Historic New Dawn At “Ekal Abhiyan”

There is historic new dawn at “Ekal Abhiyan” (‘Ekal Mission’), an umbrella organization for all the ancillary ‘Ekal branchlets’, as ‘Diwali’ festivities approach. After the departure of former CEO of “Ekal Abhiyan”, Bajrang Bagra, to tackle another assignment of national importance, Ramesh Shah, the former President and Chairman of ‘Ekal-USA’ has been unanimously appointed as the new CEO of “Ekal Abhiyan”.

What makes this a historic moment is the fact that, he is the first Indian American who rose from a foot-soldier level to this distinctive honor, whose sole focus and establishment is not United States (U.S.) but rural India. Rameshbhai, as he is popularly known, has been a founder member of ‘Ekal-USA’ and credited with building a modest ‘one-teacher-school’ project, 32 years back into a national brand in U.S. for ‘selfless social work’, with over 60 widespread chapters in U.S., Canada and beyond. While endorsing his successor, Bagraji – a highly admired visionary possessing leadership acumen – expressed nothing but confidence and admiration for the new CEO. In a statement he said,” Rameshbhai will improve upon working of Ekal in fields of operational efficiency and organizational growth. He was my guide and supporter for all matters related to foreign chapters. Moreover, his we unmatched passion and long experience in serving the community in multiple sectors, including VHP & Ekal, has always been a great asset”. Dr Mahesh Mehta, former Chairman of ‘VHP of America’ commenting on Ekal’s trailblazing success across the continent, communicated that,” I am excited and proud that Rameshbhai fulfilled the task he was entrusted with in such a monumental way.”

Coming from a very humble rural background, Rameshbhai with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a brief stint as an engineer in an Indian industrial corporation, arrived in U.S. in 1970, with a dream to excel like all immigrants. He subsequently obtained degrees in MBA-Finance and MA in Economics. When the national emergency was declared in India 1975, he actively participated in ‘Indians for Democracy’ and ‘Friends of India Society International’ that demanded the restoration of the Indian constitution. He has been a lifelong ‘Swayamsevak’ (volunteer) of H.S.S. While at ‘V.H.P. of America’, he took the responsibility of floating ‘Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation’ in 1988 and worked tirelessly and diligently to make it a great success.

In the initial days of ‘Ekal’ he used to carry box-load of self-prepared information-publicity material to various community events in the hope of getting an opportunity to talk about rural illiteracy. With amicable nature and deep convictions assisting his hard-work, he soon found access wherever he went. Over the years, Rameshbhai, with his dedication and tenacity has brought in numerous donors, volunteers and thinkers to Ekal fold and motivated diverse groups to join hands with Ekal. Besides Ekal, he is responsible for establishing ‘Gujarati Samaj of Houston’ and spearheading countless projects related to ‘eyecare’ in India. During this entire community-centric journey, he was assisted by his soulmate, wife-Kokilaben. They both have been felicitated number of times by the Indian diaspora in U.S.

The high points of Rameshbhai’s community involvement came in 2014 and 2019 when he successfully planned and coordinated public reception for the newly elected Indian PM Modi at huge arena-filled gatherings in New York City and Houston. This was unprecedented in U.S. for any foreign dignitary. For this herculean task, to everyone’s amazement, he ensured that every thread of Indian community was part of it. In January 2017, Rameshbhai was bestowed with the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA)’ by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee – the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians by the Government of India in recognition of achievements, both in India and abroad. Therefore, it is no wonder that Bagraji called him ‘the most suited candidate to be the CEO of Ekal Abhiyan’. Basically, as CEO, he is going to be the bridge between Ekal-India and Ekal-Global; a point-man for all Ekal activities; an accountability administrator; a success assessor of various rural projects; and the strategic planner for Ekal’s future.

Asked about his immediate goal, Rameshbhai, taking inspiration from ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyayji, said,”it is twofold – First, I would like to bring in a lot more dedicated, committed young people to Ekal because they are the future of this organization. Secondly, I believe that we have not yet explored the full potentials of all our chapter members. So, collectively, we need to find ways and means to bring their dormant skills to the surface and utilize them for everyone’s benefit”. The first mega event happening under his watch is going to be “Future of India’ gala of November 13 which will be virtual and co-chaired by Kamlesh Shah and Mohan Wanchoo. The distinguished speakers who are lending their eagerly awaited presence to this magnificent event are Renu Khator, Chancellor of University of Houston; Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera Bread and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson & Founder of Biocon. Rameshbhai is confident that the funds raised would set a new record for the special-projects.

A Devious Conspiracy to Destabilize India

The despicable act of aggression on the world famous ‘Laal Kilaa’ (‘Red Fort’) in Delhi on the auspicious January 26 ‘Republic Day’ is as deplorable as the attack on the U.S. ‘Capitol’ building in Washington D.C. This was an assault on India’s consciousness as a union. It was obvious that the anti-national separatist elements had taken inspiration from ‘Trump & his henchmen’ for their criminal modus operandi. The offensive incidence had nothing to do, whatsoever, with the new ‘Farm Bill’ introduced by the government nor it had the face of the farming community. It was all the part of the devious conspiracy, not only to give bad name to the Sikhs community who formed the chunk of the protesting farmers, but also, to alienate them from Indian diaspora and then realize the twisted dream of separatist ‘Khalistan’ that no one wants to be part of in reality. It is worth noting that some of the notorious media-outlets who are perennially opposed to everything that Modi-government does, stroked, aided and abated false news items with vengeance, to keep the farming-bill impasse unresolved. 

Overall, although the separatist conspirators did not succeed in their objective, this day will remain in infamy in the history of India. This is bound to overshadow Sikh’s legacy as gallant, nationalistic, enterprising community whom the rest of India held in high esteem. There is no denying that what happened on Jan.26 at ‘Laal Kilaa’ seemed to be the failure of the Government to safeguard this symbol of Indian Democracy, in spite of overwhelming advance knowledge. Was the ‘intelligence bureau’ naïve enough to believe farmer leader’s false assurances of peaceful demonstration? Were security forces hands were administratively tied to take any actions against the impending danger? Nobody knows. 

The Farmer’s protest was hijacked by the antinational and the separatist element long before it even began in Delhi. From the beginning, the video-clips of how lavishly the so-called ‘poor farmers’ were being nurtured and cared for, had started making rounds on the ‘social-media’. It confirmed people’s suspicion of well-financed lobby of the enemies of the state that went beyond the borders of the country. They included not only Pakistan, ‘Khalistan-separatists’, but also, the opposition political parties and Kashmiri-separatists. All along they were bent upon denying and destroying all the good things that were happening in the country. Everyone on social-media has seen video-clips of people coming out of the mosques and immediately donning Sikh turbans to join the protesters. Here we cannot discount the role played by Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau whose cabinet picks include three Sikh Ministers with alleged ties to separatist ‘Khalistanis’. Prestigious ‘The Economist’ recently had an article that said, “PM N. Modi’s farm reforms could turn India into food export Power-House”. This is definitely not in the best interests of farming economy of Canada whose majority part is the Sikh community. Trudeau, to his political ends, has not only pampered the separatists Sikhs in Canada who are rich, but also, confirmed his unwarranted support to the hardliners. Reportedly, there were rallies by ‘Khalistan’ elements on Jan.26 in some of the major cities of the world, including in NYC. It is no secret that ‘Shaheenbaug’ protest for CAA was, in large part, financed by ISI of Pakistan. The farmer’s protest was no different. In this case there was infusion of political agendas of the notorious ‘troika’ – separatist-Khalistan, opposition-parties & Pakistan’s ISI. Many ordinary farmers were too gullible to get sucked into the devious designs of this ‘troika’ before they realized what was happening. By that time, the protesters had lost all the credibility for the issues affecting them. ‘Troika’ needed some drastic act to resurrect themselves in the eyes of the farmers.  

The conspirators expected Modi government to react with bullets but that is where they went wrong. Nothing of that sort, happened. The rest of the India charitably separated the extremist ‘troika’ from the rest Sikh community with restrained understanding. If the government and the people had reacted otherwise as it happened in 1984, it would have been very divisive. Modi-Government, smart as it is, did not take the bait. It not only let the whole anarchist coalition exposed themselves to the world, but also, to let the Sikh community introspectively soul search what their ‘identity’ should be. Lot of Sikhs have now realized that their identity as peaceful, pious and socially generous has been, once again misappropriated by the external and internal wasted interests. Since the war on terrorism, Sikhs have been the victims of the westerner’s misguided glare to look at them with suspicion. The ‘Laal Kilaa’ incidence is not going to be helpful unless, the Sikh community with all the help they can get from other communities completely discard extremist elements from within and rebuild and reacquires their noble status. Although the majority in India have been hurt, they are, nevertheless, anxious to willingly embrace them as their ‘Brethren”. As one of the Sikh philosophers once said, “Without Hinduism, Sikhism has no roots and without Sikhism Hinduism has no fruits”

“A Nightmare Called Trump”

The breach of security on Jan. 6 at the ‘Capitol Building’ in Washington, D.C. while certification of Mr. Joe Biden as the next President of U.S. was under way, wasn’t just an incidence of one more demonstration of violent protest that besieged Yr.2020 … It was a total failure of our nation’s security apparatus, triggered by our own enragedly egotist President Trump. This day will remain as one of the darkest days in the history of U.S. It was a defining moment as an attempt to hijack the democratic values of this great nation in a coup by intimidating Congressional body to overturn the election results. Let’s not forget that the out-of-control mob of hoodlums, anarchists, white-supremist and false conspiracy theorists who converged on the Capitol were, incited earlier by none other than deranged Trump himself who exhorted them to take the matter in their own hand. It exposed how fragile our nation is, not only to the wide-spread barrage of venomed falsehood and divisiveness, but also, how vulnerable it is to anti-national militia & terrorist attacks.


