VHP chief drums up community support against proposed Indian law
Ashok Singhal in Fremont, California
Ashok Singhal, president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad
International, was in Silicon Valley last month to
garner support against India’s proposed Bill on
Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence.
The proposed law, said Singhal, 86, discrimi-
nates against the majority Hindu community.
“It’s a draconian one. The existence of the Hindu
is in danger,” said Singhal, who was in the United
States to drum up Indian-American support
against the proposed law.
A four-page booklet about the bill, prepared by
the VHP, lists 28 points on why the organization
considers the bill — which has run into
controversy in India with many political
parties even in the ruling coalition
opposing it — anti-Hindu. The VHP
booklet declares that if a Hindu woman
is raped by men from some other com-
munity, it won’t be counted under the
proposed anti-communal violence bill’s
sexual crime category.
Film festival highlights
the Sikh way
villages receive the messages from their sons, filmed by the directors.
In A Little Revolution - A Story of Suicides and Dreams, director
Harpreet Kaur takes the viewers into the homes of children of Indian
farmers who have committed suicide. The children have accepted their
fate but aspire for a better future, she says. She has also confronted the
Indian government with their letters. The film is produced by Baltimore-
based Manmeet Singh whose documentary, Pingalwara, is also being
shown at the festival in New York.
“This is a story of hope, empowerment and simple dreams,” Kaur says..
In (Ex)Changed, director Angad Singh, a teenager, says he has taken the
message of friendship and building bridges to an international level. His
third short film is about friendships forged when he and his American
classmates hosted 32 French exchange teens for two weeks at Milton
High School, Alpharetta, Georgia.
Director Kavanjit Singh’s short film Jagjeet tells the story of Kuldeep
Singh and Jagjeet Singh, best childhood friends living as neighbors in
New Delhi. Kuldeep has always looked upon Jagjeet as his younger broth-
er. The film is set against the backdrop of the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in
1984, during which one of them is killed.
In another short film, The Reunion, directors Angad Bhai and Ethan
Russell show what happens when two friends who share a common back-
ground reunite after years. One is a Sikh who has cut his hair after being
brutalized during a hate crime, and the other has kept his hair since birth.
It deals with issues Sikhs face when trying to assimilate into American
society. Angad Bhai, a Cornell University alumnus, is a special education
teacher at a New York public school. He plays the turbaned Sikh.
In the short film Jeevika, director Anureet Kaur looks at a segment of
Punjabi population unaffected by information technology — the villagers
are immersed professions like shepherding and making jaggery.
In the hour-long documentary Glut, The Untold Story Of Punjab,
directors Smaran Sahu and Sahil Bhagat claim that 73.5 percent of
Punjab’s youth are addicted to drugs including alcohol and that a multi-
million drug nexus operates in the state under the authorities’ noses.
One of the most prolific documentary film makers in Canada, David R
Gray has made films on Arctic explorations and early Sikh immigrants in
the country: Searching for the Sikhs of Tod Inlet, Beyond the Gardens’ Wall
and Canadian Soldier Sikhs. In his newest film, Canadian Soldier Sikhs:
A Little Story in a Big War, he focuses on 10 Sikh men through enlistment,
training, and transport to France by troopship in World War I.
‘This film will bring to life the fascinating and unknown story of a
group of Sikh men who enlisted in the Canadian Army,’ Gray notes, ‘vol-
unteers who fought for a country which denied them even the basic
rights of citizenship.’ It follows one injured soldier back to Canada on a
hospital ship. Images of his war grave and the story of how his war medal
has survived bring a personal touch to the film, Gray says.
Over 3,000 respond to SAALT’s Be the Change call
“The mayor of Austin also did a procla-
mation for us making October 1 ‘Be the
Change Day’ in Austin,” Ko said, adding
that a Gandhi documentary film was
screened and a discussion on it held the
Saturday before the event, during which
the local Network of Indian Professionals
chapter held a writing contest for pre-col-
Bhagat founded Convio in April 1999
after volunteering at a public television
pledge drive and being struck by the oppor-
tunity to help nonprofits leverage Internet
technology to drive better constituent rela-
tionships. Convio serves over 1,400 organi-
zations, including 27 of the top 50 US char-
ities, and employs 430 staff in six offices. In
2010, Convio helped its clients raise more
than $1.3 billion online, send almost 40
million messages to legislators, and deliver
over 4.3 billion e-mail messages.