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MICA (P) 148/01/2012 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2013</strong><br />

a s p i r a t i o n s<br />

Publication of Young Sikh Association (Singapore)<br />

An Inclusive Singapore<br />


DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam shares his<br />

views on an inclusive Singapore society at YSA<br />

dialogue session<br />

From the desk of...<br />

YSA Retreat 2012<br />

Taking Stock and Planning Ahead<br />

Community Service in a Punjab Village School<br />

A Life-Changing Experience!<br />

Sikh Graduates Networking Session 2012<br />

More Skilled Jobs Await Singaporeans<br />

Thinking Aloud!<br />

An Inclusive Society - Steps to making a<br />

Vision to Reality?<br />

Speaking Softly!<br />

Mr Fauja Singh’s message to youth on the<br />

secrets of a fulfilling and long life<br />

SMS Lawrence Wong engages young<br />

Singaporeans at dialogue session<br />

YSA supports fundraising initiative for Down<br />

Syndrome Association Singapore<br />

YSA lights up the heartlands with Bhangra<br />

Bonanza 2012

Young Sikh Association (Singapore)<br />

Panel of Advisors<br />

Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman<br />

Senior Parliamentary Secretary<br />

Ministry of National Development; and<br />

Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC<br />

Mr Inderjit Singh<br />

Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC<br />

Mr Davinder Singh<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Drew and Napier LLC<br />

Mr Kirpa Ram Sharma<br />

Managing Director<br />

Pars Ram Brothers (Pte) Ltd<br />

Young Sikh Association (Singapore)<br />

Executive Committee (2012-14)<br />

Mr Malminderjit Singh<br />

President<br />

Mr Nirman Singh<br />

Vice-President<br />

Ms Sheena Gill<br />

Honorary Secretary<br />

Mr Kuldip Singh<br />

Assistant Secretary and Culture<br />

Mr Kulwant Singh<br />

Honorary Treasurer<br />

Mr Laxmikanthan<br />

Assistant Treasurer<br />

Mr Sarabjeet Singh<br />

Committee Member and<br />

Editor, Newsletter<br />

Ms Harsimar Kaur<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Corporate Communications)<br />

Ms Sithara Doriasamy<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Conferences and Seminars)<br />

Ms Jagdeep Kaur<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Culture)<br />

Mr Gurmeet Singh<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Sports)<br />

Mr Ang Seng Yong<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Community Service)<br />

Ms Sangeetha Madasamy<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Community Service and Corporate<br />

Communications)<br />

Ms Harjean Kaur<br />

Committee Member<br />

(Intellectual and Professional<br />

Development)<br />

Editor’s Note<br />

We are all too familiar with that moment sometime towards the end of a<br />

year, when we pause to consider how the year seems to have passed at the<br />

blink of an eye. Indeed, as I have grown regrettably older over the years, the<br />

months seem to move along even faster! For the most part and for most of<br />

us, this is probably a function of our lives getting busier with added roles<br />

and responsibilities as we transition through stages in life. Further, living in<br />

a city-state often entails living on the edge. By this of course I mean that we<br />

find ourselves occupied with having to scramble to meet expectations in our<br />

education, careers, families, friendships... The list goes on. Taking stock of a<br />

past year then, more often than not, leaves one wondering where to begin.<br />

But something curious happened to me this time of year. Upon reflection, I<br />

realise I had the good fortune of having more moments to pause throughout<br />

the course of the year. My initial worries about the possibility that I had more<br />

time to idle away, and hence the pauses, were quickly put to rest. On the<br />

contrary, I had embarked on my first job upon graduation and a possible<br />

career, gotten involved with more volunteer work to include my role at YSA, got both my motorcar and<br />

motorcycle licenses, and purchased my first motorcycle! In short, I did have quite a fair bit on my plate.<br />

I think the pauses, ironically and oddly enough, came about more so because it has been a particularly<br />

eventful year for me peppered with many new experiences. Pardon my self-absorption, and putting that<br />

aside, I am going to hazard a guess and say that I might not be off the mark if I were to say 2012 has been<br />

quite an eventful year for most of us. Our shared experiences as a society this year seem to have something<br />

distinct about them giving us more moments to pause, and ultimately giving 2012 a real character of its<br />

own. In this editorial, I am going to delve into YSA’s events the last year, draw connections with broader<br />

observable national trends based on prominent incidents, and in doing so make you understand what I am<br />

getting at when I fathom a guess that some things about 2012 are going to remain etched in our minds for<br />

some time to come.<br />

To start off, YSA’s second instalment of the Bhangra Bonanza was a resounding success. For those of you<br />

who missed it, you will be heartened to know that youth in our communities continue to demonstrate deep<br />

interests in culture and tremendous talents in the performing arts. There was no one in the audience who<br />

was not caught up in the hype of participants displaying their creativity and dancing to toe tapping Bhangra<br />

beats. It dawned on me that whether these youth realise it or not, they are our cultural ambassadors<br />

providing a service to us all through their continued efforts and passion for community cultures.<br />

The importance of their roles cannot be overstated especially at a time where, with apparent shifts in our<br />

society, the risks of a disconnect with what we deem crucial in our communities and culture loom larger.<br />

That being said, it is hardly the case and rightfully so, that these youth are passive receptacles to cultures<br />

handed down. The new-age beats youth at the bonanza incorporated (Dubstep and even ‘Gangnam<br />

Style’!) and infused with Bhangra beats to give it a contemporary feel while retaining its authentic flavour,<br />

are testament to youth’s autonomy to experiment with their creativity, and indicate their savvy as to what<br />

appeals to consumers. More importantly, youth sometimes point us in directions that enable us to consider<br />

ways in which culture can continue to remain relevant and vibrant if allowed to take its course in adapting,<br />

accommodating and developing.<br />

It is in this spirit that we must never accept culture as static and relics of antiquity. Instead it is useful to<br />

compare it to a palimpsest or patchwork quilt that will always transform and remain a work in progress<br />

with distinct imprints of time gone by. It would potentially be dangerous to assume otherwise.<br />

