Sikh Charity

If you are looking for Sikh/Punjabi charities/NGO's to work with and support, then please surf through these articles below. I have also included my journey of how I found the Punjabi charity of my choice. There are many charities to choose from. Just pick one and make a difference and stop making excuses.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Calendar Year 2006 Summary

Steady Work Continues to produce Results

The continued support and donations from members of the community in Canada have made a major difference in the lives of young Sikh Sikligar Sikh children thousands of miles away in India.

Nishkam Canada which has decided to focus the majority of its efforts on the school going Sikligar children has been at the forefront of meeting all school related expenses for these children. The objective of this effort has been to be enable the younger Sikligar Sikhs to be able to participate in the growing economy around them and to be able to better provide for their families and become self sufficient.

Some of the key achievements in 2006 were as follows:

Time Activity Recipients
Q2 2006 Annual Fee for Jasdeep Singh (Engineering Student) 1
Q3 2006 Shoes & Socks 167 pairs of shoes/socks
Q3 2006 Notebooks 1,560 notebooks
Q3 2006 School Bags 167 school bags
Q4 2006 School uniforms 56 boys and 53 girls
Thru 2006 Tutors to help with homework 216 children covered

The volunteers of Nishkam Canada are greatly indebted to the donors and they thank the donors from the bottom of their hearts. We look forward to an even more productive 2007.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Update on Sikligar Sikh Children Education Project

As of July 4, 2006, only 137 of the 351 school going Sikligar Sikh children in Karanataka have been covered by the after school tutor program (39%).

Efforts are underway to raise this number, with 100% coverage being the stated goal.

Tutor deatils are as follows:

1. Tutor Gita G Patil in Dharwad looking after 55 students
2. Tutor Ranchandran in Nipani/Belgaum looking after 16 students
3. Tutor Manohar Nirmade in Bangalore looking after 17 students
4. Tutor Shahnaz Begum Amargol in Hubli looking after 28 students
5. Tutor G F Hiremath in Shiggaon looking after 21 students

Update on Nishkam Canada Scholarship Recipient

An update on the Nishkam Canada scholarship recipient

Dear well wishers of Nishkam,

It gives us great pleasure in reporting that Jasdeep Singh, the recipient of the scholarship from Nishkam Canada has secured 74% marks in his first year at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology, New Delhi. These are First Class marks and we shall be sending him congratulations on your behalf.

You may recall that Jasdeep’s family was not able to afford to send him to Engineering school as his father is a diabetic and the mother can barely make ends meet by giving private tuitions. That is when Nishkam met Jasdeep and was able to extend a helping hand.

We sincerely hope that as Jasdeep matures into a responsible young man and takes his first steps towards a deserving future, he will pass on the message of compassion by helping others when he is able to do so.

In addition to Jasdeep, Nishkam Canada is the sponsor for 351 Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India. Nishkam Canada is paying for the school supplies, school fees, uniforms, books etc for these children. Nishkam Canada also funds private tutors that ensure that the kids are able to study when not at school, given that in most cases the parents of these children are not literate.

We hope the several more Jasdeeps come to the fore from amongst the 351 Sikh children and they make us all proud.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Success At Last

On Feb 6, after a long wait, I can say I was a part of something that made a real difference, something that I can say I truly have done for others. And I hope this is the first step, of many such contributions to come in the future.

And what it is that I am talking about. I am talking about my back-office role in the transfer of funds from Nishkam canada to Nishkam India that resulted in the status update as below:

Dear friends of Nishkam Canada,

I am pleased to report that 2005 was a banner year for us. Given our focus on the Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, we were able to achieve the following:

1. Supply note books and other stationery items for school going Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India

2. Pay for school fees of 46 students for an entire year and for another 14 for 6 months for Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India

3. Pay for school bags for 106 children for Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India

4. Pay for shoes and socks for 140 children for Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India

5. Pay for an after school tuition program for some of the Sikligar Sikh children in Karnataka, India

6. Pay for the first year of Engineering school fees for a deserving but needy student in North India

We estimate that for each of the 351 school going children at present of the Sikligar Sikhs in Karnataka, we require C$ 15 (US$ 13) every month in order to provide school supplies and an after school tuition program.

Our current intake of funds is far below that.

But we look forward to your continued support in spreading the word about Nishkam Canada and your generous donations.

