NRI Major Kamaljeet Kalsi, stood out among a group of US military veterans at the Democratic National Convention
Sikh US army veteran stands out in pink turban at Democratic party convention
Philadelphia, USA, July 29, 2016
An Indian American, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, stood out in his pink turban among a group of US military veterans at the Democratic National Convention stage to root for Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential nominee.
Kalsi, accompanied retired General John Allen on stage along with a group of military veterans at the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Standing behind Allen as he spoke, Major Kalsi's pink turban grabbed eyeballs.
Allen said that under Clinton the country will not "abandon the world", and pursue enemies, defeat the Islamic State and stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
Kalsi, an emergency room doctor, served 15 years in the US Army, some of it in the "very violent and bloody theatre" of the war in Afghanistan, according to News India-Times newspaper.
There he had treated many victims of improvised explosive devices, the crude home-made bombs.
In 2009 he became the first Sikh in the US military to receive permission to wear a beard and turban, according to The New York Times.
On Wednesday, the spotlight was shone on three leaders from the Indian American community recognising their rising role in the US.
The president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Neera Tanden, spoke of her own family's difficulties and how she was helped by the US government programmes that Clinton wanted to preserve and strengthened.
Representative Ami Bera of California was on stage to demonstrate the party's diversity in Congress. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who is running for Congress from Illinois, was presented as a "New Leader of Tomorrow"... Arul Louis ...IANS
NRI Sikh dentist graduates Army officer school, with beard and turban
SAN ANTONIO, March 23, 2010
On Monday, Capt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, 31 years old dentist went through a graduation ceremony at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He had to get special permission from the Army to keep the beard and turban that his faith requires.
Army spokesman George Wright said: The Army in 1984 eliminated an exemption that had previously allowed Sikhs to maintain their articles of faith while serving, but officials can issue individual waivers to the uniform policy after considering the effects on safety and discipline. Only a handful of such individual religious exemptions are ever granted.
After the ceremony, Dr. Rattan said:
- it was important for him to serve a country that has given him so many opportunities.
- I am feeling very humbled. I'm a soldier
- This has been my dream
- Allowing Sikh adherents to serve in the Army is an important part of ensuring they are an integral part of American life. He said it also could counter prejudice.
The Sikh Regiment is one of the highest decorated regiment of the Indian Army. Sikhs make up 10–15% of all ranks in the Indian Army and 20% of its officers, whilst Sikhs only forming leass than 2% of the Indian population. In the last two World Wars more than 83,000 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 1,09,045 were wounded.
Army makes exception for Sikh doctor to bear turban
US army accepts first Sikh recruit
Washington, Oct 24, 2009
In a major step to end the exclusion of Sikhs, the US Army has
accepted a Sikh recruit who had declined to either remove his 'dastaar'
(turban) or cut his hair as a condition for joining the military.
The Sikh Coalition, a community advocacy, group applauded the Army's
action in accepting Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi Friday, but expressed
concern that the decision was an exemption from Army policy only
for a single individual Sikh.
There has been no change in the overall policy excluding Sikhs
from service, the group regretted. "The Coalition is encouraged,
however, that the Army has expressed its willingness to review its
general policy of excluding Sikhs from service in the coming months."
Two Sikh men, Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a doctor, and Captain
Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, were recruited to join the Army's
Health Professions Scholarship Programme several years ago.
Both maintained their turbans throughout the four year programme,
and appeared in uniform during specialised Army training, at Army
ceremonies, and while working in military medical facilities.
However, after completing the programme, they were told that they
must remove their turbans and cut their unshorn hair and beards
for active duty. Rather than abandon their religious identity, they
chose to appeal to Army leadership to end its policy of Sikh exclusion
On Friday, the US Army accommodated Captain Kalsi and deferred
a decision on Captain Rattan's appeal until he completes his dental
"I am overjoyed by the Army's decision to allow me to serve
my country," said Captain Kalsi. "Like the many Sikhs
who fought before me, I know I will serve America with honor and
excellence. It is my hope that the Army will soon allow all Sikhs
to serve along with me."
A number of prominent members of Congress have called on the Army
to welcome all Sikhs, and not just Captain Kalsi, into the military.
In August, 43 members of the House of Representatives and 6 US
senators called on Defence Secretary Robert Gates to allow all Sikhs
to serve in the US Army. ........IANS, NRIpress.com
NRI Sikh Doctors in US Army, forced to remove their turbans
Coalition launching protests to protect Sikhs' right to serve
in the U.S Army
Washington, April 13, 2009
Captain Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, medical doctor and Second Lieutenant
Tejdeep Singh Rattan, dentist joined an Army program that pays for
medical education in return for military service. At the time of
their enrollment, military recruiters assured both men that their
turbans and unshorn hair "would not be a problem."
The both NRI Sikhs are medical professionals in the Army, being
told that they must remove their religiously-mandated turbans and
cut their unshorn hair and beards when they report for active duty
Captain Kalsi said:
- After four years of training in Army facilities, I was shocked
to learn that the Army would go back on its promise, and expect
me to choose between my faith or my service to my country
- There is nothing about my religion that stops me from doing
my job. I know I can serve well without compromising my faith.
The Sikh religion requires followers to grow their hair and wear
a turban, while children must wear traditional Sikh headgear called
the “patka” or “dastaar” in school.
Courtesy of Sikh Coalition
On April 14, the Sikh Coalition will begin a campaign to convince
the U.S. Army to permit Sikhs to serve in the military while wearing
a turban, unshorn hair and a beard. Announcing the campaign, the
Sikh Coalition said that currently Sikhs are required to choose
between their religion and military service.
On the event of Vaisakhi, the Sikh Coalition- organization said
that it will launch a campaign to ‘protect Sikhs’ right
to serve in the US Army with their Sikh identity intact.”
Under it, 15,000 people will be asked to write to the US Army to
end discrimination against the two men.
In 1981, the Army banned "conspicuous" religious articles
of faith for its service members. However, Sikhs and other soldiers
of faith who were part of the army before the 1981 rule change were
allowed to stay.
a result, Colonel
Arjinderpal Singh Sekhon, a doctor, and Colonel G.B.
Singh, a dentist, continued to serve in the U.S. Army with their
turbans and unshorn hair for the past twenty-five years. They both
retired in 2008. Despite this, Captain Kalsi and Second Lieutenant
Rattan are being prohibited from taking up the very same positions
in the Army today.
In 2002, Amric Singh filed suit against the New York Police Department
(NYPD) who would not allow him to wear his turban, with the case
resolved over two years later in favor of Singh and the Sikh community.
Just this past year, subway train operator Kevin Harrington (Sat
Hari Singh Khalsa) filed suit against the New York City Transit
(NYCT) who had ordered him to stop wearing his turban or be demoted
in his job, despite a 23-year career as a train operator wearing
The Turban for the Sikh is a fundamental aspect of his Faith..above
all things..nothing should be done to hurt their religious sentiments..
President Harry Truman declared:
- There shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all
persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion
or national origin." Today we are asking the military to
follow this core American principle with words and actions.
The Sikh Coalition
is a community-based organization that works towards the realization
of civil and human rights for all people. In particular, we work
towards a world where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their
faith while fostering strong relations with their local community
wherever they may be. Sikh
Coalition's mission is:
- Providing direct legal services to persons whose civil or human
rights are violated;
- Advocating for law and policies that are respectful of fundamental
- Promoting appreciation for diversity through education; and
- Fostering civic engagement in order to promote local community
- With a full-time staff of 8 and offices in New York City and
Fremont, CA, we are the most-staffed Sikh organization in the
history of the United States.