On the ISC Front
Lt Gen Kartar Singh
On 6th Jan, 07 Sardar Harvinder Singh Phoolka, an eminent lawyer of the Supreme Court visited the ISC HQ. We had arranged for him to address about fifty of our members and he narrated to us his valiant efforts to obtain justice for the Sikh widows of the infamous 1984 riots.
S H S Phoolka spoke for about one hour and narrated the difficulties posed by various individuals in his fight for justice for these widows. He described the obstacles placed by Government agencies and also the threats posed to genuine witnesses to intimidate them from giving evidence before various commissions of enquiry. It was indeed a pathetic story, which brought before us the need for us to unite and fight for our democratic rights and the preservation of our faith. The ISC fully supports S H S Phoolka and his colleagues in their valiant legal battle to obtain justice for the victims of the 1984 riots.
As a follow up of S H S Phoolka’s visit and our decision to work unitedly with the efforts of the Delhi Sikhs, ten eminent Sikhs from all walks of life in Delhi have become our members. We are indeed honored to welcome them to our fold. S Patwant Singh Ji, a noted author, thinker and activist in Sikh affairs has also joined us in our noble mission. The very respected Gyan Seva Trust with S. Patwant Singh as Patron and S H S Phoolka as President has been enrolled on our list of organizations / Institutions. This Trust has already launched itself into the uplift of rural education in Punjab. It’s coaching schemes for upcoming and bright rural students of the XI and XII classes, to enable them to compete in various entrance examinations, have already started showing praise-worthy results. They have focused their efforts in the Nawahshahr and Khadoor Sahib areas. The ISC will fully support and supplement the efforts of the Gyan Seva Trust as we realise the enormity of this problem. We would like our organization to cover other areas of Punjab.
Visits by Sikh Dignitaries
The ISC was honoured to welcome amongst members two very well known personalities in S. Jatinder Singh Uppal from Melbourne, Australia and S. Raghbir Singh Bassi, an NRI from Kharodi village. Both are totally dedicated in their efforts towards the uplift of rural Punjab in the spheres of education and village uplift.
(a) Sardar Jatinder Singh Uppal heads the noted Charitable Trust “Sikhs Helping Sikhs”. He is in India to help needy Sikhs with particular reference to Education in Rural Areas. Has already done considerable work in this sphere directly as well as through the “Gyan Seva” Trust based in Delhi.
(b) Sardar Raghbir Singh Bassi Belongs to Village Kharodi in Distt Hoshiarpur near Mahilpur. Migrated to USA years ago and attained a high status both educationally and financially. Has returned to India to assist in improving village living in Punjab. Has made his own village Kharodi, a model in respect of sanitation, electricity, roads, pucca galis and cleanliness. This village was visited by President of India recently. Has already completed the modernization of eight model villages in Doaba and has set his sight on ten more. Is also assisting the Gyan Seva Trust towards Education.
Our guests were sponsored by S H S Phoolka who also attended our meeting. Dr Kharak Singh and myself fully briefed the guests about the organization and mission of the ISC. We outlined briefly our activities to date with particular reference to education in rural areas, our projects in Religious affairs and our Media project wherein we look forward to their support in setting up an exclusive TV Channel devoted to Sikh culture and ethos.
S Jatinder Singh Uppal’s Mission
Having succeeded in setting up a flourishing business in Austrailia, this noble Sikh prayed daily for the Guru to grant him the ability to lift the lives of needy Sikhs with just one action. One visit to Sri Darbar Sahib Amritsar gave him enlightenment. He established his Trust “Sikhs Helping Sikhs” (SHS) in 1997. In 2001 he met Dr Manmohan Singh, Sardar Sarna and S H S Phoolka for one hour and sought their advice on what to do. There was help in that he got a suitable working space in a Connaught Place building. His mission was planned here and by 2004 he was well on his way. By now, he has distributed 50,000 books all over the Sikh World. He described his SHS Trust as working on the lines of the Church of England. Sardar Uppal stressed the importance of ‘dasaund’ by each Sikh; he has published and distributed 35,000 copies of ‘Nitnam’ and three other books on Sikhism. He has found sponsors for needy Sikhs in Australia through Gurdwaras. He wishes to do a lot of work in Punjab. His experience in Amritsar proved to him that girls have been given a backseat in all spheres of life amongst Sikhs. There were very few girls in the orphanage. On the vanishing identity problem amongst Sikhs, he has a lot to say. He feels that the young generation must be truly motivated by making them aware about our religion through recitation of Sakhis and stories of the sacrifices made by our Gurus and their disciples. In this direction, he has distributed 2000 sets of Sikh literature. S. Jasminder Singh Jassi has contributed Rs. 20 lakhs towards this project.
