Thursday, 15 November 2012

The right to vote.....

Since today is the PCC elections I thought I would right about something I am passionate about - the right to vote.

Firstly, let me say those who do go and vote - well done!

Those who don't go and vote, I have to ask the question - why?

If we look back in history people gave their lives to get this right to vote and today many of us don't even register ourselves on the electoral register let alone go an vote.

One example - the Suffragette movement:

In the US, women over 21 were first allowed to vote in Wyoming from 1869 and in Utah from 1870, and this was then extended to women across the US in time for the 1920 presidential election.
Women over 21 were allowed to vote in New Zealand from 1893, in Australia from 1894, and in Canada from 1919. Women in the UK were given the vote in 1918 if over 30 and meeting certain qualifications, and in 1928 this was extended to all women over the age of 21.

1912 was a turning point for the Suffragettes in the UK as they began using more militant tactics, such as chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to mailbox contents, smashing windows and occasionally detonating bombs. This was because the current Prime Minister at the time, Asquith, nearly signed a document giving women (over 30 and either married to a property-owner or owning a property themselves) the right to vote. But he pulled out at the last minute, as he thought the women may vote against him in the next General Election, stopping his party (Liberals) from getting into Parliament.

One suffragette, Emily Davison, died under the King's horse in 1913. She was trying to pin a "vote for Women" banner on the kings horse. Many of her fellow suffragettes were imprisoned and thus went on a hunger strike as a scare tactic against the government.

The Liberal government of the day led by Asquith responded with the Cat and Mouse Act. When a Suffragette was sent to prison, it was assumed that she would go on hunger strike as this caused the authorities maximum discomfort. The Cat and Mouse Act allowed the Suffragettes to go on a hunger strike and let them get weaker ans were only released from prison when they were very weak thus causing no embarrassment to the government if they died outside of prison. Some were too weak to be released and were then force fed via a tube. This led to those suffragettes outside of prison not having enough strength to continue opposing the government.   When those outside of prison regained strength and began fighting for the right to vote again they were re-arrested for the most trivial of reasons and the whole process began again. This, from the government's point of view, was a very simple but effective weapon against the Suffragettes.

This is just one example from history - we could look at black people voters rights in the US around the 1700s or we could look at South Africa and how citizens there fought for their right room vote .

Looking to recent years:

In Kuwait (2005) a bill was passed that allowed women to vote for the first time and run in parliamentary and local elections.

Only last year (2011) were the Saudi Arabia women given the promise that they would be able to vote and stand in elections.


So why are we not voting?

Why are we ignoring all these people in history who have fought for us to have a right to vote?

I agree that sometimes we don't like any of the candidates standing - but that's the choice available so either make a choice or stand yourself - either way get involved.
Don't just vote for anyone or the party your parents have always voted for - do you research and choose a candidate that you agree with....

If we vote and get our voices heard then we can be apart of the conversation and either support or argue with policies the government bring in BUT if we don't vote then do we really have a say?

So get out there and vote, today and for every election in the future.

 Apologies for any mistakes.......

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bandi Chhor and the rest of the world....

Many people would have gotten the text or message 'Happy Divali' yesterday and thus many people (including politicians, the media, and ourselves) will celebrate or give you good wishes for Divali, the festival of lights and not Bandi Chhor, the day of freedom/liberation.

As a university student there is very little that can be done as university is a massive place and there are so many students, lecturers and staff around - but as a Sikh it was my duty to educate those who were wanted to listen what Bandi Chhor is about and why as a Sikh we celebrate it......

Something small that I did was take in a card and box of chocolates for my lecturers so share. In the card I wrote:

I got a lot of e-mails and lectures coming up to me to say thank you and say that they had never heard of Bandi Chhor before, but they were really impressed with the morals behind the day and loved how the card was written. To me, this was them thanking maharaj - as He is the one who has instilled these morals in us and taught us how to live. 

It was only something small - but for me a great way to share the morals that we live by and share that yesterday wasn't just a festival of lights - but a day to remember these teachings of standing up for those without a voice ...... 

So a benti to all - share the message of Gurbani with the world and show them how compassionate and community based our morals are.

Please forgive me for any mistakes.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh!!!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Bandi Chhor

So many of us will be celebrating Bandi Chhor tomorrow - but what will we be doing?

Taking a day off school/work, spending time with our family, lighting candles, going to the Gurdwara, watching firework displays ........

Guru Hargobind Ji taught us to stand up for those without a voice, stand up against the injustice in this world - so can we make a difference?

Being a Sikh is also about being
an activist, choose something you are good at and use that ability to make a difference - whether that's making videos/podcasts on human rights issues, speaking to your MPs, or even speaking out for people closer to home or in your neighborhood that can't afford to keep the heating on this winter or for the child down the road who can't afford his school uniform because they are overpriced -- lets do something!

Lets also teach our friends, work colleagues, lecturers, family members that we celebrate Bandi Chhor - the day of freedom/liberation - and that we are willing to stand up for the right of others.........