STOCKTON, CA: August 29, 2011 – Over a hundred minorities from India, including many Sikhs and Dalits, turned out on Saturday evening to greet Congressman Tom McClintock in Stockton, CA.
Opening remarks by Manjit Singh Uppal, President of Stockton Gurdwara Sahib, highlighted the importance of South Asian minorities becoming involved in American politics. He also invited all present to attend the festivities for the 100 year anniversary of Stockton Gurdwara in October 2012.
A number of speakers enthralled the crowd before the congressman spoke. Bhajan Singh Bhinder presented a slideshow about the Sikh pioneers who came to America beginning in 1899. Ravinder Singh Shergill urged Sikhs to be more vigilant about paying attention to American political policies that affect the pocketbooks of all. He strongly praised the congressman, especially for his courage in supporting a balanced budget and opposing increased debt.
The president of Guru Ravidass Sabha (Rio Linda) spoke, as did Mr. Ramesh from Guru Ravidass Sabha. M. R. Paul of Backward And Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF International) delivered a stirring condemnation of the caste system and praised McClintock’s support for the equality of all. Gurmit Singh Khalsa addressed the young people in attendance, encouraging the next generation to carry on.
Rajbir Kaur Baniwal eloquently introduced Congressman McClintock. The congressman held his audience in rapt attention as he spoke about how the American ideal of liberty is very similar to the Sikh tradition. He also stressed the need to avoid increased debt as well as government interference between voluntary business interactions in order to return to a thriving economy.
All speakers on Saturday emphasized the need for unity. Pointing to the roots of the Gurus’ teachings, they strongly admonished against caste discrimination and social division. Stockton Gurdwara was the first Sikh gurdwara built in the United States. The speakers pledged to work together to make the 100 year anniversary of the gurdwara a success and spoke about the special place it holds in the hearts of all Punjabis.
Represented on Saturday were Gurdwara Sahib Ceres, Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Rio Linda), Gurdwara Sahib Stockton, Lodi Gurdwara, West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara, Bradshaw Gurdwara and Sikh Temple Roseville. The evening began with chai and snacks and ended with a gourmet Punjabi dinner. Students from UC Davis and Sacramento State were also in attendance. One young Sikh girl traveled from Toronto to understand how minorities here in the U.S. interact with their representatives.