In a follow-up meeting with Dr Kharak Singh, Lt Gen Kartar Singh, Dr S S Johl, Dr Gurcharn Singh Kalkat, Bibi Baljit Kaur, Dr Gurbaksh Singh and S. Gurpreet Singh (all members of the Interim Executive Committee), we proposed a two year project to intensively coach about 500 bright rural students of Punjab to compete in various entrance examination for entry into various elite streams/professions. Sardar Uppal agreed to sponsor this project to the extent of Rupees Twenty Five Lakhs per year for two years. This was indeed gracious of him and the ISC gladly accepted his kind offer.
Dr Raghbir Singh Bassi’s Mission
This true son of the soil is here to stay and bring about a turnaround in the living standard of villages in Punjab. He pointed out a big ‘Schism’ in the thought process of Punjabis, i.e., we depend upon the Government to do everything for us. He has gauged that Government planned infrastructure projects never filter down to villages. The poverty gap is increasing, and in spite of the Government’s efforts, villages have not even had a glimpse of the so-called rise in our standard of living. If this divide cannot be bridged by Government efforts, NGO’s must rush in as Sardar Bassi has done. He has started at the bottom and moved upwards in each of his ventures. He advises us that we need to tackle the basic problems of water, sanitation, preventive health and education simultaneously.
Sardar Bassi stressed the need to make young children computer friendly. Let them awaken to the progress being made by urbanites and they will seek education. He has not found this easy to implement, because he feels that villages in India suffer from a “Dependence Syndrome”. Leadership is lacking. Government is doing very little and they must learn to stand on their own feet. Only money cannot solve their problem. Make them aware and alert and they must help themselves. He felt that once we do this the Government will be compelled to co-operate. He has received the support of the Chief Secretary, the DCs and Panchayats in his entire venture after he achieved the awakening of villages themselves.
Sardar Bassi feels that the ISC could join him in his efforts in a big way as we have a galaxy of qualified members who can form a very big work force to motivate the villagers in our rural areas.
Our Appeal to our Esteemed Readers
We at the ISC have in just one year, with a shoe-string Budget, established this progressive organization which represents Gursikhs from all corners of the globe. We have formulated projects through our Five Advisory Councils. These will naturally need an appropriate financial outlay. We need to build a proper corpus fund so that a sustained effort is launched to achieve an overall uplift of the Sikh community in Education, Rural uplift, Religious Renaissance and Youth Guidance. We also must be represented strongly in various world organizations.
Our Urgent Needs
We hereby humbly appeal to all Sikhs of the world to help us raise the “Guru Nanak Education Fund” to a Billion Dollar target. This will ensure that NO aspiring young Sikh is prevented from reaching the summit of his career due to lack of funds. Let our youth fan out in various professions and specialities and achieve outstanding positions while they are young. Let mankind recognize the Sikhs as a brilliant Qaum, known not only for their valour in the battlefield, but also in the various other spheres such as the Sciences, Fine Arts, Sports and all literary spheres.
We also urgently need to get our own TV Channel going. I reproduce again our Resolution in this regard. This should inspire you to contribute liberally towards this fund separately so that we are able to communicate with the whole Sikh Jagat at the earliest.
“The Interim Executive Committee and eminent members present at its meeting held on 4th Dec, 2006, hereby resolve that the ISC work towards establishment of an independent TV Channel in the very near future,. This will enable the ISC to communicate directly the Sikh ethos, Sikh way of life and literature, history and the sacred contents of Guru Granth Sahib globally. This will also enable us to inculcate in Sikh youth the importance of maintaining our distinct identity and acquaint them with the history of the sacrifices made by our Gurus and predecessors to uphold the tenets of Sikh faith. The ISC may seek the help of sponsors to finance this project, provided ownership rights of this channel remain with the ISC.”
We appeal to one and every Sikh in this wide world to contribute whatever he/she can afford towards the education and tv channel funds of the ISC.
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2009, All rights reserved.