"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.
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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


Radical Desi gave the visiting Indian journalist its second human rights journalism award, at a public rally held in Surrey on Thursday, April 13.  

Jasvir Samar is associated with the Chandigarh-based Punjabi Tribune. He has extensively written on human rights and social justice.  

He was presented with the award by its first recipient, Dr. Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal, at the vigil in memory of the victims of Jallianwala Bagh massacre,  

Close to 1,000 people died when British-Indian troops opened fire on the gathering of peaceful demonstrators, who had gathered at a public park in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, to protest against draconian laws and the arrests of leaders of the freedom movement.      

The annual memorial vigil was jointly organized by Mehak Punjab Di TV and Radical Desi.  

Samar also spoke on the occasion, and tried to draw parallels between the state violence of India under British occupation, and the current right wing regime.  

For the award presentation of the award, previous recipients of Radical Desi medals Annie Ohana and Imtiaz Popat briefly joined Radical Desi Director and cofounder Gurpreet Singh, besides the supporter of the group Tejinder Sharma 

The participants later lit candles in memory of the victims of the massacre, and paid homage to the Indian martyrs whose pictures were displayed at the site of the vigil. They also raised slogans against the ongoing repression and for the release of political prisoners.  






On the eve of the birthday of the towering Indian scholar and undisputed Dalit leader, South Asian activists gathered in Surrey to light the pyre of a racist text that sanctions the brutal case system.  

Manusmriti is an orthodox Hindu doctrine that divides society in four caste groups, and discriminates against the so called untouchables or Dalits.  

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who later joined Buddhism and rejected Hinduism because of caste-based oppression, had mobilised his supporters to burn this controversial book back in 1927.  

On the eve of his birth anniversary on April 14, members of the newly founded Anti-Manuwaad Front (AMF) re-enacted that historic event at Holland Park in Surrey. 

Not only were copies of the script burnt, the participants also raised slogans denouncing the caste system.  

AMF was formally launched in Surrey on April 1, the first day of Dalit History Month.  

The launching was held in the presence of visiting Seattle City Councillor Kshama Sawant, who was instrumental behind the ordinance against caste-based discrimination. Sawnat and her supporters in Metro Vancouver have now started a petition asking for a similar law in BC.  

April 13 was purposely chosen to kick start its upcoming activities by burning the copies of Manusmriti. The event coincided with the birth anniversary of the Khalsa, an army raised by the tenth master of the Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh ji to end the caste system.  

Those who addressed the gathering included the cofounders of AMF Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal and Gurpreet Singh, besides well-known Ambedkarites Kamlesh Ahir and Rashpal Bhardhawaj.     

The speakers unanimously called for removal of statues of the writer of Manusmriti in India, and abolition of the caste system. They urged the people to organize and agitate like Ambedkar against those who still follow his hateful ideology, and yet continue to govern the country in the name of Hindu nationalism under the garb of secularism and democracy. They also warned the participants against the ongoing repression of women, Dalits and other minorities in India by the ruling Manuwaadis.      


Radical Desi has given its very first human rights journalism award to a senior Punjabi journalist.   

On Friday, March 31, at the commemorative event held for Bhai Balwant Singh Khurdpur at the New Westminster Gurdwara, Dr. Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal, who has also done his PhD on Punjabi journalism in Canada, was presented with the award.    

Radical Desi, an online magazine that covers alternative politics, has honoured numerous individuals with medals of courage and appreciation certificates in the past.  

Dhaliwal is known for his strong stance on human rights and social justice. He has also kept the legacy of revolutionary history alive through his writings, as well as radio and TV shows.   

The March 31 program was dedicated to Khurdpur, who laid down his life in 1917, while fighting against the British occupation of India and racism in Canada.  

Khurdpur was a Sikh preacher and community activist who believed in socialism. He was part of the uprising that aimed to establish an egalitarian regime in post-British India. His efforts led to the right of South Asian immigrants to bring in their families in BC. Earlier they had been barred from bringing their wives and children, to discourage them from permanent settlement.  

The gurdwara officials briefly joined Radical Desi Director and cofounder Gurpreet Singh for the presentation of the award.  

Alex Sangha 

I was raised by a single mother.  She raised three boys with the help of her two brothers and their families.  My childhood, therefore, may be very different from other Punjabi Sikh families.  I have observed, however, the sacrifice of “some” Punjabi Sikh women in my life throughout different phases of their lives.  I have watched how girls, daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers are forced to put their needs second to the needs of a culture, tradition, and society that values men and boys.