On this note, the SMRT train station announcement issue of 2012 comes to mind. In workplaces, coffeeshops,<br />

on facebook and online forums, and even within the privacy of our living spaces, discussions on the pros<br />

and cons of this step taken by the public transport operator must have been all too familiar, even taking<br />

centre stage with sentiments added into the mix. There is then little need to reiterate details except to<br />

consider what could have been possible learning points for us all from the episode. Senior Minister of State<br />

Ms Indranee Rajah’s coining of the term ‘emological’ aptly describes aspects of our culture and identity<br />

as Singaporeans. Within the context of the SMRT issue, it enables us to appreciate how fiercely many<br />

Singaporeans will guard what they perceive as a sense of the local and what is common to fellow citizens<br />

(in this case SMRT Train Station names). It would be far too simplistic to dismiss this as xenophobia as<br />

some quarters did.<br />

A nuanced perspective would consider how the Singaporean identity, arguably hard to pinpoint and define<br />

in precise terms as it is, exists in a state of flux within the contexts of a rapidly evolving and changing<br />

home. One just needs to consider changes to our physical landscape to appreciate how identity building is<br />

confronted with the challenges of having to bulldoze the old to make way for the new as the mere survival<br />

of the home depends on it. Within this frame, station names seemed to provide an anchor for identities,<br />

and the rootedness of this was perhaps overlooked by those in the decision making progress for the SMRT<br />

proposal to test new announcements for station names. This stresses the importance of inclusivity, and in<br />

this case to the sensitivities of local cultures which especially have a bearing on and are a salient feature<br />

of identity. At the same time, as with our local landscape that improves with change, our local cultures can<br />

also potentially be reinvigorated and strengthened if space is made for the right amount of mixing and<br />

striking a balance with the new.<br />

This brings me to my concluding paragraph on the theme of this issue of <strong>Khwaish</strong>. With the ongoing<br />

Singapore Conversation, YSA similarly realised the need for us to engage broader society in a discussion on<br />

building an inclusive home. For this purpose, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam graciously<br />

accepted YSA’s invitation as speaker for this year’s Ministerial Dialogue on the topic. Harjit Kaur’s thought<br />

provoking Thinking Aloud article on the back of the dialogue session in this issue is sure to make us pause<br />

once more to reflect on some of the steps we can all take towards making a more inclusive home and society.<br />

There is no denying that building an inclusive society is a complex challenge and progress in this regard<br />

will be at a steady pace, and possibly with some bumps along the way as we have encountered in 2012.<br />

However, 2012 has also shown how progress can be made towards this cause if we remain open, receptive,<br />

tolerant, and most importantly understand differences without having to encounter undue pressures.<br />

Sarabjeet Singh<br />

Our Mission…<br />


Editorial Information<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong> is a newsletter of Young Sikh Association (Singapore). Please feel free to forward your<br />

comments and feedback to:-<br />

Mr Sarabjeet Singh 8 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 169543<br />

Editor, <strong>Khwaish</strong> Mobile: 8222 8485 Fax: 6319 8277<br />

Young Sikh Association (Singapore) Email: sm.sarabjeet@gmail.com<br />

No part of this newsletter should be published without the consent of the Editor, <strong>Khwaish</strong>.

Cover Story<br />

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam<br />

shares his views on an inclusive Singapore society<br />

at YSA dialogue session<br />

Success can be found in every area of life, and is not<br />

a dirty word. It brings great value to society when<br />

people take pride in what they do, and when young<br />

people discover something that they enjoy and put in<br />

the effort to be good at it.<br />

Encouraging Singaporeans to succeed in their own<br />

ways, and giving those who start off with disadvantage<br />

a real opportunity to find their strengths and do well, are<br />

at the core of what makes an inclusive society. Deputy<br />

Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam said<br />

this to an audience of 300 people on 24 November<br />

2012, most of whom were youth, as they discussed<br />

how Singapore can head closer towards an inclusive<br />

society.<br />

Organised by YSA, the dialogue brought together<br />

a wide range of Singaporeans, including those from<br />

different ethnic and income backgrounds as well as<br />

new citizens, for a closed-door dialogue session with<br />

DPM Tharman to discuss an important issue.<br />

"In this year's national day message, the Prime<br />

Minister had announced the idea of having a national<br />

conversation and he sketched out the vision of<br />

Singapore along the themes of Hope, Heart and Home.<br />

YSA's mission is to fully understand and inculcate the<br />

aspirations of Singapore's society, and to enhance<br />

mutual understanding on issues of common concern.<br />

As such, this dialogue allowed us to play our part and<br />

reach out to members of the community to be a part<br />

of this conversation. Hopefully this can help make an<br />

inclusive Singapore Society a reality", said Malminderjit<br />

Singh, President of YSA.<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong><br />


The dialogue session was candid and lively, where<br />

participants voiced their opinions and comments without<br />

inhibition. DPM Tharman answered the many questions<br />

from the audience and included his own anecdotes on how<br />

we can improve our society as well as encouraging the<br />

younger participants in the audience to pursue a course or<br />

career in an area that they will enjoy, "because when you<br />

do something you enjoy, you put something extra into it,<br />

and you eventually do well."<br />

Commenting on the more active discussion on issues<br />

that takes place in Singapore, including critical online<br />

views, DPM Tharman said, "Some things are inevitable<br />

as our society matures. We will have different views on<br />

various matters, local or national. Young people often<br />

have different perspectives than those in the baby boom<br />

generation, who in turn think differently on some issues<br />

from the pioneering generation. Views also differ more<br />

widely within the same generation."<br />

"We can see all this already, and must provide room for<br />

these different perspectives. But what is really important<br />

is that we keep a strong consensus on our core values -<br />

the values that allow us to make a living in an intensely<br />

competitive world, that lead us to respect every type of<br />

ability and every job, and that will make the journey ahead<br />

worthwhile for all Singaporeans."<br />

When asked about her concerns as a young Singaporean,<br />

student Simranpal Kaur, 21, said, "As a student who will be<br />

in the workforce in a few years, my friends and I have many<br />

relevant concerns such as what career we should pursue<br />

and if we will only be successful in certain types of careers<br />

or if we should only work in the areas relevant to what we<br />

have studied. DPM’s advice was reassuring in that we can<br />

all aspire to do what we enjoy most."<br />

Consulting & &<br />

Market Market Intelligence<br />

Recruitment<br />

Consulting &<br />

Market Intelligence<br />

Recruitment<br />

Training &<br />

Talent Management<br />

Training &<br />

Talent Management<br />

Human Capital Management<br />

Human Capital Management<br />

Human Capital Management<br />

4 <strong>Khwaish</strong>

From the desk of...<br />

Mr Malminderjit Singh<br />

This issue of <strong>Khwaish</strong> marks the end of 2012 – an eventful year<br />