Let’s stop the charade or pretend that what happened on Jan.6 was ‘totally shocking’. It was 4 years in making with the support of misguided supporters. Trump’s core support comes from numerous splinter ‘anti-groups’ – anti-immigrant, anti-nonwhites, anti-govt, anti-women’s rights, anti-establishment, anti-environment, anti-media, anti-rules & regulations for good governance etc. He systematically tapped into these lot’s insecurities and nurtured them to his selfish ends. President John Kennedy from the same ‘Capitol’ steps had motivated the Americans to work in harmony for the collective bright future with a historic proclamation – “Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country”. Trump, on the other hand put Americans against each other. Though this had been a country of immigrants, he made ‘immigrant’ an exclusionary word in the life of this country by equating it to only the ‘white people’, and making ‘non-white people’, the root-cause of all U.S. problems. Never in the history of U.S., there had been so many violent acts of bullying and infamous pogrom-style vengeful killings that ultimately resulted into global movement of ‘Black Lives Matter’. In spite of losing all court cases for lack of even a shred of evidence, except his own mere psycho-rhetoric to boot, all the way to the Supreme Court & ‘Electoral College’, Mr. Trump, in his delusional alternative world kept on spreading the falsehood just to satisfy his own whimper. The Republicans, right-wing media, and the so-called conservatives – all bear the responsibility for this greatest historic American tragedy.

He bullied them and this spineless lot caved in. They fully knew that the words have consequences, but intentionally kept mum as long as he did not turn against them. They did not stand with Sen John McCann, decorated Generals, experienced career Diplomats when he insulted them nor objected to his hundreds of lies, each month. They did not do a thing when he refused to take any action against Covid-19 epidemic or Russia’s cyber-attacks on vital components of U.S. government. They, in fact, stroked his outlandish conspiracy theories and went against the constitution they had pledged to upheld, to confirm their loyalty to him. When Trump was stroking his goons with hateful speeches, no republican or conservative protested that to be ‘unamerican’, then.  In short, the responsibility of creating this self-centered, self-absorbed monster rests solely with them. Some of the ardent supporters rallied around him even after his disgraceful fall simply because the reality was too painful and bruising for their own ego. It is worth noting the ‘double standards’ of some of the nationalist Indians who were Trump supporters. This cadre, had unequivocally lambasted outrageous accusations of the Indian Congress and its allies against Hon. N. Modi and BJP as ‘mere allegations without any shred of proof or merit’ but readily accepted Trump’s whimsical personal allegations against the electioneering process as the truth, when he lost the second term. The enthusiasm of some of them overflowed so much so that they even attached the word ‘Hindu’ to their support groups. This was outright blasphemy of what ‘Hinduism’ stands for. Trump had never ever exhibited any trait that ANY religion – leave alone just Hindu – could take pride in. All his life, Trump had cheated people & the government, ruined thousands of businesses, taken advantage of vulnerable women, spread hatred and never ever repented or regretted any of his unscrupulous actions.

Trump has been universally condemned after what happened on Ja.6. He personally has no political future, in my opinion. He lost his year 2024 chance to get elected when he refused to gallantly accept his loss in November elections. A Lot has been lost during four tumultuous years of Trump presidency. As a nation, our Democracy not only been disgraced, but also, lost clout or the power to make the things happen in our interest. Trump had already isolated U.S. from the rest of the world by going against all our allies. Jan.6, proved that we cannot manage our own affairs, peacefully and according to the ‘law of the land’. How different was Trump-era than the era of third world country dictators like ‘Mugabe’, ‘Idi Amin’ or ‘Gaddafi’. Like them he refused to relinquish the power when the time came. This was disgraceful, despicable and shameful to be played out on the world stage.

At such junctures, it is always customary to stress that the goodness in U.S. outweighs all negativity, lapses or bad episodes etc., put together … I say – not so fast … Make no mistake; Trump and his hateful twisted ideology is not going to go away, at least in near future, unless people and the lawmakers are vigilant about the future of this country. He and his humiliated surrogates in the Congress are likely to create hurdles for Biden administration, every which way they can, every step of the way for the next 4 years. Also, there is plenty of room to wonder whether challenging election results, is going to be the future ‘norm’? If it does, then it will be the beginning of U.S. becoming a ‘Banana Republic’.