The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Friday passed its interim budget amounting to Rs. 806.08 crore for 2013-14, with an increase of 21.13% as compared to 2012-13.
The stamp of approval over the interim budget was accorded by the SGPC executive during a meeting, which was presided over by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.
This is the second successive interim budget passed by the executive. The SGPC could not pass the general budget for 2012-13 last year as the case filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, challenging the general elections of the SGPC held in September 2011, is still pending in the Supreme Court. The case pertains to the Sehajdharis (non-Sikhs who believe in Sikhism) demanding voting rights in the SGPC elections, which they were denied in the 2011 elections.
Under such circumstances, the general house of 2004 continues to function with the executive and office-bearers elected in 2010 being at the helm affairs. To meet day-to-day expenditure, the court had allowed the SGPC to pass interim budget.
A major portion of the expenditure, Rs. 510.78 crore out of the total budget, in the next financial year has been earmarked for repair and construction of gurdwaras and also for improving facilities for pilgrims. Makkar said the SGPC is constructing a number of 'serais' in Amritsar and other places for pilgrims. Besides a number of historical and religious monuments will also be taken up for construction or renovation with this amount.
For improving the standards of education and for setting up new institutions, the SGPC has earmarked Rs. 133.64 crore for educational institutions. A sum of Rs. 52 crore has been earmarked for 'dharam prachar' (religious preaching). The SGPC will also go in for computerisation in its offices on large scale.
Free education for Kashmiri Sikhs girls
Talking to mediapersons, Avtar Singh Makkar said Sikh girls from the Kashmir Valley, who belong to economically-weaker sections, will be given education free of cost in the SGPC-run institutions. This facility will be for those girls who have passed their Class-12 examinations.
He said besides providing books free of cost, the girl students will also be given hostel facilities for which they will not be charged. He said it had also been decided that five seats will be reserved from the management quota at the Guru Nanak Engineering College of the SGPC for Sikh students from the Valley.
Makkar added that the SGPC has taken another step forward in providing scholarships to needy Sikh students who go abroad for higher studies. For the time being, under the scheme this facility will be provided to those who get admission in Cambridge University, UK. An initial sum of Rs. 1 crore has been set aside for this purpose.
Emphasis on sports
To wean away the Sikh youth from drugs and other bad habits, the SGPC will also lay emphasis on sports, particularly at school-level. The religious body already has a kabaddi team and is now planning to raise a hockey squad.
“We will spend Rs. 1.46 crore on hockey and kabaddi in this fiscal year,” Makkar said.
Objection over TV serial name
The SGPC has raised objection to the Hindi serial, 'Gurbani', which will be telecast by Colors from March 18. “The word 'gurbani' is associated with the Sikh gurus and verses in Guru Granth Sahib are referred to as 'gurbani'. We have already asked the makers of the serial to change the title,” said SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh.
He revealed that a letter in this regard has also been dispatched to the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari.