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USA Must Sikhs, Hindus convert to get elected?

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Vikram singh, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Vikram singh

    Vikram singh
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    WASHINGTON -- What does it mean when the two best-known Indian-American politicians in American politics are converts to Christianity?
    In South Carolina, Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination for governor despite a whisper campaign that criticized her name and religion. Along with rumors of alleged sexual misconduct, many questioned the validity of Haley's Christian faith.
    Some, including Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts, called her Christian conversion into question. Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, Haley grew up as a Sikh in Bamberg, S.C., and converted to Methodism. She occasionally attends Sikh services with her extended family, which has raised eyebrows in some circles.
    [​IMG]


    U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, a Catholic Republican from Louisiana, in a 2003 file photo. Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana Oct. 20, 2007, becoming the first Indian-American to lead a U.S. state. (CNS/Reuters )



    But in a country that has demonstrated that religion matters when it comes to politics, the issue remains: does it remain difficult for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs to be voted into high office?
    Both Haley and Louisiana Gov. Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, who became the nation's first Indian-American governor in 2007, are Republicans and converts to Christianity. Both also have faced questions about their religion.
    Haley has a special section of her campaign website devoted to dispelling rumors and to setting "the record straight." On the site, Haley affirms her Christianity, saying "being a Christian is not about words, but about living for Christ every day."
    Jindal left his Hindu faith of childhood and converted to Catholicism as a teenager. Like Haley, Jindal publicly discussed his conversion, even writing a piece in the national Catholic magazine America. "The motivation behind my conversion," he wrote in 1993, "was my belief in one, objectively true faith."
    "I was comfortable in my Hindu faith and enjoyed an active prayer life; I only gradually felt a void and stubbornly resisted God's call from within the church," he added.
    The extra attention carries both positive and negative implications for members of minority faiths, said Suhag Shukla, managing director and legal counsel for the Hindu American Foundation.
    "I think it sends a mixed sense of hope to young people in the Indian-American community that while we may have, as a society, gotten somewhat over the race barrier, the religion barrier is still there," she said.
    At least seven other Indian-Americans are running for Congress or statewide office this year, many of whom openly embrace Sikhism, Hinduism or other Indian religions.
    Democrat Reshma Saujani, candidate for Congress from New York's Manhattan-based 14th district, identifies herself "first and foremost" as a "daughter of political refugees" of Indian descent. She is a practicing Hindu who says her faith has not caused friction in her campaign.
    "I think that there might be more pressure ... where there might not be as much diversity in religious faith," she said. "But in New York, there definitely is (religious diversity)."
    Where a candidate is running can determine how much scrutiny a candidate's faith will attract, Shukla said. A Hindu running for office in New York is one thing; a Sikh-turned-Methodist in the Bible Belt is another.
    "We still see this type of discrimination in other places, and it plays out in some elections," she said. "Again, I think it would have to depend on geography," she added.
    Indeed, some candidates are reluctant to reveal specifics about their faith.
    Ravi Sangisetty, running as a Democrat for Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District south of New Orleans, details his Catholic school education and membership in the Catholic Church on his campaign website. But when asked whether Sangisetty had converted, a campaign spokeswoman responded, "Like I said, he's Catholic."
    The campaigns of congressional candidates Raj Goyle, D-Kan., and Surya Yalamanchili, D-Ohio, and Kamala Harris, a Republican candidate for California attorney general, did not return phone calls and e-mails.
    While religion and ethnicity pique interest in the national media, with some viewing Indian ethnicity as a potential handicap, Manan Trivedi, Democratic congressional candidate from Pennsylvania, believes "the American electorate is smarter than that."
    An Indian-American himself, Trivedi hasn't faced questions about his Hindu faith. A spokesman for Trivedi's campaign said "people care much more about jobs and what their candidates are going to do."
    "Issues are much more important," he said.
    Hansdeep Singh, senior staff attorney for the New York-based group United Sikhs, remains confident that members of minority faiths can succeed in politics despite the extra scrutiny that Haley has received.
    "I think that the more and more we see minority groups represented in politics," the easier it will become to gain acceptance for their culture, he said.
    "I think most Americans are starting to move beyond (religious prejudice). There might be a minority of the population that will find it hard to overcome those prejudices ... but those prejudices will eventually be eradicated."


