Friday, March 17, 2006

What did United Sikhs do with my money?

I just saw this on msingh's blog and thought might interest everyone. Please pass this on. Even I had donated money to United Sikhs last year for Katrina relief and this report just leaves a bad taste for donating. I guess the best thing is to help yourself instead of thru an agency.(no offense to other good Sikh organizations out there) One bad apple ruins it for all of them.

http://www.sikhtimes.com/news_012106d.html

I just read the link on the Bibi, the founder of United Sikhs, on women seva. I have to say, I do admire her courage for the stand on role of women in Sikhi. I just don't understand how can a person like that can do totally the opposite thing like above which seems very unsikh. But who am I to judge and I will just leave it up to Waheguru!

http://www.sikhtimes.com/news_021503a.html

10 Comments:

Blogger Sifar said...

The point that you (and I) raised about Nishan Shaib are valid. If it leads to some controversy, so be it. I would have not taken off any valid comment just thinking it may lead to some bitter feelings with a certain group. It is for the first time that I have seen a Nishan Sahib in a color other than Saffron. Today, some sikh organization changed the color of Nishan Sahib, tomorrow, another sect with come up with another color. This way we are showing the world of division between the Sikhs not unity.... Plus Sikhs are Sikhs, white, or black or brown or SGPC or 3HO or DSGPC or PSGPC or what ever organization they are affiliated with, so they should have the same Nishan Sahib under which they all should be united....

11:59 AM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

I read the article that you have referred - it is truly sad and surprising that someone will go to such extensive extent to gain her personal/organizational desired benefits. Oh well...but you know that this situation can so easily be extrapolated to the current Gurudwara situations in each town. We have 10 different organizations "demanding" for "help". At this New Year's eve I witnessed the WORST ever calls for help @ the Gurughar - the kinda things that were said to emotionally blackmail people who donate versus who don't donate was an absolute shame! Sadly!

As for the Khalsa flad, Sifar ji, I hope it wasn't my comment that ticked you off. It's just that I think there are bigger things to worry about than the colour of the flag alone. I do however see your point and consider it absolutely valid - it is! But what do you think you'd do to make up for the discrepancy?

4:30 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

*flag

4:31 PM, March 18, 2006  
Blogger Shinda said...

I think its important that we never jump the gun, after all their are always two sides to every story.

So before we start developing a nasty taste in our mouths, I recommend you read the following:

--------------------
29 Jan2006
Dear Khalsaji

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

UNITED SIKHS has chosen to respond to Ravinder Singh’s allegations, carried in an email to yahoogroups dated 25 Jan 2006 (see far below), because we place a premium value on the sangat’s faith and the unstinting selfless seva of our volunteers. We will do everything possible to ensure that any attempt to shake this faith and undermine the volunteers’seva does not succeed. We ask the sangat to visit our website at www.unitedsikhs.org for a full review of our work, which goes beyond humanitarian relief projects, predominantly run by volunteers.

This statement is UNITED SIKHS final statement on this issue and we will not engage in any public discussion on it henceforth.

We are grateful to Khalsa Aid for making a statement dissociating themselves from the statements made by Ravinder Singh. Click here to read their statement. The statement is embedded below.

The nub of Ravinder Singh’s allegations is that UNITED SIKHS had issued certain Press Releases to solicit funds for particular projects which were not carried out.

Firstly, Ravinder Singh has said that we did not carry out 5 projects but he failed to mention the many projects that we did carry out which can be read about on our website at : http://unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/

At the outset, I wish to point to the difference between press releases issued by UNITED SIKHS and field reports filed by volunteers. The reports which Ravinder Singh has referred to in the email below were not Press Releases. Instead they were all field reports which contained, amongst other things, the volunteers’ personal views suggestions and aspirations for the Tsunami survivors. UNITED SIKHS carried the volunteers’ reports on our website so that the public were apprised of the possible projects.

UNITED SIKHS’ Press Releases, on the other hand, are the organization’s official announcements.

All the Tsunami field reports Ravinder Singh referred to can be found at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/fieldreport.html

And our press releases for the Tsunami project are at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/ghanaia_pressreleases.htm

I will now give a response on each of the field reports in which Ravinder Singh
alleges we promised to carry out certain projects, but failed:

1. Jan 16th : To build a retaining wall around the Gurdwara on Campbell Bay-

The Field Report of Jan 16 that Ravinder Singh has cited makes no mention of the
retaining wall. However I am able to report that discussions had taken place between
UNITED SIKHS and the Gurdwara committee in Campbell Bay, which had requested
UNITED SIKHS to build a retaining wall. UNITED SIKHS consulted several
technical experts on this proposed project. The Gurdwara president, Parmjit Singh,
had suggested that the true flood water level would only be known after the Monsoons
were over in December 2005, as the island’s ground level had dropped since the
Tsunami. In the interim, in July 2005, the government announced it will build a sea
wall about 100 metres from the Gurdwara boundary. The Government has since
invited tenders for this project which is expected to start in the coming months. The
Gurdwara parbandhaks feel that there is still need for a secondary retaining wall after
observing the water levels during the monsoons that ended last month.

