Meeting With Our Community Diaspora
I am writing this page while on a personal visit to America. I had left Delhi on June 1, 2019 for Toranto, Canada, to attend a wedding function in the family. While there, I was invited by the famous journalist, Tahir Aslam Gora of TAG Tv to take part in a TV debate along with Barrister Hamid Bhashani; both Tahir and Bashani Sahib belong to the Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and have largely been critical of Pakistan’s treatment of the people of the region of the state under its control. The topic happened to be Modi 2.0 and Kashmir. The debate was recorded on 8 June 2019. Soon the programme was a big draw on the YouTube, recording nearly 1.5 K views in a space of five days.
It was a great experience to interact with both, Gora Sahib as well as with Barrister Bhashani Sahib, both of whom have been keeping a large subcontinental diaspora up to date with various happenings of interest in their motherland.
Had the opportunity to meet many KP activists too at Toranto. I must, particularly, mention about my long conversation with Sh. Vidya Bhushan Dhar (who made the above TV debate possible), Sh. Surinder Razdan, etc.
After my stay of 15 days in Canada, I reached Atlanta in the United States. While there, I was invited to be part of the Advocacy Day programme of the Hindu American Association (HAF) on 25 June 2019. This year’s programme happened to have ‘Kashmir’ as its theme. The programme essentially involved meeting of specific groups created from with the members of the HAF with some important Congressmen/women on the Capital Hill, with the aim of making them aware of certain hard realities of Kashmir situation, particularly the KP genocide and their forced displacement.
HAF is nearly 17-year old organization formed by Indian Hindu diaspora in America in 2002, with the objective of portraying Hinduism in media and textbooks in a correct manner and to make efforts to remove certain misgivings which have crept into the American narrative about India and Hinduism; more due to lack of awareness and less exposure to essential teachings of the Sanatana Dharma. HAF also aims at offering solutions to the contemporary problems by applying Hindu ethics, advocating religious liberty, equality, and Human Rights. It is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to improve the public understanding of Hinduism and Hindus and advance the well-being of all.
Some of the prominent Americans who attended the function included Congressmen, Raja Krisnamoorthy and David Scheweikert. While speaking at the gathering of the HAF fraternity, they both extolled the tolerant philosophy of Vasudeva Kutambakam of Hinduism and praised the Indian diaspora for having contributed immensely to their adopted country, America in so many ways. They promised to use their good offices to further strengthen Indo – U.S. relations. Those who spoke on the occasion included, Sarvashree Jay Kansara, Director Government Relations, Taniel Koushakjian, Director Public Policy, Dr. Samir Kalra, a prominent member of HAF, who is involved in many projects at the national level, Mihir Meghani, founder member of HAF, Ms Suhag Shukla, Executive Director and Dr Rajiv Pandit.
My presence at the function provided me with an opportunity to meet some of our community’s young and dynamic community members and people from across the Hindu community at large. I found all of them committed to the cause of our community in particular and that of India in general.
Some of the prominent community members were conferred with various categories of awards on this special occasion. These included, Sh. Vijay Sazawal, a prominent member of our community in the U.S, who has, over the years, rendered a yeoman’s service to the community’s cause in the U.S and at the international level; Dr Subash Kak, an Indologist of international repute who was recently conferred with Padma Shree by the Government of India; Sh. Bansi Pandit, a prolific writer on Hinduism who has contributed enormously to the Hindu cause in the United States over the last five decades and Sh. Deepak Ganjoo, who publishes the online KP journal, Shehjar in his adopted country.
Former Kansas Governor, Sam Brown back was conferred with the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Award.
It may be mentioned that HAF is still in its infancy, as it is not even two decades old. It has a huge task in front of it, as Indians, and particularly the Hindus, expand their foot print in America. Hindus in America, as a distinct ethnic group, are a prosperous community, with a very high degree of literacy, occupying important positions in the profession of medicine, information technology and now in businesses. One of the challenges in front of the HAF is to find a common ground among the huge Indian diaspora here as people tend to identify themselves within their regional and caste groups. Hopefully, HAF will succeed in breaking these mental barriers.
All India Kashmiri Samaj is looking forward to working closely with HAF on issues that effect our community in particular and Indo-U.S relations in particular.
– Col. Tej K. Tikoo