Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain-Obama Dance-Off

Amazing how technology has trickled down to the amateurs. I highly doubt anyone in Canada would take the time and effort to make this video for Harper, Dion, Layton or May.

Sikhs in Goodman Missouri?

From the annals of "How the heck did they end up there?", here's an interesting story about "Dave" Singh who moved the metroplis of Hattiesburg, Pennsylvania to cosmepolitan Goodman, Missouri to run the local Goodman Mini-Mart. 
Singh, who came to Goodman from Pennsylvania, wears a blue turban in keeping with his faith.

“I want to tell people that I am good people and I want to do business here,” he said. “I like the countryside. Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, it is a lot like here, a lot of countryside.”
I'd love to see the look on local Missourians (sp?) when they ask Dave Singh where's he from and he tells them Pensnsylvania. :)

While Sikhs actually started out living in small towns in Canada at the turn of the 20th century (ie. Paldi, Golden, Abbotsford) and then later established communities in the larger cities, it seems the trend in the US has been the opposite. With the notable exception of California (i.e. Yuba City and area), it seems that Sikhs have started out in the big cities and are now working their way out to smaller towns. In the past year I've come gurdwaras in places, that as a Canadian, I would have never expected like Jackson, Mississippi, Birmingham, Alabama or Lincoln, Nebraska.

Now all we need is a Gurdwara in Hawaii and I'll change my name to Mahalo Singh.

What's the most unexpected place in the world that you've ever seen a Sikh living?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Portuguese Kirpans

The Sikh communities in the UK, Germany, Italy and France are well known, but I'm amazed how quickly Sikhs have settled all over Europe. With Sikh settlement comes the requisite struggle for our articles of faith. I had never heard of Sikhs in Portugual but United Sikhs are reporting that they've all ready been able to get right to wear a kirpan recognized by the authorities. 

However, when you look at the fine print, its only kirpans with blades under 10 cm that are exempt from weapons laws; anything over 10 cm and its considered a weapon.
Sikhs are allowed to wear a kirpan in public places but only if the blade or “lamina” is less than 10cm. Please see diagram below. If the blade is equal to or more than 10cm, the kirpan would be classed as a weapon or “arma branca” (Article 2(1)(l) of Law 5/2006 of 23 February) and would render the wearer liable to prosecution. For a copy of the law (in Portuguese) , please click here
Mejindarpal Kaur observes:
It’s not against the law in the UK to wear a kirpan of any length. Demanding that Gurmail Singh removes his kirpan is akin to demanding a Christian priest to remove his or her crucifix. It also amounts to discrimination as this was an unjustified and disproportionate interference with his right to manifest his religious belief, which is a breach of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
Historically, the size of kirpan has been left to the individual. I know Amritdhari Sikhs who only wear small 1 inch kirpans around their neck. Others wear ones that are much longer. Some under their clothes. Some on top. Its always been a matter of personal choice. Nor is the panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada prescriptive on this matter.

So Sikhs in the post-9/11 world find themselves in a tough spot. Idealistically, we should not be willing to accept any curtailing of our religous freedoms by outside forces. The Khalsa, in many ways, defines its itself through personal and collective soverignity. However, practically and empathically speaking, we can understand the concerns of those government institutions established to protect its citizens. How do they know the difference between a kirpan and a talwar is meant to do? How can they tell the good guys from the bad guys? 

I believe that this broader reconciliation of Sikh identity with 21st century realities that will be a defining challenge for our generation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh Boy.. Obama You Still Want The Job?

From yesterday's New York Times, writer Roger Cohen paints a rosey picture for the future:

Let’s fast-forward a year to October 2009. The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 10 percent. Crime is up across the country. The economy is shrinking. No arm-twisting from the Treasury has managed to restore the broken confidence between borrowers and lenders. Banks, the few still standing, are holding fast to their cash. Property prices are down more than 25 percent from current levels.

The Dow is still heading south as people get used to the idea of stocks trading at no more than 10 times earnings, rather than the much higher ratios our former leveraged world delivered.

New buildings stand empty all over New York because at the end of a boom — that’s to say right now — a lot of new construction comes to market. Exports, long a bright spot in the economy, have plummeted because of a rising dollar. The deficit and national debt stand at unprecedented levels.

