Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
HASC on Capitol Hill Forum: Engaging Diverse Voices of Faith for the Common Good
Event Airing on TV Asia’s Community Round Up on March 25th and 27th
Event Airing on TV Asia’s Community Round Up on March 25th and 27th
Washington, D.C.- Faith traditions have strong common values that support those seeking the common good and against extremism around the world. What might be the role of faith leaders in international peace building, and how do we engage diverse faith voices of moderation for more harmonious relationships?
This was addressed on Wednesday, March 20th at the Capitol Hill. Hindu American Seva Communities cosponsored and participated in this Forum: Engaging Diverse Voices of Faith for the Common Good, along with Global Peace Foundation, Nahdlatul Ulama USA, Global Young Leaders Academy, National Vision & Public Engagement, Communities of Peace.
This forum convened a small panel of faith leaders to consi.der how to forge more effective diplomacy, working with and alongside those of diverse religious traditions based on shared values. Mr. Michael Marshall, Editor Emeritus, United Press International served as the moderator. Speakers included Dr. Rosa Djalal, President of Muslim Women’s Association USA, Dr. Shalahudin Kafrawi, Hobart & William Smith College; Chairman, Nahdlatul Ulama USA, Ms. Anju Bhargava, Founder, Hindu American Seva Communities, Rev. Mark Farr, Director of the Center for Multifaith Partnerships, Ms. Emira Soleha Ramli, Student, Syracuse University.
Anju Bhargava, Founder Hindu American Seva Communites, presented an overview of the history of Hindu people and the challenges they have faced over the millennia. She highlighted the many ways in which the Hindu American community faces stereotypes and prejudices. She discussed the Hindu and the Dharmic community engagement in seva (service) and the Hindu traditional science of healing (suchas yoga and meditation) can serve to augment the peace building effort and diffuse conflict both locally and globally.
“Many of us who do seva (service as a self realization process), find we are applying the principles of our spiritual practice (sadhana) in many spheres of our lives and are transforming. Our namaste honors Divinity within each of us. We serve understanding the whole world is one single family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). We find our seva affecting our inner self, and see its experience of ethics in the way we work and play, what we buy, the way we treat people, and how we engage in relationships. Let’s extend that transformative awareness to the decisions we make for our schools, communities and our country, for peace building and the common good”.
Brief Highlights of this event is scheduled for airing on TV Asia Community Roundup program on March 25th at 10:30pm (ET) and repeated for West Coast viewers at 11:30pm (PT). This program will also be repeated on March 26th at 7:30pm (ET).
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The Office of the Vice President & Department of Homeland Security organized an event on “Creating Model Emergency Management Plans, for Schools, Universities & Places of Worship” at the executive offices of the White House.
What a wonderful experience - not just for the attendees but to the organizers as well. HASC was represented by Dr. Siva Subramanian as well as Guruvayurappan and Ramesh Swamy.
The first panel was for Schools, the second for Institutions of Higher Education/Universities & the third for Faith Based Places of Worship! Each panel discussed their respective topics in detail and answered questions from the audience.
First Panel was chaired by the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The Columbine & Sandy Hook School shootings were discussed. A discussion on how school safety is being implemented in Florida schools was also discussed. The highlight of this discussion was a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School, narrated her experience when she was shot by the lone gunman.
Second Panel: This was chaired by the FBI Exe. Asst. Dir. Richard McFeely. The other members were from Virginia Tech who discussed their experience during the massacre there in 2007. The panel also included a student from the incident who was shot and injured. The team narrated how they learnt and improved on their strategies after learning from the Mumbai Terror attacks of 2008. Some very pertinent points on how to keep family & public informed on such incidents, keeping in mind the privacy of victims.
Third & Last Panel: A very important one for all our temples across USA!
This panel was chaired by Ms. Janet Napolitano. Secretary of Homeland Security - one of the most powerful persons in President Obama's Administration. She did an excellent job in introducing the panelists consisting of the Trustee from Oak Creek Gurudwara Shri Balhair Singh Dulai, the Chief of Police - John Edwards of Oak Creek Police Department Wisconsin, a representative from Jewish Crisis Center John Goldstein & a representative from Christian Emergency Response Center.
