The Hindustan Times – Amritsar boy who saved 15 kids to get National Bravery Award

The teen, who was also in the bus and injured, showed great courage and helped other children to come out of the water-filled bus.

HT Correspondent

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 18 January 2018. Seventeen-year-old Karanbeer Singh from Amritsar, who rescued 15 children from a school bus that had plunged into a drain, will be among the 18 children to receive the National Bravery Awards this year.

Singh, who was also in the bus and injured, showed great courage and helped other children to come out of the water-filled bus.

“He (driver) was driving rashly. I had warned him about the narrow bridge ahead that doesn’t have railings but he didn’t listen. Suddenly the front tyres were in the air and we landed in the drain,” said Karanbir.

He added that doors were jammed and he had to smash a window glass to come out and rescue the students.

A rashly driven school-van had fallen into a drain from a bridge at Muhawa village, 35 km from Amritsar, killing seven children on 20 September 2016. The van was taking students back home from DAV Public School, Neshta, when the accident took place five km from the school.

The awards, divided into five categories, Bharat Award, Geeta Chopra Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Bapu Gaidhani Award, and General National Bravery Awards, will be given away by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 24. Karanbeer will receive the Sanjay Chopra award.

President Ramnath Kovind will host a reception for the awardees, seven girls and 11 boys, who will also be participating in the Republic Day parade on January 26.

18-year-old Nazia from Uttar Pradesh, who helped local police capture perpetrators of an illegal business of gambling and betting will be given the most coveted Bharat Award.


The Tribune – Harinder Kaur Malhi is Ontario’s first Sikh woman minister

Lawmaker had moved 1984 ‘genocide’ motion last year

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 18 January 2018. Harinder Kaur Malhi, who had moved the 1984 Sikh “genocide” motion in the Ontario Assembly in April last year, has been given a Cabinet berth, making her the first Sikh woman minister in the Canadian province.

The 38-year-old daughter of Canada’s first turbaned MP Gurbax Singh Malhi was sworn in as Minister of the Status of Women here today.

The decision to elevate Malhi was taken by Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontario goes to the polls in June.

Malhi represents the Punjabi-dominated “riding” (constituency) of Brampton-Springdale in the Assembly, whose members are called MPPs (members of Provincial Parliament).

She joins another Indo-Canadian woman minister, Dipika Damerla, in the Ontario Cabinet.

It is being speculated that because of her “genocide” motion, Malhi can help her Liberal Party retain Sikh votes which may drift to the New Democratic Party (NDP), which has elected Jagmeet Singh as its national leader.

After her “genocide” resolution, many in the Sikh community view her as the champion of the cause in the community. Her party may also benefit from her father’s huge hold over Sikh voters.

As a member of the Ontario Assembly, Jagmeet had also introduced a similar motion on the anti-Sikh riots, but it failed. He was also denied visa to visit India in 2013.

Brampton, on the outskirts of Toronto, has the second largest concentration of the Sikh community in Canada after Surrey (British Columbia).

Malhi’s motion in the Assembly read:

“That, in the opinion of this House… should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish, justice, human rights and fairness, and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”

The motion was passed by 34-5 votes in a House of 107 members.

India had rejected it, calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process.”

Meanwhile, Kathleen Wynne was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper: “The knowledge and skills they bring to these roles will be crucial as we continue our work to create more fairness and opportunity for the people of Ontario.”

“In a changing economy, our plan is about making sure everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead,” she said.

“That’s why it is also important to me that this updated Cabinet continues to reflect both the diversity and the geography of our province,” Wynne added.

Gentbrugge De Lijn Trams

De Naeyerdreef – Park & Ride
16 December 2017

Brusselse Steenweg / De Naeyerdreef

Park & Ride – Tram 2 to Zwijnaarde

Brusselsesteenweg – E17 viaduct

Park & Ride – Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

Park & Ride – Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Glasgow Live – The story of Glasgow’s Sikh volunteer group who are helping the city’s homeless

Seva Scotland are at work in Glasgow’s city centre two nights a week, helping the people who need help most.

Claire Hutchison

Glasgow-Scotland-UK, 19 January 2018. The smell of food wafts down Cadogan Street in the heart of the city centre, cutting through the cold. It’s 9pm and the temperature has dropped again.

