Gurinder Singh Khalsa, an Indian-American philanthropist and entrepreneur, has been presented with the prestigious Rosa Park Trailblazer award. He was selected for the honour for his campaign that forced US authorities change their policy towards headgear of the Sikh community. The 45-year-old Indianapolis-based Khalsa was presented the award for his continued demonstration of courage and compassion.
According to organisers of the event, in 2007, Khalsa was refused access to board an airplane because of his turban Thereafter Khalsa mobilised more than 67,000 people nationwide for petitions and took the issue to all the way to the US Congress, which forced Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to change its headgear policy towards the Sikh community.
As a result, Sikhs can now wear their turban through airport security in the US. Khalsa said, "I was prevented from boarding the flight because I refused to remove my turban. I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith."
Khalsa, who also heads the Indiana-based Sikhs Political Affairs Committee, dedicated the award to the Sikh community. "This award is not about me. Change does not exist without the support of a community. I dedicate this award to more than 67,000 individuals from all walks of life across America, and to one of the largest Sikh advocacy group, Sikh Coalition. Without their countless efforts change in the TSA Turban policy would not exist," he added.