    Must Sikhs, Hindus convert to get elected? | National Catholic Reporter
     
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  3. Randip Singh

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    You should add to this, .....in America.

    The first American Sikh politician never converted (Dalip Singh Saund), yet that was in 1958!!

    Parmjit Dhanda in the UK is still a Sikh.

    These people who convert tend to be Right wing and untrustworthy!swordfight
     
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  4. Vikram singh

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    Malhi and Bains In Canada too.
     
  5. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Pardon me but what was the political success Dalip singh saund? Also canada and UK are different stories as those countries have sizeable percentage of sikh population
     
  6. spnadmin

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    Kanwardeep Singh ji Dalip Singh Saund was elected to the US House of Representatives. And what makes it remarkable is that in his era the prejudice against any foreigner but especially a person of color was intense, particularly if a vote was coming from rural American. Sikhs are today appointed to high government posts and being elected in local and state elections more than is reported in major media, or finds its way here.

    But I really don't understand one thing. Suddenly you contradict yourself...on the Nikki Haley threads. You were saying Nikki Haley converted to get elected in South Carolina because only a Christian can be elected in the US. In other words she was a "traitor" as you put it to her Sikh faith in order to get elected

    At that time I could not seem to convince you that SC voters were rising above historical levels of bigotry.
    Now you are saying that Sikhs, who do not convert to another religion, are elected in the US and UK because of sizable Sikh populations.
     
  7. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    I have not said that sikhs are elected in USA because of sizeable sikh population.I named canada and UK as those countries are famous for influence of sikhs in politics.I even read that 1984 riots was an issue in some UK elections as some mps promised that they will raise this issue with India
    and everbody knows about canada famous for sikhs.In USA sikhs are between 100000 -500000,don't know the exact figure but percentage wise this population is extremely small
     
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  8. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Yes, the population is extremely small Kanwardeep Singh ji. And it is quickly becoming very influential.
     
  9. Randip Singh

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    Here is the website to Dalip Singh Saund:

    Dalip Singh Saund

    A remarkable man.

    His greatest achievement was to achieve land ownership rights for Indian (mostly Sikh Jat) farmers who were treated as tenanted slaves by the whites. These farmers could not own land and were forced to live a miserable existance.

    All this in the background to the Civil Rights movement. There are pictures of him shaking hands with Kennedy. He is a real SIKH hero!!!
     
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  10. Randip Singh

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    BTW the constituency where Parmjit Singh Dhandha is an MP is ALL or predominantly white!!!!:motherlylove:
     
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  11. Randip Singh

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    Interestingly Dalip Singh never lost touch with his native Punjab or his religion, he even went to the Harmandhir Sahib with his wife and had a school built in Punjab:

    The Tribune - Windows - Feature

    Remembering the US Congressman from India
    Roopinder Singh
    [​IMG]
    Dalip Singh Saund

    FROM Chhajalwadi, near Amritsar, he went to the Congress of the USA and left a mark that still sets him apart from the many who tried to follow him. In the shadow of the changed situation in America following the September 11 attacks, the focus is again on someone who created history many years ago as persons of Indian origin in America celebrate the 45th swearing-in anniversary of Dalip Singh Saund this weekend.
    Dalip Singh was the first Asian American to be elected to the US Congress, not once, but three times! No other American of Indian origin has managed this feat even once so far. But it was a long haul for the son of Natha Singh. Born on September 20, 1899, in Chhajalwadi village near Amritsar, Dalip Singh lived in a joint family, the elders of which were engaged in farming as well as construction business. One of his three brothers was Karnail Singh, who retired as Chairman, Railway Board, in 1962 and whose engineering skills were legendary. Unlike his elder brother, Karnail Singh did not use the family name.