Chief John Edwards explained how he had learned a lot about the Sikh community. He explained how they were taken aback when the Sikh Community insisted a casket for the shooter as well, which they had to decline after long deliberations. He also went to say how the Sikh community came together to help each other but also the officer Lt. Brian Murphy who was shot by the gunman in the parking lot of Gurdwara. Balhair Singh Dulai, the Trustee & Treasurer of Wisconsin Gurdwara explained the spine chilling incident of how there were so many lapses & weaknesses in their place of worship & how they have improved & increased not only the security but awareness as well.
Written by: Guruvayurappan and Ramesh Swamy
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
What a historic day January 22 was for Sikh and Dharmic Americans! A Sikh American, Ms. Sapreet Kaur was included for the first time in the National Prayer Service held to pray for President Obama, the new Administration and the country.
At the National Prayer Service, we understood the messages that faith leaders expressed from all over the country. Mindful of the bickering in Congress, religious leaders urged Congress to bridge their differences and to work as one. The leaders conveyed the universal messages of compassion, tolerance and selflessness.
These universal messages are valued by us Dharmic Americans. It was only last year that the Sikh community witnessed a heinous crime. Over the past many years, they have been victims of hate crimes all over this country. Recognizing them at today’s National Prayer Service, served as a symbol of “American inclusion,” of those deeply impacted by prejudice and hate. The Service also served as a reminder to the country of our pluralistic nature.
Leaders from Dharmic and Hindu temples, gurudwaras and organizations at the Service prayed for the well-being of our President, Vice-President, our government, leaders and country. We at HASC continue to pray for the healing of our Sikh brothers and sisters and seek ways to address our collective social justice concerns and bring our dharma values to the forefront. We pray for our President, the Administration and the country to succeed in the many challenges we collectively face.
It was a moment of enormous pride that in 2009, for the first time, we heard the word "Hindu" from the President and this time at the inaugural in 2013, the word "Namaste". And in 2009 a prominent Hindu leader was included at the National Prayer Service at the President’s first inauguration. This year, a Sikh leader represented the Eastern faiths. It is therefore a matter of pride that the Dharmic community was represented by Sikhs. Their inclusion was a historic moment for Dharmic Americans, for all Americans.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
We at HASC are still horrified by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
That’s why today we applaud President Obama, Vice President Biden, and their administration for the proposed common sense gun safety reforms that will reduce the number of children and youth whose lives end from the barrel of a gun.
The President’s plan includes:
- Requiring every purchaser of a gun to undergo a background check (As many as 40% of gun purchases are done anonymously.);
- Banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines that allow for nothing more than the rapid killing of human beings;
- Making schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans, and
- Helping ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need and health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
Congress must act.
Click here to contact your Member of Congress and tell them to pass these common sense gun safety measures. If they are opposed to them, ask them why there are opposed and what they would do instead to protect children.
5,740 children and youth were killed by guns in 2008 and 2009. These proposals represent a good first step to saving children’s lives.
Civic and Religious Leaders Unite to End Gun Violence
We seek to bring our communities together in support of reasonable steps taken to prevent future suffering such as that endured by the bereaved and traumatized families of gun violence victims… we commit to building consensus and support in our communities for steps that will turn our collective grief into shared hope.
WASHINGTON D.C.– On the one month anniversary of the Newtown tragedy, in advance of Vice President Biden's report and policy recommendations to President Obama, and as the discussion about preventing gun violence continues in communities throughout the United States, a number of prominent national leaders, who have served on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships today released the following joint statement (please note: these leaders are not speaking on behalf of the Councils nor on behalf of their professional organizations or congregations, but in their individual capacities). The political, ideological and religious diversity reflected among this group of leaders underscores the common understanding of the importance of meaningful action to address gun violence. The full statement is below:
We come together as faith and community leaders who love our country and its Constitution, treasure our rights and take pride in fulfilling our duties as American citizens. We have come to respect each other out of our service on the President’s Advisory Councils on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships but we speak out today in our individual capacities out of our shared desire to unite our country in addressing the challenges of gun violence in America. We write on the one month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown and are issuing this statement before Vice President Biden issues his report and recommendations.
