Category Archives: English Articles

I Am Not a Propagandist

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Propaganda is the organized spreading of partly false and partly true information to assist or damage the cause of a movement, or an ideology etc. I have used the terms ‘partly false and partly true’. When something is partly false, it is not fully true. When it is ‘not fully true’, it is ‘not true’ at all. Also, ‘partly false and partly true information’ actually is ‘misinformation’. To spread misinformation is basically to mislead. Thus, the main purpose of any propaganda is to mislead people. So, propaganda is a form of dishonesty and a propagandist is a dishonest person.

The propaganda or we should say ‘the misinformation’ is always carefully selected for its desired effect. It is designed to influence the thoughts of the audience to further a political, sectarian or commercial agenda by presenting only one side of an argument. And, this is done by deception. A propagandist is not providing information impartially. In order to create the chosen result, such propaganda is usually repeated over a wide variety of media.
Propaganda presents facts selectively, off course deceitfully, to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the half truths presented. The half truth is basically a false statement.

Propaganda can be used as a form of ideological or commercial warfare. When propaganda is used as a form of commercial warfare, it is called advertisement. All kinds of commercial advertisements in print and electronic media are commercial propaganda.

A person trying to influence the religious views of his audience in order to convert them into his sect by presenting only one side of an argument deceitfully is as a matter of fact a propagandist. This is a form of sectarian propaganda. A preacher of righteousness can never indulge in sectarian propaganda. A true saint can never be a sectarian propagandist. A sectarian propagandist is nothing else but a sectarian salesman selling his sectarian nonsense. I have said earlier that a propagandist is a dishonest person. A dishonest person can never be called a religious person. If truth be told, a sectarian propagandist is an agent of evil force.

To propagandise and to educate are two different concepts. To educate means to provide with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose. To educate means to teach, or to inform. When facts are presented without any prejudice, when truth is not hidden, when no misinformation is spread, then it is called providing with knowledge. It is the opposite of ‘to propagandise’.

I am not a propagandist. I am an educator. I am not here to propagandise. I am here to share information. I am not here to spread sectarian propaganda. I am here to spread the message of love and humanity.

I am here to share the idea of freedom. My definition of freedom takes account of every right mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. I also include in this definition the freedom from sectarian blind faith. The rights and freedoms mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are the physical aspect of freedom and the freedom from sectarian blind faith is its psychological and academic aspect. The goal of physical as well as psychological and academic freedom can be reached right the way through the mysticism, that is to say the mystical experience of Ultimate Reality or the God Almighty.

www.AmritWorld.com is not a propaganda website. It definitely is an educational website.

The Two Categories of Religions

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

The term ‘religion’, as we know refers to belief in, or the worship of, the God or the Ultimate Truth. It is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural structures, and world views. At present, it is believed that there are more or less 4, 000 religions in the world.

The foremost goal of any religious ideology is to guide its followers on the path of the Truth and help them achieve their ultimate goal of salvation. To realise this goal, a founder of every religious ideology sets many guidelines for its followers. The followers of such ideologies believe that if a follower follows these guidelines, he will achieve his ultimate target of salvation.

On a later stage, every such religious ideology can develop into a personality cult or religion.

Most of the religions can be divided into two basic categories.

The religions under the first category are based on a few principles. These are ‘religions of principles’.

According to such a religion, to achieve the ultimate goal of salvation, one needs to follow the principles or rules of the religion. In the search of the ultimate reality, one does not require to accept this specific religion itself or accept the founder of that religion his saviour. It means such religions set a few guidelines for a follower. Such religions say that if a follower follows the guidelines, he can achieve the ultimate goal.

The founders of such religious thoughts never claim that they are the ‘last prophet sent by the God’. In fact, they believe that so many spiritual guides had come into this world in the past and so many will come in the future as well.

For example, the religion of Sikhs insists that a seeker of the truth must follow a true Guru, a spiritual guide. However, the holy texts of Sikh religion do not claim that Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion is the only true Guru.

Instead, the Sikh holy texts make reference to many persons who followed other true Gurus and got salvation. For example, Saint Dhruv was born thousands of years ago. He was spiritually guided by sage Narada. Saint Dhruv got salvation. Similarly, Saint Prahlad, ascetic Shukdev, and King Janak got salvation by following the path of their respective true Gurus.

