Scholarship programs background
The Scholarship Program has its base in educational activities started by Nishkam immediately after starting relief and rehabilitation of November, 1984 for widow sisters of different areas of Delhi, who were allotted flats in Tilak Vihar in March, 1985 onwards.
The most important part of the activities was the admission of school going children, who had already lost their schooling from November, 1984 onwards, in various schools nearby so that the children did not lose their academic year.
With the consistent efforts of Nishkam volunteers, particularly Master Harbans Singh, who was a school teacher himself, more than 700 children were admitted in various nearby schools at Tilak Vihar, New Delhi. In this effort, the role of Sardar Kulwant Singh, The Principal of Sukho Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Jail Road, New Delhi, cannot be forgotten since he made sure admission of more than 300 children in his school, that too without having any school leaving certificates from previous schools or any procedural formalities. Rest of the children were admitted to nearby Government schools by the arduous efforts of the volunteers.
It will not be out of place to mention that Master Harbans Singh was the first person, who approached Nishkam himself with the aim of doing Nishkam Sewa, which he carried out with full devotion, till November, 1993, when unfortunately Nishkam lost him and his wife in an accident near Kurkshetra, Haryana, while returning from a Sewa mission at Amritsar. At that time Master Harbans Singh was General Secretary of Nishkam.
Immediately after admitting children in nearby schools, arrangements of books, stationery and dresses were made for them. Later, to avoid misuse and wastage, stationery and dresses were provided at subsidized prices and this project continued for many years. Also, with the efforts of Nishkam, when the widow sisters started getting jobs in the Government, banks etc., the problem arose about the children since there was no one to look after them at home. Therefore, Nishkam made arrangements for free tutorial classes for these children.
Simultaneously, it was felt that to meet some unforeseen needs of such children, it was necessary to provide them some cash assistance in the shape of scholarships. This is how the Scholarship Program came into being.
While providing scholarships the criteria is set for the most needy children. i.e. children without parents, children of needy widows and children of families, whose earning member was unable to earn due to illness or handicapped etc.
This was the beginning of the ‘Relief Committee of Greater New York Scholarships’ for school going children which are still continuing. Dr. Jaspal Singh Mayell was the main architect in building the relationship between Nishkam and the ‘Relief Committee of Greater New York’, which continued all along. Nishkam lost Dr. Mayell in June, 2018 and now the mantle is on Dr. Maan Singh Saluja, who has also been part of ‘Relief Committee of Greater New York’ all along.
The next step in the project of scholarships was the ‘Nishkam Talent Search & Support Program for students in class 12th, who were in the process of going for higher education. It so happened that Nishkam issued an appeal seeking help for Smt. Sukhvinder Kaur, a destitute widow with four young children, who was suffering from Chronic Active Hepatitis B++ and was undergoing treatment in G. B. Pant, Hospital, New Delhi. The treatment started and funds also started flowing in but one donor, from personal experience raised the issue of effectiveness of the treatment. To seek guidance in this regard, our very senior volunteer Sardar Balbir Singh, who was working with us very actively since November, 1984, took us to Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki, who was his classmate at Amritsar, was once Director, PGI, Chandigarh and finally retired as Head of Psychiatry Department, AIIMS, New Delhi. Dr. Neki after consulting a number of doctors confirmed that at that point of time this was the only treatment available and there was no problem with the effectiveness of the treatment.
While guiding us in the case of Smt. Sukhvinder Kaur, Dr. Neki narrated the story of Jews, who after facing so many killings by Nazis in gas chambers in the second World War, decided to give their culture and support their talented children to take them to the top in every field. Dr. Neki asked Nishkam to take a similar step in view of the persecution faced by the Sikhs all along. This was accepted and ‘The Talent Search & Support Programme started.
For deciding the policy of the programme, Dr. Neki, Justice R. S. Narula, Retired Chief Justice, Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh as also Dr. Amrik Singh, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, played a tremendous role. Dr. Neki even wrote a book ‘Seven Great Religions of the World’ to give knowledge to the students about different religions of the World.
The scholarship scheme has since continued and since 2000-01, Sikh Human Development Foundation, USA has collaborated with Nishkam and is funding it. From 22 scholarships amounting to Rs. 2.54 lakhs in 2000-01, the number of scholarships has risen to 688 scholarships amounting to Rs. 1.54 crores in 2018-19. So much progress over the years is due to consistent efforts of Sardar Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Sardar Harbaksh Singh Sethi and Sardar Gajinder Singh Ahuja.
Nishkam has further taken a positive step in the project of Scholarships by starting full funding of the very needy but talented students.
Details of various Scholarship Programs of Nishkam For scheme-wise details of various scholarship programs of Nishkam along with eligibility criteria, please click on the links given below: –