26 Sikh-Americans Part of California Delegation to Democratic National ConventionGUY KOVNER & JOE GAROFOLI
26 Sikh-Americans are part of the California delegation to the Democratic National Convention being held in Charlotte, North Carolina (USA) this week.
Twin sisters Kulbir Kaur Bainiwal and Rajbir Kaur Bainiwal, 21, who are attending their first convention, are two of the 26.
Their home gurdwara, the 100-year-old Sikh place of worship in Stockton, one of the oldest in the nation, raised money for them to go.
"It's a huge step for our community to be so politically active," Kulbir said. "We want to get involved with the political system and tell the world that, yeah, we're here." It is especially important to be visible, Rajbir said, "especially after the Wisconsin shootings" in August when a gunman killed six people at a gurdwara outside Milwaukee.
Sukhwinder Singh Lamba and Rumka Kaur Singh, an upwardly mobile Santa Rosa couple, are also taking their two children on a special trip this week to North Carolina to attend the convention.
Sukhwinder, a software sales executive, has degrees in engineering and business administration. Rumka is a physician specializing in internal medicine.
They are immigrants from Punjab, members of the Gurdwara in Santa Rosa and naturalized citizens.
And as recent converts to political activism, Sukhwinder, 46, and Rumka, 45, are among the roughly 6,000 delegates attending the Convention this week.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Rumka said last week.
“We tell our friends if we can get involved in politics, anybody can,” Sukhwinder said. “It’s such a great thing about this country that anybody can get involved.”
Any registered Democrat, in fact, may sign up as a candidate in the party’s open caucuses, held in each California congressional district, to elect 399 delegates and alternates, the majority of California’s roughly 700 convention delegates this year.
Sukhwinder and Rumka did so, then engaged in classic grassroots politicking: house parties, phone calls and public speeches before the April 29 caucus in Santa Rosa.
“We campaigned very hard,” Sukhwinder said.
They won two of the eight delegate positions in the 5th Congressional District, which includes Santa Rosa.
“I was amazed at how much love and support I got,” said Rumka, who described herself as a hardworking physician and “not a very social person.”
The couple will be easily identifiable at the Convention, Sukhwinder in a turban and Rumka in her salwar, kameez and duppatta.
Rumka said she wants to “raise awareness about our (Sikh) community so people learn we are part of the fabric of this nation, part of the political process.”
The presence of about a million Sikhs in the United States was highlighted by the Wisconsin tragedy.
Ishwar Singh, a Sikh-American leader from Orlando, Florida, made history last week as the first Sikh to open a Republican National Convention session with an invocation.
Sukhwinder and Rumka think the Democrats are “on the right track” and want
to introduce their older child, Noor Kaur Lamba, 13, to politics from a seat
in the stadium on Thursday.
[Courtesy: SFGate & Watch Sonoma Country. Edited for sikhchic.com]
September 5, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Dr. Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 05, 2012, 12:08 PM.
Once again ... about time!