Soon you hear the clanking of plates and pots, chat and laughter as a group of volunteers serve up hot meals and a line begins to form. Some of those in the queue are homeless, others are hungry and struggling to pay their bills and put even one square daily meal on the table. Seva Scotland serves them all.

Seva is a Sikh volunteer group set up to feed the homeless in Glasgow. They are out on Cadogan Street every Monday and Tuesday at around 9 pm, not only helping their fellow Glaswegians but putting their faith in action.

Seva, means “selfless service” and is an important part of the Sikh religion and as volunteer, Rajpal Singh, explained: “We are an organic, grassroots movement. We have a bit of banter and do everything with a smile.

“Four years ago, we started off with three volunteers. Then we just grew and grew. Now we’ve got about 20 volunteers at any one time.”

Seva Scotland cook vegetarian meals such as pasta, pizza and curry, gathering together at the Sikh temples or Gurdwaras on Albert Drive and Berkeley Street to cook the food.

On a typical evening, around 30 hot meals are prepared and handed out to vulnerable people and each comes with a snack pack.

While many people who receive the meals are homeless, the group serves anyone in need.

Rajpal said: “There are people out there who do have a roof over their heads, but they may have limited income. So whoever comes along, we give food to them.”

As the frost has set in, Seva Scotland have also handed out free sleeping bags, blankets, hats and gloves.

On Christmas Day, the group even spread goodwill by handing out presents to vulnerable people.

And while their main aim is to help people who need it most, their work is a perfect example of their faith in action.

Volunteer, Satnam Singh added: “The group is important as it helps build familiarity with Sikh faces for anyone in Glasgow.

“If anyone sees a Sikh, they know that they can approach that person for help.”

Seva Scotland is self funded and is always happy to accept food donations.

Anyone who wants to help can donate non perishable items such as pasta, canned sauce and rice. You can find Seva Scotland here on Facebook or visit their website here.

The Hindu – Tibetan leader cautions India against China’s ‘Doklam plans’

Special Correspondent

New Delhi-India, 18 January 2018. India should be worried about China’s continued military build up in Doklam, said Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration in India.

Dr Sangay made his observations on the Doklam issue while announcing the upcoming events to mark the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in India.

“India has to be cautious about China’s plans in Doklam. China has traditionally maintained that Tibet is the palm and the five fingers are Bhutan, Nepal, Arunachal [Pradesh], Ladakh and Sikkim. Therefore its actions in the Doklam region should be taken seriously,” Dr Sangay said.

Dr Sangay announced that the Tibetan community in India will hold a major inter-religious event in New Delhi to commemorate March 31, 1959 arrival of the Dalai Lama in India. “We expect a representative of the Indian government to attend the event,” he said.

The Tibetan leader pointed out that Bhutan should also express concern about the Doklam situation. “Going to the UN is definitely one of the options for Bhutan,” he said.

The Indian Express – At literary conference, NRIs condemn move to ban Indian officials from gurdwaras in US, Canada

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mahinder Deep Grewal, 76, a poet, said that gurdwaras should be kept out of politics and it is not right to ‘ban’ anyone.

Divya Goyal

Ludhiana-Panjab-India, 17 January 2018. A two-day international conference on ‘Immigrant Literature’ kicked off at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College in Ludhiana Tuesday with an aim to promote literary works of Punjabis settled abroad.

At the conference, the NRI community strongly condemned the ‘ban’ imposed on Indian officials and diplomats by some gurdwaras in US and Canada, and also said that sacred gurdwaras should be kept out of politics. They added that Indian government officials too should refrain from using them as platform to promote government policies.

However, they maintained that no one can be stopped from entering a gurdwara which is against principles of Sikhism. They further expressed that despite various campaigns to make Sikh turban acceptable, racism and discrimination was still deep-rooted in those countries.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mahinder Deep Grewal, 76, a poet, said that gurdwaras should be kept out of politics and it is not right to ‘ban’ anyone. “Some gurdwaras in US and Canada are indulging in politics and dividing Sikhs.

Gurdwaras should be kept out of all this,” he said. Recently, at least 30 gurdwaras from Canada and 96 from US ‘banned’ Indian diplomats and officials saying that they should not interfere in the lives of Sikhs there.

Sukhi Bath, 60, founder of Punjab Bhawan in Surrey (Canada), said that four gates of gurdwaras are always opened for all and it is against teaching of the Sikh Gurus to ‘ban’ anyone.