Saint Kabir’s Guru was Saint Ramanand Ji. By following the guidelines of his Guru, Kabir got the ultimate goal of salvation. The holy hymns of Ramanand and Kabir are included in Guru Granth Sahib, the living Guru of Sikh people.

Saint Sain was another disciple of Saint Ramanand. He followed his true Guru Ramanand and got the salvation. His holy hymns are included in Guru Granth Sahib.

Saint Ravidas, Saint Pipa, Saint Surdas, Saint Tirlochan, Saint Namdev, Saint Parmanand, Saint Beni, Saint Sadhna, and Saint Dhanna were not followers of Sikh religion, but they followed their true Gurus and got the ultimate goal of their life. The holy hymns of all these saints are included in Guru Granth Sahib.

Such religions are truly ‘religious ideologies’ based on principles.

The religions under the second category are built around a specific person. Thus, such ideologies are basically personality cults. One needs to accept the specific person as his spiritual leader; otherwise he would be considered an infidel. Such person will go to hell, according to such ideologies. In such personality cults, the founder of the cult is the center of universe and the only messenger of the Truth.

Such ideologies maintain that the founding person of their religion is the last divine guide sent by the God. There will come no spiritual guides after him. The persons who follow him will go to heaven, others will go to hell. The persons who follow him are the true believers of the God, others are infidels. The whole such religion spins around the belief that ‘the founder of our religion is the only true spiritual leader’.

To put it briefly, the first category of religions can be called the ‘religions of principles’. The religions under the second category are basically personality cults.

Sikh Are Not Muslims

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

After a series of four organized attacks launched by Islamist terrorists upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, many Sikhs were attacked in the US, because attackers wrongly believed that they (Sikhs) are Arabs or Muslims.

For example, on September 15, 2001, the 42-year old attacker killed Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona. The attacker, who apparently wanted revenge for September 11, mistook Sodhi for an Arab because of his turban, and his beard.

On August 5, 2012, an attacker named Michael Page killed six Sikhs and wounded four others at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. All of the male victims wore turbans as part of their cultural and religious tradition. The injured included a responding officer, Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot fifteen times at close range.

On May 7, 2013 an elderly Sikh man, Piara Singh was attacked with an iron bar in Fresno, California in a possible hate crime.

On September 21, 2013 Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh professor was brutally attacked in Harlem by a group of 20-30 men who branded him as Osama and Terrorist. It is obvious that the attackers thought that Prabhjot Singh was a Muslim.

All such Sikhs have become subject to discrimination, because their attackers mistakenly believed that their targets are Arab or Muslim. Many of Americans and Europeans do not know that turban wearing Sikhs are not Muslims. This is in the face of the fact that Sikhs are living in the US and Europe for many decades.

Sikhs are not Muslims. There is sufficient information available on internet. (For example, this link provides information on this issue).

Here, I am making just a few points on this issue.

Many would say that Sikhs should not be interested in being identified as ‘not Muslim’. Sikhs should be interested in being identified as who they are, rather than who they are not.

If a specific question is asked to explain difference between Sikh religion and Islam, or Sikhs and Muslims, there is nothing wrong to explain it. If Sikhs are mistaken for Muslims, there is nothing wrong to tell that Sikhs are not Muslims.

Many people mistake Sikhs for Muslims due to their turbans, which often make Sikhs targets of anti-Muslim violence. It is often said that there is difference in Sikh turban and Muslim turban. A few web pages explain such view while trying to describe the difference between ‘Sikh’ turbans and ‘Muslim’ turbans.

Turban is a part of dress in many cultures. Even a few hundred years ago, most of male members of Indian society used to wear turbans. It had nothing to do with religion. Hindu Rajputs used to wear turbans. Hindu Jats used to wear turbans. Hindu Marathas used to wear turbans. Even today, many Rajputs, Jats and other Hindus wear turbans in India. So many Hindu saints wear turbans.

Those Hindus, who do not wear turbans in their daily life, wear it on special occasions, such as marriage etc.

Rasam Pagri (ceremony of turban) is a social ceremony common to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, conducted upon the death of the oldest member in a family, in which the oldest surviving male member of the family is given a turban in the presence of relatives and friends. The ceremony of turban indicates the shift of duty for the welfare of the family from the deceased to the surviving oldest male member.

