A Tribute to Tejinder Singh

It is my honor to write this tribute to the late Tejinder Singh who I feel proud to call a friend. Tejinder grew up in a small town called Kharagpur in the State of West Bengal, India. He enrolled in one of the prestigious and premier technical colleges– the Indian Institute of Technology/Kharagpur (IIT/KGP) to be a civil engineer. But his passion was journalism, and he abandoned the idea of being an engineer. He became a journalist that took him to Greece, Geneva, Brussels and finally the United States.

I met Tejinder about 4 years back at an event in the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. We soon connected as I also attended IIT/KGP. In our first meeting he spoke excitedly about his work and particularly India America Today (IAT), the monthly newspaper for which he was the Editor. He roped me into being on the IAT Board and soon assigned me the task of writing an article about Africa, a continent that I know well. He became fascinated about Africa and wondered aloud ‘Why are Africans mired in poverty despite having so many resources”. He read up a lot about Africa and it was not uncommon for him to come to my home late in the evening to talk about Africa. ‘I want to go to Africa’ he said one evening. And I promised to take him with me on my next trip. But the pandemic upset all plans and his dream remained unfulfilled.

Teji, as he was known to his friends, was a special person who loved his profession but loved meeting and interacting with people more. No one was a stranger to Teji. He would contact anyone who would be able to answer his probing questions for an article he was writing. Although known as a journalist, he was more than that. He was a caring person who respected the otherness of others.

One of the recent highlights of his career was the trip in November, 2019 as a part of a group of pilgrims who traveled from Punjab, India to Kartarpur Gurudwara in Pakistan, a holy site for the Sikhs. He proudly showed off the pictures of his trip at a gathering in our house. At this event he was a little child with a new toy!

Teji was a gentleman and always respectful even when asking tough questions at press briefings. For those of us who knew him as a friend and shared stories and laughter will miss him, but always knowing that he was a remarkable person, and I feel privileged to have known him.

Foreign Secretary Shringla Condoles the Passing of Tejinder Singh

In a message sent to Poonam Sharma, the Managing Editor of India America Today, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla condoled the passing of our Founder and Editor, Tejinder Singh:

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the untimely demise of my good friend, Tejinder Singh, Editor of the India America Today and White House Correspondent.

A brilliant writer and a wonderful human being, Tejinder worked tirelessly to bring to the readers the nuances and dynamics of the strategic India-US partnership and further strengthen bonds at the people-to-people level.

I had many opportunities to interact with him and benefit from his keen intellect and encyclopedic knowledge during my tenure as India’s Ambassador to the US. I found him deeply involved in issues that concerned the welfare and interests of the Indian community in USA. An out of the box thinker, I was often benefitted by the ideas and suggestions he proffered on the issues we dealt with.

His passing away leaves a void in the Indian-American media space and in our own hearts. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.

With regards,

हर्ष वर्धन श्रृंगला
Harsh Vardhan Shringla
विदेश सचिव
Foreign Secretary
विदेश मंत्रालय
Ministry of External Affairs
साउथ ब्लॉक, नई दिल्ली
South Block, New Delhi

Harsh Vardhan Shringla assumed charge as the 33rd Foreign Secretary of India on 29 January 2020. In the course of a diplomatic career spanning over 37 years, Foreign Secretary Shringla has held a variety of positions in New Delhi and abroad. He has served as India’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Thailand. He has also served in diplomatic assignments in France; USA (UN, New York); Vietnam; Israel and South Africa.

US Asks Nations to Reevaluate Ties with Burmese Military

Washington, DC – The United States on Wednesday (May 19) urged other nations to reevaluate ties with the Burmese military, while reiterating tough talk on junta’s coup and denouncing the atrocities on political protests against it.

Answering a question from IAT (Tejinder Singh), Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department briefing told journalists: “We condemn the Burmese military’s brutality and we encourage all countries to evaluate any links to the Burmese military, and we will continue to support the will of the people of Burma.”

On whether the US was considering sanctions on top Burmese brass, Porter replied that she didn’t “have any sanctions to preview from here (the podium).”

Hundreds of protestors across Burma have been killed since the February 1 military coup. There are protests taking place across the nation since the military seized control of the South East Asian country and declared a year-long state of emergency. There are also protests happening in Washington, DC, where Burmese diaspora is protesting in front of the Chinese embassy and monuments of national interest.

