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Washington Sikh Foundation to give sewa award 2008 to Nishkam Sikh Welfare council


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    Washington, April 11, 2008: Washington based Guru Gobind Singh Foundation is conferring the Sewa Award 2008 to New Delhi based Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council and to Dr. Balwant Singh of Lewisberg, Pennsylvania. Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, founded in 1984, is a non-political, social welfare organization helping all communities and Dr. Balwant Singh is being honored for holding one of the first Sikh youth camps in United States in the 70’s. Every year GGSF announces this Sewa award during Vaisakhi celebrations in April.

    Nishkam came into existence in response to the tragic events of 1984 November
    when thousands of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi and all over India in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Many leading Sikh personalities came together to form Sikh charitable trust in response to the immense tragedy facing the Sikh community in India. The Government of India under Rajiv Gandhi had literally left the Sikhs suffering without offering any help to heal. Nishkam Sikh Welfare Trust mobilized the Sikh community worldwide to extend help to the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh violence.

    According to Amrit Kaur, Secretary of GGSF, “This Sewa award is given annually by GGSF to an individual or an organization which shows an exemplary work for the betterment of the Sikh community or does some significant thing to create a good name for the Sikhs. In this spirit we are honored to recognize Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council for their numerous achievements and commend their tireless work in healing and rebuilding the lives of victims of manmade and natural disasters.” GGSF has been giving this award since 1989.

    Sikh Human Development scholarship distribution
    Vocational training for youth in New Delhi by Nishkam

    Dr. Balwant Singh

    Dr. Balwant Singh and his wife began holding Sikh Youth Camps in Lewisburg in 1974. Later on in 1977, it was decided by the organizing group that youth camps be separate from the adults and hold camps exclusively for the children for 15 days. He continued to be part of camp organization till 1999 when his health broke down and could not continue any further. He has all been assigned the duty of selecting books for all five age groups for Sri Hemkunt Foundation’s International Sikh Youth Symposium started in 1983. Every year over 3000 students participate in these symposiums all over the world. He was a regular speaker on Sikh theology in many gurdwaras before his health deteriorated.

    Dr. Rajwant Singh, Executive Director of GGSF, said, “This year we feel very proud that we are finally saluting this august institution which has given a true meaning to the word ‘nishkam’ meaning work without keeping reward in mind. In giving an award to Dr. Balwant Singh we are honoring the heroes of Sikh presence in America. He belongs to the category of individuals who have strengthened the roots of Sikhism in this land.”

    Balwant Singh, Professor emeritus of management, Bucknell University, Lewisburg Pa., was born at Naushahra District Sargodha (West Punjab) in 1927 and migrated to Delhi (India) in 1947.He came on leave for higher studies from Delhi University to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1963. He was appointed as Professor of management in 1967 at Bucknell University, and was appointed as Christian R. Lindback chair in Business Administration in 1983. He also served as director of Bucknell’s Master of Science degree in business administration program. He retired in 1993 after 25 years of teaching at Bucknell. He served as judge for society’s scholarship awards program- Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society in Business administration, and honored him with an annual scholarship in his name. He has also taught at Cambridge University.

    Ranjit Singh, the Chair Person of GGSF said, “We feel privileged to honor such an individual. It was his vision to infuse Sikhi spirit in the youth by launching Gurmat Camps. We certainly hope that many others would follow his example.”

    Nishkam initially focused on providing relief to the Sikh widows and orphans after the violence on November 1984. It provided means of support to the distraught families, food and shelter to thousands of families in the affected areas and whose houses were burnt by the rioters. Later it provided the vocational training to widows and helped educate the Sikh orphans. It is housed in the infamous neighborhood of Tilak nagar, most affected by the Anti-Sikh violence and has many volunteers and paid staff overseeing a large humanitarian effort. of Sikligars in Madhya Pradesh being given educational assistance by Nishkam

    Nishkam has grown into a multi-dimensional welfare organization which provides educational assistance to youth, housing to disaster affected areas in India, job training to poor in Delhi and Sikligar tribes in Western and Central India, shelter for elderly, and medicinal assistance to many patients through its centers. It has recently built houses for tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu and earthquake victims in Gujarat.
    Nishkam Vocational training center, New Delhi

    Last year this award was given to Former Akal Takhat Jathedar, Prof. Darshan Singh. In 2006, GGSF honored Smithsonian Institution and Sikh Heritage Foundation for the Sikh exhibit in Washington, DC and Bibi Inderjit Kaur of Sikh Dharma International, wife of Late Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Yogi., In 2004, GGSF honored Baba Sewa Singh of Khadur Sahib for his environmental initiatives to bring greenery in Punjab. He has been planting trees in Punjab and in central India.

    In 2003, this award was given to Manjit Singh of Ottawa, Canada, who has lobbied
    tirelessly the Canadian government and political establishment to ease many restrictions on Sikhs so that they can enjoy religious freedom while earning their livelihood in Canada. Darshan Singh Dhaliwal was honored in 2005 for his assistance in tsunami disaster.

    In 2002, GGSF had honored Sikh Media and Research Task Force (SMART and now SALDEF) and Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), both based in Washington, for their work in the post 9/11 era in America to deter attacks on Sikhs and lobbying the U. S. government for assistance to Sikhs. In addition, it honored Giani Harbans Singh of Patiala for doing a monumental work on the translation and the grammar of Guru Granth Sahib, a valuable contribution for the propagation of Sikhism.

    In 2001, GGSF honored Raghbir Singh Bains for creating the CD ROM version of the encyclopedia of Sikhism and his work in the field of education for Sikh youth.

    In the past, GGSF has also honored Dr. I. J. Singh of New York for his literary contribution and Dr. Rajwant Singh of Washington for representing the Sikhs to various platforms and Martin Palmer of Alliance of Religions and Conservation , United Kingdom, for his work on environmental issues with Sikh community.

    GGSF, founded in 1985, has provided the representation to the Sikh community in various platforms in myriad ways. It has consistently worked to create awareness among Americans at large regarding Sikhs and Sikhism. It has been invited to the White House and other governmental agencies, regarding the issues concerning the Sikhs in America. It has represented Sikhs in the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan area since 1987.
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