“We live in a very well-mannered country Canada which has multi-culturism as its biggest strength. There can be different opinions which should be respected. Humanity stands supreme and banning someone from gurdwaras is completely against Sikhism. It is high time that this gurdwara politics should stop from both sides.”

The NRI community also opened up on several issues related to Punjabi diaspora including hate crime, racism. Grewal added, “I do not wear turban when I am in the United States. I have started wearing cap. Once I was walking down a street with my family at San Diego and someone shouted ‘Hey, Look Laden is going.

They compared me to the terrorist Osama Bin Laden because of the turban. I and my family were in shock for many days. My little granddaughter asked that what if someone kills me. Since then my son has strictly told me not to wear turban there.

He too has chopped his beard and doesn’t wear turban. Government there is trying to create awareness saying Sikhs are not terrorists and wearing turban is normal but still many people there think we are terrorists. Pictures of Sikhs serving langar at Golden Temple are also shown to convince them.”

Jarnail Singh Sekha, 84, an eminent Punjabi novelist from Surrey in Canada said that his works got actual recognition after he moved abroad and started writing about problems of immigrants there.

“I started writing immigrant literature and got response in Canada. My novel Khet Mazdoor is based on how immigrants work as laborers initially in foreign countries. I myself worked as a laborer first,” he said.

“I do not go to any gurudwara there. Guru is in my heart. It is because both gurdwara managements and Indian officials are indulged in politics. They use place of worship for politics and propagating their own ideologies and dividing Sikhs,” he said.

Nobody is banned from Gurdwaras in Canada and the USA, everybody is still welcome to enter the Gurdwara as members of the sangat. People should inform themselves first before making public statements !
Man in Blue

At literary conference, NRIs condemn move to ban Indian officials from gurdwaras in US, Canada – NIA silently gets five days remand of Jagtar Singh Jaggi

Sikh24 Editors

Mohali-Panjab-India, 17 January 2018. Scottish Sikh youth Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi), who was sent to judicial custody after the last hearing, was today silently presented before the Mohali based Special NIA Court of Additional Session Judge Sanjay Agnihotri.

The NIA team reportedly succeeded in securing his remand for additional five days amidst no opposition to their claims in the Court.

On being contacted by the media, Jagtar Singh Johal’s legal counsel Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur informed that he was not informed by the NIA team about Jaggi’s production before the NIA court. He claimed that he was not even aware of the fact that Jaggi has been taken out from Nabha jail on production warrants by the NIA team.

Till writing this news, it couldn’t be confirmed that in which case the NIA team got five days remand of Jagtar Singh Johal.

It may be recalled here that Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi was arrested on November 4 last year in connection to serial murders occurred in Punjab. He is continuously being kept in remand since then by the Punjab police and the NIA team by adopting the tactic of getting his remand in different cases subsequently.

Leuven NMBS

Leuven NMBS
16 December 2017

IC train Oostende – Luik/Liège – Eupen

IC train Oostende – Luik/Liège – Eupen

IC train Eupen – Luik/Liège – Oostende
via Brussel and Gent

The train to take me to Gent

De volgende halte is Brussel Noord
The next stop is Brussel Noord

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Tertio – Religieuze tekenen

Column Steven Vanackere

Neen, het verschil tussen totalitaire en democratische samenlevingen betreft niet eerst en vooral wat de meerderheid van de bevolking wil. Het gaat over de ruimte die minderheden al dan niet krijgen.

Hekel aan verschil

Totalitaire regimes willen wegwerken wat afwijkt. Ze wantrouwen minderheden. Pretentieus spreken ze over “de wil van het volk”. Ze haten het verschil. Desnoods bekampen ze het met strenge kledingvoorschriften. Met voetstoots aan te nemen waarheden. Met systemen van uitsluiting die diep doordringen in de poriën van de gemeenschap.

Of ze laten het vuile werk van het gelijktrekken van de geesten opknappen door marktmechanismen.

Die zijn daar trouwens erg goed in, met inbegrip van het aanbieden van illusies van uniekheid: mijn eigen kledingstijl, mijn voetbalploeg,… Iedereen zo gelijk mogelijk, totalitaire systemen zijn er dol op. Het helpt verkiezingen te winnen. Het is goed voor de winstcijfers.

