Congratulations to S Ravi Singh, an American Sikh and CEO of ElectionMall Technologies, on being awarded the “Sikhs in Media” award in UK. Full report of the award may be accessed here:
Ravi Singh, CEO of ElectionMall Technologies wins…
Brief bio of Ravi Singh is:
“Ravi Singh is CEO and founder of ElectionMall™ Technologies, Inc., a non-partisan technology company that provides citizens, political candidates and parties with the necessary online tools, services, and products to help them win elections using state-of-the-art Internet technology. Singh, the first-born son of U.S. immigrant parents, began his political journey at age 14 when the US Armed Forces forbid him to wear his turban in a USA Military Academy. Senator Paul Simon and Congressman Dennis Hastert introduced legislation on his behalf signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, which allowed him to graduate with full honors as a 2nd Lieutenant, making him the first American with a turban to graduate. By the age of 25, Singh’s passion for politics inspired him to run for public office. He was the first Asian American and Sikh with a turban to run for office in the 42nd District Illinois General Assembly. During his campaign, Singh made history by launching the first “online chat town hall meeting” and the first Internet candidate campaign website in the district. Following his run for political office, Singh founded ElectionMall™ Technologies, Inc. in 2000 and has since seen his company expand in Latin America, Asia and Europe. Currently, ElectionMall holds a product partnership with Microsoft®, which powers Campaign Cloud™, a unique campaign dashboard for campaigns of all sizes using the most advanced cloud computing technologies. He is a frequent speaker at universities and international organizations such as the UN or the European Parliament in Brussels, where he promotes e-democracy and trains on the importance and power of digital campaigns.”
Significance of this news from the perspective of the Sikh community of New Zealand is that “our own Sikh in the media” S Harjinder Singh Basiala made a great pomp and show of the fact that he was one of the nominees for the same award. In fact, he even posted a number of “vadhayee sandesh” from the usual suspects on his own website and made it out as if his nomination was something out of the ordinary and he had done the Sikhs of New Zealand “proud”. Here are some points to put the whole episode in proper context:
– Sikh Awards have a website: http://www.sikhawards.com/ where one may go to find more about the awards.
– Here is a page from the site which lists the nominees: http://www.sikhawards.com/nominee.aspx
– Here is the brief bio of S Harjinder Singh Basiala as listed on the Awards website: “Harjinder Singh Basiala was born in the village Basiala (Punjab). He is chief editor of the Punjabi Herald, the first Punjabi daily online news portal in New Zealand catering to the needs of millions of Punjabis living in New Zealand. A graduate of Guru NanakDev University, Amritsar, Harjinder Singh joined Ajit Group of Newspapers, Jalandhar and worked there for 14 years in different capacities till 2007. His pursuit for Punjabi journalism and specialty in graphic designing, ultimately led him to launch the first daily online Punjabi news portal in New Zealand and he is serving the Punjabi online readers with latest and best news and views from around the world.”
When we take the “PR” fluff away, here are the facts about Harjinder Singh Basiala’s website:
1. He is the sole owner operator of the one page website and there is no other staff involved in running it. If we are to accept his claims to being the “chief editor of the Punjabi Herald”, we take this opportunity to add that he is also the “managing editor”, “sub-editor”, “proof-reader”, “web administrator”, “reporter”, “chief reporter” of the site as well as being the “editor” and the “chief editor”.
2. H S Basiala was also involved, and questioned, in the voter fraud scam of 2010 details of which may be accessed at these links:
3. Basiala was the authorised agent of the Election Commission of NZ and many of the fraudulent voter registrations were made on the forms issued to him. His culpability in the matter is still subject of court proceedings which will be decided in another 8 to 10 months along with that of Daljit Singh and others involved.
4. Most of the people who appear on Basiala’s website as subjects of his “news reports” or as “advertisers”, are the same people who were involved directly or indirectly in the voter fraud scandal. For instance, this photo from his website may be seen as “who’s who” of the voter fraud scandal:
5. So what has it got to do with Sikh Awards? We have already mentioned the facts about “chief editor”. His bio also mentions that his website is “catering to the needs of millions of Punjabis living in New Zealand”. Those who may not be aware, total population of NZ is just under 5 million (50 Lakh) and Sikhs make up around 15 thousand of that. There are just under one hundred thousand (1 Lakh) Indians in total in NZ. So whichever way one might spin the facts “needs of millions of Punjabis” cannot but be seen as a complete lie.
That essentially sums up Harjinder Singh Basiala’s “journalistic” practices. Also add to it the fact that he collected donations from members of the community in order to go to UK to attend the awards ceremony.
Why are we writing this blog? Our aim is two-fold:
a) to convey a warning to the organizers of the Sikh Awards to tweak their nomination process and the subsequent authentication of the claims of some of the nominees so that they do not end up causing embarrassment to the community with questionable nominees being considered for an award.
b) with eminent people like Judge Rabinder Singh (first turbaned judge of the High Court in UK) on the judging panel (http://www.sikhawards.com/judges.aspx) it is even more important that the nominees are screened properly and asked to make a statutory declaration to weed out those who spin the facts to present themselves as genuine claimants.
Finally, it should have been quite easy for the Awards organizers to check whether Basiala’s website “caters to the needs of millions of Punjabis living in NZ”. This pretty much illustrates the level of journalism Harjinder Singh Basiala provides through his website.
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