in the Punjab Lyalpur, British India, into an Aulakh family. After the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in June 2008, he is the only living Indian military officer with a five-star rank. He was educated at Montgomery India (now in Pakistan). He entered the RAF College Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in December 1939. He led No.1 Squadron, Indian Air Force into command during the Arakan Campaign in 1944. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1944, and commanded the Indian Air Force Exhibition Flight in 1945. Arjan was the Chief of Air Staff or CAS, from 1 August 1964 to 15 July 1969, and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1965, India's second highest civilian honour given for exceptional and distinguished service to India. He was Lt. Governor of Delhi and was made Marshal of the Air Force in January, 2002. He has flown 65 different types of aircraft. His life story is the subject of a book by Roopinder Singh called Arjan Singh: Marshal of The Indian Air Force. Rupa & Co (2002). Arjan has also been an ambassador fr India to Switzerland.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

New website URL

We have just bought a new website domain which is www.sikhtruth.com, this should be easier to remember and please add this to your favourites. Also click on the follow this blog link on the panel here ===============================================>
this will ensure that you are notified when the website is updated. We are also undergoing a complete redesign of the website which should be online within a couple of days. Please help us to continue promoting Sikhism to the next generation of Sikhs and other people attracted to this beautiful religion by making a donation, which will be used to maintain this website. There is also a donation link on the panel to the right and this is totally secure, it takes you to PayPal.

If you know of a famous Sikh that we should profile and add to the site, just send us a comment on the blog posts or if you have a specific query you can use the contact form at the bottom of the right hand taskbar.

Thank you
Harpal Singh

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Talvin Singh

Talvin Singh, born 1974 in London, is a producer, composer and tabla player, known for creating an innovative fusion of classical Indian music and drum n bass. Talvin Singh is generally considered to be involved with an electronica sub genre called Asian Underground. Talvin grew up in Leytonstone and began playing the tabla, breakdancing and listening to punk rock as a child. At the age of 15, he went to India where he studied tabla under Pandit Lashman Singh, returning to the UK after just one year. In spite of this classical training, Singh's tabla playing was not accepted by British promoters of classical Indian music, as he incorporated too many western influences. By the late 1980s, Singh had decided to turn towards the fusion of sounds, and soon he began working as a musician with such artists as Madonna, the Indigo Girls, David Sylvian, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Sun Ra, Björk, Massive Attack and the Future Sound of London. Talvin signed to Island records for a compilation including several of his own productions. He worked as a remixer until releasing his solo debut, OK, in 1999. The album was recieved well and he won the Mercury Music Prize for 1999.

In late 1995, Singh founded the Anokha club night with promoter Sweety Kapoor at East London's Blue Note, where drum'n'bass DJs and South Asian punk bands went head to head with the amped-up sounds of his tabla and percussion. Guest spots by LTJ Bukem and others made Anokha a Monday-night hotspot in London, and Singh signed to Island for an Anokha compilation including several of his own productions. He worked as a remixer until releasing his solo debut, OK, in 1999. The album won him the Mercury Music Prize for 1999. His music is unique in its combination of electronic dance music styles, particularly ambient and jungle, with the tradition of Indian classical music. In describing his music, as well as his approach to composing and producing, Singh has said, "It's not fusion music....it's not crossover, because I don't separate music. If you don't separate it then you don't need to fuse it or cross it over. You just treat it as one element. Whatever it is, fundamentally it's still a group of 12 notes." He has also collaborated with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Sir Sobha Singh