for YSA as the new team leading the organization completes<br />

its first six months in office – and the beginning of <strong>2013</strong> as it<br />

looks towards its first year at the helm.<br />

We have undertaken and completed several initiatives and<br />

projects since October, reaching new heights along the way.<br />

In October, we partnered the Sikh Centre for the Graduates’<br />

Tea Reception and it is a reflection of the growing credibility<br />

of this ceremony that we had the largest number of graduates<br />

ever register this year.<br />

This rise in interest levels for the event is even more<br />

encouraging for YSA as it is in line with our intent to deepen<br />

our reach and engagement within the community as well as<br />

to contribute towards promoting thought leadership within<br />

the younger members of the organization and community. In<br />

this regard, we aim to intensify links with youth groups within<br />

the higher education sector here to explore ways in which we<br />

can work with them for some of these plans we have. I hope<br />

to be able to provide you with substantive updates on these<br />

initiatives in forthcoming issues of <strong>Khwaish</strong>.<br />

the other organizations involved were the Singapore Indian<br />

Development Association (SINDA) Youth Club, the Mendaki<br />

Club as well as the youth groups of the Eurasian Association<br />

and Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), while<br />

the National Youth Council supported the initiative. YSA also<br />

extended this invite to Sikh Sewaks Singapore, which sent its<br />

representatives to the dialogue proper, helping to increase the<br />

participation of youth from the community at the event. We<br />

were encouraged by the collaboration with the other youth<br />

organizations and are keen to explore further collaborations<br />

with some, or all, of these groups and in some cases, we even<br />

see the potential of a formalized relationship developing in<br />

the future. Not only will such relationships and collaborations<br />

increase our visibility and anchor YSA in the national landscape,<br />

it will also allow us to provide our members, and others in the<br />

community, with new offerings and opportunities. After all,<br />

expanding our reach and domain will allow us to better fulfill<br />

the aspirations of young Singaporeans.<br />

For YSA, it will certainly be an exciting year ahead because we<br />

turn 10 years old in <strong>2013</strong> as we look forward to celebrating this<br />

milestone with all of you!<br />

The strength in the depth and breadth of YSA, its activities and<br />

team is that we were also able to record similar enthusiasm<br />

for another of our events of a different nature. The second<br />

edition of the Bhangra Bonanza, held in early November, saw a<br />

sell-out crowd enjoy a fun-filled family event in the heartlands<br />

of Ang Mo Kio. Not only was it sold-out more than a week<br />

before the event, Bhangra Bonanza saw a varied crowd come<br />

together to celebrate diversity and cultural appreciation. This<br />

feat even earned YSA a mention in the forum section of The<br />

Straits Times as one of the attendees wrote in to cite the event<br />

as an example of promoting integration through innovative<br />

platforms. YSA has always been a firm advocate of unity and<br />

stability in society and we will continue to explore ways in<br />

which we can contribute to these efforts.<br />

So, it is a strategic advantage that YSA has taken strides in these<br />

past few months to spread its wings on the national landscape<br />

and increase its visibility beyond the Sikh community. First, we<br />

held our Ministerial Dialogue in November with Deputy Prime<br />

Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, giving our members and<br />

participants the opportunity to engage the leading policymaker<br />

on national issues as well as providing them with a<br />

platform to share their invaluable feedback on the discussion<br />

of an inclusive society in Singapore.<br />

In addition, YSA also played a leading role in organizing and<br />

participating in a youth-focused national conversation with<br />

Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence<br />

Wong. The unique thing about this dialogue session was<br />

that it was done as a joint effort between five communitybased<br />

youth organizations here, possibly the first time such<br />

a collaboration has come about in Singapore. Besides YSA,<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong><br />


YSA Retreat 2012<br />

Taking Stock and Planning Ahead<br />

YSA held its first corporate planning<br />

exercise on 11 August 2012. The<br />

attendees included invited community<br />

leaders, representatives from<br />

partnering agencies that have worked<br />

closely with YSA, and YSA executive<br />

committee members past and present.<br />

The morning kicked off with a speech<br />

by the founding YSA President, Mr<br />

Hernaikh Singh, who had been at the<br />

helm of the organisation since its<br />

inception. Hernaikh provided some<br />

background into the forming of YSA and<br />

the challenges faced in its early years.<br />

He also recollected the milestones and<br />

achievements YSA has garnered in its<br />

short but meaningful history.<br />

Mr Malminderjit Singh, the current YSA<br />

President, then provided a glimpse<br />

into YSA’s role moving forward. He<br />

highlighted some of the challenges<br />

facing the community at present and<br />

suggested ways in which YSA could<br />

expand its role.<br />

Following the two opening addresses,<br />

Professor Kirpal Singh, Director,<br />

Wee Kim Wee Centre, Singapore<br />

Management University, YSA’s invited<br />

guest speaker, spoke about the<br />

challenges that organisations such<br />

as YSA are likely to face and made<br />

a compelling case on the need for<br />

innovative and fresh approaches to<br />

engage youth in Singapore and abroad.<br />

Professor Kirpal has been involved<br />

in YSA’s programmes and has been<br />

intimately following its progress over<br />

the years.<br />

The participants were then involved<br />

in the next section of the exercise<br />

on taking stock of YSA’s initiatives<br />

and identifying opportunities and<br />

challenges for the community in the<br />

coming years. It was a truly engaging<br />

session as everyone was very candid<br />

and forthcoming with their views. The<br />

exercise was very fruitful and captured<br />

a diversity of views and ideas, which<br />

helped set the tone for the Executive<br />

Committee to deliberate upon in the<br />

later part of the day.<br />

Before the session broke for lunch<br />

though, YSA’s Advisor and Member<br />

of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Mr<br />

Inderjit Singh, provided his thoughts<br />

on the proceedings for the morning<br />

and highlighted a few key areas where<br />

the organisation could place greater<br />

focus going forward. He also presented tokens of appreciation to Professor Kirpal<br />