As a donor, you can either donate online (with a credit card) by going to our web site or by mailing us a cheque drawn on "Nishkam Sikh Welfare Organization, Canada" at 2025 Dundas Street East, Unit 10, Mississagua, ON, L4X 1M2

Best Regards

Harmit S Kamboe

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nishkam Canada Takes The First Step

Once all the infrastructure was set up for, bank account, web site, credit card functionality on the web site, the Nishkam volunteers started to look for a small project where they could make an immediate impact.

This is when Nishkam India brought the case of a young man by the name of Jasdeep Singh to our notice.

Jasdeep Singh has scored 77.4% marks in the 12th class and his score in PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Maths.) is 81%. The attached mark skeet is evidence of this. With borrowed books, Jasdeep achieved a rank of 5,360 in the CET (Common Entrance Test), an exam for students seeking admission to Engineering schools in India.

Jasdeep’s father is unemployed and suffers from diabetes. His mother has been the breadwinner of the family and done so by providing private tuitions to other students. Nishkam India met young Jasdeep in person and recommended to Nishkam Canada.

An amount of C$ 600 which was received from Nishkam Canada’s donors for scholarship purposes was matched to Jasdeep. Jasdeep is a class XII graduate who has joined the Guru Teg Bahadur Institute of Technology, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi, under the minority quota.
The scholarship being advanced will go towards meeting, school fees, books and other education related expenses.
This has been of the high points of my life, to be able to play a small part in giving hope to a young, bright but needy person who has the rest of his life ahead of him. I hope to keep you update on more news on Jasdeep and other programs that Nishkam Canada pursues.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The value of a good education in todays’ hyper competitive knowledge society cannot be over emphasized. One only has to look around In India to see the illiterate live under crushing poverty every day and those that have some money but a poor education wither make do with poorly rewarding self employed careers or in the case of Punjabi youth pawn away everything they have to make it overseas, where they join the working class.
World Bank economists David Dollar and Roberta Gatti have studied the effect of girls' education on economies. The return on investment in girls' education, they find, is not lower than the return for boys and, particularly in lower-middle-income countries, is often significantly higher. Dollar and Gatti conclude that economies "that have a preference for not investing in girls pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income."
With so much research, coupled with common sense, one would think that there is a major emphasis on education for the underprivileged in the Punjabi community. Sadly that is not true. Professional and consistent efforts are few and far between. However, instead of focusing on the negative, I am pleased to offer readers an opportunity to take part in a success story.

Two US based Sikh organizations, the Sikh Human Development Foundation ( and the Relief Committee of Greater New York have been doing stellar work in this regard.

The Sikh Human Development Foundation (

This US based and tax exempt organization has been ramping up its scholarship efforts in the past few years. From 2002 through to 2005, 194 children have been granted scholarships.

A total of 128 children that were awarded scholarships have already completed the courses that they were provided financial assistance for. Scholarships for students covered by the SHDF are targeted to students studying in professional courses and are for a maximum of Rs 18,000 per annum. Scholarships have been largely aimed at female students from a rural background and most of the recipients come from families that make less than Rs 50,000 a year.

Candidates are selected by administering a test that also includes an interview. Thus weightage is given both to academic and non academic factors. 55% of the scholarships have been awarded to students studying Engineering and 16% to those studying Nursing.

Relief Committee of Greater New York

The Relief Committee was very generous in its donations for the afflicted of the anti Sikh1984 violence. Since then they have kept the momentum going and channeled their energy into award of scholarships for the young and the needy too. From 2002 through to 2005, a toal of 735 scholarships were extended through Nishkam India.

A fair amount of the scholarships here have been to students in school (grade VI to X) and the scholarship money has helped children buy books, uniforms and meet other school related expenses. Preference is given to children of widows or orphans studying in government/government aided schools.

Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi (

For both of these organizations in the US, Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi has been the partner that has provided the final missing links between noble intentions and being able to turn them into action.

Nishkam India

1. Advertises the scholarships in the Indian media
2. Collects information on all the candidates that appear in the scholarships tests
3. Administers the tests and scores the candidates
4. Interviews them
5. Reports back to the donor organization on the candidates that match the criteria provided
6. Disburses scholarships to the student or the educational institution as the case may be, once funds are received

I think it is incumbent upon us to share and spare what we can so that at the bare minimum, our gifted youth is able to rise above what the mediocre education the state schooling system in India provides. We must open doors for our young who wish to pursue careers in medicine, sciences etc. but are being held back due to lack of funds.

