October 30, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Washington, United States (October 30, 2013): According to information sent to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) by the Sikh Human Development Foundation (SHDF), this Washington-based Sikh body has been granting scholarships to needy students pursuing higher education in Punjab and other northern Indian states. This year the Foundation has given scholarships to 508 students in 159 institutions/colleges, totaling over $200,000.
“This scholarship program has become boon for many resource-poor families and it has given an avenue for their children to pursue professional studies. This year’s scholarships covered several fields such as Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Nursing, Information technology, and Business Administration”, a statement by SHDF reads.
“Many recipients of scholarships are from very poor households”, said Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Secretary-General of SHDF. He added, “Majority of the scholarships went to students from household incomes of less than a dollar a day per person. There is increased emphasis on female education in the SHDF program. 74% of the scholarships went to female students and 54% scholarships recipients were from rural areas. SHDF has granted 2880 scholarships since 2001 when this program was initiated. 809 students have graduated and most of them have landed in respectable positions in various companies throughout India. Results are quite inspiring. This is one of the best investments which ensures effective and sustainable human development of our youth in Punjab.”
The Chairman of SHDF, Amar Jit Singh Sodhi said, “When we see scores of our scholarship recipients beginning their careers at annual salaries of ten times of those of their parents, it is heart-warming. A scholarship recipient from a Punjab village joining a multinational information technology company and coming to the United States for implementation of a project, makes us filled with joy, pride and humility.”
Mr. Sodhi added, “We are filled with a sense of gratitude to the multitude of our donors in the U.S. for their generous donations. We are counting on their ongoing support which is making a huge difference in the lives of so many. This year, we have added one more center in Moga and we now have 6 centers in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Faridkot, Moga and Delhi, where students appear for a moral exam. and interview. These centers are managed and facilitated by our partner institution in India, the Delhi -based Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, who implement the SHDF scholarship program in India.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, SHDF’s Outreach Director, said, “In rupee terms, we have distributed more than Rs. one crore as pure scholarship money for the current academic year. This is the largest single grant money given by the diaspora community to needy but bright students who have the keen desire to rise and lift their families out of poverty.”
According to Mr. Ahuja, SHDF granted scholarships to a number of students belonging to families where a farmer committed suicide to escape from an excruciating debt burden. Scholarships were also granted to students pursuing career in Gurmat Sangeet at the Punjabi University.
Mohinder Singh Mudahar, Director, New Initiatives, said, “We are also piloting life skills’ workshops for our scholarship recipients to develop self-confidence and preparedness to engage more successfully in their professional work. Given their weak social, economic and, in most cases, rural backgrounds, they desperately need this type of training in addition to the financial assistance.”
Other members of the Executive Council of SHDF, who are rendering important and selfless service, are Jaspreet Kaur Ahuja and Kanwal Kaur Singh.
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