Sir Sobha Singh (1901-1986) is arguably the most well known contemporary painter Punjab has ever produced and is amongst the greatest Indian artists of the twentieth century. He was born on 29 November 1901 in a Ramgarhia Sikh family in Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur district of Punjab and his father, Deva Singh, was in the Indian cavalry. He learnt and mastered painting by self practice. In 1919 he was present at the Jalianwala Bagh at the time of the shootings. Later, he joined the British India army as a draughtsman and was posted at various places in Iraq. He studied European Paintings and got inspiration from the works of English painters. At the age 15, Sobha Singh entered the Industrial School at Amritsar for a one-year course in art and crafts. In 1949 after the partition he was forced to move from Lahore, where he had opened a studio at Anarkali, he then settled down in Andretta near Palampur, a remote and picturesque village in the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh beginning his career as a painter. His paintings of Sohni Mahiwal and Heer Ranjha proved very popular, his series on the Sikh guru's Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh are amongst the most mass produced pictures of the Guru's. Some of his murals are displayed in the art gallery of the Indian parliament House in New Delhi. He painted Sohni Mahiwal, one of the most popular love legends of Punjab, for the first time in 1937 and he also worked on other love tales of Punjab. Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punnu, Shirin Farhad and Mirzan Sahiban are other beautiful paintings. Sobha also dabbled in sculpture, sculpting the busts of eminent Punjabi's such as M.S. Randhawa, Prithviraj Kapoor, the patriarch of the Kapoor family, and Nirmal Chandra. The originals of his works are still displayed in his studio at Andretta. Sobha Singh died in Chandigarh on 21 August 1986. In his honour the Indian Government issued a postal stamp in 2001 and the road linking the Palampur town and Andretta has been renamed in his honour. Sir Sobha Singh is pictured with Amrita Pritam of whom he was sculpting a bust of, but did not complete. Below are a selection from some of his best artworks, from top Sohni Mahiwal, Palace of Bhutan and Shaheed Bhagat Singh.


Sampooran Singh Kalra, born 18 August 1936, is popularly known by his pen name Gulzar he is a noted Indian poet, lyricist, director, and playwright, who works primarily in the Hindi and Urdu languages. He has been awarded the Padma Bhushan, which is the 3rd highest civilian honour in India presented by the president and the Sahitya Akademi Award, the second highest literary honour given by the government of India. Gulzar has written in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and dialects of Hindi like Marwari (Rajasthani) and Bhojpuri. As a lyricist, he is best known for his association with the music director Rahul Dev Burman, and has also worked with other leading Hindi movie music directors including Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, and Madan Mohan. Gulzar was born to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur in Dina, Jhelum District, British India, located in the present day West Punjab, Pakistan. Before becoming an established writer, Gulzar worked as a car mechanic in a garage. Gulzar began his career as a songwriter with Sachin Dev Burman, one of the most famous music composers of Hindi cinema for the movie "Bandini" (1963). The song was "Mora gora ang layle". His most famous songs have been with Rahul Dev Burman, Sachin Dev's son, writing songs sung by play back singers such as Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle. He has won awards for his associations with Salil Chowdhary for the movie Anand (1970), with the music director Madan Mohan for film Mausam (1975), and more recently with Vishal Bharadwaj Maachis (1996), A.R.Rehman Dil Se (1998), Guru (2007) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy Bunty aur Babli (2005). Gulzar has leans to the left in Indian politics, this can be seen in the early films he directed such as Aandhi(1975), which criticised Indian policy and was banned for a time as it was seen as a criticism of Indira Gandhi. He has directed over 20 films, starting with Mere Apne in 1975. Gulzar is married to the actress Raakhee, they have one daugter, Meghna Gulzar who has also turned to directing and she has written a biography of her father called "Because he is...". He has won an impressive 17 Filmfare Awards, the oldest and most prominent film awards in Hindi Cinema.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Jeev Milkha Singh

Jeev Milkha Singh, born born 15 December 1971 in Chandigarh, India, was the first Indian golfer to become a member of the European Tour. He has been the highest ranked Indian golfer in the world and first broke into the top 50 in October 2006, moving from 104th to 48th. He is the son of the famous Olympic athlete Milkha Singh who represented India in 200m and 400 races for the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olypics. Jeev won the NCAA Division II individual golf championship in 1993 and his first professional win was also in 1993 at the Southern Oklahoma State Open. In 2006 he won the Volvo China Open and he also won the Volvo Masters, taking home $840,000 in prize money which was at the time the biggest cheque won by an Indian in individual sport. In 2007 he became the first Indian player in the US Masters. He won the Asian Tour's Order of merit, given to the number 1 player, for 2006 and again in 2008, becoming the first player to do this. He was awarded the Player's Player of the Year award in 2008 and became the first Asian golfer to earn more than $1 million in a single season, amassing a whopping $1.45 million in 11 tournaments. In 2008 Jeev won the Australian Open title, Singapore Open, for which he was awarded $792,500 and the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup for the 2nd time. Famous Sikhs thinks golf is a very lucrative sport and Sikhs should definitely be encouraged to play, especially now that there are players like Jeev who are great role models.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Valerie Kaur

