The US-based Sikh Human Development Foundation recently announced a record US$210,000 in funding of scholarships for needy students in Punjab, India, and surrounding areas:
Washington based Sikh Human Development Foundation has given a helping hand to needy students pursuing higher education in Punjab and other Northern Indian states. It has given scholarships to 504 students in 159 institutions/colleges totaling about $ 210,000 for the academic year ending in 2012.
“This number is up from 412 of the last year” said Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Secretary General of SHDF. He added, “15 scholarship recipients belonged to farmers’ families where the farmer had committed suicide to escape the excruciating debt burden.”
He further stated, “Need based Scholarships are granted after a rigorous screening process and our findings reveal that 60% of scholarship recipients were from families with income of less than a dollar a day per person and 18% from families with slightly more than a dollar a day per person income.”
“There is increased emphasis on female education in our program. 69% of the scholarships went to female students and 31% to male students. 52% scholarship recipients were from rural areas and 48% from urban areas.”
As part of its laudable mission, SHDF invokes the Sikh concept of seva, or selfless service to the community:
SHDF is inspired by the concept of Seva (service) in Sikh religion. In the Sikh way of life, rendering selfless service to humanity (i.e. God in man), and responding to the pain and need of others, is the prime duty of a householder. Millions of Sikhs, whether in congregations or individually, end their daily prayer with a supplication for the ‘welfare of all’, irrespective of caste, color, gender, religion and nationality.
SHDF is supported by donors largely located in the Washington, DC area, and is particularly beneficial given the issues plaguing the Punjab population including drug abuse, alcoholism, gender discrimination and farmer suicides.
In the following 2012 video, SHDF provides testimonials (in Punjabi and English) from some of its beneficiaries:
Another video, released in 2004, interviews other beneficiaries of the scholarship:
More information about the Sikh Human Development Foundation can be found at http://www.shdf.org.