Een democratische samenleving is veel minder bang voor de verschillen. Omdat die vaak net de uiting zijn van de vrijheden die zo wezenlijk zijn voor een echte democratie. En omdat het waarderen van het verschil helemaal niet ten koste hoeft te gaan van waarachtige menselijke gemeenschappelijkheid.

Aanleg tot ergernis

Niemand zegt dat zoiets gemakkelijk is. Respect voor andermans vrijheid wordt maar relevant als het gaat over keuzes die uitdrukkelijk niet de onze zijn. Vrijheden die onze aanleg tot ergernis wakker maken. Zeker, we gunnen elkaar van harte de vrijheid te denken en te doen zoals wijzelf.

Maar daden die, zelfs onbedoeld, onze eigen keuzes in twijfel trekken, kunnen minder op onze sympathie rekenen. Nochtans is verdraagzaamheid geen luxeproduct voor alleen die vormen van diversiteit die we wel charmant vinden.

Verdraagzaamheid betekent het in toom houden van ons veel te snel gekwetste gemoed. Enkele weken geleden liet VUB-professor Mark Elchardus in Tertio (nr. 932-933 van 20/12/’17) optekenen dat wie zich over eender wat gekwetst acht, alle vrijheid teniet kan doen.

Hij pleitte ervoor niet alleen grenzen van de vrijheid te herbevestigen, maar ook de “grenzen van de gevoeligheid” (voor andermans vrijheid). Geen zinnig mens betwijfelt dat de vrijheid van de enen soms moet worden beperkt om die van anderen mogelijk te maken.

Na een zeker uur wordt uw vrijheid om luid te musiceren geremd door die van anderen om te kunnen slapen. Op een dolgedraaide libertariër na heeft niemand een probleem met dat argument.

Vrijheid van overtuiging

Maar wie de godsdienstvrijheid aan banden wil leggen, heeft er in onze geseculariseerde samenleving een wankel argument aan. Andermans keppeltje of hoofddoek tast mijn vrijheid van geen kanten aan. Diezelfde vrijheid die de ene de kans geeft een uiterlijk religieus teken te dragen, garandeert mij eveneens het recht dat niet te doen en er ook in geen enkele omstandigheid toe verplicht te worden.

De tendens om het religieuze compleet uit het openbare leven te doen verdwijnen is nefast en van een grote intellectuele armoedigheid. De allergie tegenover iedereen die een gelovige overtuiging niet wil of kan verstoppen, heeft niets te maken met de heilzame scheiding van kerk en staat.

Natuurlijk kunnen en mogen religieuze normen de maatschappelijke ordening niet dwingend bepalen, wel democratische meerderheidsbesluiten met afdoende respect voor minderheden. Maar dat zijn terechte vingerwijzingen voor een overheid die zich ver moet houden van totalitaire aanspraken. Dat heeft niets te maken met het gedrag van vrije mensen die zich vreedzaam beroepen op hun grondwettelijke rechten.

Geen detail

Wat op het spel staat, is een kijk op de mens als spiritueel wezen, waarin het religieuze een plaats krijgt. Dat is geen detail. Het betekent overigens niet dat er geen gesprek mogelijk is. Religieuze voorschriften hoeven niet onttrokken te worden aan een interne en zelfs aan een maatschappelijke dialoog.

Wie weet is verzet tegen bepaalde religieuze uitingen ingegeven door oprechte bekommernis voor de andere, zoals de vrees van onderdrukking. Dat is een boeiende invalshoek, die tot nog heel wat andere nuttige consequenties leidt.

Maar als een verbod om buitenshuis een hoofddoek te dragen een moeder tegenhoudt naar het schoolcontact in Molenbeek te komen, zijn we allemaal veel verder van huis.

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Dawn – The empire strikes back

Zahid Hussain

Op/Ed, 17 January 2018. Just as the situation seemed to be settling down a bit, the country was caught in another whirlpool of political uncertainty. The game is on and it is getting murkier.

The political re-engineering in Balochistan has gone rather smoothly. Political loyalty has never been a virtue in this troubled province, yet it needed a masterstroke to have a minority party installed in government by getting disparate groups to come together.

Remarkable machinations saw the majority party dissolved into nothingness overnight, and a non-political entity, who was elected to the Balochistan Assembly with less than 600 votes in the 2013 general elections, installed at the helm.

