August 2017 \ Diaspora News \ Dr AMARJIT SINGH MARWAH
Peerless Stalwart

In many ways, Dr Marwah was a pioneer that arrived much before the “Indian invasion” of the West Coast. Even legendary figures began to arrive in Los Angeles only in the 1960s, such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, made famous in the West by the Beatles. Soon he was to become Dr Marwah’s patient. Also over time arrived the likes of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and Harbhajan Yogi.

At the dawn of the 1970s, Dr Marwah struck a deep friendship with Tom Bradley, the first black Mayor of Los Angeles, and after whom a terminal is named at the city’s international airport. Bradley was a police lieutenant who contested for the City Council, and Dr Marwah was involved in the campaign. Bradley remained five-time mayor of Los Angeles. When his dear friend passed away, Dr Marwah was one of the pall bearers alongside Al Gore, America’s Vice President. It was Bradley who had appointed the famous dentist a City Commissioner in 1974, a position he was to hold for 18 years, a record for any Indian American. He also chaired the Cultural Heritage Commission and the Hollywood Art Commission during this period. Nearly 300 sites, including the Walk of Fame and the Roosevelt Hotel, were declared protected monuments.

In 1968, he founded the Los Angeles chapter of Sister City International, leading a delegation of established Americans in an effort to form a relationship with prominent citizens of Bombay. The group set up an American wing at a school in Mahim run by the Bombay Municipal Corporation. Appropriately, it was called the Los Angeles High School. The society has been sending USD 10,000 every year for the betterment of the school.

In 1969, on the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Dr Marwaha was instrumental in opening and establishing the third Sikh Temple in the USA at Hollywood, California. He funded a major portion of the investment. The Gurdwara building in the beginning was registered in Dr Marwah’s name but in 1974, he transferred to the Sikh Study Circle. For years, he played active role in the management of the Gurdwara and even now financially supports projects undertaken by the management. He along with the late Inderjit Singh, founder of Punjab and Sind Bank, launched the Bank of Punjab in the 1990s.