and to the three key founding members of YSA who had stepped down from the<br />

Executive Committee earlier this year after nine years of dedicated service to<br />

YSA – Mr Hernaikh, and former Vice Presidents, Mr Satwant Singh and Mr Sukhbir<br />

Singh.<br />

During the second half of the session, the Executive Committee and some<br />

members of YSA’s partner organisations participated in a brainstorming session<br />

on strategies pertaining to the key issues and recommendations highlighted<br />

during the first half of the day and to assess how these could be incorporated<br />

into YSA’s work plan. Facilitated by Mr Sarjit Singh, a community and grassroots<br />

leader, as well as a friend of YSA, the session was very enriching for the Executive<br />

Committee as it helped streamline the collective objectives of the team into a<br />

focused set of strategies and provided the new team with an opportunity to<br />

strengthen their bonds.<br />

Some of the ideas originating from the full-day exercise will be brought into<br />

fruition over the next two years as the new Executive Committee leads YSA into<br />

a new chapter of its history. The Executive Committee aims to provide YSA’s<br />

stakeholders and constituents with an enriching and enjoyable experience on this<br />

journey.<br />

Advertise In <strong>Khwaish</strong>!<br />

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For advertisement and enquiries, please contact:-<br />

Mr Sarabjeet Singh<br />

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Tel: 8222 8485 Email: sm.sarabjeet@gmail.com<br />

6 <strong>Khwaish</strong>

Community Service in a Punjab<br />

Village School<br />

A Life-Changing Experience!<br />

Sangeetha Madasamy<br />

Someone once said, “It is impossible to help<br />

everyone, but if you manage to help one<br />

person, touch that person’s life, it is enough.<br />

This person will, in turn, be able to help<br />

someone else and the process continues.”<br />

This was one of the main reasons I signed up<br />

for the community service expedition to India<br />

by Young Sikh Association (Singapore) called<br />

Project <strong>Khwaish</strong> XII. I strongly believe in this<br />

adage. Of course, the less altruistic reason was<br />

that I wanted to desperately get away from the<br />

hustle and bustle of life here.<br />

Sometimes, as individuals, we can be too<br />

idealistic. We think we can transform lives<br />

of those around just through our efforts and<br />

causes. However, it is important to be realistic<br />

as well. As participants, we understood that<br />

there would be many limitations and obstacles<br />

during the expedition but the team of project<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong> XII, which consisted of 15 youths and<br />

three leaders, did its level best to improve<br />

the lives of the children of the Government<br />

Elementary School in Gaggarbhana Rayya, a<br />

village in Amritsar, Punjab, from 6 to 26 December 2012.<br />

The school, to be honest, was in a decrepit condition. The walls were either dirty grey or brown.<br />

The foreground of the school was uneven. The classrooms were dark and dingy, and there were<br />

no electric light bulbs, with the teachers and students depending on sunlight. In some of the<br />

classrooms, there were no desks and chairs for the students. They happily sat on the floor as the<br />

teachers taught them the lesson for the day. After seeing the condition of the school, I realised we<br />

had much work to do. In the first couple of days, the team was busy scraping paint off the walls and<br />

painting primer on the walls to make them weather resistant. With the first coat of white paint, the<br />

school slowly came to life. We added two more coats to the walls and ceilings and just with white<br />

paint, the classrooms were transformed.<br />

We then proceeded to work on the library which is the other arm of our project. The objective<br />

of Project <strong>Khwaish</strong> is not just to improve the school aesthetically but to also instil the habit of<br />

reading in English in young minds. Our donation drive started months before we left for India,<br />

where we collected books, clothes, toys and bags for the children in the school and the villagers.<br />

We catalogued the books and separated them into fiction and non-fiction. As for the other items,<br />

we sorted them according to size, gender and age. We packed these items into boxes and sent<br />

them by freight to India. The books, all sorted in alphabetical order, were ready. However, before we<br />

could shift them into the library, we had to come up with a theme and a mural as with the tradition<br />

of previous <strong>Khwaish</strong> projects. After much thought and deliberation, we started painting the library.<br />

The end result was a brick house looking into a jungle with a lion, elephant, snake, giraffes and birds<br />

on the back and right walls from the entrance of the library, and rolling hills with colourful hot-air<br />

balloons with the word, “<strong>Khwaish</strong> XII”, on the left wall. As a team made of individuals who had<br />

people who failed art in school, I think we did very, very well.<br />

Like all endings, our departure from Gaggarbhana Rayya was bittersweet. The result of our project<br />

was a freshly painted school with the colours of the Indian flag on alternate pillars, a library with<br />

over 2,000 books and murals, a water filtration system to provide clean water for the school<br />

children, a levelled foreground with brick tiles that extended to the length of the building, a school<br />

gate, boundary walls, upgraded toilet facilities with steps and tiles, light bulbs and fans in the<br />

classrooms, and new desk benches for all classrooms. With a dentist and a teacher in the team, we<br />

made the most out of our project by also conducting oral hygiene classes and providing tips on<br />

teaching methods. We even managed to donate brand-new bookshelves and some books we had<br />

to the middle and high school next door.<br />

During the project, we endured the cold winter and fog for 20 days, with many of us falling ill in<br />

the process. Most of us were ready to go home and continue the lives which we had put on hold<br />

for three weeks. It was not just goodbye to our humble hosts who took care of us like family and<br />

attended to our every need, or to a technology-free world, or the kids whose lives we wanted<br />

to make a difference in. It was goodbye to a life of communal eating, communal working and<br />

communal living. Many times after work in the school, we came to the house to practise Bhangra<br />

