Sikhs in US army: India welcomes lawmakers’ backing

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WASHINGTON: Indian ambassador S. Jaishankar has welcomed US lawmakers plea to end US defence department’s presumptive ban on Sikh Americans serving in the US military with their beards and turbans.

Over 100 members of Congress from both Democratic and Republican parties made the plea in a March 10 letter to the US defence secretary Chuck Hagel to promote inclusion of Sikhs in the US armed forces by updating their appearance regulations.

The major bipartisan push for change was led by Joe Crowley, democratic vice chair of the Democratic Caucus in the house, and Rodney Frelinghuysen Republican chairman of the House Defence Appropriations Subcommittee.

In a statement on the letter’s release, Jaishankar said: “The Congressional initiative is an important step towards upholding the cultural rights of the Sikh community in the United States.”

“The large number of signatories to this letter testifies to the important role played by the Sikh community in the United States and its various walks of life.”

“The Sikh community’s success in the United States is a source of pride for India and a pillar of the India-US partnership,” he said.

Speaking of the contributions of the Sikh community in India, Jaishankar noted, “India takes pride in being the cradle of Sikhism. The Sikh community is an intrinsic part of India’s multi-religious and pluralistic fabric.”

“Sikhs have made India proud with their sacrifices, achievements and leadership,” he said.

“India’s Sikh sons and daughters have held the highest offices in the land and have served at the highest ranks including at four star ranks in the Indian military.”

“The tremendous progress and prosperity they have achieved, and their enormous contribution to their motherland, speak volumes about their indefatigable spirit of enterprise and diligence,” Jaishankar said….

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