Valerie Kaur is an up and coming film maker who made the film Divided We Fall (2006), which tells the discrimination faced by the Sikh and Arab communities after 9/11 in America. Valerie wrote and produced the film, which has been featured on CNN, the BBC and in Frances Moore Lappe’s book You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear. The film debuted In 2006, which was five years in the making, in 60 cities acros America. It premiered on September 14th, the anniversary of the death of Balbir Sodhi, around whose story all of the other stories in the film revolve. It has received numerous awards including Best International Documentary at the ReelWorld Film Festival of Toronto, Best Documentary - Audience Choice at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, and Best Documentary at the New Jersey Independent South Asian Ciné Fest, and is currently being toured by the filmmakers at selected sites around the nation. The film has also now been released on DVD. The film can be bought at http://www.dwf-film.com. To date the film has premiered in 118 cities and has had over 160 screenings. Valerie Kaur is a thrid generation American sikh who's family has been in America for 100 years, she continues to be a writer and lecturer. The video below shows a trailer of the making of the documentary.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Joginder Jaswant Singh

General Joginder Jaswant Singh, born 17 September 1945 in Bahawalpur (now in Pakistan), was the first Sikh chief of army staff of India, the second largest army in the world. He served as chief of army staff from January 31, 2005, to September 30, 2007. He was named 22nd chief of army staff on November 27, 2004, and took over the role when his predecessor, General N C Vij, retired on 31 January 2005. He was succeeded by General Deepak Kapoor. He is the first Sikh to have led the Indian Army and the 11th chief of army staff from the Western Command based at Chandigarh. His selection did not come as a surprise, as at the time of his appointment he was the most senior officer in the army after General Vij. Following his retirement, he became governor of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in January 2008. The new governor is taking a keen interest and monitoring all the developmental activities of the State, as well as taking care of his special constitutional obligation with regard to maintenance of law and order in the State. In fact, with his presence the pace of development has multiplied manifold. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned into the 9 Maratha Light Infantry on 02 August 1964. Hailing from a family of warriors, he is a third-generation soldier. Born on 17 September 1945 his family migrated to India (Patiala, Punjab) after partition in 1947. His grandfather served in the 1/67 Punjab Regiment during the First World War in Mesopotamia and Kut-al-Amara, both in present day Iraq, along with the 103rd, 105th, 110th, 114th and 117th Mahrattas. These five battalions subsequently joined the Maratha Light Infantry, the same regiment General Singh was commissioned into 50 years later. His father, Lt Col Jaswant Singh Marwah, served in the Electrical & Mechanical Engineers from 1943 to 1973 and is also a veteran of the Second World War. Recognising the distinguished contribution made by Gen JJ Singh towards India’s Security and Nation building ‘The Sikh Forum UK’ a renowned World Sikh body awarded him with the coveted ‘Sikh of the Year 2007’ in London, UK on 28 Oct 2007. He is married to Mrs Anupam Singh and they have a son and a daughter. He is fluent in Arabic and French, the widely spoken languages in Algeria. His nickname is "JJ". He has also been awarded the Life Time Achievement Award on the 26th April by the Mother Teresa's International & Millennium Awards Committee, for being a protector of the country and a social worker.

Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa

Gurukirn Kaur Khalsa is an artist, poet and story writer. She is a creative person who rejoices in the beauty of spiritual life, nature and people who live inspiring lives. On her art she says that, "I try to find a point in time and space when something essential is revealed. By capturing these transformational moments, I have been able to create a number of iconic works which convey something greater than what the image or words portray." Gurukiran began studying art as a child and her mother would take her to art classes from ayoung age. She was born in Redlands, California. She knew she wanted to be an artist by the sixth grade. For high school she went to the Ethel Walker School, in Connecticut. Where she was in the company of other creative students and was able to explore art, crerative writing and modern dance. Whilst there she became the president of the Art Club in her senior year. She continued studying art in college, both at Pomona College and the University of California, Santa Barbara where she earned her BA in studio art. Whilst at Pomona College she met her spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan and took Yoga classes. She comments that, "I had been searching for a lifestyle with a deeper commitment to spirituality for some time, and the Sikh way of life that he shared with us, with the practice of daily sadhana as its foundation, fulfilled this longing." She has used her talents to share aspects of the Sikh lifestyle that have been important to her, for example inn 1994, she began the ‘Pure Longing’ series, writing a poem and making five paintings of a Sikh woman doing ishnaan seva. Presently, women are prohibited from doing this service of the early morning cleaning of the floors of the Golden Temple because of gender discrimination which ironically is not inkeepin with Sikh beliefs. Yogi Bhajan presented the poem and painting to the acting Jethadar of the Akal Takht and in 1996 she was one of a group who participated in the sewa, although the issue remains unsettled to this day. Gurukiran has a studio in Phoenix where she continue to write and paint. She has also published the books, Pure Longing Fulfilled (1999), which was written to commemorate the tercentenary celebration of the Khalsa in Anandpur Sahib, India in 1999 and Living with the Guru (2000), which is collection of Sikh stories from history for children. Famous Sikhs recommends that you visit Gurukirans website here, to find out more about her and her art. Below is some of her artwork.

Kanwar Singh Dhillon

Kanwar Singh Dhillon, Born in Amritsar, India is an up and coming young artist. He has been influenced by great artists such as Sobha Singh, Caravaggio and J.W Waterhouse. Kanwar grew up in Toronto, Canada, wher he has explored several paths that would allow him to work as a professional artist including animation and book illustration. However, it wasn’t until he started to take an interest in the history of the Sikhs that his art took a definitive turn for the better. With his painting style Kanwar Singh Dhillon aspires to combine the grace and beauty of Sobha Singh’s portraits with the documentary style of Sikh history painters such as Devender Singh. Punjab’s history is rich with the exploits of heroes and sages from the time of Alexander to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The spread of the Sikh faith and the rise of the Khalsa have featured heavily in his recent works. Kanwar sells his artwork through his website www.artofpunjab.com, which Famous Sikhs recommends you visit as you can also buy calendars and greeting cards that feature his work. Below are some images of his artwork. If you would like to buy large prints or canvases of his work click here.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Harjinder Singh Sidhu

Harjinder Singh Sidhu owns Air Slovakia, which is a European Airliner and the longest running airline in Slovakia. Air Slovakia is the first Sikh airline which Sidhu has tranformed into a Punjabi experience that takes passengers to Amritsar,. He has said that, "We have Slovakian airhostesses who speak with the passengers in Punjabi. It's an amazing achievement, because Slovakians don't speak English, but here they are speaking Punjabi.” The airline has its headquarters in Bratislava, Slovakia whilst its regional headquarters are in Jalandhar, Punjab. The airline fleet consists of 1 Boeing 737-200's, 3 Boeing 737-300's and a further 2 Boeing 757-200's. The priority of Harjinder's was to improve the flight connection between Europe and Asia. Initially the furthest destination was to Amritsar in Punjab in North-western India, but has now expanded to Dhaka, Bangladesh. The airline also operates flight to and from, Tel Aviv, Isreal, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Birmingham, England, Bergamo, Italy, and Barcelona, spain. The airline has a turnover of over $30 million annually. Sidhu came to the UK from Patiala, Panjab when he was 16 and began working as a cashier in a Russian-owned petrol station and after only 9 months he was able to buy out his bosses. Within time he had a monopoly of 35 petrol stations which he sold to Shell and is now in the wholesale petrol business. He has a portfolio of property in Canada, America, India and Britain, which he says is still his main concern.

Jagmohan Singh Malhi

Jagmohan Singh Malhi is proud to have fulfilled his late father's dreams and become the first New Zealand police officer to wear a turban on duty. Jagmohan had grown up wearing a turban, but he shaved "because of peer pressure" when he moved to Nelson, New Zealand eight years ago. Then, when he graduated from police training college three years ago, he also shaved his head. Jagmohan said that his father had wanted him to grow his hair again, but he was unsure then whether any police protocol existed in relation to wearing a turban. When his father died last year, he decided to fulfil his wishes and began researching what other policies were in place for police around the world. "It was his wish to see me in my turban as a police officer. So I thought I would make it happen." While his family were proud to see him in a turban again, he also had a good response from his colleagues, who had been eager to see the turban worn for the first time on the beat. Nelson Bays police area commander Inspector Brian McGurk said he was delighted that the police had been able to help Malhi nurture his religious and cultural beliefs.