(which we performed in the handing over ceremony) in little daylight or in darkness, sometimes<br />

with just a torch for light.<br />

When we finally landed in Singapore, we did not just feel warmth in our skin, but also in our<br />

hearts that was filled with new friendships and memories to last a lifetime. Whilst we transformed<br />

a school, the expedition transformed all 18 of<br />

us. It was indeed a life-changing experience<br />

– an experience which showed that love and<br />

compassion go beyond relationships and every<br />

act of care and concern makes you a better<br />

person.<br />

About Young Sikh Association<br />

(Singapore)<br />

Young Sikh Association (Singapore) was<br />

established in August 2003 to fulfill the<br />

aspirations of young Singaporeans. The<br />

Association reaches out to them so as to fully<br />

understand and appreciate their aspirations<br />

and inculcate these aspirations into the<br />

Singapore society, so as to enhance mutual<br />

understanding on issues of common concern<br />

and foster friendship across all the ethnic<br />

groups in Singapore, the region and the world.<br />

More details on the Association can be found<br />

at www.ysas.org.<br />

About the <strong>Khwaish</strong> Projects<br />

Young Sikh Association (Singapore) started the<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong> projects to provide the opportunity<br />

for Singaporean youths to address the<br />

educational needs of host communities in<br />

India so that the children have a better school<br />

environment. At the same time, it was to enable<br />

the participants to participate in meaningful<br />

service in aid of the less fortunate and, in doing<br />

so, experience a sense of civic engagement<br />

and social responsibility. The expeditions<br />

are also aimed at enabling the participants<br />

develop group and leadership skills.<br />

Started in 2003, the Association has undertaken<br />

12 projects in India. More than 200 young<br />

Singaporeans from the ages of 17 to 35 years<br />

have participated in these expeditions.<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong><br />