UNITED SIKHS has informed the Gurdwara president that it would provide financial
assistance in the building of a secondary retaining wall.

2. JANUARY 31ST : Tractor and Trailor to be sent to Campbell Bay—
Read this field report in full at
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/FLDRPT-31-01-2005-00.htm
In this filed report UNITED SIKHS volunteer, Hargobind Singh of the United States had said: “Also earlier today we arranged for the purchase of a used tractor and trailer from the Indian Army. We will either ship one to the island or pick up one in Port Blair from their base. This will serve as our workhorse to haul debris and for travel into places where roads have been washed out..”
Hargobind Singh was reporting on the day’s events. As can be seen from the language of the report he was referring to an arrangement that had been made to purchase a tractor and trailer. UNITED SIKHS decided against the purchase when it was found to be non-viable because freight exemption to Campbell Bay had been withdrawn and freight would have added 1 lakh to the cost.
3. FEB 5-6 :To build 10 toilets and washrooms on Campbell Bay----
Read this field report in full at
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/FLDRPT-05-02-2005-00.htm
This Field report said there was need to build toilets and washrooms for the Gurdwara. Soon after we announced this project, the SGPC made a public announcement that it will fund the rebuilding of the Gurdwara, which would include the toilets. Therefore we did not proceed with this project.
4. FEB 5-6 : Will procure 5000 gas cylinders for the Langar on Campbell Bay--------
Read this field report in full at
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/FLDRPT-05-02-2005-00.htm
This Field Report said there was need to procure gas cylinders for the Gurdwara so that langgar could be made for those staying in temporary shelters and the Gurdwara. When UNITED SIKHS made inquiries to purchase bulk supply we were told by the Andaman and Nicobar government officials that bulk supply was not permitted to the island for security reasons.
5. FEB 13TH : To build a community centre on Campbell Bay at a cost of $56000 ....
Read this field report in full at
http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/FLDRPT-13-02-2005-00.htm
UNITED SIKHS has applied to purchase land to build a community center but due to the local administration’s pre-occupation with land allocation for survivors’ housing, this application is still awaiting government approval. In the meantime UNITED SIKHS started a Community Centre by renting premises which now house a computer centre and sewing centre. For details click http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-28-07-2005-00.htm
A final note: Ravinder Singh’s comments attributed to Tara Singh of Campbell Bay has been denied by Tara Singh. Tara Singh told UNITED SIKHS that he had a call from someone in the UK but his name was not Ravi Singh. Tara Singh denied saying UNITED SIKHS “…were building castles out of air.!". Tara Singh confirmed that he is continuing in his post as president of the committee set up by UNITED SIKHS to manage the Computer and Sewing Center.
Kuldip Singh
Director
UNITED SIKHS
001 646 3385996
contact@unitedsikhs.org


KHALSA AID STATEMENT RECEIVED ON 29th January 2006
We, Khalsa Aid (KA) Trustees and Executive Committee members, are aware
of discussion group emails sent by Ravinder Singh pertaining to his
dissatisfaction with United Sikhs.

KA would like to make it abundantly clear that the views expressed by
Ravinder Singh are his own and do not necessarily equate to being those
of KA itself. KA takes no responsibility for views expressed or held by
any individuals who have volunteered on its behalf in the past or who may do so in the future.

With respect to comments made about KA's activities on the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands to members of a Gurdwara Sahib in Wolverhampton, a
clarification was sought and received from Mejinderpal Kaur on Jan 25,
2005.
The matter was dealt with amicably and considered closed at that time.


Thank you

Sukhvir Singh
Rajinder Singh

Khalsa Aid Trustees




In sikh_news_discussion@yahoogroups.com, RAVISINGH@a... wrote:
The following are press releases by United Sikhs at the beggining of last year,THESE WERE THE PRESS RELEASES GIVEN OUT TO THE SANGAT TO GET THEIR DONATIONS.I have just spoke to the Tara Singh of Campbell Bay who has told me that he was reluctingly made a Director of United Sikhs on the islands (United Sikhs do this a lot) ,which he has no interest and wanted to resign.Please read his comments further down the page.Here is the list work which United Sikhs "sidelined " since last Januarybut collected funds for.

