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June - July 2004

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Dispatches & Reports

Life Time Achievement Award To Kailash Puri

The Mayor of Ealing hosted at the Mayor's parlour, Town Hall, Ealing, West London, an event of great significance to Punjabis living in London. The event was to honour Mrs. Kailash Puri with Life-Time Achievement Award. Mrs. Kailash Puri is one of the most prominent writer of Punjabi literature living in the United Kingdom. She has authored 37 books, many of these have been translated in many other Indian languages. Kailash has been writing regularly for various Punjabi newspapers and magazines in India, UK, USA and Canada.

Mrs. Kailash Puri is a poet, novelist and has written 'agony aunt' columns for various newspapers. She is a dynamic personality, well-known throughout the Indian community in the United Kingdom. She is associated with various literary and social organisations. As the President of Punjabi Women Social & Cultural Society, she has kept alive Punjabi literature and poetry in the drawing rooms of Punjabi Diaspora in England. Introducing Mrs. Kailash Puri, the Mayor of Ealing, Mr. Said that he became a fan of the author soon after he arrived in England in the seventies and has remained great admirer of her literary contribution to the Punjbi literature.

Kailashji has written short stories, novels, poetry, essays, book on sexology and has produced four volumes of her compiled works. Her autobiography is a monumental work, almost 4000 pages with family photographs. Her regular feature on sexology in a monthly magazine in Delhi created a great controversy in the cosy, conservative society of Punjabis in Delhi in early seventies. But her message, in small doses, proved very effective and the readers realised the importance of such a crucial subject for a happy marital relations. She wrote this feature for 27 years.

Other eminent speakers at the event were Mr. RS Suri, who read one of her short stories; Mrs. Kanwal Kaur Songh, who read a piece from her Autobiography: and Mr A.S. Kahan read an extract from her novel. All the three speakers spoke highly of Kailash Puri's literary contribution. At the end, Mr Inderjit Singh, a prominent Sikh scholar gave a vote of thanks and mentioned that the late Dr. Gopal Puri (husband of Kailash Puri and a great writer) and Kailashji were well-known to his parents in 1945 when Dr. Gopal Puri was doing his second Ph.D at University College, London. He said that Kailashji has become an icon for all the Punjabis.

At the request of the Mayor, Kailash Puri recited one of her poems. Thereafter the Mayor presented Kailashji with the Life-Time Achievement Award. Mrs. Puri responded by thanking the Mayor and put on record her appreciation for his love of Punjabi literature and culture.

Lord Dholakia Speaks Up For Joseph Scholes Court Of Enquiry

Raising the issue of Joseph Scholes' death at Stoke Heath Prison in the House Of Lords, Lord Dholakia made a strong case for establishing an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Joseph Scholes at Stoke Heath Prison. He said "this subject is important. This is about a child's death in purpose is to ensure that the state will never again fail in its duty to protect those in it's care. We failed Joseph Scholes."

" I do not want to apportion blame, but I want to ensure that one death is one too many. It should never happen again." Now Lord Dholakia has stepped up the pressure for inquiry by writing to the home secretary David Blunkett. Joseph hanged himself from the bars of his cell in Stoke Heath young offenders institution on 24 March 2002, a month after his 16th Birthday, just nine days into a two year sentence for street robbery. His death is an example of how society failed to protect a vulnerable young boy.

Joseph's death raises a number of questions about the treatment and care of children in the criminal justice system and the accountability of those agencies responsible, particularly the Youth Justice Board, the Prison Service and social services departments. "We owe it to all those vulnerable young people in custody, now and in the future, to find out what went wrong so that it never happens again. The country's over use of custody for young people means there are fewer local authority secure places available for vulnerable young people who desperately need them. These are issues of policy that no inquest, however well conducted, can cover in the way a public inquiry would."

" We maintain that due to the circumstances of this particular case, the inquest, however well conducted, is wholly unsuited to satisfy the state's human rights obligation to investigate this death" asserted Lord Dholakia.

Launch Of The India International Foundation

Synchronising with the 54th Republic Day Celebrations, Mr. Hardyal S Luther, President, trustees and the executive council of the India International Foundation invited a large number of community leaders at the Osterley Park Hotel, West London, to launch India International Foundation. The High Commissioner of India Mr. Ronen Sen inaugurated the Foundation. The aim of the Foundation, as Mr. Luther explained in his presidential address, was to collect funds to provide scholarships to poor children in India, and organise Eye Camps in various states of India.

New Head For Indian Overseas Congress (I) UK

Cllr. Virendra Sharma has been elected Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress (UK) by all the branches of the Congress Party in UK. After assuming the office he called on all Indians in the UK to come together to build a new \india, based on equality, justice, fairness, democracy and free of corruption.

Virendra Sharma is well known in the Indian community and local politics. He has been active in community politics for nearly 30 years. He has been a West London Councillor since 1982, having also been the Mayor of Ealing. He has also served as National Officer for Ethnic Minorities within the Labour Party.

He believs that a real opportunity exists in India as the country is progressing in the 21st century. Acceleration in economic growth, a strong industrial sector, a growing middle class, and a hige skills base is making India a powerful lplayer in the coming decades.

Virendra Sharma says that the IOC wants to work with Indians in the UK, who believe in the secular socialist kprinciples of the Congress Party. The IOC believes that for India this is the only way which can enable the country get rid of the blight of corruption and fulfil the promise of equality and democracy made by the leaders of the Congress at the dawn of India's freedom. In the Uk, the Indian community can achieve equality and justice only by coming together.

Central Gurudwara (London) Elections Of Office Bearers

Shri Trilochan Singh Sahni has been unanimously re-elected president for another term of two years of the Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) (Shepherds Bush) London at the general body meeting held on April 25 2004. It is for the first time ever in the history of this Gurdwara that a peaceful and unopposed election took place thus saving the charity thousands of pounds which would otherwise be spent on conducting the elections of the executive committee. Previous, elections here have always been a hotly contested affair causing divisions and bitterness in the Sangat. Mr. Trilochan Sahni's commendable and dedicated services not only in the Gurdwara but in various other organisations have been highly appreciated. His humility and sense of duty has been fully recognised by the community.

His long service in the management committee of the Central Gurdwara for the past several years in various capacity has made him a popular figure. Under his leadership the Gurdwara Sahib received wonderful face-lift and notable improvements. Under the stewardship of Mr. Trilochan Sahni, The Gurdwara Sahib has successfully overcome the volatile situation that prevailed in the last couple of years bringing a bad name to the Committee and the Sangat. This peaceful and harmonious change in the atmosphere brought about by the Grace of Waheguru will help many positive developments in this institution.

Olther office-bearers are as follows:Vice-President, S. Kulbir Singh Ghai; General Secretary, S. Harbans Singh Kohli; Advisor to the president, S. Harjit Singh Sehgal; Advisor Dharam Parchar and Stage Secretary, S. Malkiat Singh Gill; Finance Secretary' S. Surjit Singh Bawa; Asst. Finance Sec., S. Tarlochan Singh Alg; Asst. Gene. Sec. & Sec. Langar provisions, Mrs. Gurvinder Kaur Chawla; Sec. Cultural & Social Asst. Sec. ; Asst Sec. Cultural, Social and Langar Provision, S. Rajinder Singh Bakshi; Sec. Matrimonial, Mrs. Jasjit Kaur Selhi; Sec. Library, S. Nirmohan Singh Azad Arora; Sec. Education, Dr. Rani Kaur Vaid; Asst. Sec. Education &Library, S. Rajpal Singh Anand.

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