Sikh Graduates Networking Session 2012<br />

More Skilled Jobs Await Singaporeans<br />

The jobs of the future will be in<br />

personalised services, and the<br />

government is developing the potential<br />

for graduates to get into such skilledjobs<br />

here in Singapore.<br />

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for<br />

Finance and Transport, said that jobs<br />

likely to be created and retained in the<br />

future are not necessarily college-level<br />

jobs. In the United States, for example,<br />

Mrs Teo pointed out that one of the<br />

fastest growing areas of employment<br />

is in personalised services such as<br />

healthcare and personal care which<br />

includes the beauty industry.<br />

Speaking at a plaque presentation<br />

ceremony for Sikh graduates on 6<br />

October 2012, Mrs Teo explained that, in<br />

Singapore, the government has already<br />

recognised this. For these reasons,<br />

applied degree pathways are being<br />

developed in areas where opportunities<br />

of the future lie. She also highlighted<br />

that the committee that studied higher<br />

education in Singapore, headed by<br />

Minister of State for Education, Mr<br />

Lawrence Wong, identified the need for<br />

more degree pathways to be created<br />

offering degree education to train<br />

graduates for jobs with applied skills<br />

and practice-oriented fields, rather than<br />

just general degree education. “It may<br />

involve providing a degree in culinary<br />

science, so we could train someone<br />

not as an ordinary chef, but a highlyqualified<br />

chef.”<br />

Earlier Mr Malminderjit Singh, YSA’s<br />

President, had highlighted in his speech<br />

that Singapore's low unemployment<br />

rate, which hovers around two percent,<br />

is a stark contrast to the plight of<br />

youth unemployment in the troubled<br />

European economies, such as Spain,<br />

where more than 50 percent of youth<br />

remain unemployed.<br />

Expanding on the speech made by<br />

Mr Singh, Mrs Teo also touched on<br />

these high unemployment rates in<br />

Spain and Portugal. Mrs Teo added<br />

that job creation is something that the<br />

Singapore government bears in mind<br />

and always strives to keep the economy<br />

vibrant so that good employment<br />

opportunities are always available for<br />

fresh graduates when they enter the<br />

workforce. The government is aware<br />

of and understands the long-lasting<br />

detrimental socio-economic impact<br />

that unemployment has on its citizens<br />

based on the experiences of other<br />

countries.<br />

In her concluding words of advice to<br />

the graduates, Mrs Teo said that the<br />

graduates’ educational achievements<br />

must be complemented with a steady<br />

character that can be developed<br />

through active citizenry and community<br />

involvement. The responsibility falls on<br />

the next generation to stay connected<br />

to the community, maintain its heritage,<br />

understand its needs and contribute to<br />

the progress of the community.<br />

Mrs Teo presented plaques to 30 Sikhs<br />

who had graduated recently from local<br />

and overseas academic institutions.<br />

The ceremony was attended by more<br />

than 100 guests, including families and<br />

friends of the graduates.<br />

One of the recipients, Ms Arvinder<br />

Kaur, who spoke during the event,<br />

urged her fellow graduates “...to take<br />

the conscious step towards being<br />

considerate to the people around<br />

us, be it our families, friends and our<br />

society at large. Participate actively in<br />

giving back to society in small ways<br />

that are meaningful to you. She added<br />

that, “actions such as participating<br />

in community activities and outside<br />

school activities with the intention to<br />

benefit and interact with others do<br />

make a difference. You may do it for<br />

your resume - use that as motivation,<br />

but I am sure as you begin to participate<br />

in such activities, you will discover the<br />

meaning in it that goes beyond records<br />

and recognition.”<br />

Organised by YSA and the Sikh Centre,<br />

Singapore, the presentation ceremony<br />

aims at recognising the academic<br />

achievements of Sikhs, including those<br />

who pursue post-graduate studies and<br />

continuous learning. It is an important<br />

platform to engage Sikh graduates<br />

and to impress upon them the need<br />

for them, as intellectuals, to contribute<br />

to the Sikh community and Singapore<br />

society. It is also an opportunity for<br />

them to develop networks with their<br />

fellow graduates.<br />

8 <strong>Khwaish</strong>

An Inclusive Society<br />

Steps to making a Vision to Reality?<br />

Thinking Aloud!<br />

Harjit Kaur<br />

PM Lee’s comment above sparked the start of a ‘National<br />

Conversation- what can be arguably listed in the annals of<br />

Singapore’s political history as a first ; a first ever nation-wide<br />

initiative by our leaders to engage all Singaporeans from various<br />

walks of life on their vision of Singapore in the coming years. I<br />

feel particularly delighted to be able to share my views on a topic<br />

abuzz in our society today – ‘building an inclusive society’.<br />

I will begin by expressing how I count myself extremely<br />

fortunate to be part of two dialogue sessions with the Minister<br />

of Community, Culture and Youth, Mr Lawrence Wong, as well as<br />

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) & Minister of Finance, Mr Tharman<br />

Shanmugaratnam. These sessions were initiated by the Young<br />

Sikh Association, and proved to be fruitful and engaging as they<br />

made us reflect on core issues such as ‘identity’, what it means and<br />

entails to be a ‘Singaporean’ and so on. However, what inspired<br />

me to pen down my thoughts for this article was the theme of the<br />

second dialogue ‘Building an Inclusive Society- Making it happen’.<br />

My first reaction with regards to the theme admittedly was surprise<br />

-‘Making it happen’. A myriad of thoughts flashed in my mind.<br />

One of it was a pertinent question- Why does an inclusive society<br />

have to be made to happen? My doubts were answered during<br />

the dialogue session itself. The government’s version of ‘inclusive<br />

society’ was a practical one that was based largely on economic<br />

practicalities and realities. Specifically, it remains necessary to<br />

ensure that every Singaporean is given the opportunity to level up<br />

(economically) with fellow Singaporeans. Once social mobility is<br />

realised, our society can then progress to further heights.<br />

From the onset, I laud the efforts of our leaders to broaden our<br />

understanding of an ‘inclusive’ society. This inclusive society is no<br />

longer based on culture, race or religion but that which accepts<br />

ALL- regardless of physical handicap or even socio-economic<br />

status. I dare say that this little red dot of ours has done well in<br />

serving as a role model to all other nations. No, not a model of<br />

cleanliness and greenery, rather a model of how a nation can have<br />

all its citizens live in relative harmony with one another for more<br />

than forty years. This feat could only be accomplished by the<br />

far-sighted vision of our leaders then and even now- that a small<br />

nation-state like ours cannot afford to be wrought with tension.<br />

The above approach in my words is the use of the ‘Head’ framework,<br />

where all citizens are provided with that chance to elevate their<br />

socio-economic standing in society through education and skills<br />

training. My insights would centre more on the use of the ‘Heart’<br />

and ‘Hands’ approach. I will have to say that as an educator by<br />

profession, I was encouraged by these three words echoed in the<br />

revamped National Education syllabus of 2007- ‘Head’, ‘Heart’ and<br />

‘Hands’. Through this framework, it is believed that Singaporeans<br />

would learn to connect emotionally with their country, appreciate<br />

Singapore’s diversity and take the lead to indulge in opportunities<br />

to give back to our society.<br />

I will not attempt to describe the ‘Head’ approach at length, as<br />

many of us have already developed and internalized the knowledge<br />

of our diverse heritage through educational institutions and<br />

neighbourhoods to name a few. How then is the ‘Heart’ and ‘Hands’<br />

framework applicable to the development of an inclusive society?<br />

Well, the most significant aspect of this approach lies in the twin<br />

pillars of ‘Accept’ and ‘Respect’. Two simple words? Are we all not<br />

aware of such simple words that have been so commonly used<br />

for a large part of our lives, be it at school or in the home? Then<br />

my question arises- If I am speaking the obvious, why does the<br />

obvious have to be made to happen?<br />

“Our mission is to build an inclusive<br />

society and a stronger Singapore.”<br />

– Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong<br />

Our DPM in the article dated 15 <strong>April</strong> 2012 (in TODAY), commented<br />

