Noteworthy News and Analysis from Around the World

In-Depth Coverage of Issues Concerning the Global Sikh Community Including Self-Determination, Democracy, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Antiracism, Religion, and South Asian Geopolitics

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"Until the mid-19th century, firefighting was left mostly to a mishmash of volunteer crews and private fire insurance companies. In New York City, according to accounts in The New York Times in the 1850s and 1860s, firefighting often descended into chaos, with drunkenness and looting. So almost every country moved to what today’s health insurance lobbyists [in the US] might label 'socialized firefighting.' "

-- NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for journalism)

Source: The New York Times, September 2, 2009.

"If you own your own home free and clear, people will often refer to you as a fool. All that money sitting there, doing nothing."

-- ANTHONY HSIEH, C.E.O., Lending Tree, 2006, Two years before prices of homes started falling and triggered a global economic crisis (of course, unless you own the home outright, falling prices can mean owner end up owing more than what the house is worth)

Source: A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis, 2009.

"While most Americans dread unemployment, [DeSantis's] ability to choose unemployment freely seems perverse."

-- Steven P. Millies, Aiken, S.C., The day after A.I.G.'s Jake DeSantis published a letter in the New York Times resigning because he was asked to return his quarter-million-dollar retention bonus.

Source: Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, March 26, 2009.

"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."


Source: The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, p. 50

"In the United Kingdom, the law regarding cruelty to animals draws an important moral line at whether the animal is a vertebrate: as far as the law is concerned, you may do what you like to a live worm or fly or shrimp, but not to a live bird or frog or mouse. It's a pretty good place to draw the line, but laws can be amended, and this one was. Cephalopods - octopus, squid, cuttlefish - were recently made honorary vertebrates, in effect, because they, unlike their close mollusc cousins the clams and oysters, have such strikingly sophisticated nervous systems."


Source: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, p. 8

"The history of celibacy is far more interesting than the church led the young adherents to believe. . . . The willful blindness started with Scripture. In the Gospel, for example, not only is it never stated that Jesus was celibate, it is explicitly and repeatedly mentioned that his disciples were not. What's more, in order to maintain the illusion that celibacy was practiced by the founders of the faith, they had to ignore James, the brother of Jesus, for if Mary was supposed to be ever-virgin, and Jesus was the only virgin birth, who the hell was this guy?"

"They also ignore history. Though seminarians grew up reciting a profession of faith called the Nicene Creed, they never learned that when the Council of Nicaea was held, in the year 325, the majority of priests and many bishops were married. . . . They did not learn that it was not until the Second Lateran Council, 1139, that marriage became forbidden for clergy, and even then the issue was less about sex than about property. Too many priests were passing their churches down to their sons. . . . The earliest Christians who chose to swear off marriage did so because they believed what was at hand. With Christ due back any day now to redeem the world, you can understand how sex might seem beside the point."

-- PETER MANSEAU (On celibacy in Roman Catholicism)

Source: Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son, pp. 86-87

"O Nanak, without the true name, of what use is the frontal forehead mark of the Hindus or their sacred thread (janeu)?"


Source: Adi Granth, p. 467

"It's the same principle that New Yorker writer James Surowiecki asserted in his best seller The Wisdom of Crowds: large groups of people are inherently smarter than an elite few."

-- CHRIS TAYLOR, describing the Wikipedia project, a free open-source encyclopedia

Source: "It's a Wiki, Wiki World," Time magazine, June 6, 2005

"If you do not go to war, He will punish you sternly, and will replace you by other men."


Source: The Koran, translated by N.J. Dawood, Penguin, 9:37

"He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will surely be among the losers."


Source: The Koran, translated by N.J. Dawood, Penguin, 3:83

"In the Czech lands the martyr is neither hero nor victim, according to [Ladislav] Holy, but the man of conscience who does what he does wittingly and willingly. Those who shaped the Czech concept of martyr also restricted it. Thus victims of fascism and equally those who fought against the brutality of occupation are not deemed martyrs, the first because they were passive recipients of violence and the latter because they used violence."


Source: Martyrdom and Political Resistance edited by Joyce Pettigrew, Amsterdam: V.U. University Press, 1997, p. 129

"gurabaanee hari alakhu lakhaaeaa"

(Through gurbani, the incomprehensible God is comprehended.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 366

"Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, her sons protect her in old age - a woman does not deserve independence."

-- MANU SMRTI (Lawbook of Manu)

Source: Quoted in India: Facing the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Crossette, Indiana University Press, 1993, p. 9

"Drawing on Robber Noblemen and the history of the post-1984 resistance movement, Pettigrew concludes that there is a basic contradiction between Sikh values and the values of Jat Sikh society among which they are embedded. The latter, which are based on force, ultra-competitiveness, and continuously shifting factional alignments for personal aggrandizement, are directly at odds with the Sikh principle of 'the welfare of all' [sarbat daa bhallaa]. It is the Jat Sikh values, insists Pettigrew, that undermined the guerilla movement, and allowed it to be infiltrated and then crushed by the security forces."

-- GURHARPAL SINGH, professor of politics, University of Hull, U.K.

Source: Review of Joyce Pettigrew's The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices in 'What is Happening to the Political Science of Ethnic Conflict' contained in Ethnic Conflict in India: A Case-Study of Punjab, U.K.: Macmillan Press, 1999, pp. 30-31

"In July 2002, representatives of Amnesty International were denied visas to visit and investigate the aftermath of the Gujarat riots."


Source: International Religious Freedom Report 2003, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

"[The Government of India] refused a requested visit by the U.N. Human Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions to evaluate reported violations of the right to life in Kashmir. The Government stated that the N.H.R.C. [National Human Rights Commission] will undertake such investigations. It also denied entry visas to two Human Rights Watch researchers."


Source: India Human Rights Practices, 1994, February 1995

"[Article 25 of the Constitution of India] has the potential of misleading the people regarding the real status of the Sikhism as a religion. As a mark of protest, two Sikh members in the Constituent Assembly, who were representing Shiromani Akali Dal, namely, S. Hukam Singh and S. Bhupinder Singh Mann refused to put up their signatures on the final draft of the Constitution of India."

-- TARLOCHAN SINGH, vice chairman, National Commission for Minorities, India

Source: Speech delivered at the Symposium on Review of the Constitution of India, October 13-14, 2001

"Not to talk of good material even bare version of the amended and updated [Sikh Gurdwaras] Act [1925] is not available either in the market or in the offices of the institution [i.e. the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee or S.G.P.C.] which are created and governed by this Act. This will be the only publication containing amendments made in the Act after 1966."

-- KASHMIR SINGH, professor, Department of Laws, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, India

Source: Commentary on the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925 by Kashmir Singh, Amritsar: G.N.D.U., 2004, p. iii

"The next renaissance in Sikh religion and culture will happen outside India."

-- GURINDER SINGH MANN, Kapany Professor of Sikh Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Source: Quoted in The Rise of Sikhs Abroad by Gurmukh Singh, New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2003, p. 289

"Nanak Shah fakir ne naya chalaya panth. Idhar udhar se jor ke likh mara ik granth. Pahle chele kar liye, pichhe badla bhes. Sir aur safa bandh ke, rakh line sabh kes."

(Nanak Shah, king of fakirs, founded a new community. He collected an assortment of writings and assembled a volume. He gathered a few disciples and then changed his garb. He wound a turban round his head and grew his hair long.)

-- ARYA SAMACHAR, an organ of the Arya Samaj

Source: Quoted in A History of the Khalsa College by Ganda Singh, Amritsar: Khalsa College, 1949, p. 7

"There is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that. . . . The injunctions about the worship of gods, sacrifice, gifts and penance have been laid down in the sastras [scriptures] by clever people, just to rule over [other] people."

-- JAVALI, Ramayana

Source: Quoted in The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity by Amartya Sen, New Delhi: Penguin, 2005, pp. xi-xii

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

-- GEORGE W. BUSH, President, United States of America

Source: Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., September 20, 2001

"People living in Hollenbeck, Los Angeles have a better chance of encountering an act of terrorism from a street gang [domestic terrorism] than they ever will from anything from the Middle East [e.g. Al Qaeda]."

-- AARON SKIVER, Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.)

Source: Homicide in Hollenbeck, Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, C.N.N., January 27, 2006, 11:00 p.m. Eastern

"akal kalaa nah paaiey prabhu alakh alekhan"

(God is not found by intellectual devices; He is unknowable and unseen.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 1098

"so dhanvantaa jis budh bibeyk"

(Wealthy are those who have a discriminating intellect.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 1150

"hindoo anhaa turkoo kaanaa"

(The Hindu is sightless; the Muslim has only one eye.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 875

"God is in truth the whole universe . . . God [is] infinite, omnipresent, . . . , free from fear, . . . , beyond form, . . . , eternal, beyond the birth and rebirth of life, . . . , creator, . . . , never was born, . . . , beyond beginning and end, . . . , all-powerful, all-knowing, . . . , beyond the tree of life and time, . . . , never-created."


Source: The Upanishads, Translated and Selected by Juan Mascaro, London: Penguin, 1965, pp. 85-97

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier [for everyone to agree], just so long as I'm the dictator."


Source: The president-elect speaking at a photo-op with congressional leaders during his first trip to Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.; a video clip of the quote was aired by C.N.N. on December 18, 2000

"The United States (a society based on a passion to punish others) has more people, per capita, locked away in prisons than any other country."


Source: Imperial America by Gore Vidal, New York: Nation Books, 2005, pp. 6-8

"More Indians are killed each year by their own police and security apparatus than were killed during the entire seventeen-year dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile."

-- BARBARA CROSSETTE, former New Delhi bureau chief, The New York Times

Source: India: Facing the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Crossette, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993, p. 104

"Considering I had no particular interest in weapons, I was disturbed when it was widely published that I had propounded the policy of 'bullet for bullet.' I had not made any such statement!"

"If proof is required, the daily newspapers of the early part of April 1986 will bear me out. Only the Hindustan Times of 11 April carried a story with my supposed quote. If I had used the words 'bullet for bullet' to a group of newsmen at Batala the previous day, as stated by the newspaper, I am sure that every other paper would have carried it too. The fact that only one journalist reported it indicates that it was an inspired quote. R.D. Pradhan, the former union home secretary, in his book My Years With Rajiv Gandhi, states that it was Arun Nehru, the then minister of state for internal security, who had put these words in the mouth of the Hindustan Times correspondent. Arun Nehru did phone me the next morning, asking me to keep up the good work! He kept laughing over the phone, praising the choice of words! At that time I did not know that he was the real author of the quote."

"Since the phrase was catchy, all other newspapers began to use it too. How could they have missed it in the first place when their correspondents had been present at the news conference addressed by me? I did not have the heart to refute the statement at that time because the morale of the Hindus in Punjab had been boosted when the story broke out. I felt sorry for them because innocent people were being killed for no reason at all. Statements like 'bullet for bullet' were their only windows to hope."

"The Sikhs, however, were angry and felt that it was an affront to their community. How they came to that collective conclusion I do not know. Chief Minister Barnala was upset. He advised me against making such statements, and though I tried to convince him that I was not guilty, I did not succeed."

"Finally, I had to live with that phrase and continue to do so. Everybody believes that I was the author of the phrase. At one point of time even I began to believe that I may have said it and I tried to explain to myself that I must have used the phrase in the context of self-defence. When seven of my policemen had been shot dead by terrorists just a few days before that press conference at Batala, I had said that I would train my men to defend themselves. Of one thing I am absolutely certain, and that is, revenge has never been a part of my mental, cultural or psychological make-up."


Source: Bullet for Bullet: My Life as a Police Officer by Julio Ribeiro, 1998, pp. xiii-xiv.

"veda kahahi vakhiyaanha antu na paavanhaa"

(The Vedas expound on God, but they do not know His limits)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 148

"chaare veda kathahi aakaaru"

(All four Vedas speak only of the visible forms of God)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 154

"Hold the police chief K.P.S. Gill and chief minister Beant Singh [responsible if anything happens to me]."

-- JASWANT SINGH KHALRA, general secretary, Human Rights Wing, Shiromani Akali Dal

Source: At a press conference in Amritsar (Punjab, India), February 27, 1995, about six months prior to Khalra's abduction and murder at the hands of the Punjab Police.

"I give you my most solemn assurance - until we kill fifty thousand Hindus, we will not rest."

-- AJAIB SINGH BAGRI, acquited in the bombing of Air-India Flight 182 that killed all 329 aboard

Source: Speech (recorded on video), delivered on behalf of Talwinder Singh Parmar, chief of Babbar Khalsa International, at the founding convention of the World Sikh Organization at Madison Square Gardens, July 28, 1984

"Prophet, make war on the unbelievers . . . Believers, make war on the infidels . . ."


