A Sikh army captain who sued the U.S. military for discrimination in March has won the right to continue serving on active duty while upholding his religiously mandated turban and beard.
The U.S. Army released its decision on Thursday to grant Captain Simratpal Singh “religious accommodation” to the rules against facial hair and headwear, adding that “the Army intends to gather information to develop uniform standards for religious accommodations.”
“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Singh, a West Point graduate who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, said in a press release. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”
After years of cutting his hair and shaving his face, Singh was finally granted a temporary accommodation in December. Assistant Army Secretary Debra Wada ordered tests in March to determine whether Singh could safely wear a helmet and gas mask if he had a turban, uncut hair and a beard.
Thursday’s decision by the Army states that Singh will not have to reapply for accommodation in the future.
“In a political context where minorities are being marginalized and attacked routinely, it is critical that our nation’s largest institutions and employers — like the U.S. military — show the country that America embraces diversity,” Simran Jeet Singh, the Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, told The Huffington Post.
He added, though, that this decision is just one step toward ending the discriminatory policies regarding article of faith for service members.
In 2014, the U.S. military began taking steps to give individual troops greater freedom to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms. A spokesman for the Sikh Coalition noted at the time that the religious accommodation would have to be approved each time a service member changed assignments and would default to the discretion of their commanders.
Just two day’s before the Army released its decision on Singh’s case, three other Sikh soldiers filed a lawsuit seeking similar accommodations from the Army. With Singh’s victory and the Army’s promise to “develop uniform standards,” there may be hope for others in a similar predicament.
How many of us remember the names of the army officers who lost their lives while serving the nation? How many of us remember the sacrifices made by our defense forces and their families to protect us? How many of us remember the horror tales of the terrorist attacks on national borders? Hardly a few of us. We tend to forget the sacrifices, the immense bravery, and the spirit of the officers who lay down their lives fighting for the country.
It’s not been long since we faced a terrorist attack. In the late hours of May 2, an Indian army colonel, a major, two soldiers, and a Jammu and Kashmir police sub-inspector carried out one of the deadliest operations in Handwara. A 12-hour long operation to avoid a hostage situation cost us the lives of the brave hearts of India. Two terrorists were also neutralized in the encounter as per a statement released by the Indian Army.
Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Jammu, and Kashmir police Sub-Inspector Sageer Ahmed Kazi, Lance NK Dinesh, and NK Rajesh lost their lives in a gunbattle with terrorists in North Kashmir. Just a few days have passed by and it seems like everyone has forgotten their sacrifice.
Why is it so, that we tend to normalize martyrdom of soldiers? It requires immense bravery and courage to serve the country without fearing death. Then why do we forget their sacrifice in a few seconds? No, their job is not to die, but to fight for the nation and protect us. And when they lose their lives while protecting us, it is a great loss. The loss is as big as a celebrity death. When a legendary actor dies, the whole nation mourns. On the other hand, when a soldier is martyred, it is just a matter of a few minutes, and very quickly, we move on.
Are real-life heroes not as important as reel life heroes? And if not, then why? The soldiers, standing on the borders, protecting us all including the reel life heroes are as important as any other celebrity. They are the pride of this nation. They undergo harsh living conditions and circumstances just to make sure that none of us suffers or dies. Like us, they too have families whom they have to leave back at home to protect us.
Many families lose their sons, fathers, and brothers. These families wait endlessly to meet their loved ones who serve the nation, they spend countless nights worrying, and then one sudden day they have to face their worst fear of losing that member of the family. Women are widowed, children and parents are devastated, but they all are proud. And so are we.
Terrorist attacks on the borders are not given any importance as compared to the terrorist attacks in cities. My question is why? Yes, in cities civilians are involved and a huge number of people die but the same happens when terrorist attacks take place on the borders of the nation. The soldiers are martyred. Then why do we overlook the news of terrorist attacks on the army?
This shows how we have normalized martyrdom of soldiers in our lives. Their sacrifice is overlooked as we tend to think that it’s a part of their job, but it isn’t. They don’t stand on the borders to die. They stand there to fight till the end, to bravely face the enemy and to protect the nation and its citizens. It is their love and passion for the country and their bravery that makes them what they are. They deserve all the respect and appreciation, which we fail to deliver.
Appreciation is not something which our respected soldiers demand, it is something which they deserve. The least we can do is to acknowledge their bravery, courage, and sacrifice, and pay homage to them and always remember the tale of their bravery.
My homage to the brave hearts and may God give strength to their families.
We are part of a thriving, young, and vibrant nation. We also belong to a civilization that is timeless in age backed by a culture that has gifted the world spiritual enlightenment, technological progress and unbound and selfless wisdom. At no point in time were we anything but givers to the global community as a whole. Today, as the winds of technology blow, Indian minds are not just powering this revolution but leading it as well.
A nation of our stature also attracts the attention of the wrong kind. In the last few years, we have seen reports of how actors backed by nation-states and non-state actors consistently attacking our critical and non-critical infrastructure for various reasons. These attacks are not limited to the defense sector alone. Healthcare, transport, IT, telecom have each been attacked in the recent past. Such attacks point to the activation of bot farms consisting of millions of zombie devices that have been hacked to serve as a source of processing capacity for launching cyberattacks on India.
