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His name is KHAN, My name is SINGH


Yes Punjab Editorial
H S Bawa

His name is Khan, My name is Singh. Yeah, his name is Shahrukh Khan and my name is Harmohinder Singh Bawa.

I know that no parallels can be drawn between the two of us but still feel that there are more than one which can be.

No parallels can be drawn because he is the superstar of Bollywood and I am a Journalist working in Punjab for the last 15 years and now editor-owner at this website yespunjab.com.

Parallels still can be drawn as he is human, so am I.  Both of us are Indians. Both of us belong to what they call minority communities in India and at the top of all these both of us have certain problems because of our surnames, Khan and Singh.

Today is 13th of April, the day of Visakhi, the Khalsa Sajna Divas (The Birth day of Khalsa). Today I am happy because it is Viaskhi, a sacred day for the Sikhs.


Today I am sad and today I am happy. One actually can be both sad and happy at the same time. If you don’t believe it, I am just ready to unfold why I am sad and why I am happy at the same time.

I am sad because dear Shahrukh once again had to undergo an unusual, unpredictable and unwanted behavior of the officials at New York Airport. Repeat of a trauma for Shahrukh, a second-take of humiliation in the same country by the same people and the people who boast of the best intelligence agencies and services in their country. and that just because ‘his name is Khan’.

I am happy because India has reacted and asked for an apology for the treatment meted out to Shahrukh Khan. Reportedly India has said that if US does not seek an apology the relations between the US and India may get affected. Quite a big statement.

The behavior of the US Airport Officials with Shahrukh makes me sad while the reaction of India makes me happy but it ultimately still leaves me sad. You can definitely ask, why and how? And my answer is because ‘My name is Singh’.

While I appreciate Indian Government’s new-found attitude of reacting to protect the honor and dignity of its citizens but I still have my concerns intact and that is because ‘my name is Singh’.

I am fond of travelling, though my life has not given me an opportunity to travel a lot. I have not been to any place outside India but like most of the people I would love to see the world before the God makes me quit.

But as an aware media man, I shudder at the thought of going to some countries. Countries which claim to be super powers, advanced, developed, secular, multicultural, the champions of human rights or whatever good terms you can think of.

I fear visiting these countries as I go through the stories of Turbans of Sikhs being taken off due to the so called security reasons. A Turban is a piece of cloth tied to a head and even a simple metal detector beeps if there is something hidden or wrapped in a piece of cloth. I fail to understand how and why Airport authorities of the countries, having advanced technology and ultra-modern scientific gadgets available at their Airports, can’t check a Sikh man’s turban without getting it off from his head.

And what I fail to understand even more is why the Government of India does not react so strongly to the situations which have occurred many a times in Germany, in France, in Italy and even in the US. In France even a Sikh permanently residing there has to take off his turban for getting photographed for a picture to be pasted on any official document.

After today’s Shahrukh Khan Episode the question being raised by India, the Indians world over and now even by the Government of India is that why SRK is being treated differently if ‘his name is Khan’.

A very good question which could have been raised much earlier but the question I today wish to raise is that why Sikhs are being treated differently if they say ‘my name is Singh’.

Like I said, there can be no parallels between me and Shahrukh or should I say Shahrukh and me but I still maintain that certain parallels exist, which are there and which will remain there. He and me, both are human, both are Indians, both belong to minority communities and above all both have the same right to self-respect and dignity.

Shahrukh or for that matter any Amitabh, Ambani, Tata, Birla, Premji etc. etc. may be a billion or trillion times rich, influential, well-connected and powerful than the likes of me but one thing is sure that all of us, and this all of us definitely includes me, have same Indian pride which needs to be respected and protected.

So, If humiliation of Shahrukh deserves this kind of reaction, I welcome it. If Government of India reacts so strongly when Shahrukh’s self-esteem, pride, respect or his sentiments get hurt I can only appreciate it but don’t I have the right to wonder why Government of India reserves its reaction when Turbans are taken off at Airports of different countries.

I hope when I choose to fly and land at an airport of a country with a valid visa my Turban would neither be patted down nor I would be asked to get my ‘pride’ off my head. And God forbid, if that ever happens would I be expecting too much from the Government of India that it  reacts even more sharply because if Shahrukh can’t be let down because ‘his name is KHAN’ can I be let down because ‘my name is SINGH’.