Source: The Koran, translated by N.J. Dawood, Penguin, 9:73, 9:123

"veda kateb kahahu mata jhoote jhootaa jo na vichaarey"

(Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 1350

"If there rise among you a prophet . . . If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; . . . thou shalt surely kill him . . . thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die;"


Source: Deuteronomy (13:1-10), The Old Testament, The Bible

"This path is based upon purely scientific grounds and nothing is to be accepted which cannot be comprehended by facts, natural laws, and phenomena observable in this world. Nothing is to be believed as hearsay or blind faith. . . . The founder of the Radhaswami Faith was an incarnation of the Supreme Creator, Radhaswami Himself."


Source:, accessed October 19, 2005

"kabeer preeti ik siau keey aan dubhidhaa jaai; bhaavey laambe kes karu bhaavey gharari mundaai"

(Kabir, when you are in love with the One God, duality and alienation depart. You may have long hair, or you may shave your head bald.)


Source: Adi Granth, p. 1365

"We have broken the back of the Sikhs and we will get them elsewhere."

-- M.M.K. WALI, foreign secretary, India

Source: Reference to Operation Bluestar, "As It Happens," Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (C.B.C.), Radio 740, June 7, 1984

"In one speech [Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale] exhorted every Sikh to kill 32 Hindus, not 31, not 33 - only 32 he said (in that way the entire population of Hindus would be accounted for)."


Source: Truth, Love & A Little Malice: An Autobiography by Khushwant Singh, New Delhi: Viking, 2002, p. 323

"The fact is that [during the armed movement for Khalistan in Punjab, India] there came to be no distinction between the [Sikh] militants and the [Indian] police."


Source: Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, July 1, 2003

"je hum ko parmesar ouchari hey, te sab narak kund mahi pari hey"

(whosoever addresses me as God shall go to hell)


Source: Vachitar Natak, canto/chapter 6, chaupai/verse 32, Dasam Granth, p. 57

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms."


Source: The New York Times, April 19, 1955

"Christianity is such a silly religion."


Source: Time, September 28, 1992

"I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind."


Source: New York Times Magazine, September 11, 1955

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."


Source: Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

"The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense."

"The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing."


Source: The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, 1794

"There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence."


Source: The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1968)

"Which is it; is man one of God's blunders, or is God one of man's blunders?"


Source: Twilight of the Idols (1889)

"Anyone who knows history will recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people."


Source: Letter to Cardinal Spellman, July 23, 1949

"One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it."


Source: Why I am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell, 1957

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."


Source: "Christian Ethics," Marriage and Morals by Bertrand Russell, 1889

"You shall be born and born again, and die and die again, only to be reincarnated again."


Source: "p. 1020," Guru Granth (also see AG 19)

"Why should I come into the world again? Coming and going is by the Hukam of His Command; realizing His Hukam, I shall merge in Him. When the body, formed of the five elements, perishes, then any such doubts shall end. ... Die while yet alive, and by so dying, be alive; thus you shall not be reborn again."


Source: "p. 1103," Guru Granth (Also see S.S. Kohli's "A Conceptual Encyclopaedia of Guru Granth Sahib")

"Of the eighty four lacs life classes, birth as a human is the best."


Source: Vaars

"You created the 8.4 million (84 lakh) species of beings, and provide for their sustenance."

-- Bhatt Nalh

Source: "Jholna Chhand", Guru Granth (p. 1403)

"In the Sodhi family, is born Arjun, the son of Guru Raam Daas, the holder of the banner of Dharma and the devotee of God."

-- Bhatts?

Source: "Savaiyyas", Guru Granth (p. 1407)

"Vahiguru, Vahiguru, Vahiguru, Vahi Jio"

-- Bhatt Gayand (EOS, p. 386)

Source: "Savaiyyas", Guru Granth (p. 1402)

"I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim."

-- Guru Arjan

Source: Guru Granth (p. 1136)

"[If] this [janeu, the Hindu Brahmin thread] is the sacred thread of the soul; if you have it, then go ahead and put it on me; [If] it does not break, it cannot be soiled by filth, it cannot be burnt, or lost."

-- Guru Nanak

Source: Guru Granth (p. 471)