A visiting Marxist leader from India, Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla called upon the Non Resident Indians to uphold the values of the Ghadar Party that was formed by the South Asian political activists in North America 100 years ago.
Pasla told a crowd of Indo Canadians in Surrey past Sunday that the challenges that forced the Ghadar Party activists to wage a war against British Empire continue to prevail in a neocolonial era.
The event was organized to celebrate the 100 years of the Ghadar Party which was formed in Astoria in 2013 and had a big following in Canada. The party was established by the Indian immigrants who came to this part of the world as British subjects as India was under British occupation back then. Blatant racism and indifference of the British authorities toward their grievances transformed many of these men into social justice activists who fought both against foreign occupation back home and racism abroad.
Pasla – who is the trustee of the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee, a body that was formed by the Ghadar Party to preserve the history of its movement pointed out that racism and imperialism still exist and need to be challenged through political activism. “Mere celebrations of the Ghadar centenary are not enough.’’
He added that the Ghadar Party believed in secularism and socio economic equality. However, the religious fundamentalism and caste based oppression, besides widening gap between the rich and the poor continue to pose challenge even 66 years after India’s independence. He also attacked the neo liberal economic policies being adopted by the Indian government under pressure from powerful nations, like US.
There was a pin drop silence at the India Banquet hall during Pasla’s one- hour-long speech. Others who spoke on the occasion included, MP Jasbir Sandhu, Burnaby City Councilor Sav Dhaliwal, a prominent leftist activist Jasvir Dosanjh, the Editor of the People’s Voice Kimball Cariou and eminent historical researchers; Sohan Singh Pooni, Sadhu Binning and Dr. Raghbir Singh Sirjana.
Sav Dhaliwal also presented Pasla with the Ghadar centenary proclamation recently issued by the Burnaby municipality, whereas Kimball Cariou presented him the copies of the Ghadar Centenary Edition of People’s Voice. Those present on the occasion included former BC Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and MLA Harry Bains.
Special performances were made by Paramjit Dulley’s troop of balladeers and a singer Harjinder Cheema.