CHANDIGARH, DEC 6, 2008 : Vowed to the cause of the human rights movement and inspired by the tireless work and sacrifice of many who have been striving to make our world more egalitarian, the Voice For Freedom, a non-profit organisation today conferred the first Guru Tegh Bahadur Award for Lifetime Service in Human Rights on Justice Ajit Singh Bains (Retd.) at a seminar here, organised to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amidst a galaxy of religious, social, human rights and political leaders, Justice Bains received the award from young professional Bibi Navkiran Kaur, the daughter of late S. Jaswant Singh Khalra, himself an iconic figure for Human Rights activism across the globe.
The VFF award coincided with a Seminar on Neo-Brahamnism, Human Rights and Social Democracy with Social Activist and Scholar Braj Ranjan Mani delivering a paper on the theme and keeping audiences engaged in a highly interactive session at the Conference Hall of Kisan Bhawan here.
Interestingly, representatives of many different colors of politics, including Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu of Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani), Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta, H S Dhami and Kanwarpal Singh of Dal Khalsa, Rajinder Singh of Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, lawyer Navkiran Singh, Gurmat Gian Missionary College Ludhiana’s Inderjit Singh Rana, and a large number of university professors, students, lawyers, engaged journalists and activists were among the audience which strove above all partisan lines in an effort to engage with the scholar and his work.
Rajinder Singh of Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat said the award was instituted in the name of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib as the Guru laid down his life for the protection of religious rights of people whose religion he did not share.
Justice Bains, who is a veteran human rights champion, having founded and led the Punjab Human Rights Organisation for well over two decades, humbly accepted the award and said that the human rights tragedies in Punjab brought him closer to Sikh religious ethos and he found ‘true socialism in the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib’.
The main highlight of the Seminar was the scintillating paper Braj Ranjan Mani, noted scholar and author of the path breaking best seller "Debrahamnising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society" (Manohar Publishers). Mani has also been a Fellow of the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.
Mani dwelt at length on the topic, and reaffirmed that neobrahamanism is the root cause for the present inequalitarian social and political climate of the country.
He emphasized that there is a need for unity of forces of togetherness to create an exploitation-free society. He clearly demarcated that the so-called minorities are in fact a large majority which is being governed by a brute elitist minority.
He clarified that neobrahamanism and neoimperialism have colluded in recent times to the detriment of peoples’ interests. They control the levers of power and knowledge distribution and are perpetuating a culture of intolerance.
Coordinating the function, on behalf of Voices for Freedom, Jagmohan Singh said that irrespective of the difficulties and hindrances in the Indian judicial dispensing system, Voices for Freedom would continue to uphold the cause of human rights. He said that every year, the Guru Tegh Bahadur Human Rights Award would be given to an individual/organisation whose work shows a commitment to the cause of human rights.