Traveling to India? Please Pay Attention to New Visa Requirements

August 31, 2010

The Sikh Coalition has received inquiries from community members about new visa requirements for traveling to India. In June 2010 the Embassy of India changed its requirements for former Indian nationals. See https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/guidelines for more information.

Also, irrespective of foreign nationality or visa type, individuals may no longer be allowed more than one entry into India within a two month period without special permission. See http://www.mha.nic.in/pdfs/FAQ-TVisa170510.pdf for more information.

Travelers to India, please familiarize yourself with the new requirements and plan ahead! Please contact the Embassy of India for more information (http://www.indianembassy.org/visa.php).


Banning Burqas in France

July 26, 2010

On June 13 2010, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy was determined to introduce a bill to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas or niqabs, despite warnings from France’s highest constitutional body that the ban would infringe constitutional rights.

Under the guise of liberating Muslim women from the full veil, the bill passed in France’s lower house with flying colors; 335 votes were in favor of the ban, while 1 vote was against the ban.  If the bill passes through the Senate in September, which Sarkozy believes will not be a problem, our Muslim sisters will face a 150 Euro fine if seen covering their face in public.

Whether you agree with women wearing full burqas is not the point.  The point is that the government of France is targeting Muslim women and criminalizing them for the way they practice their faith, all in the name of gender equality.  When has revoking women’s basic freedom to choose ever resulted in gender equality?  As Sikhs, we know all too well that being forced to remove an article of our faith from our identities does not lead to liberation.  Imagine the heavy decisions that lay ahead for our Muslim sisters.  What will they feel on the day that the law is implemented and they are forced to decide between the law and their faith? Read the rest of this entry »


Bridging the Gap Between Tradition and Radical

May 14, 2010

I recently watched Kavita Ramdas’ engaging TED talk on Radical Women, Embracing Tradition and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  Ramdas, the president & CEO of the Global Fund for Women, explains how the concept of ‘tradition’ can be brought into radical thought and be used as a tool to create social change.

She calls this solution a ‘third-way raga’ that challenges some of the most commonand accepted polarities in society (ie. modernity vs. tradition, first world & third world, etc).  We can understand how an extreme relationship between ‘tradition’ and ‘radical’ can be ineffective in our organizing and it is inspiring to hear how we can bridge the gap in order to further mobilize us as agents of change.

The best part of her talk is the way in which she communicates her message; she uses colorful and inspiring stories of women from around the globe who have used traditional approaches to resist war and other oppressive practices.

I’ll let you see for yourself and hope Ramdas’ message will provide some insight on how we can use her methodology in our day-to-day practices and communities.


Middle Schoolers taking action on (Sikh) civil rights

May 12, 2010

Last Friday, I was invited by the organization Teaching Matters to participate as an “expert” community activist in their annual Civil Rights Student Summit in downtown Manhattan.  I was looking forward to the opportunity to work with such young students of diverse backgrounds on building effective campaigns for civil rights and social justice, but I had no idea how inspiring the experience would be.

The day began at the City Council Chambers at City Hall, where a few hundred students were welcomed by staff at Teaching Matters and a speech by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who gave the Sikh Coalition a shout out for our organizing and advocacy work on bias-based bullying in NYC schools.

Then the students broke out into groups of a few dozen across the street at Pace University and made 5-7 minute presentations on a civil rights topic they had researched and developed a campaign about.  The “professional” activists in the room then had the opportunity to ask questions, give the students feedback on their campaigns, and share our on-the-ground experience.  With topics ranging from healthcare for all to women’s rights, the presentations were thoughtful and used many forms of media to build awareness campaigns.

What really blew me away was that one of the groups of five non-Sikh middle school students chose Sikh rights as their topic!  Using a great website they created, the students gave an in-depth presentation about the barriers to freedom and equality Sikhs in the U.S. face, from employment discrimination to hate crimes.  The front page of the site states:

Read the rest of this entry »


Sikh Coalition Advocacy Projects

May 5, 2010

On April 18, 2010, the Sikh Coalition was privileged to receive recognition for its work from the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation Gurdwara in Rockville, Maryland.  As detailed in the following video clip, although the Sikh community has definitely made progress in the post-9/11 environment, much work remains to be done.


All Out for Immigration Reform – March for America

March 10, 2010

On March 21st, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington, DC for the March for America, demanding “immigration reform for new American families and economic justice for all American families.”  You can see earlier posts on the importance of immigration reform for the Sikh community here and here.  In the spirit of Sikh activism and sarbat da bhala, we encourage community members to join the march in Washington on the 21st.

The March for America’s website states:

Today we are at a pivotal moment in the history of this nation. We are faced with a choice. We can do nothing, and watch as our families and communities continue to be torn apart by the broken immigration system; watch as profiteers continue to take advantage of people desperate for work; watch as due process is taken away from our understanding of justice; and watch as our leaders work on economic solutions that simply aren’t bold enough to turn this country around. Or we can stand up for our families and our communities. Join thousands from across the country at the March For America in Washington DC on March 21st. It is up to us.

Please click here for more information about the march, including transportation.  Buses will be making one-day trips from New York City and other East Coast cities.  Contact sonny@sikhcoalition.org if you want to get on a bus in New York.

See you in DC!


Respect For All Week: Bring Sikh awareness to NYC schools!

February 24, 2010

This March 8th-12th is the first ever “Respect For All Week” in New York City public schools.  During this week, schools are being encouraged to hold awareness-raising programs to combat bullying based on race, religion, gender and more.

The Sikh Coalition is partnering with the Department of Education (DOE) to make the first ever Respect For All Week a success.  But we need your help. We are offering schools free Sikh Awareness Presentations where Sikh Coalition-trained educators will come into schools and conduct presentations and trainings for students and teachers about Sikhism.  Raising awareness about Sikhi is necessary to reduce the bullying and harassment that youth in our community face.  We are also working with the DOE to make lesson plans about Sikh awareness available to all teachers in New York City so they can teach accurate information about Sikhi in their classes during Respect For All Week and beyond.

What we’re asking parents AND Sikh students in NYC public schools to do:

Read the rest of this entry »


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