As we are people of diverse religious, ideological and political views, so our communities are comprised of millions of loyal Americans, some who own guns and some who do not, but all of whom have grieved alongside the families of those lost to gun violence. We come with a common purpose out of a conviction that despite our diversity, we all share a commitment to protect the lives of our people. We commit ourselves and call upon our communities and our elected officials to make every effort to save human lives, especially the lives of children, from senseless gun violence that does not represent the responsible citizenship intended by the Second Amendment.
Gun violence profoundly affects people in our neighborhoods, our organizations, and our houses of worship. We seek to bring our communities together in support of reasonable steps taken to prevent future suffering such as that endured by the bereaved and traumatized families of gun violence victims. We endorse reasonable steps taken to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people through measures such as ensuring and enforcing universal background checks for gun purchases, collection and publication of relevant data on gun violence, and other constructive measures that will limit gun violence.
Millions who we serve and their families already suffer the effects of the stigmatizing misperceptions regarding mental illness. As we serve, teach and counsel our communities, we can help those who constitute a danger to themselves and others, and guide them to the intervention and help they need. Now is a time to educate the public and bring support for creating adequate mental health and mental illness resources in the community. We call upon all sectors of American society, including our government, to see that those in need of mental health services will more readily find and receive them.
We know that these changes are deeply connected with changing our culture and ourselves so that we no longer treat depictions of excessive violence as a primary source of our entertainment. This is a transformation that begins at the grassroots level of family, school, community institution and house of worship. Without a doubt, the national mourning that has followed the tragedy in Newtown demonstrates that even the incessant cacophony of violent film, music and video that overwhelms our senses each day has not dulled the compassion with which we are endowed.
We acknowledge that our communities are not in total agreement as to the extent of the measures they currently envision. As religious and non-profit leaders, we commit to building consensus and support in our communities for steps that will turn our collective grief into shared hope. We acknowledge that the privilege of American freedom also carries a moral responsibility, which we recognize we can only shoulder together.
- Susan K. Stern
- Melissa Rogers
- Rev. Leith Anderson
- Anju Bhargava
- Angela Glover Blackwell
- Noel Castellanos
- Arturo Chávez, Ph.D.
- Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin
- Frederick A. Davie, M.Div.
- Archbishop Demetrios of America
- Bishop Mark S. Hanson
- Dr. Joel C. Hunter
- Lynne Hybels
- Harry Knox
- Ven. Miaohong
- Rev. Otis Moss Jr.
- Maria Nagorski
- Nancy Ratzan
- Rabbi David Saperstein
- Rabbi Julie Schonfeld
- Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
- Elder Steven E. Snow
- Rev. Larry J. Snyder
- Rev. Jim Wallis
- Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
- Sister Marlene Weisenbeck
- Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
- Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
Saturday, January 12, 2013
In an effort to practice what our dharmic texts have preached, HASC in collaboration with Oxford University's Bhumi Project and the University of North Texas, is working to advance greening of our temples and places of worship in the America. The Bhumi Seva initiative was launched in July 2011 at the White House.
HASC is pleased to announce a dedicated and highly talented volunteer team leading the initiative. Their brief bios are attached.
As part of the BhumiSeva initiative, , HASC has undertaken a pilot project with select temples to develop, track, and share the “green” progress together. We hope that more places of worship will take advantage of our humble offerings and together we can make our dharmic places truly a living testimony to dharmic teachings and traditions. The progress of the effort with temples in the pilot program is part of an international greening effort and will be highlighted globally.