It has indeed been an amazing turn of fortunes, even in a country where shifting political alignments have long been a norm.

There is no denying that the members of the ruling coalition may have their own reasons for discontent but it certainly needed a facilitator to ignite the rebellion and make sure that it succeeded.

It is not very hard to guess who could be the conductor of this surgical strike that has changed the political dynamics in the country just two months before the midterm Senate elections. It has also raised questions about the coming general elections being held according to schedule.

The empire has struck back bringing down a staunch Nawaz Sharif loyalist as the former prime minister ups the ante by intensifying confrontation with the apex court and the security establishment. His tenor has become even more strident defying all predictions of him having been reined in by his erstwhile hosts in the holy land.

Sharif is not backing down and the security establishment will not let him come back at any cost. The confrontation has threatened to destroy the entire political edifice of democracy.

This is a no-holds-barred confrontation that may spin completely out of control. The Balochistan episode has demonstrated the power of the deep state and its apparent ability to manipulate the system from within and without completely subverting it. But it may not always work.

There is an opportunity for un-elected elements to further weaken Nawaz Sharif’s position.

Now the battleground has shifted to Lahore, the Sharif citadel of power, where Tahirul Qadri is leading the charge and Sharif’s two bitterest political rivals are joining hands against him.

The 2014 Model Town carnage has long been an Achilles heel of the PML-N government in Punjab, but making public on court orders Justice Najafi’s inquiry committee report has given impetus to the demand for the removal of the Punjab chief minister.

Shahbaz Sharif’s position has become more beleaguered with widespread anti-government protests in the aftermath of the Zainab murder case in Kasur. Meanwhile, the newly emerged powerful Barelvi extremist groups have also stepped up pressure on the government. The controversy has triggered an internal revolt in the PML-N led by an influential cleric.

It is apparent that the younger Sharif too is in the eye of the storm. It is certainly a well-calculated move by the opposition parties to target the man who is the PML-N nominee for office of prime minister in the coming elections.

Having distanced himself from his older brother’s policy of confrontation, Shahbaz Sharif had made himself acceptable to the security establishment. He was also seen as a leader who could keep the party united.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruling against the NAB petition to reopen the Hudaibya money-laundering case gave him huge relief. Both Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Sharif were nominated in the case.

But the latest wave of protests in the province has brought him under tremendous pressure. That also raises questions about the party maintaining its unity as Nawaz Sharif’s confrontation with the establishment comes to a head.

With his relentless attacks, he has strengthened what appears to be an unintended nexus between the top judiciary and the security establishment.

There may not be a direct connection between the Balochistan episode and the Qadri-led opposition’s anti-government campaign, but it does provide an opportunity for the unelected elements to further weaken Sharif’s position.

It may not be an orchestrated move yet it has the potential to paralyse the Punjab government, widening the cracks in the party. Certainly, it could not lead to the Balochistan-like internal revolt bringing down the Shahbaz administration. But it could deal a serious political blow to the party close to the general elections.

Although the PPP and the PTI are at loggerheads and there is no possibility of them entering into any formal alliance, both find it politically expedient to join Tahirul Qadri’s sit-in. Their main objective is to keep up the pressure on the Punjab government.

For the PPP, it could provide an opportunity to infuse some life into the party in the province where it has lost ground. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the PTI can gain from the agitation. Qadri is just an instrument in the whole episode.

With all the opposition parties ganging up against him and the possibility of a brewing discontent within the PML-N turning into a full-scale rebellion, the ousted leader finds himself pushed to the wall.

His possible conviction by the accountability court on graft charges in the next few months may seal his political fate. That leaves him with few options other than going down fighting. Many believe that he is fighting a losing battle.

It is, however, not such a straightforward situation. While Sharif is on a warpath taking on the two most dominant institutions of the state, his party still rules both at the centre and the most powerful province of Punjab. Despite being disqualified, he still heads the ruling party and continues to guide the federal government.

A major crisis is waiting to happen. How would the state institutions, including the federal government, respond in the event of the accountability court convicting Sharif and his children?

A highly explosive situation is developing on the eve of the general elections. It is hard to see how the government, the opposition parties and the security establishment can deal with this imminent crisis and save the political system. It is an extremely uncertain situation.

The writer is an author and journalist and a former ambassador to Iraq and Turkey