For any Canadian donors (or international donors that wish to donate online), please visit Nishkam Canada, ( where you will be able to make an online donation for our scholarship fund. Canadian donors will be instantly emails a tax deduction receipt.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Nanak Kohli's First Project in Delhi

Nanak Kohli is not known as the Rolls Royce of Sikhs for nothing. The founder of a multinational company into everything from telecom to trading, his group is worth over $200 million. But at 73, after having spent much of his lifetime making money, the self-made billionaire is now faced with a new dilemma: "My income is increasing while my needs are diminishing. What am I to do with it since I can’t take it with me to the next world?" So Kohli is doing what he thinks is the sensible thing: "Giving it back to society."

But giving away his money can be as much hard work as making it, as Kohli discovered last year when he started looking for ways to rid himself of a small but sizeable portion of his fortune.

"I didn’t want to just donate it to some organisation or even the government," he recalls. "I wanted the money to make a difference to society." Being new to the business of social work, Kohli decided to tackle it in the same way he made his fortune: start out from scratch. A balwadi in a slum colony would be a good beginning, he felt, where he could provide a few poor children with a wholesome meal, healthy environment and some motivation to enrol into school when they were old enough.

Slow and steady, Kohli told himself, when he started out last January, setting aside Rs 67,000 a month for a teacher, helper, uniforms, mid-day meal and a part-time doctor for 30-40 children in Mehramnagar near Delhi airport. But the parents’ demand and Kohli’s empire-building instincts soon got the better of him. Within a month, there were 21 running balwadis and by last year, a chain of 50, which Kohli plans to expand to 100 this year.

Kohli’s international business skills, especially his insistence on high quality at lowest price, are paying off already. Children who spent hours roaming the sludgy streets of the basti while their parents were at work are now transformed: proudly dressed in their free "uniform"—maroon sweater and shorts or skirt, carefully polished black shoes and socks, hair well-oiled and combed, slate in hand, happy chanting nursery rhymes and alphabets that the teachers (volunteers from the slum) instil in them. But these are no ordinary creches to merely provide poor children with a hot meal. They are opening doors to a whole new future for slum children.

As peanut-seller Mohammed Akram from the Brar Square basti in Naraina points out, "Before my youngest girl Sannu joined the balwadi, I could never hope to provide her quality education. But Sannu is doing so well here that I want to enrol her in a public school no matter what it costs." Several of the graduates from Kohli’s balwadis have already joined private schools, sailing through the pre-admission tests with an ease that is giving new hope to government-run schools in the neighbourhood. "Our balwadis provide a headstart to the children so that when they join primary school they not only have an incentive not to drop off but also stay ahead of the school curriculum," explains a teacher, Komal, a high school graduate. "These children will never have to resort to tuitions like I had to."

Kohli’s creches are also giving the government-run anganwadis a run for their money. What’s more, as word about Kohli’s balwadis is beginning to spread, slum-dwellers are inviting Kohli to open shop in their neighbourhood. "We insist everyone pays a fee, even if it is only Rs 15 a month. This way, parents feel they have claims over the balwadis—they ring us up and complain if the teacher doesn’t come or the mid-day meal isn’t OK."

But for Kohli, the real payoff is when he sees the children changing before his eyes. "At first, they couldn’t even look me in the eye, they were so shy. But look at them now, they can take on anyone in the world."

Nanak Kohli can be contacted at: A10/6, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Tel: 011- 51663016-17

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Water Mis-Management and the Sorry State of Sanitation In Punjab

For a land and people that claim to be as connected to agriculture and hence water, Punjab and the Punjabis are headed for a whole lot of trouble and they do not seem to do be doing anything about it.

Merely 57 per cent of the area was covered by tubewell irrigation two decades ago. Post-2000, when 75 per cent of Punjab is tubewell irrigated, deep tubewells have become an agrarian necessity given the way the static water level (SWL) is falling.

The water table is hurtling down not by centimetres or inches but, hold your breath, metres! And this is making the municipal councils scared, geologists tense and farmers petrified.
Rampant drilling of deep tubewells is a menace and installing a deep tubewell where a shallow one may suffice, amounts to compounding the danger. Hydrogeologists rue that more than the rampant drilling, it is the sheer thoughtlessness that is the more scary part. Citing an example from a village in Fatehgarh Sahib district, experts from the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation point out that a shallow tubewell with 20 m of tapped water-bearing zone could have achieved the purpose of drinking water supply. But the agencies drilled till 275 m and tapped 65 m of aquiferous zone to achieve their objective. “This is like using a cannon to kill a fly. Totally absurd,” says a geophysicist.