We find mention of turbans in ancient Hindu scriptures. It means turbans remained a part of dress for thousands of years. Indians have been wearing turban even before the birth of Islam.

Balochs and Pathans wear turbans. It does not mean that they started wearing turbans when they became Muslims. Turbans were part of their dress even before birth of Islam.

If we study old pictures of 18th and 19th centuries, we can see that different styles of turban had nothing to do with religion. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs used to wear same style of turbans. Many Sikhs mistake pictures of old Rajput warriors for old Sikh soldiers. A picture of Amir Sher Ali, an Afghan ruler and a Muslim is widely publicized as that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a Sikh ruler in Punjab.

Even within Sikh circles, Sikhs wear different styles of turbans. Nihang turbans, called ‘Dumala’ are very different to Patiala Shahi turbans. Members of different Sikh sects wear round turbans. Many Sikh women wear turban.

Sikhs, who keep unshorn hair, wear turbans. However, a big number of Muslims do not wear turban.

Sikhs are required to keep their hair unshorn. Muslims are not required to keep their hair uncut according to Islamic rules. Though, many a Muslims keep beard and cut their moustache, majority of Muslims are seen without beards.

Though there is controversy whether Sikhs are allowed to eat meat or not, one thing is sure that a Sikh is not allowed to eat ‘Halal’ meat, the meat that has been slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the shari’a, the Muslim law. In fact, it is a big sin for a Sikh to eat ‘Halal’ meat.

According to Muslim tradition, women are expected to cover their face, though many Muslims say it is not compulsory. On the other hand, there is no such restriction on Sikh women. Instead, the third Guru of Sikhs, Guru Amardas Ji made it a rule that Sikh women should keep their face uncovered. Women with covered face were not allowed to come in the congregation.

The religion of Sikhs is a flag bearer of equality of entire human race and co-existence. The holy text of Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru of the Sikh people is a great evidence of co-existence. Guru Granth Sahib contains holy hymns of Sikhs and non-Sikhs. For example, Bhagat Ramanand Ji was a Brahman, a non-Sikh. Bhagat Namdev Ji, Bhagat Kabir Ji, Bhagat Ravidas Ji were non-Sikhs. Shiekh Farid Ji was a Sufi saint. The contributors of Guru Granth Sahib belonged to different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. They spoke different languages. That is why Sikhs are friendly to people of different religions, cultures, languages, and races etc.

Sikh principles and traditions are compatible with the western values and western society. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sikh religious principles and traditions have no disagreement with this Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the other hand, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, an organisation of Islamic countries adopted their own version of human rights declaration, called the ‘Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam‘ (CDHRI) in 1990. It has been signed by 45 Islamic states. The CDHRI was strongly criticised by the International Commission of Jurists, when it was presented to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1992. This declaration is an Islamic response to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. The United Nations’ Declaration is the western understanding of human rights, which is compatible with Sikh values and traditions.

Terrorists and hate mongers can be found in almost every society, country and ideology. However, we have to see if a society, government or an ideology supports terrorist activities and hatred or not. So far as Sikh religion is concerned, there is no place of terrorism and hatred in Sikh beliefs.

ਭੈ ਕਾਹੂ ਕਉ ਦੇਤ ਨਹਿ ਨਹਿ ਭੈ ਮਾਨਤ ਆਨ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਨਿ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਤਾਹਿ ਬਖਾਨਿ ॥੧੬॥
(੧੪੨੭, ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ).

One, who does not terrify anyone, and who is not afraid of anyone either; says Nanak, listen, O mind! call him a wise person. (1427, Guru Granth Sahib).

Two Sikh-Gurus were executed on orders of Muslim rulers. The fifth Guru, Guru Arjun dev Ji was martyred in Lahore city (now in Pakistan) on orders of Muslim ruler, Jahangir.

The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji was martyred in Delhi on orders of Muslim ruler, Aurangzeb. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was asked to convert to Islam. When he refused to embrace Islam, he was tortured in prison. In order to intimidate the Guru, the qazi, Islamic magistrates made a plan to torture to death, the Sikhs arrested with the Guru before his eyes. They thought that the Guru would embrace Islam out of fear on seeing the Sikhs murdered.