Jasbir Singh Tatla

Lieutenant Jasbir Singh Tatla, 35, is the first turbaned Sikh to become a regular officer in the Canadian Air Force as Air Field Engineer. He was born in the Dhothar village in Ludhiana district of Punjab, India. Tatla earned his Bachelor of Engineering from G.N.E. Engineering College, Ludhiana, and Master of Technology from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. Jasbir emigrated to Canada in June, 1999. He completed a one-year Architectural Drafting certification from Kwantlen University College in Surrey and worked in different fields, including as an Engineering Technician in PMC Sierra in Burnaby. His great-grandfather, Inder Singh, took part in the First World War, his grandfather, Mall Singh, took part in the Burma War, and his father, Gurdarshan Singh, retired as an Honorary Flying Officer. An uncle of his, Sukhdev Singh, was also a brigadier in the Indian Army. With thais distinguished millitary background, Jasbir passed the Canadian Forces entrance examination in 2003 and waited four years for a security background check from India. He was detailed to undergo training at Venture Naval Officers Training Center Esquimalt, Victoria, in April. His graduation ceremony was held on July 12 2008. After a struggle of five years, Tatla not only achieved his goal, but has also brought honour to his community. Tatla gives all the credit to his mother Hardial Kaur and father Gurdarshan Singh Tatla for their dedication. He has two sisters, Jasvinder Kaur Mann and Kamaljit Kaur. He is married to Pawandeep and has two sons Sahib and Jugraj. Jasbir can speak five languages, that include English, Punjabi, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu. In addition to these Jasbir is also going to learn French, which he says will give him a greater chance for promotion.

Jarnail Singh

Jarnail Singh, born 5 February 1962, is an English association football referee of Indian descent who officiates in the Football League. He is the first Sikh referee in professional football. He moved to Wolverhampton, West Midlands, at a young age, and now lives in Hounslow, Greater London with his wife and two children. Aswell as being a referee he has a full-time occupation in the Metropolitan Police in London. Singh took up refereeing in 1985, after taking his exam in order to improve his frequent outings as club linesman for the Asian youth team he managed. He progressed through lower leagues in the Wolverhampton area and then into the Conference South regionally, before being appointed as a Football League assistant referee in 1999. Whilst still a Conference referee, he was put in charge of an FA Vase semi-final first leg tie, between Oadby Town and Brigg Town on 22 March 2003, and shortly before his elevation to Football League referee for the 2004-05 season, he was appointed to the middle for the Football Conference Playoff semi-final first leg between Aldershot Town and Hereford United on April 29, 2004. Jarnail Singh has recently become a FA Ambassador, which entails promoting and encouraging minority groups and individuals into football and raising awareness of the FA’s race equality work.

Arpinder Kaur

Arpinder Kaur is the first turbaned Sikh pilot to fly a commercial airline in the United States. She was hired by the American Airlines Corporation (AMR) in March, 2008. Arpinder flies Embraer Jets for American Eagle, a regional airline that is part of AMR and she is based out of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. On her feat she has said that, "Two of the reasons I did this were: first, my love of flying and, second, to set a precedent for the community so they know you can be in your Sikh appearance and do anything out there; so that my younger brothers and sisters [the rising generation] will pursue their passions while practicing their Sikh faith,”. She has said that she knew she wanted to be a pilot the very first time she was in an airplane. She was 14 and moving from the Panjab to the United States. The crew let her sit in the cockpit and see everything that they did. “That is the day I found in me this passion for flying,” Kaur said. She lived in Virginia after the move and attended George Mason University (VA) where she graduated with a degree in information systems, but she did not forget her dream of flying over the years, though her mother told her that girls should not be pilots because it was too dangerous. It was the love and support of her husband, Pritpal Singh that pushed her forward on the path toward becoming a pilot. From 2003 to 2005 Kaur was trained by Jesse Sherwood in Kansas. In 2005, Kaur moved to San Antonio and spent two more years as a flight instructor at Wright Flyers Aviation at the San Antonio International Airport. In January of 2008 she applied to be a pilot at American Airlines; her application was accepted in March and from 17 March through 7 June 2008, she underwent their pilot training program. She stated that just recently she had resolved the issue of her flying turbaned – the American Airlines manual allows “regulation approved hats” – by filling out an Accommodation Form. Kaur received help from The Sikh Coalition (SC), while she was planning the best way to secure an accommodation agreement about her turban. Harsimran Kaur, a staff attorney who consulted with Kaur said that, “the Sikh Coalition appreciates American Eagle’s willingness to accommodate Ms. Kaur’s religiously-mandated turban consistent with state and federal anti-discrimination law.” Harinder Singh, executive director of the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) in San Antonio, Texas said, “This is a great day for the Sikhs in America. Religious accommodation, not assimilation, is what the founders of this great nation envisioned and we are thrilled American Airlines celebrates the rich religious and cultural diversity of all American populations.”

