Posts Tagged ‘ Indian Americans ’

Religion Journal: For Ramadan, India Goes it Alone

By Joanna Sugden for The Wall Street Journal

Muslims start the month-long daytime fast of Ramadan Friday. But not in India.

While most of the world’s Muslims look to Saudi Arabia or follow astronomical calculations to determine when the new moon of the ninth lunar month has arrived – marking the start of Ramadan – India follows the declaration of its own Central Moon Sighting Committee.

“Geographical differences mean we are a day behind Saudi Arabia in terms of lunar months, so we are expecting to start on Saturday,” says Syed Tariq Bukhari, a member of the committee and general secretary of the advisory council at Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid, one of the country’s most important mosques.

At sunset Friday, the 29th day of the eighth lunar month, 21 senior leaders from Delhi’s mosques will meet to decide whether the new moon has been sighted. In the Muslim calendar, months are either 29 or 30 days long.

“It is very difficult to spot a new moon, particularly on the 29th day of the month because it appears for a very short time and is a very thin sliver,” Mr. Bukhari said, adding that the best time to spot a new moon is half an hour before sunset.

“If naturally we are not able to see it because it’s cloudy then we coordinate with the other committees of other cities who have similar geographic circumstances,” Mr. Bukhari said.

The committee then waits for a Shahadah or Islamic witness who has seen the new moon. “The appearance of the witness should be according to Sharia law, which means having a beard and his neighbors should know him as a dependable person as far as being a witness is concerned,” Mr. Bukhari added.

If no credible Islamic witness comes forward, the committee waits until between 80 and 90 other witness statements on sightings are collected by moon sighting committees across the country. Then it declares the start of Ramadan.

If the moon isn’t sighted at all in the last days of the lunar month, the committee waits until the first day of the ninth lunar month – which this year is on Sunday – to declare that Ramadan has begun. It announces the start of the fast via the media, to the government and over loud speakers from mosques.

Zasarul Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body for Muslim organizations, says the timing of Ramadan should always be based on local sightings of the moon.

“Outside the Subcontinent they are following Saudi Arabia, which is technically wrong. The scholars say that you should wait to see the new moon physically before starting Ramadan,” he told India Real Time.

Mosques in the southern Indian state of Kerala go by Saudi Arabian timings because they have close links with the Middle East, according to Mr. Bukhari. Those in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir go by Pakistan’s declaration as they are more geographically in line with the country, he adds.

The Fiqh Council of North America, which rules on matters of Islamic jurisprudence, says Muslims should follow precise astrological calculations to decide the start of the fast.

In sunlight hours during Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food, water, sex, smoking and oral medicine in order to bring desire under self-control and to focus on prayer and Allah.

This year, the fast coincides with the London Olympics, so Muslim athletes will have to decide whether to observe it and risk a dent in their performance or exempt themselves and carry out the fast once they finish the competition.

Maher Abu Rmeileh, a Palestinian Judo champion who is competing at the Games, told the BBC that he would not be observing Ramadan this year. “Scholars recommended me not to fast and said that I represented my nation not just myself, so once I return from the games I will have to make up for it,” he said.

Such a clash only happens once every 44 years and the International Olympic Committee has said it will look into the possibility of avoiding such a conflict in future, once London 2012 is over.

People exempt from fasting include pregnant women, children who haven’t reached puberty, menstruating women, breast-feeding women, the elderly, travelers and the chronically ill.

Mr. Khan said those who are sick or elderly are allowed to give to charity instead of fasting. If they are determined to observe Ramadan, they should consult their doctor, he added.

Joanna Sugden is freelance journalist living in Delhi. Before coming to India in 2011 she spent four-and-a-half years as a reporter at The Times of London, covering religion and education. You can follow her on Twitter @jhsugden.


Haley’s Comment

As Reported By Robert Walker for The Huffington Post

Like a comet streaking across the heavens, Governor Nikki Haley’s comment on The View about women not caring about contraception is drawing a lot of attention. And rightly so.

Poll after poll suggests that women do care about contraception. Case in point: Mitt Romney’s plan to shut down the family planning clinics run by Planned Parenthood has cost him dearly. His support among women has dropped precipitously in the past few months as voters learn more about his views on family planning.

When Haley and other Republican leaders opine about the lack of voter interest in contraception, it’s more wishful thinking than political insight. They recognize that the positions taken by the GOP presidential aspirants on family planning may help them in the primaries, but it will undoubtedly hurt them in the general election. As a result, they want to change the subject in the worst way.