The hedge fund industry is decimated — its model of flipping cheap borrowings into leveraged bets around the world has blown up — and one desperate, even contrite, former master of the universe has just sold a Rauschenberg for $9 million less than he paid in 2004.

People still have way too much debt, and the collateral for it keeps evaporating. They are angry. Civil unrest is stirring.

I ask you, Senator McCain, Senator Obama, do you still want the job?

Its enough to make you want to move back to your family farm in Punjab...

Fighting My Parents For The Dam Wii-mote

Call me out of touch, or worse an old man, but my gaming career peaked over almost two decades ago in junior high. Since then, the only game that has seriously captured my attention is Sid Meier's Civilization series, probably the best strategy game ever created. But the Nintendo Wii has changed everything.

From our first Wii bowling tournament in Christmas 2006/7 , our family been hooked on the Wii. After Wii Sports, Play, Big Brain Academy, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Guitar Hero III and Rockband, our latest fascination is Wii Fit

Wii Fit is a marvel from many different angles. The technology is mind-boggling and the game play is so well designed and easy to understand that I now find myself fighting with my Mom and Dad to get in some playing time.  That's been the secret of success for the Wii; catering to those people who never in their right mind would play what they consider to be socially-isolating mind-numbing, violence-inducing shoot'em up games. However,  just as they'd play games like Taboo and Cranium at social functions, they now choose to jam to Rock Band or take turns pummeling each other in the boxing.

Now the numbers are starting to back up the trend.  Wii Fit is on track to outsell Grand Theft Auto IV this year.
A blockbuster franchise for nearly a decade, Grand Theft Auto's fantasy world of antisocial behavior has helped solidify a stereotype of gamers as 18-34 males, but the market has expanded far beyond that sector. Wii Fit's success is the most prominent, emblematic example of that shift. And an ironic one at that: Every edition of GTA has aroused complaints over its portrayal of women. Yet this year, it's women consumers who will help steal Grand Theft Auto IV's thunder.

After being relegated to player #4 after my Mom, Dad and wife, I'm almost starting to reminisce about the days of Super Mario Brothers on the old wood-encased TV in the undeveloped basement.

However, in case I'm starting to confuse Wii Fit for a real workout, this video puts me in my place.

Kaurs In Crowns

From the UK's Sikh Student Camp. Great video with a great shabad and great pictures.

Baraatis travel on rickshaws? Not in my family.

No Punjabi dinner function is complete with a deep discussion of the social ills plaguing our community. Its easy to take the moral high ground on caste discrimination, gender equality, materiality and (a personal pet peeve) excessively lavish weddings. We pontificate on how something must be done to counter them and how someone should really do something about it. Unfortunately, extremely rare is a family or individual that actually takes a stand and decides to do things differently. Here's an interesting example:
Flaunting designer clothes, loads of jewellery and expensive accessories, a London-based NRI family chose a rather different way to travel to the wedding venue - pedal-rickshaws and horse carts.
NRI Murli Vohra's son Pawan ignored the usual mode of chartered aircraft, helicopters and limousines that rich people travel in to make a style statement on weddings.
Pawan, who was getting married at a gurudwara (Sikh temple) in Sector 11 in Chandigarh on Saturday, hired 35 pedal rickshaws and half a dozen horse carts instead of luxury cars to drive the nearly 100 NRI baraatis (groom's party) to the wedding venue.
The baraat did the two-km journey from 5-star Hotel Mountview in Sector 10 to Sector 11 with full pomp and show, much to the amusement of passers by and residents of the upscale localities. All the hired rickshaws and horse carts were decked up with flowers to give them a wedding look. And the passengers kept dancing while they made their way to the venue.
"We wanted to do something unique. And this mode was environment-friendly too. We wanted to give a classical look to this wedding," said Murli Vohra, a well-to-do London resident for over three decades. Vohra's son Pawan tied the knot in Chandigarh with Megha after a courtship.
The bride's side was caught quite off-guard when the groom and his relatives came in the 'poor-man's' mode of transport. "We had been asking the groom's side if they wanted us to arrange for vehicles for the baraat but they kept telling us not to worry as they would make the arrangements themselves. What they did was truly unique," a relative of the bride said.
After the wedding was solemnised with traditional Sikh rituals, the bride and the groom also travelled some distance on a rickshaw. "Many of those who were in the baraat were NRIs and were sitting on rickshaws for the first time in their lives," said the groom's aunt Namita.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Singh Sabha Mongolia?

