Washington based Sikh Human Development Foundation (SHDF) has awarded US$199,532 worth of scholarships to 583 needy students in Punjab. SHDF financially assist meritorious and needy students in Punjab and other Northern Indian states to improve their access to higher professional education.
Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Chairman of SHDF, said, “We are thrilled that we are able to give assistance to those who need the most to reach their fullest potential in life. Over the years, the organization has awarded a total of 4001 scholarships. One begins to truly appreciate how far SHDF has come in fulfilling its mission when compared to SHDF’s very first year in 2001 when only 22 scholarships were awarded.”
Jaspreet Kaur Ahuja, Secretary General of SHDF, said, “The organization wants to make sure that we support these students from very challenging backgrounds to pursue their life’s dream in various fields. 68% of the recipients belonged to rural areas of Punjab and adjoining areas. Maintaining the past trends, female students represented 74% of the total number of scholarship recipients. Among the awardees, 32% are pursuing medical and nursing, 33% engineering, 23% management related, 5% IT and 7% other professional courses.”
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Outreach Director of SHDF, said, “SHDF Scholarships are awarded on need and merit basis. All students come from families earning less than $190 (Rs. 12000) a month and many with income less than $1 a day. Statistically, there are thousands of students all across Punjab who need this kind of assistance. We sincerely hope that donors across the world see this as an opportunity for sewa and come forward to join SHDF’s efforts. This is perhaps the only organization which is supporting the assistance for higher education in Punjab.”
SHDF works closely with a reputable organization in India, namely, Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi, to effectively manage and monitor its scholarship and human development program. These scholarships are available only to applicants pursuing a professional diploma, degree or postgraduate courses in a recognized Institution/University in India. Since 2014, SHDF has started workshops on soft skills and personality development for its scholarship recipients in various parts of the state. About 15% of scholarships are awarded to needy students from non-Sikh families.
Gajinder Singh Ahuja added, “With the increasing number of eligible applicants seeking financial help for pursuing higher education, we plan to continue with this program for 2016 academic year as well. This is only possible due to the continued faith of our donors in SHDF’s initiative.”
According to Mrs. Kanwal Singh, SHDF gets funding from donors within the Sikh community in the Washington area and many prominent and successful Sikh entrepreneurs are major donors of the organization. It also gets a sizable assistance from Ik Manzil, a group of entrepreneurs. SHDF plans to reach out the community all across the nation as well as the world.
Students are selected from colleges and universities throughout the State of Punjab and surrounding areas with vigorous screening and interview process. This is done by the SHDF India Division based in New Delhi. Their four member staff maintains the records of the recipients and verifies the credentials of the students.