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Gurbachan Singh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gurbachan Singh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 April 2006 at 12:26am

"I am humbled and touched beyond words by the actions of everyone...Let everyone know you shouldn't be afraid to be a Sikh. There is help out there. The action of the whole community saved my hair from being cut."

 

Thank You to All the People, Organizations, and Government Officials Who Took Action

The Coalition would like to thank:

  • Florida Department of Corrections Secretary James McDonough for his swift action to prevent Satnam Singh's hair from being cut. On Monday, April 3, 2006, Secretary McDonough called the Coalition's Legal Director to tell him that his office was taking swift action to ensure Satnam Singh's hair would not be cut. Within 3 days the Department was able to arrange for his transfer to Vermont. Please send Secretary McDonough an e-mail thanking him.
  • Governor Jeb Bush. The Governor's office worked with federal officials and the Department of Corrections to resolve this matter. Please send Governor Bush an e-mail thanking him.
  • Bob Moore, Legal Affairs Director of the Aleph Institute. Mr. Moore provided legal and advocacy advice from the moment he was contacted a week and a half ago about Satnam's case. He conducted extensive legal research that he shared with the Sikh Coalition's Legal Director and offered his advice on legal matters.
  • The Sikh Society of Miami and its sangat for organizing a local campaign on behalf of Satnam Singh at a moment's notice.
  • State Senator Frederica Wilson
  • Former Miami Mayor Alex Pinelas
  • Sharee Freeman, Director, Community Relations Service , United States Department of Justice.
  • Eric Treene, Special Counsel on Religious Discrimination, United States Department of Justice
  • Thomas Battles, Regional Director, Southeast Regional Office, Community Relations Service, United States Department of Justice.
  • The ACLU of Florida for agreeing to serve as Satnam Singh's co-counsel.
  • The law firm of Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP for agreeing to partner with the ACLU of Florida to serve as Satnam Singh's The over 200 people who wrote individual e-mails to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough
  • The over 200 organizations that endorsed this campaign
  • The over 6,800 people who signed the petition to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough.
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  • counsel. The over 200 people who wrote individual e-mails to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough
  • The over 200 organizations that endorsed this campaign
  • The over 6,800 people who signed the petition to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough.
  •  
  • The over 200 people who wrote individual e-mails to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough
  • The over 200 organizations that endorsed this campaign
  • The over 6,800 people who signed the petition to Governor Bush and Secretary McDonough.
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Gurbachan Singh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gurbachan Singh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 April 2006 at 12:29am

India booms, but debt is killing its farms

Adeel Halim, Reuters

An Indian female farmer works on a farm in Shivri village. Sikh farmers are finding it is no longer viable to farm their own lands and would rather sell their land and work as common labourers. While big cities in India may be undergoing an economic miracle, in villages the people are mired in grinding poverty. Two years ago, hundreds of farmers in the south committed suicide because of their debts.

Rajesh Kumar Singh, the Associated Press

A group of farmers protests the unending cycle of debt they deal with: borrow money to buy seeds, repay the loans with a percentage of the crop. If the harvest fails, they cannot pay off the loan and face massive interest that compounds every year.

Grinding poverty

By Justin Huggler
The IndependentMALSINGHWALA, PUNJAB (Apr 1, 2006)

For sale: one farming village: 728 hectares of fertile arable land, 280 houses. All serious offers considered.

It's an intriguing offer.

Malsinghwala is a village like any other of the thousands across Punjab -- a collection of low brick buildings, a dusty road and fields thick with crops that stretch across an endless flat landscape.

Sikh farmers in brightly coloured turbans with ceremonial daggers slung at their sides pass by. Women stagger along the road carrying huge bundles of crops on their heads. A tractor passes by with Bollywood music hammering out of crudely attached loudspeakers.

But a few months ago, an advertisement appeared in the local newspaper.

The entire village of Malsinghwala, it said, was for sale. The people had agreed to sell the whole village as a single lot.

Malsinghwala is one of a spate of villages across India that have suddenly been put up for sale. Similar reports are coming from across the subcontinent.

About 1,600 kilometres to the south, in the village of Dorli in Maharashtra, farmers have painted For sale signs across the backs of their cows and on the trees.

In another village in Maharashtra, a banner reads: "This village is ready to be auctioned. Permit us to commit mass suicides."

In Chingapur, the villagers invited the Indian prime minister to preside over a "human market" to auction off their kidneys.

Something is badly wrong in rural India.

"It is debt," says Gurjit Singh, a huge Sikh farmer who is standing under the hot sun, handing loose fibres to two elderly men who are painstakingly spinning them into a rope by hand.

"We cannot pay our debts. If some one else can come here and make the land pay, we're prepared to work for them."

The farmers of Malsinghwala own their own land. But they are so heavily in debt they would prefer to give that up and work as common labourers.

Mahatma Gandhi's dream of a strong, independent Indian society based around its villages is dying out under the hot Punjab sun.

