DELRAY BEACH, FL (TIP): Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society, Stockton travelled to Delray Beach, Florida on December 13 – 15, to honor its commitment to recognize scholarly studies on Sikh Pioneers in America, their pluralistic conception of Indian nationalism, and their lobbying efforts to involve the US government in securing freedom for India. The Society celebrated 100th Anniversary of Stockton Gurdwara last year from September 22-to October 13, 2012. More than two dozen scholars from America, Canada, Britain, and India joined in presenting their papers on evaluating the role of Ghadr movement in instilling passion for freedom in Indians who had been living a wretched life under the British rule in India.
But one very accomplished scholar who keenly wanted to join the historical event, but could not travel from Florida to Stockton due to the old age and sickness of his wife. He is none other than Professor Harold A. Gould who taught for 23 years in the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and since 1991, has been a Visiting Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society considered Gould’s book, Sikhs, Swamis, Students and Spies: The India Lobby in the United States, 1900-1946, as one of the profoundest studies about Indian Pioneers journey in America. Dr. Gould makes groundbreaking disclosures about United States of America’s role in pressurizing Britain for freeing India after World War II.
Professor Gould, with his award and family at his home in Delray Beach, Florida
The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society established links with the local Sikhs of Florida and invited them to the event that took place on December 14, 2013 from 2 PM- 5 PM. Dr. Ravinder Mahal, Dr. Sirtaz Sibia, Attorney Arvind Singh, American Sikh Fateh Singh and many other prominent members of Florida Sikh Society attended the event. Professor Gould’s son Armeen Gould specially came from Pittsburgh to make arrangements for the function along with his sister, and brother in law . The delegation to Florida comprised of Stockton Gurdwara President, Amrjit Singh Panesar, General Secretary Daljit Singh, Executive member and former president Harnek Singh Atwal, Centennial Committee Chairman Manjit S. Uppal, Centennial Coordinator Bhajan Singh and Centennial Conference Convener and media coordinator Dr. Amrik Singh. Dr. Amrik Singh started the program by introducing Dr. Harold A Gould and his sterling scholarship in South Asian Studies.
He recounted how Stockton Gurdwara has been integral to starting an organized freedom movement from the Pacific Coast and how its founder president, Harvard educated Professor Teja Singh was instrumental in creating support of President Woodrow Wilson in declaring right to self-determination and freedom as integral to human progress. When the question of sending delegates to Peace Conference in December 1918 came in focus, the fund collected for establishing a Gurdwara in Berkeley, were instead used for representing India at Versailles Peace Conference. He also brought to the attention of audience prominent visitors like Sarojani Naidu in 1929, Mrs. Vijay Lakshmi Pandit in 1946 and 1948 to Stockton Gurdwara.
Amarjit Singh Panesar briefly described lives of Sikh Gurus and their teachings for recognizing equality, liberty and fraternity in all human beings. Bhajan Singh then presented a slide show that captivated the audience for about an hour. Manjit S Uppal described in detail about Stockton Gurdwara’s effort to continue the legacy of Sikh pioneers in uniting and awakening a sense of self – esteem in people living on the margins of the society. The society thanked Dr. Ravi Mahal for inviting the delegation to Florida Gurdwara and honoring Professor Gould there on Sunday, December 15, 2013. The visit created a lot of goodwill and interest in history of Indians in America for more than hundred years.