During the first 20 to 30 years of life, the woman is under the protection and care of her parents. Times are changing, many parents provide every possible opportunity for their daughters.  It is important to note, however, that even though Sikhism espouses gender equality across the board, there is a strong preference for boys in practice.  One father explained to me that having a daughter is like watering the neighbor’s garden. This is because the daughter leaves the family to live with her in-laws when she gets married. Punjab also historically has the highest rate of female infanticide in all of India.  Girls are gaining more opportunities while in their maternal homes, but boys still benefit from more flexibility and freedom.  In addition, inheritance and property usually pass to the male children.


After a woman graduates from university, she is expected to quickly get married.  Her biological clock and desirability are ticking away.  This may even be an arranged marriage, although this is less likely.  The new bride usually moves out of her maternal home and lives with her husband’s family.  You can imagine, how difficult this would be and what limited power she would have in the new home.  In a way, the new bride gains her status in the family after having a male child.  She has done her duty.  If she fails to have children, she is constantly reminded and pressured to start a family.  Furthermore, God forbid, a new bride living with her in-laws is a victim of domestic violence. 


You would think, a mother could settle down and relax after her children are raised.  This is a half-truth.  Many immigrant women from Punjab work in labor-intensive jobs and then come home to a full day of domestic work.  Basically, until her children are married, the mother is still doing a lot of chores like daily cooking and cleaning.  Having a job and grown children do provide the mother with some earned freedom but not all mothers are in this situation.  They are dependent on their husband and in-laws.


Once their children are married with kids, then these new grandmothers often find themselves as lifetime babysitters.  And since they get a pension from the government, they are often not compensated for their labor. 


My mother started a group for South Asian senior women in North Delta.  It made me so happy to see the friendship, laughter, and joy they are finding in their elder years together.  They understand and appreciate each other because they have all struggled and sacrificed so much for their families and are finally now finding some time for themselves in their golden years.


I feel women in our community need to propose their own solutions with the support of their children, including men.  I think it’s a good idea for women in our community to gather and find peer support, where they can talk, and discuss their issues and concerns with other women.  They can identify their own solutions.  Hopefully, this will be the first step toward more gender equity and equality for women.  The second and more difficult step would be the men in their lives to support them.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Alex Sangha is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Registered Clinical Counsellor.  He is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada


Recognizing the historic move of banning caste-based discrimination by a Seattle City Councillor, Vancouver-based online magazine has decided to pick her as person of the year.  

Kshama Sawant, the lone Indian-American member of the Seattle City Council, has been known for her unwavering dedication to social justice. She has consistently stood up for the underdog, including the poor working class and minorities in the past, often inviting the ire of right wing groups and the corporates. Her proposed ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination was passed on February 21, 2023, making Seattle the first US City to do so.  

The Dalits, or the so-called untouchables , continue to face oppression under a brutal caste system practiced by orthodox Hindus in India for centuries. The problem has spilled over to  the Indian Diaspora, and Dalits often complain of persecution at the hands of fellow Indians belonging to self-styled upper castes, even in US and Canada. The demand to ban caste-based discrimination, like racism, has been growing for the last several years.  

Sawant was part of the movement to raise  the US minimum wage, and had been instrumental behind a resolution opposing India’s anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act in 2020. The Act, passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi, openly discriminates against Muslim refugees coming to India from the neighbouring countries.   


Harbhajan Singh Atwal was presented with a Human Rights Defender certificate on Sunday, February 12,  at Gurdwara Sukh Sagar Sahib, New Westminster, BC for his continued advocacy for the release of political prisoners. 

The certificate was given to Atwal by Gurpreet Singh, the cofounder of Radical Desi, an online magazine that covers alternative politics.

While addressing the congregation, Singh raised the ongoing issue of Sikh political prisoners in India, and lauded Atwal for his tireless campaign in Metro Vancouver for their release. Protests have been going on both in India and in other countries, including Canada, for the Sikh political prisoners, especially those who are either incarcerated under trumped up charges, or continue to be jailed even after the completion of their sentence. A fierce clash was reported recently when the police tried to stop supporters of the jailed Sikh activists from marching to Chandigarh, the provincial capital of Punjab. A rally for the Sikh political prisoners was also held in Vancouver outside the Indian consulate on January 26, which is the republic day of the world’s so called largest democracy. 

Atwal was among the organizers, who included the officials of Gurdwara Sukh Sagar Sahib. Notably, Atwal has not only been in the forefront of the global campaign for Sikh political prisoners, but also supported initiatives for the release of non-Sikh political detainees, such as physically challenged scholar Prof GN Saibaba. He had helped in getting signatures for the petition started by Radical Desi for the release of Saibaba, who was given a life sentence for merely questioning the power. Saibaba, who is disabled below the waist, was a lecturer at the Delhi University. He is currently suffering with multiple ailments, and was denied temporary relief to visit his mother on her deathbed. Even though international bodies have been asking for his release on compassionate grounds, the Indian government remains adamant. 