The qazi decreed to cut Bhai Mati Das with a saw first of all. The qazi asked Bhai Mati Das, “Brother, embrace Islam and enjoy the pleasures provided by the government. Moreover when you die as a Muslim, you will go to heaven where there will be streams of milk, many kinds of wine to drink and beautiful women to enjoy. If you do not embrace Islam, your body will be sawn into two.”

Bhai Mati Das replied, “I can sacrifice hundreds of such heavens for my faith. I need neither women nor wine. I see all the happiness in the path of the faith.” By the order of the qazi, the executioners sawed Bhai Mati Das across from head to loins.

Then, the qazi asked Bhai Sati Das to convert to Islam. When he refused, the executioners wrapped Bhai Sati Das in cotton, poured oil over it and set fire to it. Thus he was burned alive.

The Qazi pronounced his Islamic order that Bhai Dayala must either accept Islam or embrace death by being boiled in a cauldron. Bhai Dayala heroically accepted the latter. He was put into a big cauldron full of water which was later heated to the boiling point.

When Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji refused to convert to Islam at any cost, he was then beheaded in Delhi in 1675.

Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh were the two younger sons of the tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. They were arrested along with their grandmother on orders of Muslim governor, Wazir Khan of Sirhind city. Wazir Khan asked both the sons of the Guru to accept Islam. He promised them to give lots of money and rank if they renounce their faith and embrace Islam. The two innocent children faced their adversary courageously, determined to stay firm in their faith.
When they refused to renounce the faith and embrace Islam, the Qazi, Islamic magistrate ordered that they be bricked up alive. The sons of the Guru remained faithful as brick cemented upon brick rose about them forming a wall which rose chest high to suffocate them. As their air supply diminished, the wall gave way and collapsed. Then, the heads of the innocent 7 and 9 year old sons of the Guru were severed from their bodies.

Thousands of Sikhs were martyred when they refused to convert to Islam. For example, Bhai Mani Singh, the priest of Sri Darbar Sahib, mostly known as Golden Temple these days, in Amritsar Sahib City, was ordered by the Governor of Lahore, Zakaria Khan to convert to Islam. When he refused to give up the faith, he was ordered death by dismemberment. He was executed at Nakhaas Chowk, Lahore in 1734.

Thus, Sikhs are not only non-Muslims, but also victims of Islamic extremism.

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More references:

Are Sikhs Muslims?
The Difference Between ‘Sikh’ Turbans And ‘Muslim’ Turbans
The Cairo Declaration On Human Rights In Islam
Bhai Mati Das

Religions Are Just Like Institutions

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

How can we know if an institution provides good education to its students? How do we know if an institution is helping its students to be nice human beings and great citizens?

It is so easy to know. Just see the level of intelligence of its students. Just see how its students behave in their daily life. If students are getting good education, in that case their institution is good, otherwise it is not. If students behave in good manners, then their institution is good, or else it is not. It is so simple rule to know the accurate value of an institution.

If an institution is unable to provide good education to its students, no matter how many beautiful buildings this institution owns, it is a bad institution. No matter how many students an institution has, if it is failed to turn them into a well behaved good citizens, it is a disastrous institution. Beautiful buildings and a big number of students do not make an institution a great one.

To establish a great institution, we first need to adopt a proper syllabus for its students of different classes. We have to prescribe what we want to teach our students. We can teach only if we have learned those things ourselves. We can establish a great institution only if we have strong desire to do something in the service of our society.

After setting a proper syllabus for our students of different levels, we need to select good teachers who can teach our students according to this pre-set syllabus. Teachers are the backbone of any educational institution. If a person does not have a good command over a particular subject, he cannot teach it others at all. Only a well qualified teacher can teach as it should be.

A good educational institution should engage its students in different kinds of social work as well. These are called extra-curricular activities. Students should be engaged in other physical activities, like games etc as well with the intention that they stay healthy.

If a school is providing quality education to its students, they will score good marks in their examinations. The results of examinations tell us if a school is successful or not in its main mission. If results are good, the reputation of the institution will rise. If results are bad, it will give bad name to the institution.

If students perform great in their examinations, people praise their institution. If they indulge in unsocial activities and violence and do nothing good to the society, people understand that they got education from a bad institution.

The ranking of best educational institutions is decided on international and various national levels. This ranking depends on many factors, such as faculty quality, raising people up from poverty, an ethic of service to country, and scientific and humanistic research etc. It means if an institution’s performance is great, it will help it getting great rank. If students of an institution are getting quality education, it raises the rank of the institution. If an institution is giving good results, it elevates the rank of the institution. If students of an institution get jobs easily after completing their courses; it helps a lot to raise the ranking of the institution.