Some of these attacks are being carried out with the discipline of a regular army. It carries all the signatures thereof — including high levels of research and reconnaissance, multiple attacks to gain entry, precision targeting, disciplined and patient approach towards creating a beachhead, and, last but not least, persistent attempts to hack and acquire information. Such attacks need to be countered at various levels, and we need to evolve and deploy a cybersecurity doctrine that affords us protection and secures our infrastructure, minds, and resources.
There is a rapid deterioration of international stability across our immediate neighborhood, the Middle East, Eastern, and Central Europe alone with continuing geopolitical turmoil that is shaping foreign and domestic policy decisions around energy and defence. The challenge for all of us is the character of the competition being fueled by nefarious means is being conducted by authoritarian opponents who are part of nations that have not tasted democracy in its entirety ever. They also have armed forces who have been issued carte blanche by their political masters to indulge in international chicanery that ends at the doorsteps of democracies like ours and harms our growth aspirations.
Our adversaries are not just attacking the foundational pillars of our existence as a nation but also attacking our way of life and our freedoms in a manner that is quite difficult to defeat without undermining those very freedoms we seek to protect. Our adversaries are making a concerted attempt to undermine cohesion, erode economic, political, and social resilience, and challenge our strategic position in our part of the world. Such efforts have to be met with a level of resistance that doesn’t merely defeat these machinations but also serves to deter future attempts.
The increasing digitization of our growth is opening new ways to execute a type of “political warfare” that relies on the use and abuse of information, online espionage, state-backed cyberattacks, and intellectual property theft, among other things. The chain doesn’t stop here. It is often backed by the promotion of misinformation and fake news in cyberspace.
We need to address this challenge through a strategic response that integrates all levers of power and operations. We need to bring in a renewed coherence and consistency to our defence strategy for the next decade, which will be a critical one as we aim at becoming a $5 trillion economy. We need to be able to strike and protect a dimension that emerges from the integration of five domains that are space, cyber and information, air, maritime, and land. This integration will change the way we fight and the way we develop the capability to protect and defend.
Our armed forces, in the future, will have to develop and deploy a strategy that gives them the ability to operate at a micro and nano levels with a small force while moving faster relying on a very high degree of mobility, electronic warfare and passive deception measures to maintain the information advantage we possess now. More and more automated, supervised, and autonomous platforms will be integrated in a manner to enable the faster introduction of new tech as also the ability to defend or strike hard as required while maintaining a deterrence posture that conveys strength and resilience. Disabling of adversarial infrastructure for the short or long term will be a part of this measure.
Such a high level of modernization will need us to embrace information-centric technologies and approaches. We also need to recognise the need for the application of a blend of technologies such as computing power, connectivity, machine learning, IoT and artificial intelligence [AI],
automation, autonomy, and quantum computing to attain the disruptive power we need.
The path ahead
We need to initiate work on multiple projects in parallel to support the goals I have outlined previously without losing focus. These projects should focus on areas where ethical technologies and a high level of automation can bring a plethora of advantages while we redefine data as a strategic and uncompromisable asset. The industry in India needs to back us on this front.
We must embrace open, outwardly facing innovation across all segments and outsource to strategic partners. No one can do everything anymore, as this leads to erosion of core competencies and dilution of strengths. A high level of collaboration with the academic and entrepreneurial ecosystem is the need of the hour. We must utilise technology scouts to amplify our R&D capabilities and support universities, research centres, startups, and established companies looking to develop strategic alliances with the right partners. (IANS)
Nothing is more attractive than a head full of healthy, luscious locks, even for men. So, while you care for your beard and mustache, take care of your tresses.
These tips from L’Oreal Paris and Delhi-based Lucullan Studios, will help keep your hair nourished and healthy.
1. Men’s products are often marketed as having 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 abilities. While it may seem like a great idea to have a shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all in one handy product, instead of asking one product to work overtime, do yourself and your hair a favor by investing in a complete hair care system made up of separate products. Pick those meant for your hair type.
2. When it’s time to dry your mane, you may be tempted to grab your towel, rub away, and be done with it. However, rough rubbing can actually cause breakage. Instead, gently pat your hair dry to avoid any unwanted damage.
3. Less is more. Keep your hair styling products to a minimum. Too much product can build up on your hair over time, causing your strands to be weighed down and appear flat.
4. Excessive heat can damage your strands, and while you may not be whipping out a curling iron or flat iron, there’s a solid chance you reach for a blow-dryer every now and then. Try to keep using heat tools to a minimum-and when you do use one, make sure to apply a heat protectant beforehand and don’t turn the heat all the way up.
5. Wearing tight, fitted hats too often can take a toll on your strands. Try to go sans hat as frequently as you can, and when you do wear one, opt for a loosely fitted style rather than one that’s molded to your head.
6. Trims are important! While you may not have super-long strands, it’s important to get regular trims. This will help get rid of any unwanted split ends and allow your hair to look and feel its best.
7. Your beard requires proper tender loving care, too. Just as you need to wash your hair, it’s important to keep your beard clean, especially if you use any styling product on it. Instead of using shampoo and conditioner, reach for a face wash and beard moisturizer.
8. A healthy diet can help your hair stay strong and shine. If you are not getting certain nutrition from food, you might see the effect on your hair. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are important for your hair. Starchy food items like bananas and potatoes are rich in Vitamin B6. Major sources of B12 include meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. You can get folic acid with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables especially citrus fruits and tomatoes. Beans and lentils also have it. Proteins is also critical for keeping your hair healthy but many people don’t get enough in daily diet so it’s a good idea to take a daily multivitamin.