Sikh slogans of victory were raised by those in attendance when Atwal received the certificate. 


John Horgan, who has created a legacy of politics of inclusion in a polarized world, will receive the annual Hands Against Racism award in Surrey next month.

Established by Metro Vancouver-based Spice Radio 1200 AM, the award is given every year to people who have stood up against hate.  

As a Premier of British Columbia, Horgan not only brought back the BC Human Rights Commission that was dismantled by the previous Liberal government, but implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also appointed for the first time a Parliamentary Secretary for anti-racism initiatives, and introduced race-based data legislation to combat systemic racism.  

Horgan stepped down from the Premier’s office last year due to health issues, in spite of his continued popularity across the province.

Spice Radio CEO Shushma Datt announced on Thursday that the award will be presented on Sunday March 19 at Surrey Arts Centre, close to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.   

Datt started a campaign against racism on the birth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr in 2015, encouraging participants to dip their hands in colour and leave a palm print on a white sheet alongside a message against bigotry. The idea was to celebrate Holi, an Indian festival of colours and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination together.

Horgan had previously visited Spice Radio in 2019 to participate in the campaign. He scribbled down, “Human Rights! Respect! Inclusion!!” alongside his handprint, which is currently framed and greets everyone in their office.

Datt strongly believes that Horgan deserved it for taking into embrace everyone, and for speaking out for all the minorities, be they the Muslims, Jews or people of  Asian heritage who faced a backlash in the wake of COVID 19.   

Horgan joins the list of trailblazers and strong voices for change who have been honoured by Spice Radio in the past.

The very first recipient of the Hands Against Racism award in 2016 was Baltej Singh Dhillon. The first turbaned Sikh RCMP officer faced a racist backlash from both within and outside the force.

The second annual award went to Sunera Thobani, a Muslim academic who faced hostility for questioning U.S. foreign policies following the 9/11 terror attacks. This was done to challenge growing Islamophobia under Donald Trump.

The following year, in 2018, Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith and antiracism educator Alan Dutton were honoured for standing up for minorities and amplifying the stories of white allies in an ongoing struggle against intolerance. Dutton has been receiving serious threats from white supremacists.

In 2019, Indigenous activist, Cecilia Point, and South Asian activist Niki Sharma, now Attorney General, were presented with awards for breaking sexist and racist barriers.

Point has been in the forefront of annual marches in memory of missing and murdered indigenous women, while Sharma has spoken out on behalf of racialized people who encounter a blatantly racist electoral system while running for office in the City of Vancouver.

In 2020, police officer-turned activist Kal Dosanjh and social justice activist, Harsha Walia, were honoured. Dosanjh is heading Kidsplay Foundation, which educates youths to avoid racism and gang life; Walia is a die-hard grassroots level activist who has written two books and coauthored a third.

In 2021, Tammy Hu and Kamika Williams received the awards.

Hu spearheaded a fight against offensive news headlines that described COVID-19 as a "China virus".

Since the novel coronavirus broke out in China, hate crimes against people of Asian heritage have sharply increased in Metro Vancouver.

By honouring Hu, Spice Radio wanted to send a strong message to those involved in anti-Asian racism.

Williams, then-chair of the Anti-Racism Coalition of Vancouver, was honoured for her efforts behind Black Shirt Day campaign, a day to honour Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2022, the Indigenous designer Jennifer Sherif was one of the two recipients of the annual Hands Against Racism awards.    

Sherif was given an award for making special pins in memory of the victims of Indian residential schools. With the recent findings of the unmarked graves of Indigenous children at these former sites, this issue has come into the limelight internationally.   

Sherif’s pins represent the orange shirt, an idea of Phyllis Webstad, who went to an Indian residential school as a child. Following the discoveries of unmarked graves, people in Canada began sporting orange shirts in large numbers to show their solidarity with First Nations.  

The second recipient was Annie Ohana, a renowned antiracism educator and social justice activist.

Ohana has been a part of many grassroots movements and is a strong defender of human rights. She has been a tireless ally of Indigenous communities, immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized groups.   




Radical Desi organized the free screening of a BBC film which has created a sensation in India on Sunday, January 29 in Surrey, BC.

The two episodes of India: The Modi Question, remain out of bounds in the world’s so called largest democracy.

