During Obama’s visit to India, Indian Member of Parliament Harsimrat Badal (of the opposition Akali Party) directly conveyed to the US President her concerns about Obama’s avoidance of Amritsar:
According to Harsimrat, the US president was gracious enough to acknowledge the sentiment and replying that his present visit was a “rushed affair” and that he would try to come for a longer visit next time, during which he would like to visit Punjab. “The pleasure would be all mine,” is what he is believed to have told Harsimrat.
She also brought up the TSA’s new policy of additional turban-screening to the US Ambassador to India as well:
She told him that apart from male Sikhs, even the females were asked to go through elaborate security checks due to their long, unshorn hair which they normally roll into a bun. “The females are being asked to open the hairbun and to explain all those hairpins in it. It is so embarrassing for Sikh families when they are made to do all this and with all the strangers looking around,” Harsimrat told Roemer, even as Montek also reportedly supported her contention.
“You have so many advanced gadgets, including the newly incorporated body scans, then why are the Sikhs being subjected to this humiliation,” she told the ambassor, who, according to her assured that he would look into this issue.
Who knows if the US will take these issues seriously? Until then, there will probably continue to hover a cloud of disappointment on the part of US Sikhs towards Obama. One also wonders if the PM of India, Manmohan Singh, also a turban-wearing Sikh, brought up any of these issues with the US President as well. Considering his past failures to represent any Sikh interests, my guess is Manmohan Singh remained relatively mum.