Unfortunately for them, comments like those made by Governor Haley do nothing to shift voter attention to the issues they want to talk about, like deficits and the economy. To the contrary, they reinforce the idea that Republicans are tone-deaf on women’s issues.

Haley’s comment, in particular, appears to suggest that Republican leaders, even women like her, don’t care about a women’s access to contraception. Before making her claim, maybe she should have checked in with another Republican leader, Senator Olympia Snowe, who earlier this week said that the political attacks on contraception were “retro.”

What’s even more “retro,” however, is the unspoken half of Haley’s comment. By suggesting that women don’t really care about contraception, she’s suggesting that men could care even less. So much less that it’s not even worth discussing.

Polls, of course, suggest to the contrary. While men may feel less strongly than women do, they also care about contraception. Most men recognize that they also benefit when women are able to determine the number and timing of their pregnancies. Some men may want to keep women “barefoot and pregnant,” but it’s a pretty small minority. This is, after all, the 21st century.

As governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley ought to appreciate the critical need for family planning services. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. According to the Guttmacher Institute, South Carolina’s rate of unintended pregnancy is significantly higher than the national average. In 2006, 52,000 South Carolina residents had an unintended pregnancy, a rate of 58 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Guttmacher report that births resulting from these unintended pregnancies cost the state and federal governments $254 million in 2006.

And South Carolina’s teenage pregnancy rate, while it’s been declining in recent years, is still about 25 percent higher than the national average according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A poll released earlier this year indicated that 95 percent of South Carolinians believe that teenage pregnancy is an important issue, with 85 percent supporting school-based sexuality education. Maybe, Governor Haley should go on a listening tour in South Carolina before declaring that women don’t care about contraception.

Many regard Governor Haley as a rising political star in the political firmament. She’s frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential selection. Given Romney’s “gender gap,” adding a woman to the ticket might be a smart move, but, maybe he should find a woman who understands how women — and men — genuinely feel about contraception.

Governor Haley’s comment, like the famed Halley’s comet, will soon fade from public view, but the issue of contraception will not fade anytime soon. The war on contraception is real. State cutbacks, like those in Texas, are forcing family-planning clinics to close their doors, and if GOP leaders succeed in their efforts to eliminate Title X, the federal program that provides low-income women with improved access to family planning, more shutdowns will inevitably occur.

That’s why it’s so critically important that women — and men — pledge to speak out in support of reproductive health and rights. Don’t let the Governor Haleys of the world speak for you.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note– We profiled Governor Nikki Haley a few days before she was elected as the first Indian born female governor as well as minority woman governor of a US state and wished her well here. However, her party and ideals diametrically are opposed to ours as Democratic voters in the US elections as many Pakistani Americans now are. Thus, some of her ideas and beliefs are not necessarily our own, but we still wish her well as she is a fellow Desi~

Indian-Americans say Haley’s achievement makes them proud

As Reported by The Times of Inida
Describing the swearing in of Nikki Haley as Governor of South Carolina as a “proud” moment for Indian-Americans, eminent members of the community have expressed hope that she would serve as an inspiration for younger generation to join the political mainstream of the US.

“Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina made all Indian-Americans proud. She is an inspiration and a role model to all women in the US and India. Governor Haley is the new face and a positive message of the conservative Republican Party,” said Puneet Ahluwalia, who is from Republican Party of Virginia.

It was heartening to read her wonderful speech where she invoked her heritage, her ancestry, her parents and upbringing right from the start that how proud she is to be of Indian heritage, Sampat Shivangi, who is from Mississippi and a past delegate of the Republican National Conventions, said. “Sometimes few of us would hesitate to associate.”

Bindu Kansupada, a cardiologist, travelled all the way from Philadelphia to attend the ceremony, which he termed as a momentous occasion for the Indian-American community.

“It is a great moment not only for South Carolina, but also for entire India. This is a monumental achievement for our diaspora. She talked about India in her inaugural speech – what family values mean, what upbringing means by Indian parents in a conservative State,” Kansupada said.

Besides attending the inauguration yesterday, most of the Indian-Americans, who travelled to South Carolina, took part in the inaugural gala later in the night and an appreciation event hosted by the local community.

Indian-Americans from as far as California, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Texas attended the day-long function, that ended with a gala in the night, said Jody Venkatesan, national treasurer, Republican Indian Committee. “It is a proud moment for every Indian Americans,” he said.

South Carolina’s “first female governor happens to be an Indian-American woman,” noted Bapinidu Kuchipudu, Chairman of the New Jersey Chapter of the Republican Indian Committee, who along with several Indian-Americans travelled from New Jersey to attend the historic occasion.