If an institution is failed to provide its students with quality education, if students of an institution are unable to use the education they got from their institution to fit in modern day society, if teachers of an institution incite their students to anti-social activities, if students of an institution are indulged in violence, rapes and murders, it certainly will bring bad name to the institution. No matter how teachers of such an institution talk about it, it is still a worst institution.

If an institution is really great, it does not need any advertisement or publicity to attract new students. Such an institution needs not to employ agents to bring students from other institutions. If an institute is really great, deserving students will come to it automatically.

If a student is not satisfied with his training, he will leave the institution. If he desires so, he will get admission in another institution. Even if a student is satisfied, yet he could seek admission to another institution for further education. In any case, the institute has no right to threat its former students because they left the institution.

Religions are just like institutions. A religion is supposed to provide its students with education on the Sacred. Here, religion is an institution and its followers are its students. Preachers of religion are teachers of this institution.

Good performance by an institution makes it a prestigious organisation. It is same with any religion. If an organised religion performs well in term of humanity, it becomes a respectable ideology. An institution’s performance is delivered by its students and performance of an organised religion is delivered by its followers. If students or followers doing social service and making efforts for the betterment of the society, it will bring praises for their institution or religion. If they are harming the society and humanity, they are damaging reputation of their institution or religion also.

The main goal of any religion is to guide its followers on the path of the Sacred and help them achieve their ultimate goal or salvation. If a religion is able to reach this goal, it can be called a true religion; otherwise it is a false one. In fact, if it cannot lead its followers to the God, it is not a religion whatsoever.

Reputation of an institution depends on its teaching staff. Reputation of an organised religion depends on its priestly class. If teachers of an institution or priests and preachers of an organised religion are doing their job perfectly with pure devotion, the performance of the institution or religion will surely be good. Good performance is judged on the basis of many factors, like educational/religious quality, raising people up from ignorance and poverty, and an ethic of service to the entire humanity etc.

If teachers of an institution or preachers of an organised religion are indulged in immoral activities, it certainly brings bad name for the institution or religion. If teachers or preachers are fulfilling their duty righteously, it helps establishing the reputation of the institution or the religion.

If students of an institution or followers of a religion are indulged in violence, rapes, murders and other anti-social activities, it certainly will bring bad name to the institution or the religion. No matter how teachers of such an institution or preachers of such a religion talk about it, it still will be considered a worst institution or religion. The number of students or followers has nothing to do with good reputation of an institution or a religion. It is often seen that criminal-minded people join bad institutions where not as much of strict restrictions are imposed on students, so that they could indulge in immoral activities freely. Ordinary people judge an institution from the behaviour of its students. General public judges a religion from the actions of its followers.

An institution or a religion needs not trying various methods to attract students of other institutions or followers of other religions. If an institution or a religion is successful in their objectives, other students or followers will automatically come to them. A successful institution does not need to employ agents to catch students of other institutions. A true religion does not need to employ professional missionaries seeking converts.

Often unsatisfied students leave their institution and join other institution of their choice. Often unsatisfied followers leave their religion and embrace other religion of their choice. It is so common that students or followers leave one institution or religion and join other one. A good institution that follows ethics and a true religion will never threat its leaving students or followers. Also, an institution can never force someone to be its student. It is same with a religion. No true religion will ever force someone to be its follower.

Long lasting reputation of an institution or an organised religion depends on many factors, such as what they have to offer, quality of their offering, academic level of their teachers or spiritual level of their preachers, ethics of service, and finally, outcome of their educational or spiritual training. Without a great outcome, an institution or an organised religion can never find a respectable position in this world, no matter how teachers of such an institution or preachers of such a religion talk about it.

Innocent Until Proved Guilty

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Article 11
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

(The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations)

The Part 1 of the article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations says:

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in fact further expands the rights given in Article 10.

Even if a person is indicted with a penal crime, he has the right to be considered innocent until proved guilty.

It is possible that an innocent person is accused of punishable offences. If he is considered guilty even without trial, it is a violation of his basic human rights. One needs to understand the difference between an ‘accused’ and a ‘guilty’. The legal system is supposed to punish a ‘guilty’, not an ‘accused’. First, the offences made by an ‘accused’ should be proven according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence, and if he is proved ‘guilty’, he should be punished accordingly.