Not only has the right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi restricted its screening in India, dozens have been detained for making an attempt to show it in public space.

The documentary takes a critical look at the functioning of Modi, under whose rule attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have grown ever since he was elected as the leader of India in 2014.

The Indian establishment got riled up following the relay of the first episode by BBC, exposing Modi’s complicity in the 2002 Muslim massacre in Gujarat. At the time, Modi was the Chief Minister of the coastal state, where thousands of Muslims were murdered after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire, leaving more than 50 passengers dead. Modi had blamed the incident on Muslims and allegedly instigated violence against the minority community.

The Indian government declared the documentary "propaganda", and its officials tried to muzzle the voices of those who promoted it on social media. Among them is the Surrey-based editor of weekly Chardikala Gurpreet, Singh Sahota, who shared his first-hand experience of being served a notice by Twitter at the behest of the Indian government.

Radical Desi, an online magazine that covers alternative politics, held the event to show solidarity with Sahota and others who are facing intimidation in India.

The screening was organized on the birthday of the slain Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was reportedly murdered by the Hindu supremacists for opposing the BJP in 2017. Lankesh had translated a book on the Gujarat violence authored by famous reporter Rana Ayyub in Kannada.

Progressive Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana read a poem dedicated to Lankesh at the beginning of the program, which started with a moment of silence in memory of the six worshippers who were killed in a hate crime in Quebec on January 29, 2017.

Radical Desi Director Gurpreet Singh pointed out that while Canadian politicians, particularly of Indian heritage, pay tributes to the victims of the Quebec violence; they have remained silent on the actions of an “Islamophobic government” in New Delhi.

The screening was followed by speeches and a question and answer session. Those who spoke on the occasion included anti-racism activist Imtiaz Popat, a Muslim of Gujarati heritage, as well as anti-racism educator Annie Ohana, human rights activist Sunil Kumar, and freelance writer Kanwal Gill.  


To Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party MP  


Dear Rahul,  

Welcome to Punjab. It is good to see you leading Bharat Jodo Yatra during these difficult times. This initiative was much needed ever since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. It would have been better had all the non-BJP parties come together to start it. However, it goes to your credit for making the beginning.   

It is encouraging to notice that the people are giving a warm welcome to the march wherever it goes. It is a clear message to those in power in New Delhi. The current rulers, who had no historical role in the freedom movement, are today bent upon demonizing anyone questioning their sectarian politics as “anti-national” or the part of a so-called “Tukde Tukde Gang” (band of people determined to break the country). Bharat Jodo is a good answer to those who are actually dividing the nation in the name of Hindu supremacy.  

That said, you need to do some introspection over the present state of affairs. Modi and his party did not emerge out of nowhere. Your self-styled secularist party, which ruled India for most years since it gained freedom in 1947, has contributed to a situation that helped the BJP’s ascendance to power with a brute majority.  

You recently said that under Modi two kinds of India exist: one for the super-rich and the other for the poor and marginalized, besides the working people. That statement itself is flawed.  

You must first acknowledge that this was the case even under the Congress government that first introduced neoliberal economic policies, widening the gap between the rich and the poor.  

In fact, you could have said something else which you never dared to. Under Modi, India is divided between Hindu majoritarianism and the minorities. Since you are an intelligent man, it is hard to understand why you did not articulate like that. The only possible explanation is that you lack courage to challenge the Hindu majority which has been completely polarized by Modi.  

Honestly, I am not surprised, considering how the leaders of your own party came to the defence of Modi, when he was described as the butcher of Gujarat by a Pakistani leader, and rightfully so. What I couldn’t fathom though, was why Congress is being so kind to him, when your own mother once called him a merchant of death for his complicity in the 2002 Muslim massacre?  Is it okay to call a spade a spade within the country, and not to accept the truth being told by a neighbour? Why such hypocrisy?  

That brings me to my next point. The Gujarat pogroms were a copy of the 1984 Sikh Genocide engineered by none other than your father. It was funny that you tried to evoke his legacy when your march began. What sense does this make? On one hand, you are trying to mobilize people against Modi and his hate politics, while on the other you try to glorify your father who was a problematic figure. It was he who introduced the culture of impunity, giving Modi a chance to do the same to win elections by persecuting another minority community. 

As we head to 2024, the entire country faces what the two percent Sikhs faced in 1984. The toxic environment created in the last 40 years was the result of the actions of your dad and grandmother, who ordered the invasion of the Golden Temple Complex.  

