INDUS STAR AWARDS 2004

India, New England, published from Boston, Massachusetts, announced its 2004 Indus Star Awards on March 15, 2004. The awardees are “luminaries in the New England’s South Asian community who shine at what they do” wrote Christine Walsh, the Executive Editor of the Paper. The Paper published the following report on Nirmal Singh, who was among those honored with the award:

Singh preaches religious tolerance

FARMINGTON, Conn. — Nirmal Singh, a Sikh interfaith activist and author, has seen religious beliefs heal and hurt. He has seen these beliefs separate and include. And, with his own eyes, he has seen innocent people murdered solely because of their religious beliefs. Through activism and writing, he is helping, in his way, to tip the scale of religious tolerance toward healing, inclusion and understanding.

Singh achieved a national platform through which to express his voice of tolerance shortly after 9/11. He was distressed by a story he saw on the news concerning a Sikh man who was arrested on an Amtrack train while carrying a concealed weapon.

The sight of a fellow Sikh in handcuffs, with images of Bin Laden interspersed through the news cast, drove Singh to the phone. He called the news affiliate to protest the story, and what followed for Singh was a flurry of radio and television appearances in which he worked to educate the public about his religion.

The experience inspired him to write a book, “Exploring Sikh Spirituality & the Paradox of their Stereotyping in Contemporary American Setting,” which was published in India last year.

After he and his wife attended an interfaith event with presentations by representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths years ago, Singh began an association with interfaith activities that continues today. The experience broadened his mind and further reinforced his desire to educate others about religious tolerance.

“It was as if a new world was opening for us,” Singh said. “Learning more about other faiths motivated us to learn more about our own faith.”

Reflecting on his commitment to religious tolerance, Singh’s comments exemplify the belief that the best way to make the world a better place is to start with one’s self. “It’s a much higher calling,’ he says, ‘[And] it’s a process of personal growth.”

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