HASC has compiled various guides and booklets to help make our Puja rituals and temples more eco-friendly. We will provide these to the select temples and help them assess their temples greening level so that they can increase energy efficiency.
HASC is inspired by the great Dharma teachings that are highlighted in this profound verse: The Almighty is Omnipresent everywhere in the universe, including planet earth (in the oceans, rivers, forests, mountains, air, water, atmosphere, and space). Take only what you need from the bounties of planet earth; sacrifice greed so every one's needs are also met; do not plunder, do not hoard. Whose property is it after all? It all belongs to God. (Ishopanishad 1.1)
For additional information on the project, please contact Pankaj Jain, Eco-Dharma and Bhumi-Seva Project Director (Pankaj.email@example.com ) and Arjun Bhargava, Associate Project Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Launch Interfaith Annadaanam Program and
Appoint Hemant Wadhwani, NJ/NY Seva Project Director -
Appoint Hemant Wadhwani, NJ/NY Seva Project Director -
Livingston, N.J. January 12, 2013: Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC) honors Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary, today. For HASC Dharmic Seva and Vivekananda’s message is the catalyst to building Pluralistic Communities. We are grateful to Swamiji for bringing Hinduism to America and laying a path for us and inspiring us even today…. “All differences in this world are of degree and not of kind because oneness is the secret of everything. ….. They alone live, who live for others….. You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself…..
On this auspicious and celebratory occasion, HASC is proud to launch an interfaith Annadaanam (homeless feeding) program and announce the appointment of Hemant Wadhwani as HASC’s Seva Project Director, NJ/NY metro area.
“Hemant is a role model to our community and a tireless community worker. Most recently he organized a Dharmic response for Sandy victims. Hemant has worked with HASC from its inception and serves on HASC’s Executive Advisory Council Board. With his leadership to our community, HASC’s seva programs will continue to expand and strengthen our country. We urge the community to reach out to HASC to start seva projects and donate food to feed the homeless. We ask what Swami Vivekananda asked– Are you unselfish? That is the question. If you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into a single church or temple.” observed Anju Bhargava, HASC founder.
The Annadaanam program (a homeless feeding project), developed by Hemant Wadhwani, is a partnership with Muslims Against Hunger. HASC piloted this interfaith collaboration on August 3rd, 2012 at our White House conference, “Dharmic America Future: Seva, Innovation and Tradition”. The Next Generation Seva Leaders prepared food packages and distributed to the homeless in the Capitol Hill area. Now we are expanding this program in the NY/NY metro area. HASC and Muslims Against Hunger are willing to pick up the excess food from Temples and Restaurants and distribute it to the homeless in the NY/NJ metro area. Hemant can be reached at email@example.com.
Brief bio: Hemant Wadhwani started his career working at Diversified Investment Advisors building financial applications for the pension industry. During the first internet boom in 2000, he co-founded Translation City and has since been working in the language translation/international business services field servicing Fortune 500 companies, NGOs, and government agencies. Hemant is also a community development specialist having served as an advisor and board member at the NJ Asian American Health and Human Services Association, Real Medicine Foundation, India Youth Climate Network, the Sindhi Association of New Jersey, Save Latin America, Newark's Sumei Arts Center, Harlem/South Bronx Youthbuild mentorship programs, Healthy Harlem Soup Kitchen Project, and the United South Asian Donor Registry. He is active with many faith and interfaith organizations. He has also been appointed to a number of commissions and advisory committees by the Governor and state legislature of New Jersey. Most recently, Hemant launched the Hanuman Capital Initiative to bridge the funding gap related to both global development and local urban economic development needs. Hemant has a B.A. in Economics from Manhattanville College and an M.S. in Management with a specialization in International Business from New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Monday, December 31, 2012
HASC applauds DOJ efforts to track anti-Hindu hate crimes and urges FBI to implement it
- Community recommendations slowly coming to fruition –
Washington, D.C. December 13, 2012: HASC applauds the DOJ directing FBI to include the "Hindu" category in tracking hate crimes and urges the FBI to expand the South Asian category and to explicitly track crimes against Hindus and Hindu and Sikhs and against all Dharmic (Eastern Traditions) places of worship. We have also asked DOJ and FBI to change their website to identify Hindu and Sikh as a separate category as the South Asian category does not reflect targeted faith crimes.