‘All the guarantees necessary for a defense’ has been mentioned in the 3rd point of Article 14 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in these words: –

3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:

(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;

(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;

(c) To be tried without undue delay;

(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;

(e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(f) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;

(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.

The Part 2 of the article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

We need to understand this part carefully.

It is possible that an action is considered no crime at a particular time; however on a later stage the same action is considered a criminal act under any national or international law.

For example, according to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, killing a tiger is a criminal offence.

However, if any person had killed a tiger before the passing of this law, he cannot be tried under this penal code.

According to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the minimum imprisonment prescribed is three years which may extend up to seven years.

Now, suppose a person kills a tiger in India. Maximum imprisonment prescribed is seven years according to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. After he committed the crime, suppose the Indian government amends the law and extends imprisonment up to 14 years. The accused when proved guilty cannot be given imprisonment for 14 years. It is simply because when he committed the crime, the maximum punishment was seven years in prison.

In case, he is imprisoned for more than seven years, it is a violation of his basic human rights, according to the Article 11 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Failure to Implement Universal Declaration

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’) December 10, 2013

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration was the first international acknowledgment that all human beings have basic rights and freedoms.

65 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, position of human rights has not been changed very much. Even after 65 years, ordinary people of so many countries do not know what human rights are. No concrete steps have been taken to stop human rights abuses worldwide. The United Nations and various governments should realise that it is their failure and they cannot run away from their accountability.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It is the time for the UN, governments, human rights organisations and individual human rights defenders to sit together and make an effective plan for implementation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we do not make suitable efforts in this direction, the state of affairs of human rights and freedom will not change in next 65 years either.

What You Tolerate Today Will Go On Tomorrow

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

What you tolerate today will go on tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow, it will be more difficult and harder to get rid of. If you are prepared to let this go on, it will go on. It will continue on, only if you continue allowing it to happen.

You had been deceived yesterday. You are cheated today. And, you will be defrauded tomorrow as well, because you are allowing yourself to be defrauded today.

Yesterday, you allowed an evil cultist to fool you on the name of religion. Yesterday, you let a racist to dupe you on the name of race. Yesterday, you permitted a hatemonger to deceive you on the name of language. Yesterday, you agreed to a politician to fool you on the name of nationality. Yesterday, you tolerated a bigot to bamboozle you on the name of gender. And, all those things are happening even today. They are happening today, because you allowed them to happen yesterday. And, sorry to say, they will be happening tomorrow as well, because you are allowing them to take place today.

You have been cheated, because you are cheating yourself.

Today, rapists are raping innocent daughters and sisters in all over the world. Today, well-organised and state-sponsored terrorists are killing civilians on the name of religion. Today, human rights are abused in so many countries. Today, extremist forces are attacking peaceful societies. Today, evil and inhuman ideologies are trying to wipe out every kind of freedom. And, it will be happening tomorrow as well, because we have allowed it to happen today.

However, you can choose right now to change your direction. You can choose right now to change your future. You can choose. You have the right to do so. You should do it.

You cannot change your ‘yesterday’. You can try to make your ‘tomorrow’ better, only if you perfectly transform your ‘today’. Today is trying to get your thought. If you turn a blind eye to this, if you do not amend this ‘today’, it is will go away forever. It will turn into ‘yesterday’, and you can under no circumstances change your ‘yesterday’.

Social Norms Are Always Changing

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Chandu was a high official in Mogul royal court during the rule of King Jahangir in Delhi, India. After the engagement of his daughter with (Guru) Hargobind Sahib Ji, the son of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, he (Chandu) used disrespectful words for the Guru. Sikhs there heard these words and felt very humiliated. They asked Guru Ji not to accept this marriage proposal. Guru Arjun Dev Ji did what Sikhs wanted.

The marriage between Chandu’s daughter and (Guru) Hargobind Sahib never took place. As was the norm of the upper caste Hindu society of those days, Chandu’s daughter remained unmarried till death.

It was unacceptable for an upper caste Hindu woman in those days to think of any other man, once her name is associated with a man. Once a woman is engaged with a man, no other man would marry her in case her engagement is broken. Such were the norms.

