On The ISC Front
With the year 2012 nearing its end, members of the ISC attended our Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Bhavan Sector 30, Chandigarh. The attendance was satisfactory and we had representation from the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. It was indeed heartening to see Dr. Kuldeep Singh Gill and Sardar Surinder Singh Dhindsa attending along with their Coaching Centre Coordinator and students from Moga and Mukandpur respectively in attendance.
In the round up of activities during the year I will very briefly recount events relating to the spheres of Religious Affairs, Education, Support to Needy Students and Miscellaneous events
a. The ISC along with IOSS have been continuously trying to inform the Sikh masses about the dire need to amend Article 25 so that our separate identity is constitutionally recognized. In this we have a very good base in the recommendations made by retired Supreme Court Justice who headed the Constitution Review Committee set up by our Government in 2003. Unfortunately the Government just ignored this recommendation without any valid reason. We therefore needed to alert the Punjab Government strongly and push for concrete action through Parliament and other viable means. The Sikh masses needed to be clearly educated on the advantages and the dire need to achieve this objective which will establish our identity constitutionally. The recognition of the Anand Marriage Act will be a natural consequence if we achieve the above.
b. In this regard we have made efforts to motivate our MPs and the SGPC to push for amendment of the Constitution with regard to Article 25. It now seems to be moving towards concrete action, in that, a private members Bill under the heading "The Constitution Amendment Bill 2012" has been introduced in the Lok Sabha by S. Ratan Singh Ajnala, MP. We wish him all success.
This issue was raised by us strongly when S. Simranjit Singh, the Coach to our Golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, was forced to remove his turban in a security check in Italy. We held a press conference and marched with a strong application of protest to the Governor with a letter of protest for the President and the PM. This received a good response. Our Foreign Minister visited Italy and got some assurance in this regard. We have six million NRI Sikhs and many of our own countrymen travelling abroad constantly. Hence, we have also kept the pressure on the Minority Commission Chairman to arrange for us to meet Shrimati Sonia Gandhi in this regard. A letter went recently to Shri Wajahat Habibullah on 3rd Oct 2012 to press the urgency of the issue. We have received confirmation from Shri Wajahat Habibullah vide his DO letter No. 81/3/09-NCM dated 10th Dec 2012 addressed to the ISC. Lately the United Sikhs have done a wonderful job in the United Nations in this regard and have achieved astounding success. Latest media reports indicate that France has assured our Government that they are serious about solving this issue to the Government of India's satisfaction. We will watch the progress made with interest.
Follow up on SGPC Elections
a. Elections to the SGPC were announced ad hoc by the Central Government as it suited them. The tenure of the SGPC needs to fixed and adhered to. Registration of qualified Sikh Voters should be strictly controlled by the Election Commission. It was noticed that heavy registration took place just a few days before elections. These registrations were organized by some political parties. In fact many non-Sikhs are rumoured to have been made voters.
b. The SGPC has been asked to take up these issues with the Central Government. We will press on these issues being solved in the next SGPC Election.
a ISC was specially selected from the Northern Zone as an active NGO, to attend the Annual Conference held on 13/14 Mar 12. The Secretary General and Secretary attended. We strongly put forth our views on the flaws in distribution of funds to the Minorities in Punjab. The Chairman responded strongly and wrote DO letters to the Punjab CM to set the flaws right.
b. Our Coaching Centre at Mukandpur has again produced top results due to the good work done by our dedicated staff at the Coaching Centre. Children who sat for competitions have achieved total success. Majority of the Children coached have all obtained first divisions in their final examinations. This is indeed very creditable in that more and more students are joining the Coaching Classes and it has raised the standard of preparation by all students in the school.
PM' 15 Point Programe
We have already informed members about our actions and achievements in this sphere in our last issue. We have now started to review the success of this programme at the receiving end. i.e. Schools and Colleges. To our surprise we have now found that many of them have problems about the distributing of funds at district level. In Gurdaspur District, the total money for the year 2012-11 had been sent to some DEO's and it is yet to be distributed as the cheques issued were time-barred. ISC has received these and is now in the process of having these re-validated. More such cases have been reported and we shall tackle this as best possible. All these flaws in distribution have been noted for further action by the concerned authorities in HQ at Chandigarh and also at district level.
Support to Needy Students
So far we have tried to meet the needs of nearly 50 students who appealed to us for financial help to continue higher studies. We were lucky to have sponsors such as S. Sardul Singh Pruthi (Chandigarh) and S. Sukhbir Singh Dhupia (New Delhi) as they had adopted a few needy students who are now doing extremely well in higher studies. This is however way below the expectations of many more Sikh Students who lack adequate funds. The ISC appeals to our wealthy members to share their well-earned wealth with these needy children. Education is the cure for many evils especially in tackling the drug menace. Once a Child is frustrated and cannot pursue his aspirations towards achieving a lucrative career, he is vulnerable to various ills in our present society. Central leaders are today taunting us by claiming that 70 percent of our Youth is addicted to drugs. Let us take up this challenge by starting a strong campaign against this menace to our youth and eradicate this evil at the earliest. ISC workers along with motivated parents must tackle this problem with a rare dedication. We shall set the pace forthwith. We need much more support in this direction from the Sikh world.
Have you visited the Memorial at "Chappar Chiri"?
If not, please visit this wonderful tribute to a great Sikh Soldier - General Banda Singh Bahadur. This is the effort of Bibi Baljit Kaur, our elite Ex-President of the IOSS, who single handedly initiated this project. She obtained the interest and co-operation of Sardar Parkash Singh Badal and the rest is history. We are proud of her and are grateful to the Punjab Government for a job well done.
All these issues were discussed in our AGM held on 8th Dec 2012. Members present gave us a thumping support to continue our work. Many donated voluntarily towards our Guru Nanak Education Fund. However we appeal to the majority who could not attend to send us a share of their Daswand to enable us to expand the uplift of rural areas at much greater speed. Your visit to our HQ is long overdue. Please come closer and join us in these vital adventures where "Sikhs Help Sikhs and the downtrodden" - Sarbat Da Bhalla.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All