that an inclusive society will take about 10 years to be fully<br />

developed. Undeniably, economically this might take such an<br />

extended period of time. However, socially, all it takes is probably<br />

less than 10 seconds for every one of us to take that one step<br />

towards showing acceptance and respect in the truest sense<br />

to the diversity prevalent in our society. Singapore will not only<br />

continue to see people of different cultures among them, but also<br />

those individuals of a different economic status, or a Chinese/<br />

Malay/Indian from a different society. Placing us among diverse<br />

people does not naturally teach us how to accept and respect<br />

diversity. We have to learn it- Yes, all of us from every rung of<br />

the economic ladder have to learn it. The best way to acquire<br />

this acceptance and respect is through role models- not just our<br />

parents, teachers or leaders, but everyone. Every person will need<br />

to take that important step forward of showing true respect and<br />

acceptance for the immense diversity and variety present in our<br />

society. By the word ‘true’, I mean that it is not only for cultures,<br />

races, religious beliefs and so on that we display respect and<br />

acceptance for- but also for every person who brings with him/<br />

her their own ways of life.<br />

Undoubtedly, it is difficult to accept differences right away.<br />

Honestly, how many of us here are guilty of giggling at anyone or<br />

anything that is unfamiliar and unknown to us? All I can suggest<br />

then is to quickly revert to our original understanding of the words<br />

‘respect’ and ‘accept’- hold everyone’s differences with special<br />

regard (‘respect’) and endure these differences without protest<br />

or reaction (‘accept’). Does the latter take 10 years to occur? Not<br />

at all.<br />

In order to best internalize the above mentioned two words, it is<br />

necessary for us to gain exposure and knowledge. Our society is<br />

fortunate to have that exposure, be it at the work place or schoolbased<br />

overseas immersion programmes. Through such exposure,<br />

it is hoped we gain knowledge which then fosters greater<br />

understanding and so on. One commonly known example in our<br />

society is that of the time when some of us may have first seen two<br />

male migrant workers holding hands with each other. Undeniably,<br />

some of us may find that a little difficult to identify with. If we<br />

gradually care to develop knowledge of their behavior, if we are so<br />

‘affected’ by it , many of us will then begin to understand that this<br />

act is only their way of displaying the close bonds of friendship<br />

that they share.<br />

I myself was very heartened to see that some of our fellow non<br />

Indian Singaporeans came forward to taking up the responsibility<br />

of providing decent meals to Indian migrant workers, through a<br />

television programme aired on Vasantham. These Singaporeans<br />

have taken the lead from our leaders that all have to be accepted.<br />

These Singaporeans have proven that it is possible to assimilate<br />

others in one’s society, as these migrant workers were not<br />

regarded by Singaporeans as mere foreigners, but an important<br />

and valuable part of our social and economic fabric. These<br />

Singaporeans have proven that an inclusive society can happen<br />

with just a simple act by a few people.<br />

The immense diversity present in our society is something unique<br />

to Singapore- something that many other developed economies<br />

in Asia and the rest of the world do not have the privilege of<br />

experiencing. We need to treasure that uniqueness, and take<br />

that potentially 10 second, 10 minute or 10 hour step forward to<br />

ensure that an inclusive society ‘happens’. This step begins with<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong><br />


Speaking Softly!<br />

Mr Fauja Singh’s<br />

Message to youth on the secrets of a fulfilling and long life<br />

This article is an excerpt of Mr Fauja's message to Sikh youth in an interview with YSA President,<br />