Anju Bhargava observed: "Serving on President's Advisory Council, I was part of a sub-committee making recommendations to enhance Inter-religious Collaboration and bring forward the concerns of our community in the Council's report “New Era of Partnerships: Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Final Report of Recommendations . We brought these issues to the highest level and recommended that Department of Justice and Homeland Security to reach out to the Dharmic American community to understand their needs in addition to responding to the needs of the Muslim community following 9/11 tragedy. See pages 81-86, specifically recommendation 7.
Subsequently I recommended DHS and DOJ create a separate category to track crimes against the Hindu and Dharmic community and expand the South Asian category. HASC appreciates the effort of data collection advocated by other organizations, especially SAALT. And now I am also coordinating with the US Department of Homeland Security. In this capacity I have further urged DHS and DOJ to collect relevant data for our community and increase education of the
Dharmic faiths. This recommendation has also been supported by other organizations, especially Hindu American Foundation as well. Today, HASC is working with our Dharmic faith communities at the grass roots level to implement these recommendations such as by organizing training programs with DHS for our Dharmic community, especially in light of the Oak Creek Gurudwara shootings. "
We are delighted that the communities' ongoing efforts are finally coming to fruition. The Hindu and Dharmic community is becoming an integral part of the American landscape. HASC aims to continue the community development and capacity building efforts for the Hindu and Dharmic people and places of worship.
We are delighted that the communities's ongoing efforts are finally coming to fruition.
Exceprt from: “New Era of Partnerships: Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Presents Final Report of Recommendations " - Recommendation 7 of Inter-religious Cooperation.
..... Some non-Muslim Americans, including Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist Americans, also have experienced civil rights violations in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.24 After September 2001, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice noted that Arab, Muslim, Sikh,and South-Asian Americans, as well as people who were perceived to be members of those groups, had been the victims of “increased numbers of bias-related assaults, threats, vandalism and arson.” Accordingly, the Civil Rights Division launched an initiative “to work proactively to combat violations of civil rights laws” against these Americans. Its initiative is aimed at reducing the incidence of these bias-related assaults, threats, vandalism, and arson as well as prioritizing cases involving discrimination against these Americans in employment, housing, education, access to public accommodations and facilities, and other areas. After September 2001, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice noted that Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South-Asian Americans, as well as people who were perceived to be members of those groups, had been the victims of “increased numbers of bias-related assaults, threats, vandalism and arson.”25 Accordingly, the Civil Rights Division launched an initiative “to work proactively to combat violations of civil rights laws” against these Americans.26 Its initiative is aimed at reducing the incidence of these bias-related assaults, threats, vandalism, and arson as well as prioritizing cases involving discrimination against these Americans in employment, housing, education, access to public accommodations and facilities, and other areas.
The Council recommends that the Department of Justice continue this emphasis and work with the Department of Homeland Security as well as faith-based and community groups to hold townhall meetings to discuss citizen concerns on civil liberties."
18 Pew Research Center
21 Gallup and the Muslim West Facts Project, Muslim Americans: A National Portrait, March 2009.
22 Gallup and the Muslim West Facts Project, Religious Perceptions in America: With an In-Depth Analysis of American Attitudes Toward Muslims and Islam, January 2010.
24 Khyati Joshi, The Racialization of Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism in the Unites States
HASC Expresses Condolences on Tragic Death in NYC subway
- Urge DOJ and FBI to Track Hindu Hate Crimes Separately -
Washington D.C. December 30, 2012: HASC expresses grief over the tragic death of Mr. Sunando Senand concern over xenophobia against Hindus, as well as Muslims and Sikhs. Last Thursday, Mr. Sen was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens by Erika Menendez, a 31-year-old woman and crushed by an oncoming train. “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Rightfully, she ischarged with murder as a hate crime.
