| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 17 Aug 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Publicity cuts both ways. It can build you up and get your work done. At the same time, it can also easily make you an egomaniac.
When Asia Samachar had a chance to sit down for an interview with Khalsa Aid founder Ravinder Singh, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to pose that question.
Khalsa Aid, the London-based humanitarian relief agency, relies on publicity it get its working done. And Ravi, as he is popularly known, gets a huge amount of the publicity.
Does the publicity get to his head, we asked him. As we posed the question, his wife, Bal Kaur Sandhu, who was seated next, throws her glance at him.
Ravi, 46, took the queston in stride, sharing what seems to be an answer coming straight form the heart.
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“There is a fine line, where people will get corrupted. But if you know, and the people who know me, they will tell you that I’m driven more to pass the message to the next generation than for myself,” he tells Asia Samachar.
“You always have to remember you’re uplifting the community and not yourself.
“My message, always – a reminder to myself and the community around – is that we are here for a bigger purpose, not for the individual Ravi Singh.
We are here for Khalsa Aid, for the Sikh community.”
The Sikh community, just like any other commuity, have seen super-crashes of the seemingly good and dedicated volunteers, who may have been succumbed by the ego trap.
How does he view this?
“They will see that glory hunters will fall off the bandwagon straight away. Those who focus hundred percent on their mission are the ones who, at the end, will see the difference between glory hunting and achievement for the community,” he says.
Ravi was born in a hospital in Singapore while his family was living in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where his dad was stationed while serving the Indian navy. He now lives in the United Kingdom.
He was in Kuala Lumpur after his one-week visit to Australia to promote Khalsa Aid and its work.
EXTRACTS FROM OUR INTERVIEW WITH RAVI SINGH ON HANDLING PUBLICITY:
Publicity is critical to your work. On the other side, Sikhi teaches one to be humble and to serve selflessly. How do you balance the need for publicity with the need to remain a good Sikh?
We don’t have a particular department for PR.
Our work speaks for itself. Social media helps us to put the message to the masses. A lot of people say seva should be gupt (done anonymously). But for people who donate money to us, they need to know where the money went. We need to be transparent to the public.
Also, Khalsa Aid’s mission is not just its projects, but more so inspiring our youth and the next generation to follow the footsteps of Bhai Khanaiya Ji and be involved in global humanitarian issues. As Sikhs, we are born as humanitarians, but sadly, we’ve kept the concept very much hidden.
So, the PR that you see in the forefront of our operations is because of the work we do. And sometimes, at the high risk operations like in Iraq or Lebanon, it’s vital for the Sanggat to know what we do.
Is there a clash in your mind on the work you do and the publicity that you get?
No. There’s never a clash. We should we be doing much more, I feel personally, for the publicity. But as a small organisation, we are careful that we don’t spend funds or employing someone with high salaries for it. Whatever publicity we do get is directly linked to our projects.
How do you not let this go to your head?
When you take a step to this field, it’s very easiy [to get swayed]…. especially in our community. When you see someone doing something positive, we like to make them the leader, the Baba, the holy man.
I’m just a normal guy, When I meet people, I tell them, if you want to meet me, you meet me for coffee, a handshake. No accolades.
I just love what I do. I think it runs in my veins. It’s not done to lift myself up, it’s done to lift the community up. Yes, there is a fine line, where people will get corrupted. But if you know, and the people who know me, they will tell you that I’m dirven more to pass the message to the next generation than for myself.
In this day and age, it is easy to be perceived as seeking publicity or self-promotion. But, then again, we won’t be in the forefront of doing so much seva. Our work is very important, it’s vital. It’s in such high risk areas, the PR is automatic. People should not be connected to Ravi Singh, people should be connected to Khalsa Aid.
Do you get conflicted, at times, that you are doing it for the glory?
Sometimes I do think that people make you into something you are not. I continue to remind them not to do that. Other times, I’m very much driven by human rights also. That publicity is important for me to have a base where I can then express myself to a wider audience, especially on human rights.
There is no conflict on Khalsa aid. You have to be at peace with yourself with what you do, and I’m very much at peace with I do. But I do appeal to the public to follow the work of the Khalsa Aid and not the invidivual leading it.
Many of the young would be tempted to join movements like Khalsa Aid because its look glamorous, it looks exciting. What is your advise to the young?
Those who seek glory are very easily identified. The youngster, if they step into the field of seva, and if they believe in what they’re doing, they are going to go through a lot of struggles, they will face many obstacles. They will see that glory hunters will fall off the bandwagon straight away. Those who focus hundred percent on their mission are the ones who, at the end, will see the difference between glory hunting and achievement for the community.
The youngsters must focus on what they are doing but must also stay humble. We all come from very humble beginnings. The end target must always be to uplift the community, not the person.
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