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US Sikh group raises $210,000 for needy Punjab students

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NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Sikhs prepare to march in the annual NYC Sikh Day Parade April 25, 2009 in New York City. Most Sikhs hail from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan; Sikh means disciple or learner. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Washington: The Sikh Human Development Foundation, a Washington-based philanthropic organisation has raised over $210,000 for its scholarship programme for underprivileged children in Punjab who wish to pursue higher education.

Over 350 guests from metropolitan Washington area came to support the Foundation at a gala, featuring pop singer Jaz Dhami, here Sunday.

SHDF has been giving scholarships to bright but poor students in Punjab and surrounding areas since 2001.

Inviting all to donate, SHDF chairman Gajinder Singh Ahuja said: “We need your help. They (students) need your help.”

Chief guest Gurcharan Singh Kanwal donated $50,000. In recognition of their contributions towards higher education for the youth, Kanwal and his wife Kamaljit Kaur were honoured with the SHDF Community Higher Education Empowerment Award.

Manpreet Singh, SHDF board member, said: “SHDF has been able to provide scholarships to over 4,000 students and more than 1,500 students have graduated and become professionals.”

Many of them are supporting their siblings and have also started to donate back to SHDF.

SHDF’s scholarship is based on need and merit. Students are selected from colleges and universities throughout Punjab and surrounding areas with vigorous screening by the SHDF India Division based in New Delhi.

Most of the students receiving assistance are from families earning less than a dollar a day per person.

This programme is executed in partnership with sister organization Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council based in New Delhi.

(IANS)

 

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)