Jan 16th : To build a retaining wall around the Gurdwara on Campbell Bay----NO WALL HAS BEEN BUILT

JANUARY 31ST : Tractor and Trailor to be sent to Campbell Bay----NO TRACTOR OR TRAILOR SENT

FEB 5-6 :To build 10 toilets and washrooms on Campbell Bay-----NO TOILETS OR WASHROOMS BEEN BUILT


FEB 5-6 : Will procure 5000 gas cylinders for the Langar on Campbell Bay----------NO GAS CYLINDERS DELIVERED

FEB 13TH : To build a community centre on Campbell Bay at a cost of $56000 ....NO COMMUNITY CENTRE BUILT

Tara Singhs exact words "they were (United Sikhs ) were taking a lot of photos and continously making movies,I have seen their website and it shows a lot of their workers and people.They were building castles out of air.!"
To collect funds from the Sangat by big proposals but then not to spend that money on the projects is not ethical,but then when i raise this issue i get called a liar.Yes, United Sikhs have set up a computer centre on the island but does that justify the $100000S they have collected!

For all those who sent e mail to call me a liar or unpanthic i like to say that United Sikhs knew of Khalsa Aid but instead of supporting Khalsa Aid they went into Gurdwaras in a very aggressive manner to raise funds to set their own charity and yet they call themselves UNITED Sikhs.


I have been called a liar by Majinderpal about many things one of them was that she only visited or contacted a couple of Gurdwaras for the Donations for the Tsunami Relief.She contacted almost all Gurdwaras who collected funds from the Sangat.

She also denied that she told the Gurdwaras that Khalsa Aid wasnt even present on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and it was only United Sikhs who were doing the work.I had a call on my UK phone from a Singh from Woverhampton Gurdwara while i was in Port Blair asking me if Khalsa Aid was doing any work on the islands and when i informed him that i was on the islands as he spoke to me he was very surprised as his been told otherwise!

Its very easy to raise funds but to spend them the right way is a massive responsibilty.I have no ambition or fancy offices or title but i do have the passion and the eyes to see how they promoted themselves very heavily yet did very little.I also keep hearing the United Sikhs reprsentative on the Islands Baba Esher Singh got to the islands all on his own,the guy had no idea about where he was ,it was our India partners, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle,Mumbai, that organised all his initial flights.

The Sangat was treated in a very fraudlent manner in the 80s by many groups collecting funds for the Shaheed s families,for the Sikh struggle etc etc.I am ready to be called a liar or whatever but if anybody is collecting from the Sanagt then they have to be ready to answer questions and not hide behind the words "Panthic,liar etc."

I always encourage Gurdwaras not to give funds to any organization but to go out there and spend it themselves,Khalsa Aid will be very happy to assist them all the way.

Ravinder Singh

12:40 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Thanks Shinda Saheb for sharing story of the other side! I always tend to believe that most Sikhs are honest and speak the truth because that is in the essence of Sikhism but just don't know who to beleive here!

10:59 PM, March 19, 2006  
Blogger Sifar said...

Manjit jee...

Who will police the police... I mean if paanth de Jaathedar do something that is not right, is it not the time the paanth remind them of their duties. (Here I'm talking in general, not specifically in terms of Nishan Sahib).

If someone says that there are bigger things to worry about than Nishan Sahib, I believe they dont understand the gravity of the situation. I will give you an example of "Army Medical Core". When ever in battle field, they have the Red Cross on a white background flag flying outside their make shift hospitals, that identifies them as a non-combat unit treating the injured. If they didnot had a particular pattern that all the medical Units over the world follow, then it would be a catastrophe when the enemy would bombard the area where injured are being taken care of. I hope you get my point. The Saffron Nishan Sahib identifies a Gurdwara that people can spot from far. A white and yellow, or another color Flag doesnot identify a Gurdwara. And, its triangular shape, and color has some significance form the time of our Guru Sahiban. I dont think that we shold be dealing with it as a matter that dont need any attention.

10:19 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I agree with you completely on universality of Khanda and the flag. This is what identifies us as Sikhs. It is an important issue that need to be discussed and resolved. I just don't understand things like these are not questioned, discussed and resolved by Sikh leadership. I feel Sikhs are being failed again and again by lack of integrity for questioning things, vision for the Panth, compassion towards humanity and finally the basic lack of drive to accomplish things, in their own leadership. They are acting more like symbolic leaders or royals rather than true leaders. They seem so far removed from the common Sikh like the politicians. I wish the Jathedars had a website or email like the Prime Minister of India where people can write to them with their concerns. Then you and me can pose these questions directly to them instead of hurting some innocent person's feelings. If someone may know of such website, please inform.