Every time our family visited the Canadian Rockies growing up, my dad would always joke that if you turned a village full of Punjabi farmers loose onto the mountians they'd soon flatten them out and turn them into lush green farms.  I guess that's what the Mongolians are hoping for as quoted in this Indian Tribune article:
Mongolia wants the services of Punjab farmers for attaining self-sufficiency in food.

President Nambaryn Enkhbayar made a request in this regard to Prime Minister ManmohanSingh on the sidelines of the 7th ASEM Summit in Beijing today. It is perhaps for the first time in recent years that a Head of State has requested an Indian Prime Minister to make available the services of Punjab farmers. The response of Dr Manmohan Singh, sources said, was positive.

Mongolia has thus joined a select band of nations which want Punjab farmers for cultivating their fields and making their countries’ farmers either self-sufficient or even exporters of foodgrains. Australia, Argentina and certain other nations have already formulated their immigration policies to facilitate the state’s farmers.

Boy if I had my choice of Australia, Argentina or Mongolia, I'd be hard pressed to put building a kothi in the suburbs of Ulan Bantor at the top of my list.

Wassup 2008

So this is what the Wassup guys have been up to during the Bush years. Oh boy, are we in trouble..

Friday, October 24, 2008

Google Books - Muharaja Runjeet Singh

I was browsing Google's Book Search (which is making huge strides in its mission to organize the world's information) and I came across this great portrait of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  Its at the beginning of an book very descriptively titled "Origin of the Sikh Power in the Punjab, and Political Life of Muha-raja Runjeet Singh, with an Account of the Present Condition, Religion, Laws and Customs of the Sikhs".  The book was written by a Henry T. Prinsep who worked with the Bengal Civil Service. The interesting thing about this book is that it was written in 1834, a full FIVE years before Ranjit Singh's Death.

The entire is available to read online here.

I have to admit I haven't had a chance to read the entire book in detail but as I skimmed it came across lots of harsh opinions and insights into the personality of Ranjit Singh:

It has before been stated, that RUNJEET SINGH had no education in any branch of learning or science. He cannot read or write in any language, but the habit of hearing papers read in Persian, Punjabee, and Hindee, and great assiduity in his attention, even to the minutiae of business, have given him a facility in following, and understanding for the most part what is so submitted to him : so that, although quite unable to appreciate elegancies of style, or to dictate verbatim what should be written, he transacts business rapidly, is ready with a short and decided order upon any report or representation read to him, and when the draft of his instruction is submitted, after being prepared in due form, he sees at once whetherit fully meets his view. (Page 178)

His memory is excellent, and stored with minute, as well as important circumstances. His disposition is at the same time watchful, and his eye quick and searching, so that nothing escapes his observation ; while the perspicacity displayed in his appreciation of character, and in tracing the motives of other's actions, gives him a command and influence over all that approach him, which have been mainly instrumental to his rapid rise. With great acuteness, he has a lively imagination ; and though never for an instant forgetful of any ends he may have in view, there is a frankness and naivete about his conversation, peculiarly agreeable. His observations and remarks are given ordinarily in short, terse, incoherent phrase, or in the shape of interrogatories, but they are such, as remain fixed in the recollection of the person to whom they are addressed, as uncommon, and as displaying an original thinker. He has great power of dissimulation, and, under the greatest frankness of manner, and even familiarity in his intercourse, can veil subtle designs, and even treachery.  

In action he has always shown himself personally brave, and collected, but his plans betray no boldness or adventurous hazard. Address, and cunning, nay, even corruption, have always been preferred by him, as instruments of success, to any dash of enterprize, calculated to excite admiration or inspire awe. His fertility in expedients is wonderful, and he is never at a loss for a resource in the greatest difficulties, but many of his actions evince caprice, and even instability of purpose, for the motive of them cannot be traced or imagined. His uniform conduct and career through life, prove him to be selfish, sensual, and licentious in the extreme; disregard ful of all ties of affection, blood, or friendship in the pursuit of ambition, or pleasure ; and profligately greedy — plundering and reducing to misery without the slightest feeling, or remorse, widows, orphans and families possessing claims to consideration and respect, that one wonders should not have been recognized, even if it were only from policy. 