This is a video by Raj Singh on Arpinder.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Harry Perry

Harry Perry who is also known as Har Nar Singh, born March 5th 1952 in Detroit, is a Venice Beach boardwalk musician famous for playing an electric guitar on rollerblades while wearing a turban. He has released three CDs: Harry Perry Band's Video Commander, Skate Town Ball and Harry Perry's Greatest Hits Of The Millennium. He typically uses distortion effects and plays in a style reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen. He began playing on Venice Beach in 1974. He is dedicated to health and fitness, running twenty miles daily and practicing Kundalini yoga. He has made cameo appearances in the movies Fletch, Dragnet, White Men Can't Jump, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Gift and Point of No Return, Marching out of Time, as well as the television shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Vengeance Unlimited. He also performed one song on the soundtrack to the movie Point of No Return. He made guest appearances with System of a Down during Ozzfest concerts of 2006. Perry and his partner Robert "Jingles" Newman were also instrumental in winning a California Court decision involving free speech rights of artists to earn their living as buskers in public places and the rights of artists to sell copies of their own original work.

Vic Briggs

Victor Harvey Briggs III, born 14 February 1945 in Twickenham, London, England is a former blues musician. Briggs played guitar and piano with various groups in the 1960s, including The Echoes (Dusty Springfield's backing group), Steampacket, Brian Auger's Trinity, Johnny Hallyday and Eric Burdon and The Animals. On his musical ability Jimi Hendrix compared him to other greats by saying “I like the guitar playing of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Vic Briggs” in 1967. In the 1970s Briggs became a Sikh and changed his name to Vikram Singh Khalsa. He moved to San Diego where he had a plumbing business in the 80s. He has made several albums of Indian music and was the first non-Indian to perform kirtan at Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, India. It was in 1979 when he went to India singing in Gurdwaras all over the North of India, he was invited to sing in the Golden Temple. In 1980 he had the privilege to repeat this pleasurable task. Vikram was a follower of Yogi Bhajan who was sending people out to cities across the US and Canada to open yoga centers and teach. It came to Vic in meditation that there was a great opportunity to start a yoga center in London. Yogi Bhajan was delighted at the idea and in December of 1970, Vic rented a basement flat in Notting Hill and began to teach Kundalini Yoga. One day while he was teaching a young woman came in to his class. She was stunningly beautiful. Vikram Singh, being the devoted yogi that he was, pointedly ignored her. Or, at least, pretended to. Her name was Kirsten Lindholm and she was a model and an actress, having already appeared in several Hammer Films horror movies. After a few months she and Vikram fell madly in love with each other. Each one realized that something had to give. Vikram would not have anything more to do with the entertainment business, while Kirsten did not want to leave her rich and famous lifestyle. Finally, love won out. Yogi Bhajan called Vikram to come back to California (for which he will always be grateful) and Kirsten came with him. Soon they were married, becoming Vikram Singh and Vikram Kaur Khalsa. Back in California, the couple settled in Marin County near San Francisco where they soon had their first child. Vikram became the President of Sikh Dharma of San Diego, which was the religious non profit corporation, and also the representative of the 3HO Foundation which was the educational non profit set up to teach Kundalini Yoga. The image shows Vikram with his family in 1978.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Lonnie Smith