Malminderjit Singh.<br />

My biggest achievement is to be alive and kicking at this age.<br />

No other feat, no matter how prestigious in the eyes of the<br />

others, can match the fact that I have been blessed to live a<br />

healthy and active lifestyle till this ripe old age.<br />

But for me to continue with this blessing, I have to continue to<br />

work hard in maintaining it, which to me is to ensure I continue<br />

with my running. This is the only thing that keeps me going. I<br />

am certain that the day I stop being active, I will feel aged and<br />

my condition will regress.<br />

That is why my message to the youth of today is to abide<br />

by the principle of being healthy and fit. Without health and<br />

fitness, you will not be able to achieve much in your life and<br />

so it is important to treat your body as an asset. This, in fact,<br />

is the only asset that will stay with you forever as wealth and<br />

status will come and go. So it is important to accord your body<br />

that due respect. For me, I know that I need my body to work<br />

for me and so I watch what I put in it.<br />

I avoid all intoxicants and advise the youth of today to also<br />

stay far away from them as they destroy your body. In Punjab<br />

and many other parts of the world, it hurts me to see many<br />

youth turning towards drugs, smoking and alcoholism and to<br />

me, that is a shame as such habits will destroy them in no time.<br />

I suppose that is the result of a society that is increasingly<br />

mired in stress in the pursuit of material needs. That is why it<br />

is important to be content as until you are content, you will<br />

never have enough and be free from the shackles of stress.<br />

As long as you can tell yourself that I have enough to eat, I<br />

have not cheated anyone as I have done an honest day’s work<br />

and I live within my means, then you will be contented, the<br />

stress goes away and you will begin to enjoy and treasure your<br />

health.<br />

But that, of course, is easier said than done. For me, it is<br />

simple. I live by the three spiritual principles of my Sikh faith,<br />

which have helped me to feel contented and grateful for what<br />

I have. In the Sikh faith, the basic tenets are to make an honest<br />

living, to share the fruits of your labour and to remember God.<br />

Running is my honest work, the proceeds of which I share with<br />

others through charity and when I get tired after running, I<br />

remember God.<br />

I have chosen to donate most of my income from my running<br />

career to charity as I keep only what is enough for me to eat<br />

because money corrupts. Back in the UK, I have adopted Bliss,<br />

a charity organisation supporting premature babies and their<br />

families. Bliss now uses “The Oldest Running for the Youngest”<br />

as its tagline. In fact, I even donate most my pension income<br />

as I do not need most of it. All I need is enough for money to<br />

afford my simple meals in a day and that is all. And I also take<br />

pride in dressing well so that I look presentable and that is all<br />

I need. The rest is excess for me and that is why I choose to<br />

donate it.<br />

And that brings me to food - another area in which to exercise<br />

discipline. As I said earlier, one must watch what he puts into<br />

his body. I am not just referring to intoxicants as it is also<br />

important to watch what you eat. For me, it is better to be<br />

hungry than eat the wrong thing, as my body is a temple<br />

and I need it to work for me, so I must treat it right. Eating<br />

in moderation is an important virtue as indulging in food is<br />

overrated. It is ironic that food plays such an important part<br />

in many of our lives when in fact it is the one thing that kills<br />

all people regardless of where you are in the world. In poor<br />

countries, people die of starvation, while in rich countries,<br />

people die of overeating, so it is important to strike a right<br />

balance and eat just enough, not to be full, but to have the<br />

right nutrients and energy to function.<br />

It is important to strike a balance in every aspect of your life.<br />

Being happy is something important that we tend to focus<br />

less on, and I find this ironic again, given that we spend most<br />

of our lives working towards that. But we get so caught up in<br />

this pursuit that we forget to remain happy in the present as<br />

well. For me it is very important to feel happy all the time and<br />

that is why, as a general rule, I avoid people with a negative<br />

outlook on life because it is draining on me.<br />

I have incorporated these principles in my daily life and so it<br />

has become like a routine for me. This begins from the time I<br />

get up in the morning where I stretch and then walk four miles<br />

every day from home in Essex to the local Sikh temple, and<br />

then to town and back. Along the way, I meet with friends, of<br />

course who are younger than me, chat with them and have my<br />

food in the temple. I avoid getting embroiled in things that do<br />

not concern me or make me unhappy.<br />

Work hard and honestly, share the fruits of your labour and<br />

be grateful for what you have and choose instead to focus on<br />

having a healthy diet and lifestyle. You will live a contented<br />

and happy life.<br />

10 <strong>Khwaish</strong>

SMS Lawrence Wong<br />

engages young Singaporeans at dialogue session<br />

The views came thick and fast and<br />

they covered a host of issues close to<br />

the hearts of young Singaporeans.<br />

Some 60 young Singaporeans aged<br />

between 19 and 35 years engaged Mr<br />

Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of<br />

State for Education and Information,<br />

Communications and the Arts, in a<br />

dialogue session on 18 October 2012.<br />

Organised by YSA and the four self-help<br />

groups, and supported by the National<br />

Youth Council (NYC), the session<br />

focussed on issues of meritocracy, role<br />

of the government, social welfare and<br />

youths as change agents, among others.<br />

The session threw up several interesting<br />

and, at times, competing perspectives<br />

on the various issues. For example, the<br />

participants were divided on whether<br />

Singapore's meritocratic system<br />

should concentrate more on providing<br />

equal opportunities or ensuring equal<br />

outcomes. Some participants labelled<br />

it an "essentially heartless" or "utopian"<br />

system in which "those who start<br />

out behind fall even further behind".<br />

However, there were others who<br />

contended that meritocracy has served<br />

Singapore well and it is something that<br />

Singaporeans should be proud of.<br />

In response, while agreeing with both<br />

sets of views, Mr Wong stated that<br />

"It is not so much that meritocracy is<br />

flawed, but it means having a broader<br />

sense of what merit is." He said that the<br />

government would continue to ensure<br />

the education system would be a social<br />

leveller, including improving the preschool<br />

system. However, mindsets would<br />

have to change so that Singaporeans<br />

can embrace different forms of success<br />

beyond academic excellence and high<br />

pay.<br />

Another competing view among the<br />

participants was on the role of the<br />

government. Mr Faris Abdulkadir<br />

Basharahil spoke of the government<br />

doing too much. The Chief Executive of<br />

an arts company cited the example of<br />

the government increasing funding for<br />

the arts this year but directing all of it<br />

to government agencies, which then, in<br />

essence, compete with people on the<br />

ground and intermediaries. However, Ms<br />

Arvinder Kaur, a civil servant, called for<br />

more government intervention in areas<br />

such as social welfare.<br />

Though the dialogue was not an official<br />

session under the 'Our Singapore<br />

Conversation' umbrella, the participants<br />

saw the discussion as their groundup<br />

contribution to the national<br />

conversation.<br />

YSA supports fundraising initiative<br />

for Down Syndrome Association Singapore<br />

Compassionate and concern for the less<br />

privileged and needy is an important<br />

tenet of YSA's philosophy. As such, when<br />

approached by Sembawang Sports Club<br />

to support its fundraising efforts for<br />

Down Syndrome Association Singapore<br />

(DSA) for the second successive year,<br />

YSA instantly accepted the invitation.<br />

YSA contributed to the 9-a-side<br />

football tournament at the Singapore<br />

Indian Association on 2 September<br />

2012 in several important ways. Firstly,<br />

it helped to solicit for funds from<br />

various organisations and individuals<br />

for the cause. Secondly, it participated<br />

in the event - its Healthy Lifestyle<br />

Club nominated two teams for the<br />

tournament. Lastly, YSA representatives<br />

assisted in the event proper.<br />

A total of 16 teams took part in the halfday<br />

tournament, which was followed<br />

by a dinner reception for the teams<br />

and the children from DSA. During the<br />

reception, the children were treated<br />

to songs and dance performances,<br />

including a bhangra by the Shere Punjab<br />

Bhangra troupe. Trophies were also<br />

presented to the top four teams, with<br />

the champion team being Dreamland<br />

which comprised several ex-national<br />

football players. Most importantly, the<br />

event raised approximately $35,000<br />

for DSA which was presented to its<br />

representatives during the reception. It<br />

surpassed the target of $30,000.<br />

In addition to helping to raise funds<br />

for the DSA, the event also provided<br />

an opportunity for members of YSA<br />

Healthy Lifestyle Club to participate in<br />

a sports activity to promote a healthier<br />

lifestyle.<br />

<strong>Khwaish</strong> 11

YSA lights up the heartlands<br />

with Bhangra Bonanza 2012<br />

On 11 November 2012, Cheng San CC was<br />

transformed into a vibrant and colourful<br />

arena that showcased the best Bhangra<br />

groups in Singapore. The second Bhangra<br />

Bonanza featured invigorating Bhangra<br />

performances in a cultural show with an<br />

underlying objective of integration and<br />

racial harmony.<br />

Organised by YSA, PA Narpani Pearavai<br />

and Kebun Bahru Indian Activity<br />

Executive Committee, the three-hour<br />

dance extravaganza in Ang Mo Kio<br />

featured top Bhangra teams, many of<br />

whom included participants from other<br />

races and nationalities, as well as dances<br />

from other ethnic groups. The 400-strong<br />

audience, made up of different races,<br />

new citizens as well as those on social<br />

assistance programmes, participated<br />

in a mass interactive bhangra session,<br />

possibly the largest such session ever in<br />

Singapore.<br />

Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of<br />

State for Law and Education, graced the<br />

event as the Guest-of-Honour while Mr<br />

Inderjit Singh, Member of Parliament for<br />

Ang Mo Kio GRC, was the Special Guest.<br />

The organisers extended an invitation<br />

to all members of the Sikh and non-Sikh<br />

communities to be a part of this cultural<br />

event.<br />

Bhangra Bonanza is a beautiful and<br />

fitting way to mark Diwali, the festival<br />

of lights, and Bandhi Chhor Divas, a day<br />

of liberation marked in particular by the<br />

Sikhs, both of which will be celebrated in<br />

the coming weekend.<br />

12 <strong>Khwaish</strong>

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