In those days, it was impossible for a Hindu widow to get remarried. Sikh Gurus encouraged marriages of widows, so that they could start their new lives. It was intentional change in social norms.

In this day and age, we can observe how the Indian traditional society has changed itself. Broken engagements, or even broken marriages are not a taboo anymore for girls, despite the fact that many people still exist who are not pleased with these transforms.

On a social network website, I came across a message in Hindi, which goes like this: –

In previous days, girls used to say, “I first passed B.A. 1, then B.A. 2, and then B.A. Final. Or, I first Passed B.Com 1, then B.com 2, and then B.com Final. Or, I first cleared B.Sc. 1, then B.Sc 2, and then B.Sc. Final.” Now-a-days, a modern girl says, “I first had my engagement (first), then my engagement (second), and then my engagement Final.”

While many socially respected families till today take it very humiliating if their daughter’s engagement is broken, many others do not take much notice of it. Girls are married even three or four times and they are almost accepted in ordinary society.

This news is now old that a film actress in Mumbai had a baby from a foreigner cricketer even without marriage. More and more people are adopting live-in relationships, even if such relationships have not been socially accepted in a big part of India.

However, it seems that social norms are now going further with more changes. In the landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India framed guidelines for bringing live-in relationship within the expression ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ for protection of women under the Domestic Violence Act. The Supreme Court says that live-in relationship is neither a crime nor a sin and Parliament should frame law for the protection of women in such relationships and children born out of it.

The Right to A Fair Trial

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

In every community and country, it is common that civil as well as criminal disputes arise between two or more parties. Criminals are born in every part of the world. It is required that crimes must be stopped. If a crime is committed, the criminal must be punished.

A judicial assessment and determination of legal issues arising between parties to a civil or criminal action is called ‘trial’. When two or more parties cannot resolve their dispute by themselves, the method of trial is used to decide the issue. In case of any crime, the authorities first find the accused and then the accused is put on trial.

The aim of a trial is to secure fair and unprejudiced administration of justice, to find out the truth of the matters, and to apply the law to those matters. A trial offers a final decision of the dispute.

There are two basic types of trials. One is civil trial and other is criminal trial. In a criminal trial, an accused is found guilty or acquitted. If the accused is found guilty, the accused is sentenced according to laws. All types of actions other than criminal actions are civil actions, which are decided by civil trials.

According to the Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations: –

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

In simple words, if anyone goes on trial, this should be done in public. The people who try a person should not be biased.

The Article 14 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further explains the right of free trial in these words: –

1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The Press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order (ordre public) or national security in a democratic society, or when the interest of the private lives of the parties so requires, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice; but any judgement rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interest of juvenile persons otherwise requires or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children.

2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:

(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;

(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;

(c) To be tried without undue delay;

(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;

(e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(f) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court;

(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.

4. In the case of juvenile persons, the procedure shall be such as will take account of their age and the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation.

5. Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.

6. When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the unknown fact in time is wholly or partly attributable to him.

7. No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country.

Arbitrary Arrest, Detention And Exile

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

When someone is kept in custody without proper due process of law despite the fact that he or she committed no offence, it is called ‘arbitrary arrest’ or ‘arbitrary detention’.

According to the Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948: –

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

In simple words, no one has the right to put someone in prison, to keep him or her there, or to send him or her away from his/her country unjustly, or without good reason.

Article 9 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says:

1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.

2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.

3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.

4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.

5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

National law should set down the grounds and procedures for arrest and detention. People should not be arrested and detained except as provided for by law. Neither the arrest nor the detention should be arbitrary. Here, the term ‘detention’ applies to all forms of detention where people are deprived of their liberty.

Almost in every case of arbitrary arrest, the victim is neither given explanation regarding his or her arrest, nor is he or she shown any arrest warrant.

Though, arbitrary arrests and detentions are typically made by governments as a technique to hold back opposition; many fanatical groups too occasionally use such tactics to silence their opponents. A detainee sometimes is tortured during his or her arbitrary arrest.

Many pseudo democratic governments, dictatorships and police states carry out arbitrary arrests and ‘forced disappearance’ in response to street demonstrations. It is common that arbitrarily detained persons suffer physical as well as psychological torture during their detention.

No person can be denied his or her freedom. No person can be taken into arbitrary arrest. No person can be exiled from his/her country without having first committed an actual crime against the law.