On The ISC Front
Lt Gen Kartar Singh PVSM*
The International Sikh Confederation has been active on three major projects in the last quarter. We have been pushing the central and State governments to stream line the implementation of the PMs 15 Point Programme for educational scholarships to Minorities (Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Budhists). The next priority was the help being rendered to the construction of the Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan in Sector 28-A, Chandigarh which is a tremendous challenge. The third project was the tackling of the HRD proposed Bill for Higher Education and Research – 2010.
PM’s 15 Point Programme
Surprisingly, though this is the third year of implementation, the Punjab Government continues to flounder in its decision making. We started our own preparations well in time keeping 15 September 2010 as the very latest date expected as a deadline. We met the Secretary Education followed by a meeting with the Additional Director of Welfare in charge for handling the scheme. A clear cut format was worked out with a decision that Principals of schools / colleges scrutinize and accept applications of eligible students. They were to retain these applications and submit the hard copies of eligible students and online cassettes only to the District / Chandigarh office. This decision along with last dates for submission was to be clearly advertised in the Media and also issued to districts and all education department channels concerned such as DEO’s in Districts.
When in spite of this no advertisement was issued in August, we printed and issued new application forms to as many districts as possible. We also warned schools and colleges through various channels to be ready with these applications to be submitted at short notice. In spite of constant efforts by us and the Minority Commission in Delhi, the Punjab Govt issued the vital advertisement on 2 Sept with 15 Sept as the last date for submission. They also changed the channel of submission to various authorities with DEO’s as accepting authorities at District level. Letters of authority to the DEOs went very late and many applications have still not been accepted. This is indeed a shocking situation and the International Sikh Confederation is now in the process of considering urgent measures such as sending a notice to Govt or even filing a PIL in the High Court. We shall do our best in this regard allied with other NGO’s.
Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan
This is a five storied building that is under construction in Plot No 1, Sector 28-A, Chandigarh. The project has been undertaken by the Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha supported directly by the International Sikh Confederation, Bhai Jaitha Jee Trust, and Sikhya Seekers International. The cost estimate today is placed at five to six crores. We envisage this to be a centre of learning par excellence with facilities for the training of Religious Teachers, Research in Sikhism, Social Welfare projects such as uplift of rural education, opening of high level coaching centres for all central competitions, training of skilled /unskilled workers from rural areas and a no of other allied projects to be planned consequently. Our Executive Committee is implementing the decision of our General Body in the last Annual General Meeting where in it was decided to bid for one floor for ISC activities. We would need to raise approx Rupees One Crore for this and we have no doubt this can only be achieved by a massive rally and contributions by each of the ISC members and Sikh Gurdwaras and Sangat in general. This centre of learning indeed portends to be a historic one.
The National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill – 2010
The Institute of Sikh Studies (IOSS) along with the ISC and Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha took it on themselves to organize a Round Table Conference in August, followed by a well attended Seminar on 17 September, to discuss the ramifications of this very important educational document drafted by the Centre likely to be moved in the next session of the Parliament. Both the functions were attended by a number of Vice-Chancellors (retired and serving), some Judges and constitutional experts media representatives and noted scholars. After a very comprehensive discussion, we drafted a defining and detailed approach paper wherein it was unanimously resolved to outrightly reject the Bill in it’s present format. The main reason for this was that it encroached upon the autonomy of the state and fell short of the aspirations of the aims and objectives intended to be achieved.
The IOSS with its President Sardar Pritam Singh Kohli, Sardar Raghbir Singh Dhillon, Bibi Baljit Kaur and all members of all three organizations have done a sterling job in having these recommendations accepted by the Chief Minister for discussion in the Assembly. Dr S S Johl, Our Convener played a major role in the Seminar and also in its being acknowledged by the State authorities. In fact we need to thank all our Ex-Vice Chancellors and retired Judges for sending in their most valuable papers on the subject. The IOSS in particular needs to be lauded for being the main organizer and trendsetter in helping our State take a vital decision in the sphere of higher education.
We hereby exhort our learned and nationlist members to take active part in all the ISC activities and also those organized by sister organizations such as the IOSS and Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha. The Guru bequeathed to us a very distinctive and generous character qualities best described in our own language “srb~q dw Blw [ nwm jpx qy vMf Cknw [ dsvMd Byt krnw. We look forward to our members regularly and liberally contributing with donations to sustain our major social uplift schemes implemented through the “Guru Nanak Education Fund”. Liberal donations are also required to finance our bid towards our future Headquarters in the Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan. Remember that we have full faith in each one of you to contribute your mite.
Lastly do not forget to contribute to this wonderful mouthpiece “Abstracts of Sikh Studies”. It needs not only funds but also an enlarged readership consisting of your family, friends and, most vitally, our children.