ON THE ISC FRONT
Mission ISC 2020
International Sikh Confederation (ISC) is a Sikh Apex Body enacted under the authority of Sri Akal Takht Sahib with the aim of spreading the effulgent message of our Gurus for human welfare and development. Our motto being ‘Sarbat Da Bhalla’, we hold no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour or religion and strive to ensure a rightful place for the community nationally and internationally.
We started with limited resources and, due to hard work and true dedication from our 500 and over members, have come a long way in all spheres with special emphasis on Education and uplift in employment and social affairs in the rural affairs of Punjab. We have kept in close touch with our members abroad and are now in the process of entering a new phase of formation of a Global Sikh Organisation allied with the initiative taken by the World Sikh Council USA and other foreign countries with substantial Sikh populations. Our very designation and objective is to bring the Diaspora Sikhs on one platform.
Action Plan – Social and Education Affairs Council
Huge amounts granted by Central and State Governments through various schemes were lapsing due to under utilisation of these schemes. We have, this year, distributed through our District Cells Education Scholarships worth approx Rs. 132 crores to all students in Primary, Pre-Matric, Post- Matric, and University students (upto Ph. D) under the Merit Cum Means category.
This has distinctly upgraded attendance and quality of education and has also alerted Government Schools into a spurt of improvement in all spheres to compete with private schools. Today, as per the recent HRD Ministry survey dated 6/12/2013, Punjab tops in Education among Northern states. We are not satisfied with that. There remain many dark areas to light up and ISC, along with the close co-operation of other major NGOs’, will step up the pace of advancement in this sphere.
Retrieving Backlog of Rejected Scholarships
In spite of our help, many rural students made many mistakes in applying for/ claiming scholarships. Key mistakes while applying online resulted in many applications being set aside. This happened in spite of help rendered by our Cells. However, due a concerted effort by the ISC and co-operation shown by the concerned officials and staff of the Govt. Minority Department, we have managed to retrieve Scholarship money to the tune of Rs. 32 crores relating to the last two years. Thousands of cheques with respect to each district were released. Distributing these was a stupendous task and could not be handled by the Department alone. Hence, the ISC and its manpower came into play. Imagine the delight of these young needy students on receiving the backlog from ISC agents helped by sister organisations delivering cheques at their Institutions. This was indeed a Godsend for these children who now have a bright future.
The main mistakes made by applicants were the incorrect filing of IFS code and Bank Account Numbers. Besides, many accounts were found inactive. All this resulted in non-transfer of scholarship amount into their accounts. This amounted to Rs. 32 crore which might have been returned unutilised. Here we acted in time and saved this amount by close liason with the Minority Cell. We managed to get the Bankers cheque issued based on their applications. A total of nearly 36,500 cheques were then distributed in 22 Districts. By God’s grace all these cheques have been delivered at their destination.
Campaign against Drugs
7. A meeting of main organisors for launching a campaign against drugs in rural areas was held at the ISC Headquarters at Chandigarh on 29/11/2013. It was attended by over fifty members of various organisations which could contribute towards helping combat drugs especially in rural areas. Based on the discussions held that day, the ISC issued an “Action Plan” as a guideline to all participants. The main ingredients of the Action Plan are:-
(a) Formation of a De-addiction Division: It will have specialized Doctors at call to the village Committee of an area. Panchayats may co-opt one when needed on payment from Panchayat De-addiction funds.
(b) Cultural Section: This will be organized by the Panchayat with help from NGOs’. Activities like sports, dramas, artistic activities and general knowledge competitions etc will be arranged. Games such as Basket Ball, Football, Volley ball, Kabaddi will be played at village level so that youth are fully engaged in the evening hours. A well stocked library will be gradually created.
(c) A co-ordination Committee in the village will explore methods of utilising expertise in manpower such as Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters, Artisans, Farming experts etc. Such manpower must be pooled to meet the demands of the villages in the area. With this local employment will get a boost..
We also advocate an Anti-Drugs Division and an Empowerment Division. In these we have in mind schemes at Govt. level as well as self Help Groups. Women could play a major part in the self employed empowerment group. Students Empowerment will go a long way in tackling vices.
The campaign against drugs will need manpower. Even if ISC members from Punjab and Chandigarh/ Mohali join in and tackle their own villages, it would make a huge impact. Of course, we can get together and consult each other for help guidance and support. For further guidance please contact our Headquarters at Plot No.1 Sector 28-A, Chandigarh. Appointments can be made on Telephone No. 0172-5036879 from 1000 hrs to 1400 hrs Monday to Friday.
Visit of President World Sikh Council USA
10. S. GULBARG SINGH, The President of The World Sikh Council USA visited Chandigarh and met some ISC members and members of the IOSS and Kendri Guru Singh Sabha at our Headquarters. He was on his way to Australia to attend a meeting of the budding “Global Sikh Organisation”. We have all been exchanging E-mails in this regard for some period. This was probably a probing and exploring mission to give him basic inputs on what we felt about the formation of a Global Sikh Organisation (GSO). As stated by him, the parameters within which GSO would be formed were:-
a) Constituents would be those who accepted the Guru Granth Sahib as the sole Guru and were following Sikh Maryada as laid down by the Akal Takht Sahib.
b) Naturally this would exclude those Deras’ which deviated from the above and were also headed by pseudo Sikhs.
Topic Discussed were the nomenclature, aims and objectives, constituents, decision making, communications and main activities in India and abroad. These were all discussed in a free and frank manner. Each member attending was welcome to express his views followed by a short discussion thereafter. The concrete results of such discussions were duly noted by the visitors and the ISC. All those who attended were generally of the view that the constitution of the ISC met the criteria to ideally act as a key link to rally support for this Global Mission.
Some of the select projects to be taken up on priority basis could be listed as follows:-
a) Independence of the Jathedar Akal Tahkt Sahib.
b) Building of close links between foreign Sikhs, including Gurdwaras, with major Sikh Organisations in India with particular spotlight on Punjab.
c) Once links are established formally through Global Meetings such as the present one initiated by Sikhs in Australia, we could cement it within a few months by mutual discussions on line and by tele contacts.
d) The world Sikh Council (America) should, thereafter, gradually enlarge it’s membership\ association with a large body of allied Sikh Organisations in the USA, Canada and other countries with Sikh population. Major Sikh Organizations in India such as the International Sikh Confederation, IOSS, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Tal Mel Sangathan, Sikh Missionaries, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle and other major Sikh Sansthas, would join in. The ISC could possibly act as the co-ordinator.
The final aim would be to form a very strong and cohesive pressure group which would start asserting itself on important Sikh issues which are causing obstacles in forging unity within the Sikh Panth and its’ progress in the commity of nations. This will further Education, Research Economic gains, Political stability and high respect in the commity of nations. Propagation of pure Sikh Religion will become a reality. We shall thus automatically attain a deserved position of a strong and self-sustaining province in the Indian continent with considerable support from our Diaspora.
1914 promises to be a very eventful year for us. We have the National Elections taking place in April. Our Education Project is now at the expansion stage. More Coaching Centres are in the offering as negotiations for two more are in the final stages. The campaign against drugs is expected to uplift our village youth and motivate them towards gainful employment. Punjab is in the throes of an agriculture overhaul, as acute shortage of water has reached crisis levels. This is a problem that will need to be tackled with utmost urgency. We do hope the centre realises the immensity of the crisis and helps the Punjab Government tackle this on a war footing. We therefore look with anxious expection at events following the election of the New Government at the centre.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2014, All