In his youth he was lavish in his gifts to favorites, and there was liberality in his general dealings, but, as age has come over him, avarice, and the desire of hoarding, have become the ruling passions, and he is approached, even by his confidential officers and those in favor, with more apprehension of robbery and exaction from themselves, than of hope to add to their accumulated means through his indulgence. His temper was in youth excellent, and always under command, but the irritability of an impaired constitution frequently now overpowers him, and he has been known to break out into fits of passion, and to descend to use personal violence towards the objects of his rage ; but, withal, there is no ferocity in his disposition, and he bas never taken life, even under circumstances of aggravated offence.  (Page 180) 

Although no bigot, and active in restraining the zeal and fanaticism of the Akalees, and others, RUNJEET SINGH is yet scrupulous in the performance of all the prescribed observances of the Sikh faith, and, for a certain number of hours every day, has the Grunth read before him by Gooroos, and is liberal in his charities to Fuqeers and men of reputed sanctity. He is indeed superstitious in the extreme, readily conceiving fancies in respect to his destiny, and fortunes, and never failing to consult astrologers before entering upon any important undertaking. (Page 181) 

RUNJEET SINGH has, in the formation especially of his military force, evinced the same enquiring activity, the same attention to minntias, and perseverance in watching the execution of his plans, which characterized the first Peter of Russia; and, compared with all that we see and hear of other chiefs who have raised themselves to high dominion, he ranks amongst those, whose means have been the least exceptionable, his career being stained by no bloody executions, and by much fewer crimes, than are chargeable against most founders of dynasties. (Page 187)  

It is no uncommon practise of RUNJEET SINGH, when he contemplates any serious undertaking, to direct two slips of paper to be placed on the Grunth Sohib, or sacred volume of the Sikhs. On the one is written his wish, and on the other the reverse. A little boy is then brought in, and told to bring one of the slips, and, whichever it may happen to be, his Highness is as satisfied as if it were a voice from heaven.  (Page 194) 

As for the Sikhs, the author offers these observations: 

They proclaimed the faith and tenets of GOVIND SINGH, the last acknowledged Gooroo or spiritual guide of the Sikhs, and took the Pahul of initiation into the mysteries of hat religion. The long hair on the head, and flowing beard, the entire renunciation of tobacco, and the use of the audible salutation of " Wah Gooroo-jee ke futeh," (victory to Gooroo jee,) proclaimed that the ploughshare had been exchanged for the avenger's sword, and that the maxims and precepts of the grunth of GOOROO GOVIND had prevailed over the more peaceable doctrines of the vedas and shastras of pure Hindooism. (Page 2-3) 

Initiation by drinking of the Pahul is a rite established by GOOROO GOVIND, and is thus described by KHOOSH-WUQT RAEE. The candidate and the initiator wash their feet with water, and then put sugar into the liquid and stir it with a knife, while they repeat five quatrains, the first of which runs as follows : 

Surawuk sidh sumoh sidhanuk dekh phiryo ghur Jogee Jutee Kee, 
Soor surawuk sidh surawuk suut sumoh uuek mutee kee — 
Sare bee desko dekh phiryo mut kooo nu dekhut pranputee kee 
Sree Bhugwan kee Bhuye kripa bin ek rutee bin ek rutee kee. 

I have been round and have seen all kinds of devotees, Jogees and Jutees, 
Holy men, practisers of austerities, men wrapped up in contemplation of the Divinity with all their many ways and habits, 
Every country have I travelled over, but the truly godly I have seen no where, 
Without the grace of God, friend, Man's lot weighs not the lowest fraction.
The other quatrains are very nearly to the same effect.  (Page 217)

Between each quatrain the breath is exhaled with a puff, and the beverage of mixed sugar and dirty water stirred as above, is then drunk to the toast of "wah! wah! Govind Sikh ! ap hee gooroo chela." Hail ! hail ! Govind Sikh ! himself preceptor and pupil." The neophyte, after this ceremony, is a Sikh complete. It is said that when GOOROO GOVIND had only five followers, he went through this form with them, drinking of the water which had washed their feet, and they drinking that which had washed his.  (Page 218)

