On The ISC Front
The last quarter has been mainly devoted to "Education uplift in Rural Areas". July, August and September are crucial months for us to take full advantage of the very lucrative Central Scheme - "The Prime Minister's New 15 Point Programme for Minorities". We would like our readers to know the full history, details and implementation of this programme through the ISC's total dedication in ensuring its success.
One fine summer's day in the year 2008 while I was on a visit to my son in the USA, my devoted colleague, Col Jagtar Multani gave me the good news about the above scheme. Although the Sikh share came to a paltry Rs 6.68 crore to be claimed, we failed to utilize even a fraction of this amount in that year due to poor advertisement by the education/welfare departments and also lack of awakening in our schools and colleges in Punjab.
We soon got into the action mode. Our analysis of the problem revealed the total lack of interest shown all around by government departments as well as schools and colleges. Ignorance about the scheme was pathetic. The application form itself looked formidable. Numbers of affidavits to be submitted were too many for students/parents to manage. Therefore our first action was to visit Delhi and persuade the Secretary in charge to simplify the application form and reduce the four affidavits into one to cover identity, income, minority status and eligibility. The rest was to be certified correct by the Principal/Headmaster of the college/school concerned. We also obtained the nod to grant more time for submission of forms especially as rural students needed a lot of personal visits and encouragement by our representatives. These two years were of hard labour and travel for the ISC and its chapters at Ludhiana, Jallandhar and Amritsar.
When we thought we had succeeded in our mission in 2009 - 2010, a big hurdle came up. The centre had released increased finances to Punjab to the tune of Rs 51.21 Crores because of our efforts all around but the State had NOT distributed this to the students. ISC submitted a Right to Information (RTI) application to the CMO and pushed for action. After a protracted struggle the amount was distributed in packets. This did disturb and discourage many students from applying again.
The Golden Period (2010-11 and 2011-12)
During this period Kalgidhar Trust, which had helped us in Delhi so far, joined us in our drive in Punjab. Here S. Charanjit Singh, who heads the Kalgidhar Trust team in DELHI, worked dedicatedly for Sikh students in Delhi as well as Punjab. He achieved outstanding results when he teamed up with us all in Punjab. He managed maximum resources and distributed literature and forms in abundance. So did a number of other likeminded organisations who did a lot of field work to boost the increase in beneficiaries of this very good scheme. Their identity is recorded at the end of this piece for convenience. It now became a massive movement by NGO’s. Babaji Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib came to our full support. Luckily for us Shri Wajahat Habibullah, the Chairman of the Minority Commission of India invited the Secretary General and the Secretary ISC to its Annual General Meeting in Delhi held on 13/14 March 2012. Here we voiced that our difficulty was the timely distribution of funds by State Govts. to beneficiaries. Surprisingly his action was prompt and immediate. Punjab, Haryana and HP gained a lot by this timely action. In brief we ensured that funds were released to students soon after the above moves.
Latest Situation 2011-12 and 2012-13
From 6.68 Crores in 2008-09, 31.20 Crores in 2009-10, 47.61 Crores in 2010-11, we were happy to obtain increase in allotment of Rs 87.05 crores last year i.e. 2011-12. This was again NOT distributed in time. Our present RTI application was at last replied by the Welfare Department. They acknowledge the lapse due to non-availability of funds in full and have so far distributed about 25 percent only and are in the process of distributing the rest. Our team of leaders from the ISC, Kalgidhar Trust and others as listed, have visited all Districts and held meetings with college/school staff and District Education officers. Materials for guidance with thousands of forms have been freely distributed.
Another plus factor was a meeting arranged by Kalgidhar Trust and attended by ISC and S. Charanjit Singh's team with the DG School Education, S. Kahan Singh Pannu. We got full support from him to gear up the DEO's to work much harder than before. On 9 Sep 2012, all DEO's were called to a Central Conference by DG Schools and he allowed our team to attend and help brief the DEO's in respect of the PM's 15 Point Programme. Col J.S. Multani was assigned to brief them regarding steps required to efficiently implement this scheme. This year we aim at enrolling over seven lakh students (Rs140 Crores) to benefit from this wonderful Scheme.
Lastly, I must apologise for not having mentioned names of the dedicated teams from various organizations who have worked day and night to make this project a success. They are all the Guru's devoted Sikhs who desire no rewards. Their reward lies in the smiles that they have brought in the faces of thousands of poor children who can now attend school and also complete college education of desired level, even upto PhD and beyond. May waheguru give them added strength to continue these efforts to attain the ultimate goal - i.e. push Punjab to the top of the States' merit list in the sphere of adult education.
Other ISC Activities in Brief
The Coaching Scheme:- The MUKANDPUR Guru Nanak Coaching Centre is in top form. The pressure of increased High School admissions, due to the popularity and success of our mission, has encouraged the management to expand. More land has been acquired to streamline the infrastructure. We have visited Moga Coaching Centre and found it in good order. On request, we visited the Kalgidhar Trust School at Cheema in the SUNAM area of Nabha with the final aim of setting up a coaching centre for the XI and XII class students. The initial spadework has been done and we have advised certain action such as employment of suitable teachers in the sciences and Mathematics. Once this is accomplished we shall proceed further.
Support to Individual Students:- We continue support to various students who have achieved admission in professional colleges for higher studies. S. Harmanpreet Singh the student who we had adopted and coached had qualified for entry into the Medical Stream in all competitions entered by him including AFMC and even AIIMS. His mother chose Government Medical College, PATIALA for him and here again we have fully supported him totally in paying all fees, including hostel and books. He has stood 2nd in the first year final examination.
With Col J.S. Multani's personal effort nine rural students from remote areas have been admitted in B.Tech Engineering on total concessional fees into the Gurukul Vidyapeeth Engineering Stream with top hostel facilities at BANUR a few miles from Chandigarh. This had saved the parents well nigh Rs 84000/- per year and the deep satisfaction of their children receiving high level professional education.
Partner Organisations (Ref to Para 5)
(i) The Kalgidhar Trust, Baru Sahib
(ii) Nishan-E-Sikhi Charitable Trust, Khadoor Sahib
(iii) Sikhs Helping Sikhs
(iv) Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle International Sikh Confederation
(v) Shri Guru Angad Dev Education Society
(vi) Sukrit Trust, Ludhiana
(vii) Satnam Sarab Kalyan Trust
(viii) Gurdwara Sarabha Nagar
(ix) A Little Happiness Foundation
(x) Khalsa Multiversity
(xi) Young Sikh Leaders
Conclusion: We do hope Guru-ki-sangat appreciates these efforts and continues to volunteer more and more moral and financial support to the ISC.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All