EDUCATIONAL & SOCIO-ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF
My message is aimed at sounding a wake-up. call to various Sikh activists, religious/ Gurmat Institutions & NGOs; with suggestions for incorporating the socio-economic welfare agenda, along with their institution's running objectives, for achieving the true principles underlining the sacred concept of "Sarbat Da Bhalla". Guru Nanak Sahib precisely identifies himself with the lowliest and downtrodden. These Forgotten Brethren, namely Sikh Sikligars / Vanjaras / Dalits and other weaker / marginalized sections of rural and urban poor, need immediate assistance & counseling They have to be reached by all sections of Sikh community through sustained long-term awareness campaigns (parchars).The wide spread evils of caste disparities, illiteracy, drug addictions and school drop outs (effecting over 70 % population among these sections) are causing idle work-force having denied of basic social amenities and avenues of gainful job opportunities.
Besides, the denial of education, clean environments, housings, social security, health and hygiene facilities to the dwellers of backward rural and slum-areas clusters, many social evils are also breeding there. The Centrally/States' sponsored past(Eleven) Five Years Plan Development and poverty alleviations Schemes, since Independence, are yet to improve the livings of majority of have-nots. Top to downwards system failure, at all levels, is resulting the limitation of all such development projects' benefits confining to just a few select pockets on party's political vote-bank considerations only. The society is now called upon to start a sustained campaign for fighting against injustices and the maladies, by organizing voluntary area help lines, through self pooled-up resources, to promote all round awareness and assistance to these Forgotten Brethren. The time bound missionary campaign may create impact to improve the socio-economic and educational empowerment among the targeted segments to restore confidence among them to attract them back to Sikh main stream in a dignified manner. The Vanjaras are actually First Generation Sikhs.
Gurudwaras/Institutions' Role: Majority of our Gurudwaras are having sufficient resources & excellent built-up infrastructures The resources can be shared proportionately by the managements, in the form of "Daswand", to initiate additional agenda of counseling( um assistance programme for needy within their complexes on selected days and time by associating advisory support of the locally available subject specialists. Recently, Australia based Gurudwaras of Blackburn have launched a helpline for Indian students in distress which can serve a Role-Model Scheme for all our India-based Gurudwaras. S. Prabjot Singh, of Tribune news service, 10 his well researched -report published on 24-08-09-after visiting Australia- had revealed and appreciated the uniqueness of a scheme of helpline jointly launched by five Australian based Gurudwaras 10 coordination with a local NGO - Victorian Sikh Welfare Association. The nodal working system of this helpline is to assist and guide Indian and other students in distress of recent racial discrimination and for other problems. They are being provided free services for temporary stay, food, financial aid, guidance, counselling, conducting free short period training courses for up-gradation of job-seeking skills as well as understanding the English language/ culture. A well-stocked library is set up and various orientation courses are also held for new comers. A round the clock helpline-(0061-398941800) is set up with thein own web site facility at :<www.gurudwarablackburn.com.au>. The Victorian Government appreciated the role being played and human development works being performed by the Gurudwaras during current crises. With Guru's grace, let us hope, that all our Gurudwaras & Institutions may likely to follow Australian pattern of initiating a help lines to provide counselling / guidance/ assistance/ through own resources to any needy down to the grass-root levels. Besides, understanding of developmental and bankable feasibility of schemes and the system's eligibility under each, the likely beneficiaries would also be benefited with education and awareness to our rich Sikh heritage while attending such short duration visits and camping within the Gurudwaras environments. Thus "Naam"with "Kirt" & "Wand Chhakna" principles are achieved in practice.