In the month of December 1763, the Governor and ZYN KHAN moved out to risk an action with the Sikhs. The forces joined battle at Peer Zyn Munayra, a village about seven miles east of Sirhind, when fortune favored the Sikhs, and the Moosulman leaders were slain. The town of Sirhind was then carried, and most of the buildings razed to the ground, the Sikh animosity against the place being excited by the recollection, that the wife and infant son of their saint GOOROO GOVIND had there been inhumanly put to death by VUZEER KHAN, the governor for Aurungzeeb. Not a house was left standing, and it is even to this day deemed a meritorious act by a Sikh, to pull down three bricks from any standing wall of Sirhind, and convey them to the Sutlej or Jumna to be cast there into the river. (Page 26-27)


The Sirdars or chiefs of the Sikh nation had been followed into the field by relations, friends, and volunteers, and not ordinarily by hired retainers. Most of these looked upon themselves as partners and associates in each enterprize, and regarded the lands now acquired as a common property in which each was to have his share, according to the degree in which he might have contributed to the acquisition. The associations were called Misuls, implying that they were confederacies of equals, under chiefs of their own selection. The chief was to lead in war, and act as arbiter in peace : he was respected and treated. with deference by the inferior Sirdars, but these owned no obligation to obey, beyond what they might consider to be for their own reciprocal benefit, or for the well being of the Misul. The confederacies had each their distinguishing title, and at this period there are twelve principal Misuls enumerated, which together could bring into the field about 70,000 horse. (Page 28-29)

As you’ve probably noticed (if you’ve read this far), many of these "facts" are in direct opposition to what is believed by present-day Sikhs. Welcome to the study of history. Its messy. There's no facts, only perspectives and they're all biased in some way. In the case of our friend, HENRY T. PRINSEP, the bias is clear. With an eye on conquering Punjab, he writes the purpose of this book is:

HERE is an interest attaching to the character and fortunes of RUNJEET SINGH, and to the dominion he has established over the Punjab and the Sikh nation, which promises to ensure to the following pages a favorable reception from the British Public. This interest is founded not less upon the geographical position of the territory of the new state, than upon the fact of its having been silently growing up under our eyes, till our wonder is excited at the accumulation of power and of wealth at the command of its present head. The desire to learn the steps and the means, by which the founder of any empire has risen to greatness, is a natural curiosity of the human mind, intense in proportion to the exaltation reached: but in this instance there is proximity to our own possessions, with the collisions that have occurred in consequence, to add to the interest felt about RUNJEET SINGH (page iii-iv)

A good friend of mine often quotes an African proverb: "Until Lions tell their own history, history will always glorify the hunters." 

Where's the Punjabi-language renaissance?

There's an interesting article in Time magazine about the Irish-language renaissance going on right now in Ireland:
And so Walsh, like more and more Irish parents, sends her children to a school where all the lessons are taught in Irish — Ireland's indigenous Celtic language. Over the past decade, gaelscoileanna, as the schools are called, have become one of the fastest-growing sectors in Irish education. 
So the Irish are rushing to put their kids into Irish-speaking schools. What about Punjabis? Well in Punjab, English and Hindi are the two main languages of instruction in most schools and Punjabi is considered largely 'optional'.  Here in Canada, there has been a push to get Punjabi taught in public school board classrooms, but unfortuantely, there has been limited enrollment:
The board first introduced Punjabi at Lincoln M. Alexander Secondary School in February 2007.

Some 30 students enrolled, but this year only 11 have opted for the class. Only students attending the Mississauga school can take the course.

"That does not indicate an overwhelming demand for that language," says Link. (Toronto Star)

So it seems like Punjabis are proud enough about their language to demand that it be brought in as an official language (i.e. Punjab, Haryana) or taught in the public school system (British Columbia, Ontario) but can't get around to enrolling their children in Punjabi classes.  However, it is common for Punjabi youth in India and abroad (especially those in private schools) to be learning other 'exotic' languages like French, Spanish or Italian. 

So why is this? Complacency, indifference, changing priorities or an inferiority complex? In  multicultural, diverse world it seems like the more languages you know the better. I personally know of specific bank locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto that require a Punjabi-speaking person to be working at all times. Also, Air Canada's last round of layoffs actually excluded customer service staff who could speak multiple languages becuase they were too valuable to let go. 