Despite all this, the Sikhs in Punjab have been generous enough to acknowledge the appointments by Congress of a Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and that of Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister of the state. The latter’s appointment was considered more significant, as he had resigned from the Congress in protest against the ugly events of 1984. But beyond that, what? No honest soul-searching by the Congress as an institution was ever attempted. The senior leaders who were involved in the genocide continued to be shielded by your party shamelessly. No sincere apology was made, except a very weak one by Manmohan Singh. The accountability of your father was never fixed.  

You should be thankful to the Sikhs who took you into their embrace when your Yatra entered Punjab. The same community gallantly kissed the gallows during the freedom movement, chose to live with India after the 1947 partition, defended India's borders and served food grain to the entire country, even laid down their lives more than the Hindus during the Khalistani militancy while opposing the demand for a separate homeland. In recent times, they challenged the growth of Hindu nationalism in Punjab and never accepted Modi, and yet your eyes are shut.  

Maybe someone needs to tell you that the Sikhs follow the Guru Granth Sahib, a very unique holy book that includes the hymns of the saints of different faith groups from all over India. Your idea of United India might have enamoured many people, but the Sikhs understand better than anyone else what true unity and secularism means, because that’s what the Guru Granth Sahib preaches.  

It’s a shame that the Congress goons burnt down Sikh gurdwaras and did not even spare their scriptures during 1984. It is time for you to step forward and make a genuine apology on behalf of your father, instead of making a false hero out of him, abandon his buddies involved in the carnage, acknowledge the sins of the party, and ask for the immediate and unconditional release of the Sikh political prisoners whose lives were turned upside down because of what happened in 1984. After all, it was state violence that turned them into separatists, so why should they continue to suffer for taking up arms in the absence of justice? 

Sikhs are forgiving people if you only ask for forgiveness with a clean heart instead of taking their support for granted.   

It’s time to show some statesmanship.  

Take care and good luck with the rest of your march for a pluralist India.  

Gurpreet Singh  



Gurpreet Singh  

As he approaches the age of 40 (he turns 38 on January 6), the global fan following of the prominent Punjabi singer-turned-actor Diljit Dosanjh continues to grow.  

Dosanjh, who comes from the minority Sikh community in India, gives hope to many like him, not only back home, but also in countries like Canada.   

For practising Sikhs, keeping long hair and tying turban is integral to their identity. Dosanjh therefore is no exception. However, facial hair and turbans can become a challenge if one is struggling to find a place in the Indian cinema and entertainment industry in a Eurocentric environment. But the 39-year-old native of the village Dosanjh Kalan, Punjab has already broken that glass ceiling with his talent.  

After having started his career as a singer, he gradually stepped into the field of acting in Punjabi cinema that eventually opened doors for him in Bollywood, where caricaturing of the Sikh characters has been too common.   

Indian films have constantly promoted stereotypes about the Sikhs. A number of Sikh men who began acting in the Hindi movies years ago, had to cut their hair to fit in and become part of the mainstream. This enabled big names like Dharmendra to be popular, but they couldn’t think of being accepted in their traditional attire.  

Perhaps with the changing times, Dosanjh was able to make it to Bollywood without giving up his identity. Not only was he able to perform with renowned stars such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma, Kiara Advani and Akshay Kumar, he received a lot of love and admiration from them.  

In Canada too, he made history in 2022 when he became the first Indian artist to perform at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, according to CBC. It was a sold-out show in a country which has a history of anti-Sikh racism, affecting mainly turbaned men, apart from those with shorn hair and dark skin.  

It is not surprising to see Fruiticana, a famous Punjabi grocery chain in Metro Vancouver, to rope in Dosanjh as its model.   

Interestingly, his original name was Daljit, which means a conqueror. He later converted it to something that means a winner of hearts. In fact, he proved himself to be suited for both, when he took a tremendous risk by his support of protesting Indian farmers, who camped outside New Delhi for almost a year to oppose unjust farm laws imposed by a right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government. 

In order to suppress any voice of dissent, the protestors who came from Punjab in big numbers were branded as Sikh separatists. Dosanjh too was dubbed that way by BJP supporters, including some fellow actors. 

In a highly polarized environment which has impacted Bollywood, it can be emotionally draining for anyone like him to stand up for his people.  

It also goes to his credit for doing justice to the broader issue of human rights by acting in films, like Punjab 1984 and Jogi. The two movies look into the inconvenient issue of 1984, when innocent Sikhs were targeted by the Indian state in the name of a war on terror against separatists, or for the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Incidentally 1984, which left a permanent scar on the Sikh psyche, is also the year of his birth.  

Dosanjh too has his flaws and limitations like everybody else, but making a legacy at such young age is remarkable. 

Happy Birth Diljit Dosanjh. Stay blessed.