Dr. Lonnie Smith, born July 3, 1942 in Lackawanna, New York is a jazz musician, recognized as a player of both the Hammond B3 organ and piano. He has been performing for over five decades and many consider him as the world's top jazz organist. Lonnie was born into a family with a vocal group and radio program. Smith says that his mother was a major influence on him musically, as she introduced him to gospel, classical, and jazz music. He was part of several vocal ensembles in the 1950s, including the Teen Kings. Art Kubera, the owner of a local music store, gave Smith his first organ, a Hammond B3. His affinity for R&B melded with his own personal style, and he quickly became a local legend. He moved to New York City, where he met George Benson, the guitarist for Jack McDuff's band. Benson and Smith connected on a personal level, and the two formed the George Benson Quartet featuring Lonnie Smith, in 1966. After recording several albums with Benson, Smith became a solo recording artist and developed a career that has produced over 30 albums under his own name. Several legendary jazz artists have joined Smith on his albums, including Lee Morgan, David "Fat Head" Newman, King Curtis, Blue Mitchell, and Joe Lovano among others. Smith has performed at several prominent jazz festivals with artists including Grover Washington, Jr., Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Donaldson and Ron Holloway. He has also played with musicians outside of jazz, such as Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Etta James, Joan Cartwright, and Esther Phillips.

Navdeep Singh Bains

Navdeep Singh Bains, born 16th June 1977 in Toronto,Canada is an MP in the Canadian parliament and is currently the Liberal Critic for Natural Resources. After completing high school Navdeep attended York University where he received his Bachelor of Administrative Studies in 1999. He then went on to finish his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Windsor in 2001. He has also received his Certified Management Accounting designation. Before entering politics, Mr. Bains worked in the Finance Department at Ford Motor Company where he worked as a revenue and cost analyst. In addition, he worked as a financial analyst at Nike Canada. In 2004 he won the Liberal nomination for the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South where he defeated three political veterans, winning on the first ballot. Before taking part in the race he was considered an underdog due to the fact that he was only 26 years old. When Mr. Bains was elected for the first time in 2004 he was the youngest Liberal MP in Parliament. He was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in 2005 as well as being sworn in as a Privy Councillor. He is one of 5 Sikh MP's in the Canadian government. Navdeep is seen as a rising star in politics and has been voted 3 years in a row as the best up and comer in a survey by the Hill Times. He currently resides in Mississauga with his wife Brahamjot and their daughter Nanki Kaur.

Vijender Singh Kumar

Vijender Kumar, born 29th October 1985 is an Indian boxer from the Kaluwas village, Bhiwani district in Haryana. He became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal when he won the bronze medal in the middleweight category at 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He used to box recreationally in his childhood and used to go to the Bhiwani Sports Authority of India center for boxing practice, this was where coach Jagdish Singh spotted his talent. Jagdish Singh is a boxing coach who trained four of five the boxer's India took to the Olympics. He also won a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth games in Melbourne for the Welterweight division. His father, Mahipal Singh, is a bus driver who worked overtime to raise funds for Vijender's training and his mother is a homemaker. His younger brother Manoj is also a boxer, but is now in the Indian Army. Vijender has also worked as a model in magazines to fund his boxing training. Vijender has become a national hero in India after winning his medal and has made several appearances on Indian TV. He has also worked as an inspector with Haryana police. He is tipped to make a Bollywood film because of his good looks, but he wants to concentrate on boxing and wants to make boxing on par with cricket as a popular sport in India. He also hopes to open a boxing academy in the future.

Andrew Singh Kooner

Andrew Singh Kooner, born May 11, 1979 in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England is a professional Canadian boxer. He moved to Tecumseh, Ontario at a young age and began boxing from the age of 13 at a Windsor boxing club. He has won 10 national boxing titles and has boxed in 2 Olympic games. In 2002 he won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Bantamweight division. He holds the Quebec Boxing Council Super Featherweight Title and the Canadian Bantamweight Title. At the 2002Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England he nearly won Gold, only losing the final on a nail bitingly tight count-back which promoter Mick Hennessy thinks he should have won. To date he has had 9 fights, winning 8 of them with 4 K.O's. He sports several tattoos including an ek ong kaar sikh symbol standing for there is only one God on his arm. He is ranked as #1 in his weight category Bantamweight in both Britain and Canada.