So where does this put our beloved Punjabi language? On the path to a dead language like Latin, reserved for obscure academics? Or on the path of resurgence like Irish, Welsh and Yiddish

Videos Worth Viewing: 

If you're online or in Stockton this weekend (300th Gurgaddi Diwas Gurmat Sangeet Darbar)

Live Webcast of:

Gurmat Sangeet Darbar
October 25 & 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (PST)
Sunday, October 26: 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. (PST)

At the historical Stockton Gurdwara Sahib
Tto commemorate the 300th Gurta Gadd Diwas of Siri Guru Granth Sahib
Come celebrate the renaissance in the world of Gurmat Sangeet with the finest Ragis in the Sikh Panth

Kirtan in all major 31 Raags
Presentation: Gurmat Sangeet Appreciation
Documentary: Saz of Gurmat Sangeet

Stockton Gurdwara Sahib
1930 S. Grant Street, Stockton , CA-95206
Phone: 209-460-0843

For the first time, some of the finest Kirtaniyas in the Panth who have preserved the ancient traditions of Gurmat Sangeet will come together at the oldest Historical Gurdwara in North America to offer Gurbani Kirtan in all the 31 Nirdharit Raags of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

Suffering From WOW

Do you display any of these sympoms?

  • Edginess
  • Heightened feelings of anxiety and paranoia
  • Frequent glancing at the calendar
  • A giddy sense of elation alternating with a pervading feeling of foreboding and doom.
  • Holding one's breath unnaturally and wanting to go to sleep right now and wake up on Nov. 4.

If so, you're suffering from the new political syndrome called Waiting for Obama to Win (WOW for short). Glad to see I'm not the only one.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Power of Art

There's lots of extraordinary things coming out this year's US elections, not the least of which has been the artwork inspired by Barack Obama. Until now, no youth I know would even have considered putting up a poster of a politian. However, these posters have become mainstays on college campuses and are are selling out everywhere. While verging on hero worship, these posters convey an emotion and aspiration that has been rarely seen in American politics.  That's the power of art. 
It has an impact that goes beyond words and sounds. When done well, art can captivates your attention and speaks directly with your soul.

So turning to the Sikh community, where are our iconic Sikh images for the 21st century? While framed photos of the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar and Gurur or martyr-based calendar art have their place, what Sikh art has been created in the past 1o years to inspire the Sikh diaspora? One could point anecdotaly to individuals like the Singh Twins, Bhupinder Singh, Kanwar Singh Dhillon, Jarnail SinghArpana Caur, but is that all we have to show for our 25 million strong community?

I guess that's what you get when we're obsessed with becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers. Let's hope that our generation of Sikhs learns to tap into their creativity and expresses their perspectives on Sikh culture, spirituality, and psyche through sounds, images and words.

Please feel free to share some links to great Sikh posters and art in the comments.

Har Vela Har Dum Guru De Naal..

Roll your eyes and call me a nerd but I can't get Daler Mehndi religious track for 300 Saal Guru De Naal out of my mind. Maybe because its played on tv everytime there's coverage of the 300 year gurtagaddi celebrations or maybe its because its painfully catchy. I guess if I've gotten it drilled into my brain, you can too. 

This youtube video is a promo for the album but you can listen to part of the track here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Profitable Text Messages for Punjabi Farmers

I have come across many examples of how mobile commerce has the improved the lives of the poor across the world. The most vivid example I remember is with fisherman in rural areas. Before cell phones, fisherman would take fish they caught that day to the local market. Some days there would be too much fish in their market and some days not enough. The same would be true in nearby villages where you always had over-supply or unmet demand resulting in sub optimized earnings for fisherman and markets. However with the introduction of cellphones, fisherman are able to send text messages each other and find out in advance which markets have the least supply and thus the best prices that day. They're able to get real time market information and and maximize their profits.

Now, a similar service is being introduced in Punjab by Thomson Reuters:

Thomson Reuters today announced that it has expanded its ground-breaking mobile information service for India's agricultural community to Punjab. Reuters Market Light, which brings commodity prices, crop and weather data to Indian farmers via mobile phone, launched today with over 3,000 subscribers signed up in Punjab, the birthplace of Green Revolution in India. 


Amit Mehra, Managing Director of Reuters Market Light at Thomson Reuters, said: "India's farming community is one of the largest in the world but yet it remains a relatively opaque market. RML provides crucial customised agricultural information to help farmers maximise their productivity and increase their returns. Link

Each subscriber to the service gets daily weather updates and price updates on key commodities that help farmers decide where and when to sell their produce. 

Let's hope that this technology helps Punjab's debt-ridden farmers eek out a lot more profits for their efforts. 