On similar lines the regional or peripheral religious-cum-economic Awareness Promotion Zones(APZ)or centers are proposed to be promoted under joint coordinated efforts of a group of like minded area Gurudwaras managements & local Sikh NGOs The system of management and shape of pooling of funds can be worked out after drafting out agreement on area-based essential needs & operational action lines in the best interest of young generation. One such socio-economic welfare project for the benefit of the South West based Vanjaras/Sikligars/ Dakhni Sikhs population had already been prepared and since submitted to Dr. P.S.Pasricha, IPS, (Retd; DGP), Chairman, Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib, Nanded" in May,2009.Dr. P.S. Pasricha though appreciated my efforts & suggestion & assured to consider its feasibility of operating such unique project under Sri Hazoor Sahib Management, yet his final reaction on its launch is awaited. I had suggested him to dedicate this project in the sacred memory of 300th.Gurta Gadi Anniversary. Similar proposals are likely to be submitted to other four sacred Takhts Jathedars Sahibans for consideration and launching of such projects, in consultation with respective managements, for religious-economic upliftment of downtrodden in their respective Zones. The Five Zonal developments, in phases, may enhance the Khalsa Spirit in the minds of widely dispersed & left behind all Guru Nanak Naam Levas & youth. '
Gurmat Missions/ NGOs Role: Many established voluntary and self-financed Gurmat Missions are already performing commendable "Parchar" services from many city centers. Their operational areas can further be extended/strengthened to cater awareness needs of interior rural segments by adopting additional socio-economic welfare programmes. They are advised to practice collaboration with some of the effective Sikh NGOs. As responsible citizens and dedicated followers of Guru Nanak philosophy of " Sarbat Da Bhalla", all likeminded institutions/ individuals too are requested to voluntarily pool their respective resource" to coordinate promoting education/economic up- gradation of destitutes among Forgotten Brethren. The individuals, finding inability to devote time, can preferably adopt poor children(specially girls) out of enrolments under welfare societies/NGOs to share some expenses of education, vocational training' and subsequent economic-rehabilitations programmes. Imparting awareness and skills development should be emphasized under a uniform need-based syllabus with packaged assistance to these have-nots. The package essentially to include education, health/ hygiene, environments, employment-oriented vocational training, socio-economic rehabilitation, families awareness on Sikh heritage and system knowledge of eligibility for availing various assistances under on-going government sponsored developmental programmes & scheduled bank's financing schemes availability for such priority sectors. 'The identity/and eligibility of likely beneficiary can not be established without having registration under all prescribed certificates/cards of priority categories likeCS/ST /BC/ OBC and BPL etc. The help & assistance is needed to obtain such cards/ certificates for those who failed to enroll themselves on earlier departmental campaigns.
The Trust for Welfare of Vanjaras & Other Weaker Sections had endeavored sincerely, Since its establishment in July, 1997, for socio-economic up-liftment in some of the Sikh Vanjaras concentration pockets widely spread over the regions of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan,UP, Uttarakhand, Andhra, Chandigarh & Punjab. The educational-cum-vocational training center chains were started with full financial support, under supervisory collaboration, with some local state-based reputed Sikh societies. Also awareness and counseling camps were arranged and many poor eligible youths were sponsored to recognized Polytechnics for trade training & subsequently assisted for rehabilitation in their choice ventures near their respective home districts. For religious/ heritage awareness three 10-days free Gurdham Yatras, in batches of 65 Vanjara Yatries each year & drawn from three states of Rajasthan, M.P and Maharshtra. Currently the Trust is contributing 60% of expenses for imparting education-cum-vocational training to over 400 students enrolled in a school in collaboration with the Guru Angad Dev Educational & Welfare Council, Ludhiana, since last four years. An awareness campaign is also started among various Sikh institutions in & outside .Punjab to educate Vanjaras, Sikligars & other Nanak Panthis families to get themselves enumerated as followers of Sikh faith only instead of mentioning as belonging to any other clan during forthcoming 2011 General Census. The demographic statistics reflects on the constitutional rights of a minority community. Political discrimination were often practiced by the enumerators in past census 2001 while recordl11g the Vanjaras as 'Rajput' and enlisting them under undefined 'others' column. The Minority Affairs Ministry of Govt.of India is allocating funds under various minority development schemes in proportion to their accredited population as per census figures of notified minorities.
Some of the important web-sites are listed below to avail various benefits for community youth:
i) All Minorities Welfare Plan Schemes & its link organizations www.minorityaffairs.gov.in
(ii) Govt of India Ministries/Policies:- www.india.gov.in
(iii) Maulana Azad Foundation for educational scholarships:-www.maef.nic.in
(iv) National Minority Development & Finance Corporation:-www.nmdfc.org
(v) Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council;- www.nishkam.org
(vi) Akal Academy Baru Sahib :- www.kalgidharsociety.org
(VII) Guru Gobind Singh Study Circ1e:Canada:- WWW.ggsc.ca
(viii) Sikh Council on Religion & Education(SCORE)USA:- www.sikhcouncilusa.org (ix) United Sikhs-USA-for any help/assistance:- www.unitedsikhs.org
('X) Sikh Human Development Council-USA:-www.sikhhumandevelopment-org (xi) Forum of Research/Voluntcerism:- www.forgottensikhs.com
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