    "Dalip Singh was a serious-minded person and interested in public work from an early age. He prevailed upon his parents and made them start a school in the village," says Anup Singh, Karnail Singh’s son and Saund’s nephew. Saund studied in a school in Baba Bakala, near Amritsar, and at the Prince of Wales College, Jammu, where he earned his BA degree in mathematics from Panjab University in 1919.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Dalip Singh Saund with Jawaharlal Nehru (L) and J. F. Kennedy (R)
    He persuaded his family to help him study in America so that he could learn about food canning and open up an industry in India. "I assured my family that I would study in the United States for at least two and not more than three years and would then return home," he later recollected in his book Congressman from India (1960).
    In 1920, he studied food preservation at the College of Agriculture, University of California, Berkeley, and lived in an accommodation maintained by the oldest gurdwara in the USA — Sikh Temple, Stockton. He also took additional courses in mathematics and later switched to that field, earning first a masters and then a PhD degree. He was active in the Hindustani Association of America and was elected its national president after two years.
    [​IMG]
    Dalip Singh Saund being welcomed at the school he helped set up


    [​IMG]
    Dalip Singh Saund at the Golden Temple, Amritsar


    [​IMG]
    Dalip Singh Saund being received by Punjab Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon


    [​IMG]
    With Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru


    [​IMG]
    The Saunds with Punjab Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon and colleagues


    [​IMG]
    His impassioned speeches in Punjabi attracted large audiences
    By this time it was 1924 and Saund apparently looked for a teaching assignment, but none was forthcoming and his first job as foreman of a cotton picking gang required no schooling! He also worked in various canning facilities.
    "In the summer of 1925, I decided to go to the southern California desert valley and make a living as a farmer." At this time Dalip Singh was still a turbaned Sikh, though later he became clean shaven.
    The farming experience was not an easy one. His first lettuce crop was a financial loss because of overproduction. He also took to selling fertiliser. He found the time to write My Mother India (published by the Stockton Gurdwara in 1930), a rebuttal to Mother India, Catherine Mayo's blistering attack on India.
    Saund had been involved in politics throughout, and Anup Singh says it was on the advice of Madan Mohan Malaviya that Saund left India. The heat from the colonial authorities regarding his ghadar activities was getting too much.
    In America, too, Saund kept his public-speaking engagements, whether in gurdwaras or elsewhere, and it was during a talk he gave at Masaryak Club that he met Marian Kosta, the woman who became his life partner.
    According to Gurinder Singh Mann, Kapany Professor of Sikh Studies at
    UC Santa Barbara, Dalip Singh had earlier met Marian "on a ship while travelling from London to New York. In 1928, they married. As an Indian, Saund could not become a U.S. citizen, because a Federal law dating from 1790 declared that only White immigrants were eligible for citizenship. Kosta, although America-born, had to give up her own citizenship to marry him."

    When they met in California, she was a student of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Her father Emil Kosta Sr was an artist who had migrated from Hungry to the USA in 1907. Her brother, Emil Kosta Jr, was a famous Californian painter known for his landscapes. He worked in 20th Century Fox studios as a special effects artist. He won an Oscar in 1963 for his work on the film, Cleopatra, and worked on movies that included Doctor Dolittle, The Sound of Music and John Goldfarb, Please Come Home.
    Dalip and Marian Saund had three children. The eldest, Dalip Jr, was born in 1930, followed by his sisters Julie and Ellie. The children were discriminated against. According to an account by author Tom Patterson, a relative of his, Manha Lyall, referred to the children as "half-breeds".
    This has to be seen in the background of the 1920s which was a tough period for immigrants since anti-immigration laws were on the rise. The discriminatory attitude in Westmoreland is held responsible for Marian and the children moving to Los Angeles in 1942, though it is publicly ascribed to an "allergy problem" she had. Marian was a teacher and, incidentally, the children did well for themselves, with Dalip Jr studying mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and doing a doctorate in anthropology from his mother’s alma mater, the UCLA. He was also an officer in the Korean war. Later, he was killed in a flying accident. Julie Fisher and Ellie Ford took to their mother’s profession of teaching after graduation from the UCLA. Julie married a famous oceanographer and has four sons who are living in California. Ellie has two children, a son and a daughter, according to family sources in India.
    The passage of the 1946 Luce-Celler Bill marked a watershed in the way the Americans treated immigrants. It liberalised immigration and Saund was one of the early petitioners for citizenship. Till then, though active in politics, Saund could not hold any elected office till he became a citizen, which happened only in 1949.
    Talking about the contribution of Saund to the Indian diaspora, Dr I. J. Singh, who went as a Guggenheim Fellow to the USA in 1960 and currently teaches anatomy at New York University, says: "He was a man of principles. He supported the Ghadarites because he supported demands for India’s independence. His contribution to the struggle of Asians for citizenship was strong and memorable."
    [​IMG]
    At the Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar


    [​IMG]
    At the release of a stamp on Mahatma Gandhi
    Within a year of becoming a citizen, Saund was elected judge of Justice Court, Westmoreland Judicial District, county of Imperial Valley, but following a lawsuit by local businessmen, he was denied the seat because of a technicality of not having been a citizen for one year when elected.
    That there had been resentment about him is obvious from the following anecdote narrated by Saund about his 1952 campaign for the same post:
    "One day, just three days before the election, a prominent citizen who was opposing me bitterly saw me one morning in the town restaurant and said in a loud voice: ‘Doc, tell us, if you're elected, will you furnish the turbans or will we have to buy them ourselves in order to come to your court?’ ‘My friend,’ I answered, ‘you know me for a tolerant man. I don't care what a man has on top of his head. All I'm interested in is what he's got inside of it.’ All the customers had a good laugh at that and the story became the talk of the town during the next few days."
    He was elected judge of the same court in 1952 and served until his resignation on January 1, 1957. He is credited with cleaning up the red light district of Westmoreland by awarding stiff fines and jail sentences.
    Saund’s eyes were now set on a seat in the Congress. His family, including his son Dalip Jr and daughter-in-law Dorothy Saund, took active part in the intense house- to-house canvassing. After winning the party primary, Dalip Singh was eventually pitched against a Republican candidate, the glamorous and wealthy Jacqueline Cochran Odlum who had been a beauty saloon operator and a pilot.
    It was a much-watched fight. Saund was accused of being a "foreigner" and of having been sued by his creditors. Saund successfully negotiated the first issue and explained his position on the second (He had not sought the bankruptcy option that several other farmers had chosen. He had eventually paid off the creditors, something that those who declared bankruptcy did not have to do). He won by 3,300 votes, the first Democrat to have won from the constituency and the first Asian American to do so.
    Saund’s fame had already spread and in a rather unusual honour, he was given a seat in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which would normally have gone to a senior Congressman.
    In 1957, he was sent as an official emissary of the House of Representatives, to tour various Asian countries, including Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and India. Anup Singh recalls that his marriage had been planned to coincide with this visit and the wedding invitations went out in the name of Saund, who was welcomed wherever he went, be it Calcutta, New Delhi, Bombay or various places in Punjab, including his village. "He spoke in beautiful Punjabi," recall old-timers who heard the Congressman at that time.
    Saund was re-elected to the Congress in 1958 and in 1960. But he suffered a severe stroke, as he was preparing to run for the Senate in May, 1962. It left him disabled — he could neither walk, nor speak, but with the devoted attention of his wife, he eventually was able to walk, with the aid of a walker.
    The dynamic man who had created history died on April 22, 1973. He is still remembered by many for his devoted contribution to the public life of America and his uncomplaining attitude towards all problems and the discrimination that he faced at various points of his life.
    "As we now sometimes face discrimination and harassment — often from mistaken identity — it is good to remember how people like Dalip Singh Saund faced heavier odds and prevailed. When we bemoan the glass ceiling that we encounter sometimes, it would be good for us to recall a young PhD in mathematics toiling on a farm for that was all he was allowed to do. Dalip Singh Saund opened many doors to us. In our success in this multicultural land, we stand on the shoulders of giants like him," says Dr I. J. Singh.
    As Gurinder Singh Mann put it: Saund lived through several phases in the history of Sikhs in America. At the time he began his life in the United States, he could not even become a citizen. By the end of his life, he had not only become a citizen but had taken an active role in the government. His achievements are a landmark in the history not only of Indian but of Asian Immigrants in the U.S. With hard work and commitment to service, one can go very far in the United States of America.

     
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  12. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Bravo, bravissimo!
     

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