11:37 AM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

I'm kind of disappointed any time somebody takes the time to write an article or post something on a public forum that has the purpose of taking somebody or someone down. We do need to be vigilant, but we shouldn't exagerate or make it look like a grudge (in this case it looks like somebody trying to take down United Sikhs and elevate Khalsa Aid). I figure they both have great people and it would be good if they could work together. If it starts to feel like slander then I stop wanting to hear/read it.
I've worked with United Sikhs during Hurricane Katrina and I've donated money to them for several different projects. I know some really great people who volunteer with United Sikhs. I know of people who (for free) have done so much work to help on certain projects. Nobody's perfect, but I think United Sikhs can be trusted and any funds you send to them will be used for the right purposes.
United Sikhs is such a nice name and everybody wants to be associated with a name like that. They are also good at letting people know what they're doing. I figure there's nothing wrong with that. Me and a few friends (5 of us now) started a volunteer group and a few different organizations and groups have written articles on us and with our blog people from around the world know what we're doing. Our purpose for publicity is just to let people know what we're doing and hope that people might find it inspiring. Also if we ever need help on a big scale, it will be good that people know who we are. Right now we organize and fund the projects we do on our own.
There's always detractors, I wouldn't be surprised as our little seva group grows that similar things happen. I could imagine some projects being a little disorganized and people getting upset and writing articles. It matters more that somebody has the heart and dedication to serve.
I've already found a blog that was set up to write negative things about me and Gurumustuk and a few other Sikhs in Española. In my case they wrote about how I studied with an ustad who was namdhari. I don't agree with namdharis, but they're people too and they even taught me something that helps me connect to the Guru. As a part of God's creation it's required that I give them respect.
We should all be well-informed and try to hear both sides of everything, especially when something sounds like slander.

1:04 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Thank you Prabhu Singh! This is the kind of input I needed to bring my confidence up in these organizations! About the negative comments about you and others, I am sure those people have probably more faults and are already doing unsikh things by criticizing you. Nindak is part of being unsikh. I am not perfect and get into arguements with people sometimes, but best thing is avoid.

5:31 PM, March 20, 2006  
Blogger Kulwant Singh said...

Hello All,

I just read this and agree with Prabhu Singh that someone is attempting to slander a particular organization. My name is Kulwant Singh. I volunteered with United Sikhs both for Tsunami and Katrina. I also made donations to United Sikhs for both the projects. After working with them I am confident that my funds are in the right place. You will rarely find professionals doing full time jobs, using their vacation time, giving up their family time to do seva. I am married man and blessed with 2 kids. I volunteered with United Sikhs and I think my time was well spent along with my money.

Both United Sikhs and Khalsa Aid are doing good work.

If someone wants to get first hand experience of what work I did with United Sikhs feel free to call me at 510-421-0538 or send me email at kulw0nts@yahoo.com. These young professionals in these organizations are doing great work.

If there are any questions on the color of the Khanda why not talk to them directly. I am confident that there is no need to assume of raising a bitter feeling. The Sikh way or a Sikh seeker's way should be to call the organization directly and find out the reasons for the color of the Khanda or any other question one might have. As a parent, I realize that when mind is in conflict the best way is to approach the source directly.

By such slander one is only washing the sins of the activists. A piece of advice from an elder, if you feel that these Sikh organizations are doing anything wrong, join them, give them suggestions, help them improve. Be the change. People will move on, the upcoming youth should take control.

For once we Sikhs should get together for the Chardhi Kala of the Panth. Serving Humanity is a duty of the Sikh. Ninda is not going to help anyone of us.

I just read the article posted by Ravinder Singh. I also read the response of United Sikhs posted by Shinda Singh. Surprisingly, I don't know why Sikh Times choses to publicize only one side of the story by not publishing the response. I guess it tells us something about their journalistic values. The response clearly shows Khalsa-Aid has disowned the comments.

Reading the article written by this person, Ravinder Singh, I can't think much then sensing the vibrations of a frustrated Sikh brother. May the Guru give him guidance.

My 2 cents, if anyone has any question, about any organization, call the organization in question and ask them. Send them an email. Be the positive catalyst of change.

May the Guru bless all with Bibek Buddhi.

Kulwant Singh
510-421-0538

9:26 PM, May 11, 2006  

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