10 Reasons Why You Should Grow A Beard

Here's why you should grow a beard. Reason 4 has worked for me for years. 

Special thanks to Kanwer (The Humble Poet) for finding this one. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell - The Nail in John McCain's Presidential Coffin

Like everyone else, I've been watching the American presidential campaign with keen interest. Today on NBC's Meet The Press. Colin Powell summed up the campaign and his endorsement of Barack Obama with such eloquence, logic,  emotion and impact that this will be seen as the nail in the coffin of John McCain's presidential aspirations. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

NHL Hockey Broadcasts in Punjabi

Never thought I'd see the day.. The CBC is going to be broadcasting 55 NHL regular season games this season in Punjabi. It was an experiment they tried with last year's playoffs and it proved to be a big hit. Punjabi or Sikh-Canadians are HUGE hockey fans and this has really caught the community's attention. Its great to see the CBC recognize Canada's diversity and greatly expand the audience of our national sport. 

As for the announcers, Harnarayan Singh and Parminder Singh both have lots of television experience and are quickly finding their sports broadcasting feet. Their Punjabi is great, especially considering both of them have grown up in Canada. Their biggest challenge is finding or creating Punjabi words for hockey terminology or teams. 

What do you call a slapshot, Penguin or one-timer in Punjabi?

Here's the Facebook group and the CBC Sports sites.

View a video clip here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Project Punjab: Christian Missionary's Fill The Spiritual Vacuum

Compared to Sikhs, it seems that Christian missionaries are better mobilized, organized and resourced to spread their faith in Punjab. Here's a group called Ignite The Nations that has a special initiative called Project Punjab:
We've been blessed by a comprehensive report that defined about 7,880 villages in Punjab that have no gospel witness.  These are unchurched villages where, for the most part, the inhabitants have never even heard of Jesus Christ, let alone the salvation He offers.  We are focused, through Project Punjab, on reaching every one of them with the gospel, and planting churches all along the way.
Here's a short video that they've produced:

While I am personally disturbed by the project's focus on the Sikh heartland, the Sikh response should not be to shut down the actions of others. The rise of Christian missionaries, dera sant babas and apostosy in Punjab is directly correlated to the lack of engagement with the general population by traditional Sikh institutions. If Gurdwaras are not going to address a person's need for spirituality, meaning and inner peace, then they'll look elsewhere for guidance.

So rather than relying on our typical responses of demonstrations, morchas, petitions and hunger strikes against those who have "hurt the sentiments of Sikhs", lets direct our energy and anger inward.  Those that have hurt the sentiments of Sikhs the most are Sikhs. We have let our institutions and organizations degrade into personal ego and wealth-creation vehicles. "Panthic" organizations now exist to enhance the power and pockets of those that lead them. And we have let this happen on our guard. Rather than demanding accountability and transparency, we blindly keep filling golaks and reciept books with donations. If our Panthic organizations have a responsibility to deliver on their mandate, we as Sikhs have an even greater responsibility to hold them to task. This is not a chicken and egg argument. You get out what you put in. If individual Sikhs abdicate their corporate/community responsibilities, then don't expect insititutions to do any better.

Let the missionaries, babas, sants do what they've been put to do on this earth. I just wish Sikhs would start doing the same.

Baby Got Book..

I don't even know a Sikh version of this video would look like..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally some good environmental news from Punjab

Time magazine has announced its list of Heroes of the Environment for 2008 and amongst those recognized is Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal. His efforts with the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust to clean up and restore the Kali Bein (the river intimately linked to the life of Guru Nanak) have garned him national and now international attention.

Here's a video showing what the river looks like post-cleanup:

With all the bad environmental news coming from Punjab these days, its encouraging to see any signs of change.

Monday, October 6, 2008

We've seen it before, or have we?

Interesting to see these doom'n'gloom magazine covers from years past. They've all predicted the worst but its never been as bad as they suggested. So I guess the $700 billion question for 2008/09 is whether this time "its different"?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Physical death i do not fear, death of conscience is a sure death

Baba Jarnail Singh is famous for his quote, "Physical death i do not fear, death of conscience is a sure death" and when I came across this passage from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, it reminded me about how revolutionaries around the world, through the annals of history, have shared a kindred spirit.

“I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the sermon “But, If Not” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on November 5, 1967.