“We are very proud to be here. This would give inspiration to the second generation Indian-Americans to be more active politically. Nikki Haley’s election gives a lot of message to the Indian-Americans across the country, particularly younger generation born and raised here,” he said.

Shivangi said Indian-Americans have come a long way and “we have two Governors (Haely and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana) both in southern part of US which says lot that Indian- Americans have made tremendous stride in occupying the highest offices…. We still are looking for someone to get elected into US Congress and US senate and I do not see the days are too far.”

India Link in US: Nikki Haley Creates History as First Woman Governor

As Reported by The Hindustan Times

Parents of both Nikki Randhawa Haley, who on Tuesday won the governor’s election in South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal, the other Indian American governor of Lousiana, were born to immigrants from Punjab. Nikki Haley is the first woman and the second person of Indian origin after Bobby Jindal to become governor in the US. Jindal won the top job in Louisiana state in 2007.

While Nikki’s father Ajit Singh came to the US from Amritsar, Bobby Jindal’s (who name before his conversion to Christianity was Piyush Amrit Jindal) father Amar Jindal came from Malerkotla, not far from Amritsar.

Nikki’s victory is another sweet moment for Amritsar because the first Indian American Congressman Dalip Singh Saund, who served three terms (1957-1963) in the US Congress from California, also came from that city, the home of the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s most famous shrine.

Nikki, whose family is running a garment showroom called Exotica International in West Columbia since 1976, has been serving as a legislator in the South Carolina state assembly since 2004.

“I don’t do anything halfway – I’m in this race to win,” Nikki had told IANS in July taking time off her busy campaign for raising money.

“I am confident that come November, the people of South Carolina will send me to the Governor’s Mansion.

“When they (voters) do, I will immediately get to work to give them progress that makes them proud.”

Asked whether her Sikh background will matter in the race, she had said,”What matters most in South Carolina – and I imagine elsewhere in the country – is not the personalities of the candidates but the message they carry.

“Our message of bringing good government back to the people of this state, creating jobs by reforming our tax code so it’s flatter and fairer, and reminding government of the value of a dollar resonates with all the people of this state.

“I am very proud of my background and how I was raised. Just as in 2004 (when her opponents had raised the issue of background) I will hold my head up high and focus on what I can do for the people of this state.”

Nikki beat Democrat Vincent Sheheen who tried to steal her conservative agenda by projecting himself as “pro-life, pro-gun rights and pro-jobs”.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s  Note 11/03/2010We at Pakistanis for Peace want to congratulate Nikki Haley for winning the governorship of South Carolina in a very tough and hard fought race. Both as an American as well as ethnically being a person from the Indian subcontinent aka Desi, we are proud to see her elected to serve as governor, despite disagreeing with her party on many issues.

Her rise as well as that of Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to the top of American politics is a source of pride for all Desis, be they Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, etc. We invite people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to join our Facebook group at Pakistanis for Peace and strengthen those who support peace between India and Pakistan and around the world. To join, clik

Meet Nikki Haley, the Next Indian American Governor of a US State

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

Nikki Haley is not destined to be the first Indian American governor of a US state. No that honor already belongs to Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Haley however is poised to do something greater and that is to become the first minority female governor as she competes for South Carolina’s highest office on Tuesday November 2.

Already the first Indian to hold office in South Carolina, she currently serves as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from the 87th district. A past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, she is a CFO and an accountant by trade who worked in her mother’s apparel business that has grown into a multi-million dollar company.

Although born to Sikh parents, she converted to Methodism after marrying her husband Michael Haley and describes herself as a Christian. Her religious conversion as well as her ethnicity has not hampered her dreams of becoming the first female governor of South Carolina.  Neither have allegations of extramarital affairs or reports of paying taxes late.

Nikki Haley’s candidacy received a boost when Sarah Palin and Tea Party officials gave her their backing for the election and she is leading her opponent, Democrat Vincent Sheheen, in most polls. If she wins, this will not be the first time she has won in a state where politics is mainly a male run enterprise. In 2004, she challenged and won against Rep. Larry Koon who was South Carolina legislature’s longest serving member, having served 30 years in the House. She is a tough lady who also happens to have a concealed weapons permit and strongly supports gun rights, a staple of Republican Party values.

Aside from Haley, an unprecedented number of Indian Americans are contesting for office this year across the country. There is Manan Trivedi in Pennsylvania running for the House of Representatives in the state legislature. Others running for house seats in their states are Ami Bera in California, Raj Goyle in Kansas, Ravi Sangisetty in Louisiana, where Bobby Jindal is the governor, and Surya Yalamanchili in Ohio.

