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On The ISC Front

Lt Gen Kartar Singh

Activities of the International Sikh Confederation
The ISC was raised in Dec 2005 thus taking us past four years. With the Guru’s blessings, we enter the fifth year with optimism and faith in ourselves. In this short period, membership has gradually increased and existing members have gradually shown more and more interest in our daily activities. Visits to the HQ in Chandigarh to keep in touch with events and also to offer concrete suggestions are encouragingly on the rise. This has kept us on the move in many spheres. An Executive Committee meeting was held on 27th Jan 2010. Our reaction to SGPC sponsored changes to the Nanankshahi Calendar, opening of more Coaching Centers in rural areas and the role that the ISC needs to play during the SGPC Elections scheduled later this year are discussed here in.

Visit of Foreign Delegations
You will be pleased to know that the American India Foundation (AIF) contacted our Convener and consequently the ISC, to guide and brief their Trustees on their visit to Punjab from 2nd Feb to 4th Feb. The delegation consisted of very important personalities from all spheres including Businessmen who owned more than one company in the USA. Some were from Indian background from various states of India. Their mission was to see our province and examine spheres where they can co-operate and assist. They are already aiding many schools in India. The ISC delegation headed by the CEO Gen Kartar Singh along with Professor Gurbakhsh Singh (USA) and S Kulbir Singh Sidhu, IAS who are our Religious Affairs and Culture and Heritage co-coordinators, respectively, briefed them about the history, religion, culture and heritage of Punjab with particular reference to our activities.

The elite group continued the discussion at lunch in Amritsar which was indeed very informative and rewarding. The Vice-President Mr Pradeep Kashyap in fact was kind enough to request us to accompany them on their tour of other towns which we politely declined. The short association has however opened the doors to further dialogue and mutual aid.

India Speaking Tour 2010 – S Harinder Singh
As I write this piece we are fortunate in having with us Sardar Harinder Singh, a Co-founder and Chief Programming Officer of the Sikh Research Institution in the USA. He addresses the Sikh, Punjab and South Asian issues throughout the world via articles, workshops, and presentations. His activism spans contextualizing contemporary realities through Art, Linguistics, Development, Theology and Politics. After a Lucrative aviation career, his work since 1997 is focused on education as a fulcrum for social change. He provides inspirational consultancy for films, curriculums, conferences, exhibitions, etc. His passion is to learn and share the Sikh culture. He also serves on the boards of the Punjab Digital Library and United Communities of San Antonio.

His talk on “Sikhi Today: Imparting the Ideals” was well attended and appreciated by the Delhi audience. We also heard scheduled in the Government Museum Chandigarh on 5th March his talk on How NGOs should achieve their goals with great interest. It was brief and enlightening. We arranged a repetition of his talk on “Sikhi Today: Imparting the Ideals” at SGGS College for Boys, Chandigarh on Sunday, 7th March. An E-mail was sent to all our members who possess E-mail facility and also as a brief SMS. The lecture was excellent and most inspiring and those who have missed attending it have missed something which was well prepared and most thought provoking. We again appeal to other similar thinking Sikh Santhas and our members to utilize the e-mail facility to be kept informed about our various activities. It is neither desirable nor possible to send letters for each event except may be for an annual event such as an AGM.

Nanakshahi Calendar
The SGPC has gone ahead arbitrarily in bringing about changes in the Nanakshahi Calendar which was accepted unanimously by them as well as Sikhs in India and abroad in 2003. Dr Kharak Singh ji and the Institute of Sikh Studies had played a great part in formulating the Nanakshahi calendar. Hence our immediate reaction at the ISC was to quickly remind the SGPC by fax and letter that we should be consulted along with other responsible Sikh Organizations before a final decision on changes contemplated were implemented. There was actually no valid reason to hurry such a decision which could easily divide the Sikh Panth. The SGPC paid no need to our appeal. We then appealed to the Akal Takth Sahib not to promulgate any decision to change anything in the calendar in a hurry. This was done jointly with the Institute of Sikh Studies as well as the Sri Guru Singh Sabha. Once again the Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib announced the changes within 24 hours of the hurried and pre-meditated decision taken by the SGPC Executive Committee, apparently without calling a meeting of the Jathedars of all other Takhts. Some members of the SGPC Executive Committee walked out in protest. This proves that the decision to promulgate changes was hurriedly passed at the instance of a few Sikh organizations. This was definitely not a Panthic decision and we advocate that until an authentic Panthic decision is taken, we adhere to the Nanakshahi Calendar adopted in 2003. As we write this we are receiving e-mails from our NRI members endorsing a similar decision by many Sikh organizations abroad.

Oncoming SGPC Elections
These are tentatively scheduled to be held in the last quarter of this year. Various political and non-Political organizations have met us and sought support and guidance from us. Some have requested us to play a unifying role so as to ensure that well qualified Sikhs with integrity are our next representatives in the SGPC of the future. This was included and discussed briefly in our last Executive Committee meeting held on 27th Jan 2010 with our Convener in the Chair. The meeting was well attended and included representatives of our Ludhiana and Jalandhar Chapters. After careful consideration, it was decided that while we will not actively participate by putting up suitable candidates, but the ISC should work out a tentative format of the basic qualities required in a candidate, advertise this well in time and then take a collective decision about methodology to be adopted to actively support such candidates regardless of party affiliation. We are working on this and invite suggestions from all members of the Institute of Sikh Studies, the ISC and Sri Guru Singh Sabha.

Permanent Accommodation for HQ ISC
Sri Guru Singh Sabha has started construction of the main building and addition to existing building as per the architectural plan approved by the Chandigarh administration. We had mooted our requirement in the main building and the need to book one floor in the five storied main building was projected in the Nov 2009 AGM by the CEO. This was approved unanimously and the following members immediately responded to our call for funds as follows:

S Jagdev S Sodhi 1, 00,000/- Lt Gen Kartar S Gill 21, 000/-
S Sardul S Pruthi 1, 00,000/- Bibi Baljit Kaur 5,000/-
S Ragbir S Dhillon 1, 00,000/- Mr Jyot Khaira 10,000/-
Dr Sardara S Johl 50, 000/- Bibi Ranbir Talib 10,000/-
Dr Birendra Kaur 25,000/- Col J S Multani 10, 000/-
S Harnek S Randev 25,000/-

We thank the above volunteers for their shardha and immediate response. In order to house our organization in respectable accommodation in the new building, we need each member to contribute liberally. It would be unethical to lay down a minimum but if we want to succeed in this noble venture the average minimum requirement if we all contribute would be approx Rs 25,000/- per member for full floor. We request you to donate. This amount will enable your ISC to be housed in suitable and in an elite location. Donations could be in two or three installments as convenient.

Conclusion
Our Amritsar, Jalandhar and Mohali Chapters need to really activate themselves like our Ludhiana Chapter. Enough members should be registered so that you may have field workers to implement rural education, village uplift and a drive against drugs, female feticide and motivation of the young to adopt the path propagated by our inspiring Gurus. This requires dedication to the cause and donation of your prime time to the ISC organizational uplift. We need to quickly correct this.

And lastly, remember the tireless and dedicated founder of our organization Dr Kharak Singh ji. He worked day and might for our cause and gave us a sound foundation. Let us build on it and surpass his expectations. That would be the only appropriate tribute to him.

 

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