It is happening even as India is going through an extraordinary economic boom that is transforming it from a Third World country to a global economic power almost overnight. The economy is growing at more than 8 per cent a year, and the cities are changing so fast that you can see the difference from week to week.

The United States is courting India as a strategic ally and foreign companies are jostling each other to get a share of the huge potential market.

India's big companies are talking about the country's agriculture as a massive untapped resource, with exceptionally fertile land, and tropical fruits, rice and spices that are considered among the world's best.

Insiders say Reliance, one of the major players in India, is planning to move into the farming sector in a big way.

But here in the villages, there is no sign of an economic miracle yet. The people are still mired in grinding poverty. It takes seven hours to drive here from Delhi, but it feels like a journey back in time. The road gives way to dirt tracks and the gleaming imported cars that clog the city streets disappear, unable to withstand the rough roads of rural India.

Punjab is known as the "bread-basket of India." The most fertile farmland in India has made it one of the country's richest states. But out in the villages, life is harsh. It is searingly hot in summer: the temperature regularly rises to 45 C, but the villagers cannot afford air conditioning. "AC? We don't even have a fan," one laughs, then points to a tree.

"That is our air conditioning," he says. "We lie in the shade under a tree. It's too hot to move." Everyone in the village is a farmer. The children go to school in a neighbouring village, the villagers shop at a market in another. Punjab is the home of Sikhism, and everyone in the village is a Sikh, too -- all the men go by the traditional Sikh surname Singh.

The people here live in communal houses shared by several brothers. Each lives in one or two small rooms with his wife and children, grouped around a central yard where they keep cows and buffalo.

Gurjit Singh is the richest man in Malsinghwala: he owns 5.6 hectares of land. He has debts of $4,390 US, but he only makes about $1,000 a year, out of which he has to feed and clothe his three children. He is trapped in a cycle of debt he can never pay off.

He is not alone. Four farmers have already committed suicide in this tiny village, rather than face their impossible debts. The reason, Singh explains, is that the farmers are at the mercy of unscrupulous moneylenders who charge annual interest rates of 24 per cent.

The farmers live hand-to-mouth and have no capital to buy seeds and fertilizer, so each year they need to take out loans. The deal is simple: the farmers repay the loan with a percentage of the crop.

But if a single harvest fails because of poor rainfall, the farmers are lost. Unable to pay off the loan, they face massive interest they cannot pay off that accumulates year by year. And in recent times, Punjab, like much of India, has endured several years of drought.

"We cannot go to the banks for a loan," Singh explains. "If you go to the bank, the manager demands a bribe for agreeing to the loan. To get a loan of 100,000 rupees ($2,245), we have to pay the manager a bribe of 20,000 rupees."

The result is that the farmers are at the moneylenders' mercy. One bad harvest and they face handing over their crops to the moneylenders for years just to pay off as much of the debt as they can. As one observer put it: "The moneylenders have effectively got the farmers in slave labour."

There was a major scandal in India two years ago after hundreds of farmers unable to pay their debts committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh, in the south. There have been suicides here, too, but the people have decided to fight. Facing the unpayable debts, the panchayat, the village council, in Malsinghwala met and decided to put the village up for sale.

Harshikanpura, a couple of hours drive away across the maze of dusty lanes that thread their way through the fields, was the first village in India to put itself up for sale.

That was five years ago, in 2001, and at the time it was dismissed as a freak publicity stunt. However, in recent months Harshikanpura has inspired a rash of imitators across the country.

But the villagers' gambit has not paid off. After five years on the market, not a single buyer has come forward for Harshikanpura. The villagers insist the offer is still on. They refuse to give a price for the village, saying they will consider any serious offers.

Kunda Singh's brother, Chabiya, and his wife committed suicide rather than face their debts. The couple drank fertilizer like thousands of farmers across India who have been trapped in the impossible cycle of debt.

Chabiya was just 26. Today, his brother Kunda is careworn beyond his years.

Some of the farmers owe as much as $40,000, almost 40 times their annual income. The total debt of all the farmers is more than $800,000.

"We're hoping a big company will buy the land and build a factory here," says Baldev Singh, one of the villagers. "Then we can work in the factory." There is little chance of that. Harshikanpura is right in the middle of India's cotton-growing belt and no one will want to build a factory on this fertile land.

But the fact that farmers working in what should be a lucrative agricultural sector are so desperate they want to sell their villages shows that something is not right in Indian farming.

Even as India is emerging at last as an economic force to be reckoned with, the villages that Gandhi dreamed of basing independent India around are struggling and dying.

It is the cities that are driving the economic boom, and every year hundreds of thousands of Indians leave the villages and migrate to the already bursting cities looking for a better life.

"They say India is becoming rich, but we have not seen any of it," said Gurjan Singh. He has debts of $8,000, but makes only $500 a year.

"When George Bush came here he said India is a big economy. He should have come to Harshikanpura, then he'd have seen the truth about India."

