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India’s Sikh basketball Stars Forced to Make Decision on Turbans




While India’s surprising success at the FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan (China) has been a complete team effort, a special nod should be given towards the country’s formidable frontcourt, which has perplexed opponents on both ends of the floor so far. India have relied particularly on 6-foot-10 Amrit Pal Singh (23) and 6-foot-8 Amjyot Singh (22), both players who have developed out of Punjab’s great basketball academies. The former has been one of the tournament’s best defensive players and the latter has been among India’s scoring leaders.

Amrit Pal Singh

Amrit Pal Singh

Before the tournament began, it was clear that the two players would have to be at the top of their respective games for India to have a chance at defeating some of the more fancied Asian opponents. And yet, when the team took the floor for their first game against Japan on Saturday evening, Amrit Pal and Amjyot were out of the starting lineup.

Their omission had nothing to do with their form, their health, or their behaviour. And it had everything to do with their religion – or, more precisely – on FIBA’s misunderstanding of their religious customs.

Amjyot and Amrit Pal are both of the Sikh religion, and for those who may be unaware, it is part of a strict code of conduct for Sikhs to a). not cut their hair and b). keep their hear covered under a turban so it can be in its natural, unaltered state. Like people of any religion or custom, Sikhs can’t be generalized and not all of them follow the custom closely. Some cut their hair, some don’t wear turbans, while some follow every strict code of conduct by the book. Turban or no turban, millions of Sikhs seem to be getting along around the world just fine – in most cases. Amjyot and Amrit Pal both play basketball with their turbans on; Amrit Pal only began wearing his turban a few years ago, Amjyot has worn it all his life. Both had taken part in various FIBA basketball events at home and abroad and their headgear had presented no issue in the past.

Until Saturday. For the first time, FIBA officials at the Japan-India game decided to invoke FIBA’s “No Headgear” rule in an international game. Neither Amjyot and Amrit Pal could start the game, since they both had to scramble to open their turbans and then tie their hair back using a headband of some sort. They finally checked in two minutes later, but the roughly tied hair was uncomfortable for both of them, and additionally, the referees stopped them several times to show if their hair was fine. Both reported after the game that it felt awkward to play this way. India went on to lose that game by 20 points, but there were a variety of other reasons beyond hair-troubles for our top big men that led to that defeat.

Rules are rules, and Article 4.4.2 of FIBA’s Official Basketball Rules states, “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players,” a list that includes headgear like turbans, hijab, etc. But India claim that they were misled about the implementation of this rule. A day before the tournament, India’s Head Coach Scott Flemming had been given an affirmative from FIBA Asia officials that the Sikhs in his team could keep their turbans on for the game – but before the game itself, the officials changed their minds and disturbed not just the two players in question but also Team India’s flow before the game.

“I spent a long time advocating for our players the day before the Japan game and finally thought we got the ok for [them] to wear their turbans,” Flemming told me a few days after the incident, “I was then told right before the game there was a misunderstanding on what we agreed to. I again pleaded for our players on this ruling. Finally, the FIBA official made the ruling and we had no choice. I would never make our players do anything they were uncomfortable with according to their religious practices. It was up to them. They both decided to adjust to play in the game. It was disruptive but I thought they both handled it well.”

Flemming added, “I am personally against a rule like this that infringes on someones religious beliefs that does not cause any harm to others. [But] it’s is a FIBA rule.”

A few weeks ago, Habeeba Husain on had argued for the case for allowing hijab for Muslim basketball players, and on the ludicrous notion that FIBA has felt that small pieces of cloth worn to signify religious identity could pose a threat to anyone. One could make the same argument for turbans – they are a part of the lifelong identity and a matter of pride for many of these individuals, and asking them to play without it is not only insulting to them emotionally but also a deterrent to their regular habits of physical comfort.

“We have always played in turbans, even in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship in Manila,” said Amrit Pal, “But playing in the Japan game without it felt very awkward. I wear a turban in practice, too, and it was strange to not have it on during the game.”

Amjyot Singh

Amjyot Singh

Amjyot, who had never experienced playing basketball without his turban, was disturbed, too. “It felt very bad that they did this right before the game, even after our coaches had felt that we had the permission to keep our turbans on,” he said, “At least, eventually, they let us fix it with a band, but even that felt very awkward. In the China game, I tied my hair back with rubber-bands to make it hold on tighter. But I find it to be much more comfortable playing with turban, of course – that is part of my habit.”

By the time the China game came around, both players had found a temporary fix for their hair, and on-court, they fixed the basketball issues, too. Both of them started: Amjyot was the leading scorer in the game as India defeated China for the first time in its basketball history. Amrit Pal was a beast on the defensive end, and made life extremely uncomfortable for Chinese bigs such as Zhou Qi. A day later, India continued their bright form to blow out Indonesia. They lost to Iran in today’s last group stage game, but still qualified for the Quarter-Finals.

Now, India finds itself in the Quarter-Finals with dreams to go even further. And both our big long-haired Sikh superstars will be an integral part of realizing that dream, with or without their turbans.

But more importantly for their culture and for their beliefs, we hope they earn some respect to make the rest of the basketball world realize that it’s not Indians’ headgear they should fear; it’s their game.


Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs



Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality



Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?



The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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