Monday, March 25, 2013

HASC on Capitol Hill Forum: Engaging Diverse Voices of Faith for the Common Good

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

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

Creating Model Emergency Management Plans, for Schools, Universities & Places of Worship

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