Part of the problem in Punjab is that the tradition of dividing a farmer's land between his sons after his death is making some farms so small they are economically unviable. Farms have been divided again and again until the descendants of men who farmed hundreds of hectares have tiny plots. One farmer said he had only 1.2 hectares of land.

That may soon change, with Indian big business showing increasing interest in agriculture.

The word is that Reliance wants to move into the farming sector and buy produce directly from farmers to sell in its own retail outlets, cutting out the middle-men altogether. That could be bad news for the moneylenders who currently get the crops to pay off their loans.

Insiders say Indian agriculture is performing far below its potential because it is steeped in outdated methods and practises. As much as 35 per cent of Indian produce is spoiled in transportation before it ever reaches the consumer.

Changing the way the market works inside India is only the beginning.

Analysts say agricultural exports should also be doing better in a country that produces high quality mangoes, rice, tea and spices.

If the big companies do move into agriculture, it could be good news for the villagers. But it could also change Indian rural life forever, in a way that will take India even further from Gandhi's ideal and into the tough commercial realities of modern capitalism.

But in the villages, they are not worried about that. They just want a way out of the cycle of impossible debt.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pure Soul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 April 2006 at 11:05am
 We all want to change the world, we all talk about Global Harmony but how often do we notice that people give up just coz they don't reach their goal right away? Or the path is not smoothly paved like they imagined, they back out coz of few problems... Everyone seems too busy with them self, volunteers enough to follow a road smoothly paved. We all want a world close to perfection, a world free of hatred and pain, we have to start somewhere and why not here and now? The world would be so beautiful when everyone puts their share in Global Harmony. Never quit when the going gets tough coz quiters don't win and winners don't quit.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pure Soul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2006 at 10:52am

Change The World

My daughter and I planted four trees in our backyard recently. They were little more than twigs when she brought them home. She was able to hold all four of them in the palm of one hand. Still, with faith in the future I dug the holes in our backyard and with loving care my daughter planted each one of the saplings. When I look out on them now I smile. They are so small and yet so full of life. As they stretch towards the morning sun and slowly grow upward to the sky I can see the hundreds of glorious years that lie ahead of them. Soon they will be filling the air around them with life giving oxygen. Soon they will be blessing the world with their sweet smell and comforting shade. Soon they will be changing the world for the better just by being in it.

What most of us don’t realize is that we can change the world for the better just by being in it too. When we go out of our homes each morning we don’t see just how many trees of goodness that we can plant each day. Every single smile that we share plants a little more light in another’s heart. Every single act of kindness that we do plants a little more kindness and happiness in this world. Every single moment of joy that we spread puts new seedlings of joy in the souls around us. Every single bit of love that we give plants another sapling of Heaven here on Earth. We may only think of ourselves as tiny twigs, but in our lifetimes we all can do more good than a forest of Redwoods.

Don’t be afraid to try and change the world for the better then. Remember that you are a Child of God put here to fill this world with love and joy. With God’s love in your heart and with God’s joy in your soul you can help to create a never-ending forest of goodness in this world just by planting one sapling at a time.

Kids Line

~ Joseph J. Mazzella ~

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Kamalpreet Kaur View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kamalpreet Kaur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2006 at 1:03pm

thanks for sharing selina ji...ur posts are amazing ji...u know what  after reading ur....each single post i really feel like....saying .....thanks .......thanks.....thanks............................... and ................to be cont......

keep it up..ji..

Kamalpreet Kaur

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Khoji Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 August 2006 at 1:48am
http://hindustantimes.com/news/5967_1761299,001600060012.htm


In a major victory for Sikhs in the US, a San Francisco court has held that the community has the right to build a gurudwara in their neighbourhood.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed a Sikh congregation to construct a place of worship on land allotted for agriculture in Sutter county.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit law firm renowned for protecting the free expression of religious traditions, had filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the community.

"This resounding victory for the Sikh group has nationwide implications for a wide range of cases dealing with religious land interests and it will echo loudly, especially in California," firm spokesman Jared N Leland said.

Neighbours had complained over the congregation's first bid to locate its gurudwara in a residential part of California's Yuba City, so it acquired land in a rural, agriculturally zoned area in 2002.

The Sutter county then denied them permission, saying it amounted to disorderly development or "leapfrog development" because the site was away from the city.

The brief filed by the Becket Fund in the Guru Nanak Sikh Society vs the County of Sutter case stated that the Sutter County's Board of Commissioners' refusal to issue a building permit to the Sikhs violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalised Persons Act of 2000.


Life is short, energy limited, with this limited energy we have to find the unlimited; with this short life we have to find the eternal. Don?t waste it with unimportant matters

Khoji

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ANGEL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 August 2006 at 7:06am

TO LIVE A CREATIVE LIFE, WE MUST LOSE OUR FEAR OF BEING WRONG

-JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jujhar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 September 2011 at 7:30am
Well said ji
�.���`�."Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it"�.���`�.�
Request- This is Everyone's forum, so please participate in it by posting...
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