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Yet no one seems to care or wishes to stand up and make this is a priority issue.

And if you thought that water was an issue only for agriculture and not for citizens of the state, then you are as mistaken as I was when I came across the following statistics:

The issues involved in urban administration have thrown the machinery of urban governance in deep crisis, admits the Minister of Urban Development, Mr Jagmohan. He states: “At present there is no sanitation worth the name for 52 per cent of the urban population. The sewerage system covers only 35 per cent of the population of Class IV cities and 75 per cent of population of Class I cities. About 34 per cent of the urban population does not have any arrangement even for the drainage of rain-water around its habitats. Nearly 60 per cent of the municipal bodies in India collect less than 40 per cent of the urban waste, which is allowed to decompose and putrefy on the road-side and around houses and factories. Quite a substantial portion of it goes into the drains, choking them and creating slush and stink all around, besides providing breeding ground for pests, flies and mosquitoes and cockroaches.”

The facts are indeed painful and ominous. Urban congestion in India is the highest in the world. About 19 per cent of the Indian families live in less than 10 square metres of space, and about 44 per cent of the families in urban areas live in one room only. About 35 per cent of the city population lives in slums. The slums and squatters’ population has been increasing at a rate more than double the growth rate of the overall cities’ population. There are more fatalities each year from road accidents in India than in the USA, though India has only one-twentieth of road vehicles as compared to the States. The nation’s Capital is the fourth most polluted city of the world. The level of suspended particulate matter in the air exceeds the safe limits even in rather smaller cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh of the basically agrarian state of Punjab.

The dust-load in air in the Indian cities is the highest in the world. The polluted air has been responsible for causing a large number of premature deaths, according to a World Bank study. It is estimated that those suffering from air and water-borne diseases occupy about 80 per cent of the beds in our city hospitals. A study conducted by the National Physical Laboratory revealed that Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta were the noisiest cities of the world. Clearly, the reforms process has not succeeded in achieving its objective.
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Yet once again, there is some one (and perhaps many more that I am not aware of) that are choosing to make a difference.

Dr Raghbir Singh Bassi (a Harvard graduate in Finance and Business Administration who has risen to the position of Vice-Chancellor of Alaska Pacific University) and Dr Gurdev Singh Gill (studied medicine in Canada and became the first doctor of Indian origin to start a private practice. But he soon got involved in community work in Vancouver for which he was awarded the ‘Order of British Columbia.’) contributed Rs 50 lakh from their own funds. They presented a complete plan to the then Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal about how their project would make Kharaudi a model village.

However when it came to implementation of the project, they soon found out the extent of corruption at the local authorities. For instance, for replacing broken galvanized iron pipes of water supply, these officials gave an estimate of Rs 8 lakh. We found it to be too high and went ahead with our own effort. We completed the work at a cost of Rs 1.50 lakh. Similarly, for laying of the sewerage line in the village they gave us an estimate of Rs 22 lakh. We again found it to be exaggerated and went ahead with our own costing and succeeded in completing not only the sewerage line but also the connections to 200 houses in mere Rs 11 lakh."

Dr Gill and Dr S. S. Bassi (Dr Raghbir Singh Bassi’s younger brother), began working on the project titled "Nurture your roots" in September 1999 and within three years the village has got transformed astonishingly (project completed 2004). Today, it has concrete streets connecting each house. The sewerage line flows through the village with a concrete cover on it. Each house has an outlet into it. Unlike most of our state government’s half-baked ideas of engineering, the sewerage water has not been allowed to pollute at its final disposal point. Only 240 towns in a country of 1 billion people have this kind of a sewage plant.

The project includes the "Sewerage Water Treatment Plant" (SWTP), which will enable the VLIB to reuse this water for fishery and irrigation of fields. The income generated will be given to the panchayat and the maintenance committee.

