CHANDIGARH: In a unique effort to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and opening a frontal battle against Indian fascist stratagems and forces, several Sikh organizations, political and social leaders, religious personalities and intellectuals gathered to understand linkages and interconnections between “Neo-fascism, Human Rights and Social Democracy” at a seminar organized under the aegis of Voices For Freedom.
The event also saw Voices For Freedom, vowed to the cause of the human rights movement and inspired by the tireless work and sacrifice of many who have been striving to make our world more egalitarian, conferring the first Guru Tegh Bahadur Award for Lifetime Service in Human Rights on Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd).
The award received an extra sheen when, amidst a galaxy of religious, social, human rights and political leaders, Justice Bains received the shining crystal pillar inscribed with his name from young professional Bibi Navkiran Kaur, the daughter of late S. Jaswant Singh Khalra, himself an iconic figure for Human Rights activism across the globe.
The event, unique in itself as participants heard in rapt attention an intellectually engaged and daring scholar and author, Braj Ranjan Mani, for hours that extended much beyond lunch time. Even then there was no end to those who wanted to engage with the author activist on many aspects of the lecture on the theme “Neo-Fascism, Human Rights and Social Democracy”. (Read excerpted version on page 8-10. For full version, visit www.WorldSikhNews.com).
Interestingly, representatives of many different colors of politics, including Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu of Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani), Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta, H S Dhami and Kanwarpal Singh of Dal Khalsa, Rajinder Singh of Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, lawyer Navkiran Singh, Gurmat Gian Missionary College Ludhiana’s Inderjit Singh Rana, and a large number of university professors, students, lawyers, engaged journalists and activists were among the audience which strove above all partisan lines in an effort to engage with the scholar and his work.
Talking about the Guru Tegh Bahadur award, Rajinder Singh of Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat said the award was instituted in the name of the ninth Master as the Guru laid down his life for the protection of religious rights of people whose religion he did not share.
Justice Bains, who is a veteran human rights champion, having founded and led the Punjab Human Rights Organization for well over two decades, humbly accepted the award and said that the human rights tragedies in Punjab brought him closer to Sikh religious ethos and he found ‘true socialism in the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib’.
Mani, noted scholar and author of the path breaking best seller “Debrahamnising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society” (Manohar, 2005), dwelt at length on the topic, and reaffirmed that neo-brahmanism is the root cause for the present in-equalitarian social and political climate of the country.
He emphasized that there is a need for unity of forces of togetherness to create an exploitation-free society. He clearly demarcated that the so-called minorities are in fact a large majority which is being governed by a brute elitist minority.
He clarified that neo-fascism and neo-imperialism have colluded in recent times to the detriment of peoples’ interests. They control the levers of power and knowledge distribution and are perpetuating a culture of intolerance.
Coordinating the function on behalf of Voices for Freedom, Jagmohan Singh said that irrespective of the difficulties and hindrances in the Indian judicial dispensing system, Voices for Freedom would continue to uphold the cause of human rights. He said that every year, the Guru Tegh Bahadur Human Rights Award would be given to an individual/organization whose work shows a commitment to the cause of human rights.