Though there is a high level of acceptance of our community in America, sometimes we see gaps through intolerance and violence. Unfortunately, innocent people are impacted when individuals turn against any group of people.
Following the 9/11 tragedy, Hindu and Dharmic people, including children and youth, have been have been the victims of increased numbers of bias-related assaults, threats, vandalism and arson, subjected to harassment, bullying and even killed.
Many of these heinous acts of are under-reported, and if reported are not tracked as hate crimes. We need the Department of Justice (DOJ) to have a separate Hindu category to track anti Hindu hate crimes and urge FBI to implement to raise the profile.
Many Hindu and Dharmic places of worship are vandalized and our community does not report such crimes for fear of retaliation. The community needs to report the crimes and continue to collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security to increase vigilance and awareness.
In Old Bridge, NJ, Dr. Divyendu Sinha was beaten to death in front of his wife and children, by five people for no reason. The family and community are still waiting for the trial of 4 of the 5 culprits.
We hope these heinous acts against our community will not go unnoticed and the death of Dr. Sen will not be in vain. Just as the community improves its own security infrastructures we urge DOJ and FBI to track these hate crimes separately for appropriate data collection and action.
We hope education and interfaith collaboration will dispel ignorance as we come develop our pluralistic communities together.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Hindu American Seva Charities changes name to Hindu American Seva Communities
Community Building and Capacity Building efforts remain the same. Only the name has changed!
Washington, D.C. December 12, 2012. Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is now Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC), an independently registered not-for-profit organization. The new name clearly reflects the vision of our organization: community development and capacity building through public, private and education partnerships.
The new name augments HASC’s mission, HASC is a progressive American organization advancing seva (community service), interfaith collaboration, pluralism, social justice and sustainable civic engagement to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities and coalitions while strengthening our places of worship. Through education and policy changes it seeks to bridge the gap between US government and Hindu and Dharmic people and places of worship.
“America values the individual contribution and empowers its citizens to self-govern their communities at the local, state and national levels. Volunteerism and community service are an integral part of our national consciousness and the very backbone of our communal existence. Values that resonate with Dharmic philosophy of self-reliance are part of our historical heritage; these values enabled Gandhi to win freedom in India” explained Anju Bhargava, HASC Founder.
Shekar Narasimhan, HASC founding Board member observed, “As a new immigrant community it is imperative we connect with America and develop infrastructure capacity to serve and address our social justice concerns. Through coalitions, HASC is working to make service and volunteering a defining part of Hindu and Dharmic American life.”
HASC’s key five focus areas are:
1. Development of Seva Centers to provide services (eg Refugees, Military, health); promote National Days of Service
2. Strengthening Security of Dharmic Places of Worship
3. Development of Youth/Next Generation Seva Leaders and Women’s Empowerment
4. Promoting Energy conservation, preserving the Environment, Eco-Dharma and Bhumi Seva
5. Dharma and Social Justice education and advocacy
“Seva is an integral part of Hindu and Dharmic traditions and sadhana (practice), and it is transformative. To achieve its mission, with an inside out approach, HASC seeks to mobilize communities through service at local and national levels to affect development and strengthen our Hindu American identity.” said Ved Chaudhary, HASC founding Board member.
“From its inception, HASC has worked to unite faith and secular communities in social equity projects and to strengthen the diaspora immigrant civic engagement of the New Americans, for the common good. Through these efforts HASC is pushing out boundaries for social justice and interfaith collaboration, connecting the community with government agencies and working to strengthen our places of worship, a public, private, education partnership!.“ Dr. Siva Subramanian, HASC founding Board member.
HASC thanks the community for its support from its formation in May 2009 to respond to President Obama’s Call to Serve. Now, your generous donations will help continue the effort to develop programs to strengthen our community.
Donations for ongoing support and program development can be made through PayPal.
- You can Sponsor a specific program and Support Our Effort through your generous tax-deductible donation -