After making inroads into American boardrooms with top jobs in the corporate world such as Vikram Pandit, the CEO at Citibank and Indra Nooyi, the boss at PepsiCo, Indian Americans are exploring opportunities in politics which is good for America as more involvement by minorities in public service makes the country stronger and shows that there is room for everyone at the top. Many other minorities also can take encouragement from her candidacy and be mindful that race and ethnicity is not always a barrier for running for office and that the right candidate and platform can land a person in the governor’s mansion.

Should Nikki Haley be successful in winning the governorship of South Carolina, she will instantly become one of the rising young stars of the Republican Party and a face for women leaders the world over. Regardless where you stand on the political aisle, her candidacy and subsequent election will be a turning point in the US for Indian Americans and South Asians who have become an indispensable part of the nation’s fabric.

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s  Note 11/03/2010We at Pakistanis for Peace want to congratulate Nikki Haley for winning the governorship of South Carolina in a very tough and hard fought race. Both as an American as well as ethnically being a person from the Indian subcontinent aka Desi, we are proud to see her elected to serve as governor, despite disagreeing with her party on many issues.

Her rise as well as that of Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to the top of American politics is a source of pride for all Desis, be they Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, etc. We invite people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to join our Facebook group at Pakistanis for Peace and strengthen those who support peace between India and Pakistan and around the world.

Republican Accuses Indian American Challenger of Playing Race Card

As Reported By The Hindu

A Democratic Indian American Congressional candidate for the November elections to the US House of Representatives has been accused by his rival of playing the race card.

“The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money,” Mark Campbell, spokesman of sitting Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach, told Congressional newspaper ‘The Hill’ in an interview.

As per latest news reports, Geralch is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Manan Tridevi in his Pennsylvania 6th District. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is headed to Philadelphia to raise money for him.

Cutting across party lines, the community, which has one of the highest per capita incomes across all the ethnic groups in the US, are contributing significantly for all the six Indian American candidates who are running for a record number of Congressional seats this year.

“Dr Manan Trivedi is running a campaign focused on the Pennsylvania families and businesses struggling in this economy. Gerlach, on the other hand, is making these ethnic charges to distract voters from his record of supporting the economic policies that created this recession,” Kathy Kulkarni, president of the Indian American Leadership Initiative (IALI), said in a statement.

Noting that Trivedi is now one of the Democratic Party’s top Congressional candidates, IALI said: “Let’s make Jim Gerlach regret the day his campaign attacked the Indian American community.”

It also urged the community to make a generous contribution to Trivedi’s campaign.

Terming it as an incredible accusation to make in an American political campaign where it is quite common for candidates from both parties to seek support from ethnic organisations, IALI said: “You would never see Gerlach attack an Italian American, Jewish American or Greek American candidate for raising money from their ethnic communities.”

It is ludicrous for Gerlach to say an Indian American candidate should live by different rules, Kulkarni said.

“His campaign statement shows disdain for the Indian American community and the Congressman should apologise immediately,” Kulkarni demanded.

In an election which has seen the largest number of Indian Americans running for office, this is not the first time that a candidate has experienced an attack by his/her political opponent in racial or ethnic lines.

Last month in Kansas, Republican Mike Pompeo apologised to his main rival Democrat Raj Goyle after his campaign tweeted a link to a blog post that included a racial slur aimed at Goyle and labelled President Obama as a Muslim.

The Pompeo campaign said the link to the post was sent in an error. “The statements of the blogger in no way reflect my views,” the Republican said in a statement. “There is no place in campaigns or in public discourse for language of this nature,” he added.

In California, Democratic nominee and Indian American Ami Bera returned the USD 250 received from a donor affiliated with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CARI), a group whom his Republican rivals alleged is linked with terrorists.

CARI, however, has denied these charges.

Bera has alleged that his rival Republican Congressman Dan Lungren’s campaign has been using the diversionary tactics of “fear and race” in order to deflect from jobs, the economy and healthcare — what his campaign is all about.

Lungern’s campaign denies such an allegation.

“Was it race-baiting when Barbara Boxer withdrew an award from the very same CAIR executive director? Bera is a rookie candidate making rookie mistakes,” a spokesman of Lungern told ’The Hill’

The other three Indian Americans running for the Congress are Reshma Saujani, who is giving a tough primary challenge to Congressman Carolyn Maloney in New York; Ravi Sangisetty, running for the seat left open by Congressman Charlie Melancon and Surya Yalamanchili who is challenging Republican Congressman Jean Schmidt in Ohio.

While all the six Indian American candidates running for the seats in US House of Representative are Democrats, leading the community is the Republican Nikki Haley who is running for the gubernatorial race.