US Refuses to Comment on Turkey-Pakistan-China Nexus

Washington, DC – The United States has no comments on the various reports in regional and international media which allege a growing interest of Turkey, Pakistan and China to collaborate in sharing and developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the regular State Department briefing on Friday (May 7), IAT (Tejinder Singh) posed the question: “What is the US reaction to reports over last few weeks about the emergence of a China-Pakistan-Turkey nexus on nuclear proliferation, and Pakistan coordinating on capacity-building of the three countries which has been flagged by watchdogs and media? And we all know about Turkish President Erdogan has been quoted as expressing his desperation on developing the caliphate atom bomb to fulfill his neo-Ottoman aspirations. So what is the US reaction to these reports?”

In response Jalina Porter, Principal Deputy Spokesperson at the US State Department told journalists during the daily State Department briefing, “We have no – nothing to announce on these reports at this time.”

Interesting to note that Selcan Hacaoglu writing in a Bloomberg report titled, “Turkey Widens War Tech Hunt by Tapping Pakistan’s China Ties,” noted: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hailed “very serious potential” for collaboration with Pakistan on defense projects, and top defense officials have met in recent months.”

The report further said: “A deal would get NATO-member Turkey closer to some of China’s military technology. Pakistan builds its JF-17 fighter jets with China and is said to have adapted Chinese designs for its Shaheen ballistic missile.”

Another report by Paul Antonopoulos in Greek City Times listed a number of meetings between Pakistani and Turkish top army brass, including Pakistan’s Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Nadeem Raza who visited Turkey from March 27th to April 2nd.

Antonopoulos wrote: “It is pertinent to note that reportage in the press on all these meetings mentioned that defence production was one of the main agendas, with aerial vehicles and nuclear proliferation being the target areas.”

“The emergence of a China-Pakistan-Turkey nexus on nuclear proliferation and Pakistan coordinating on capacity building of the three countries has already been flagged by watchdogs and media,” added the Greek City Times report.

Stop Asian Hate Crimes

Washington, DC – It’s been more than a year since the pandemic took hold of North America, and it has been almost the same amount of time that an infodemic of misinformation and fear mongering has been spreading, leading to an increase in hate crimes against Asians in the United States.

An analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, shows anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 145 percent in 2020 with the first spike occurring in March and April amidst a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic.

In addition to politicians labeling COVID-19 as the ‘China Virus’ and Kung Flu, a recent tweet by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee adds fuel to the fire of anti-Asian hate: “I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese. Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to @MLB games. Ain’t America great?”

The problem is much deeper as Senator Tammy Duckworth expressed in a tweet, “The attacks, stabbings, shootings—we’ve seen similar veins of this discrimination against our fellow Americans before. From segregation to immigration to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Uproot this racism. End the prejudice. #StopAsianHate.” Senator Duckworth – an Iraq War Veteran, and Purple Heart recipient who served in the US Army for 23 years, still gets asked, where are you really from?

While reporting on President Biden and Vice President Harris’ reaction to the Atlanta attacks, Paris Huang, White House correspondent for Voice of America, shared a disturbing incident on social media. We are quoting his tweets:

“Ironically this happened the day everyone is talking about prejudice against #AAPI . Behind this photo was a disturbing experience. I was getting ready for my TV live shot at BLM (Black Lives Matter) Plaza, 3 female Korean reporters were setting up at my left. Two people, the man was filming with an … iPad, the woman w/ a microphone, self-identified as “independent media”, asked the female reporters: “Are you Korean or Chinese?” then interrupted their work, told them: “We are American, you are foreigners, we have the right to stop you from filming our White House”.”

“In my crew were 3 men, Asian, Latino & Middle Eastern. I told my camera crew I think they will come back when they hear me speak in Mandarin. I went live at 6PM, started my broadcast in Mandarin, talking about President & VP’s reaction to the Atlanta shooting, those 2 came back”

“… got really close to me ’cause I can hear them talking loudly & disruptivly right next to me when I was on air. 1 of my crew stopped them & shielded me w/ his body. We packed & left quickly. I am really disturbed. Hope my @aaja brothers & sister never have to encounter the same.”

We stand with the Asian American community. We all have a responsibility to stand up to false and divisive statements, erroneous claims and misinformation whenever we come across it. Let’s all take action to #StopAsianHate.