On The ISC Front
Without any doubt, the event that drew our attention during this quarter was the SGPC Elections held by the Centre. Justice S. Harphool Singh Brar was designated Chief Commissioner for these elections held on 18th Sep 2011 and results declared on 22/23 Sep 2011. The results did not surprise us as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won majority of seats.
In the past, we, the so called Intelligentsia, had been sitting at home and criticizing the methods employed by political parties and individuals to win voters. Major ills that had set in were fake registration of voters, misuse of posters and loudspeakers, bribing voters by distribution of drugs, liquor and money power, blackmail of opposition candidates and various other unethical activities. We, in the ISC had decided in our EC Meetings held months earlier, that we will oppose these nefarious methods and support genuine candidates who met our stiff criteria for good candidates irrespective of which party they represented. Our criteria in brief were:-
a. Candidate should be Practicing Amritdhari.
b. He/She believes in and adheres to the SGPC approved Sikh Maryada and is not a member of any Dera.
c. He/She supports the Sikh ideal of an Independent and Supreme Akal Takhat Sahib.
d. He/She vows in writing that he will not distribute drugs, liquor or money power to influence voters.
e. He/She clearly announces his sources of income, and wealth, and does not take up any business that violates Sikh Gurmat.
Just prior to the elections we, along with the Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha held a meeting of about 36 organisations, who we felt would support our move. In that first meeting held on 6 Aug 2011, our distinguished member, Sardar Harvinder Singh Phoolka, proposed that due to shortage of time we should restrict ourselves to ensuring that no drugs, alcohol or money power be used during our religious election. We agreed to adopt this as our agenda in addition to the above. In the ensuing days a corps group of the ISC, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha led by Giani Kewal Singh, Lt. Gen Kartar Singh Gill, Sardar HS Phoolka and S. Gurpreet Singh along with Secretary, Sardar Khushhal Singh visited various districts of our State and set up very effective monitoring groups supported by local media representatives. The whole campaign was totally supported by our News Media, Television Operators and many NGO’s. We started the campaign with the blessings and total support of the Akal Takht Jathedar Sahib and the Chief Commissioner SGPC Elections. This venture was indeed a success in that no visible distribution of drugs/money power was detected. The major gain in this event was the coming together of all like minded NGO’s and social activists. We are now consolidating this vital gain to work towards bigger objectives.
Education in Rural Areas
Our effort in Mukundpur has paid us many dividends. The Coaching Centre is drawing more and more aspirants from the whole area. Students are inspired to continue higher studies and also take part in various State and National competitions. Our teachers in the Moga Education Centre have twice visited the Mukundpur Centre and are now working toward achieving similar results. Students of both Centres are being visited by our teams for lectures on career counseling which is empowering our youth in rural areas to face the intrinsic challenges of making good in life. Indirectly this will greatly help us in drawing away youth from unemployment and consequent drug addiction.
PM’S 15 Points Programme
Over the last three years, we have worked really hard on this front. Our team of members from Ludhiana and Jallandhar Chapters led by Col Jagtar Singh Multani has moved about helping Schools and Colleges in rural areas. Even now there are Minority Institutions which are still ignorant about this very lucrative scholarship scheme. Each year the Punjab Education Department somehow makes changes in the various application forms. We then print new ones at considerable cost and distribute them to needy children. Once again DEO’s in some districts caused problems. Funds received from the Centre were still not released in total. We had to take this up strongly with the Government before we got partial results. In the end, it was indeed ample reward for us to see the very happy faces of children who had received these scholarships. Last years funds have since not been totally distributed. We have launched a concerted effort to expedite the state Government through an RTI to the Govt.
Coaching of Selected Candidates for IAS/IPS Competition
This is progressing well in that in response to our advertisements, some bright and needy students have applied. So far our Board of Selectors headed by S. Bhupinder Singh IPS (DGP Retd) has selected students provisionally. We shall now work out their schedule of training as per their availability, choice of subjects, financial and administrative needs, and then proceed.
The incidents in Italy wherein S. Simarjit Singh, the Golf Coach was harassed and made to remove his turban was viewed very seriously by us. We sent a strong appeal to both Her Excellency the President of India and the Prime Minister after meeting the Governor and Advisor of Chandigarh UT Administration. This resulted in our Foreign Minister’s visit to Italy which did result in promises to end such demeaning checks by their Security Agencies. We read this in the Media and also a written confirmation from the PM’s office. Unfortunately results of this are not yet visible in their application. We shall continue to agitate until we get effective actions by countries such as France and Italy. In fact, we exhort all Indians to boycott French and Italian goods totally so that their trade with India is effectively stymied.
Annual General Meeting (AGM )
The ISC annual AGM was held on Fri 25 Nov 2011 in the precincts of the Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Foundation Building located in Sector 30 Chandigarh. The Hall was spacious and arrangements excellent due to kind courtesy our Members of Maj Mehar Singh and Col Jagtar Singh Multani. It was a whole day seminar which was well attended by Members, Teachers and Students from all our coaching centres. We were lucky to have amongst us Dr Kuldeep Singh Gill, Chairman Guru Nanak Secondary School Moga, S. Gurcharan Singh Shergill, Chairman ASSM College and School, Mukandpur and Dr. Kulwant Pardhan from Australia who is a keen philanthropist and also a great supporter of rural education drives. Dr. Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, Chairman, Punjab Former Commission delivered a very Intersting talk on farming scenario in Punjab. Our learned Convenor Dr. Sardara Singh Johl, Padma Bhushan was at his best in guiding and advising us in all spheres. With his guidance we have really expanded and successfully implemented projects listed above.
The following unanimous Resolutions were passed during the AGM :-
a. Biannual Membership Subscription of Rs 5000/- for recognised Gurdwaras has been totally waived. The ISC hereby welcomes our Gurdwaras to join us in our various projects in uplifting education, supporting deserving students who have ambitions to study in Professional Colleges and various Research Institutes besides completing employment oriented courses in Private and Government Polytechnics.
b. As per our constitution, the CEO being a paid employee, the designation of Lt. Gen K S Gill, who has been functioning as an honorary CEO will hence forth be designated as Secretary General and the ACEO as Secretary.
Membership of ISC
A number of very devoted members have still not renewed their Primary Membership. We have issued reminders in this regard. Please do revive your membership after two years by paying a token amount of Rs 500/-. This amount allows us to keep you totally informed about the activities, your roll in advising and taking part in these and also maintain our Website and other records.
We are proud to inform you that many NRI’s visiting India have desired to support our mission. A few have already become Primary/Life Members. I thank those members who have gone abroad and spread information about our missionary activities with great success. This bodes well for the future when we plan to send a strong delegation abroad to spread our message and also bring into our fold more and more like minded organisation & individuals.
Appeal for Donations
The ISC, as you know, is soon shifting into their new HQ first floor space in Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan. This is subject to our being able to complete construction of the outer walls and total interiors as per our Architectural requirements. The standard of work depends totally on the finances available. So far we have paid part of the basic cost of the skeleton structure amounting to about Rupees Twenty lakhs due to the generosity of a few devoted members. We are confident that all our members will now come forward with donations voluntarily to help us build a ‘Historic Home’ of which you will all be proud. This ISC HQ will be our ‘Daswand’ to posterity to foster the true Sikh spirit of “Sarbat Da Bhalla”. All cheques be made out to International Sikh Confederation” and sent/delivered at the following address:- “International Sikh Confederation, Plot No 1, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sector 28-A, Chandigarh - 160 019.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All