The very idea of the SWTP not only lasts for ages but also is relatively far cheaper in cost. The technology too is simple. The entire sewage of the village is made to flow into a large covered septic tank outside the village. In this tank, anaerobic bacteria are produced on their own and thrive on the chemicals in the sewerage. This bacterium does not need oxygen but feeds only solids. It thus cleans the water up to 85 per cent. From this tank, the water is made to flow into a smaller tank, which is laid with perforated pipes covered with nylon filters and three feet of rubble. It is further covered with three inches of sand and three inches of mud. Thus when the water is filtered from this entire process it is as clear as tap water. This water is made to flow into an eight-foot-deep pond, where a fishery project is proposed. The excess water is used for irrigation. In Kharaudi, the VLIB has already completed the entire process. It has also introduced solar streetlights, which light up the entire village like any other urban city. The VLIB has also opened a primary school up to Class V, which runs like any other private public school enabling children to have access to uniform and equal education. The board proposes to upgrade it up to Class VIII.

Interestingly, the VLIB is not a formation of NRIs alone. As Dr Gill and Dr S. S. Bassi put it, "The lower rank bureaucracy wanted us to open a joint bank account with them by putting in our share of Rs 50 lakh. But once we realised that corruption was rampant, we decided against it. That’s when we formed the VLIB. We wanted the villagers of Kharaudi to be emotionally and practically as involved in the project as we were. So many activists from the village were made an integral part of the board. Now it is a joint effort. We come every winter, as summers are unbearable. We personally work on the sites but once we leave, the local members of the board complete the specific assignments given to them and there is a monitoring of each work in our absence. That is how we have been able to achieve our targets in record time."

The VLIB has cleared the entire shamlat land of wild growth. On this available patch of land, it has built a beautiful park and in the middle of it, the statute of village martyr Arjan Singh ‘Sach’, who was jailed for 12 years during India’s struggle for freedom, has been erected. He was a comrade of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

This park has been named Sach di Kharaudi. For the park project, Arjan Singh’s son and daughter also donated money. Once the park was ready, Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s younger brother, Kultar Singh, was invited to inaugurate it. While the villagers are very proud of this park, the younger generation has someone to look up to as a hero. While all this work was on in Kharaudi, the state government machinery, as usual, dilly-dallied about releasing the matching grants as had been promised. Even when the bulk of the work is near completion, the government has released only Rs 22 lakh so far. When the Primer of British Columbia, Ujjal Dosanj, was visiting Punjab, he went specially to Kharuadi, as he was aware of Dr Gill and Dr Bassi’s involvement in it. After he and Badal saw the amazing work on the ground, the Chief Minister promptly announced Rs 10 lakh as grant. Fortunately, this cheque was handed over to the board the very next day.

Meanwhile, a "Pillar of Appreciation" is also under construction in the middle of the village. This pillar will carry the names of donors of Kharaudi, who have given more than Rs 1 lakh each or more. At present, all such names are written on the wall of a gurdwara. The VLIB has also ensured that all telephone lines are under the ground. Today, almost every house in the village has a phone.

The indefatigable Dr Gill says, "Our idea is not to stop at our village alone. We wish to spread it to more villages and then to the whole of Punjab. We are planning to adopt seven more villages around Kharaudi."

Individual NRIs have done remarkable work for the welfare of these surrounding villages. For instance, Pammi Bains, in his village, Bharata Ganeshpur, has constructed a modern mortuary, which can house six bodies. "His mother had died but her body could not be preserved as there was no mortuary here. That is why, unfortunately, he could not be present at his mother’s cremation. It was his personal tragedy that made him build this mortuary, which is now available to anyone free of cost. But we would like a collective effort to optimise the improvement in village lifestyle."

Dr Gill’s efforts have already borne fruit. The Canadian International Development Agency, which is spending $30 million in the Indian subcontinent alone, has not spent a penny in Punjab. Dr Gill approached Herb Dhaliwal, the Minister for Fisheries in Canada, and once the latter learnt about the Kharaudi project and its proposed idea of a fishery, he agreed to involve 10 more villages in similar projects.

In addition to the project undertaken and completed at Kharoudi, a similar project has also been completed at Village Barhampur, Ludhiana (project commenced in October 2003 and completed in January 2005).

In the winter of 2005, work on two new projects at the villages of Jian and Dingrian will commence.

In recognition of the work that Dr Gill has done, CIDA, the Canadian International Development Authority has provided financial assistance in the expenditure incurred in the projects so far. This makes the ICFSBC (Indio Canadian Friendship Society of British Columbia) one of the very few NGO’s/charities that has received CIDA funding for a project in Punjab, India.

Should any of you folks have a serious proposal for your own village, please contact Dr Gill at and for additional information please visit

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