Malaysian naujawans call for action

Some four dozen youth sat down to identify common grounds where they can work together and agreeing to place collective interests of the Malaysian Sikh youth above else.

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Malaysian youth on the move – Photo: Supplied
By Jagdish Singh and Amanpreet Kaur | OPINION | MALAYSIA |

Samelans, satsangs, kirtan semagams, Friday programmes (or any day programmes, tbh) has always been integral to us, as members of the Malaysian Sangat. This statement certainly holds water if you’re no longer a naujawan. If you ask a naujawan (youth), chances are he or she would tell you they’re too busy.

For far too long, naujawans are often attributed for their own absence at Gurdwaras and other Sikh spaces. Most elders would nod in agreement, and go back to trying to figure out who’s marrying who.

Privately, we all know our Sikh community no longer has the hold and effect it once had in the early years. Naujawans are not engaged with activities that empower them, promote critical thinking, and challenge the social quo. There is no avenue to involve them outside of traditional Gurdwara programming. This is especially devastating when you realise that, as Sikhs, we come from a lineage of brave revolutionaries who were intellectual, highly spirited and engaged in promoting tenets of Sikhi.

The biggest tragedy of all is when committed and enthusiastic naujawans who want to engage in meaningful work, often get shut down or denied support by elders (in positions of some authority) for merely implementing action that defers from their view. Our elders have in recent years fragmented even further, attacking one another, back and forth because of their differences; clearly having forgotten the importance of ekta (unity).

As a collective of various naujawan groups, we will no longer watch from the sidelines as bystanders. We will be pushing for more meaningful action, leading the charge for the future; to empower ourselves and the Sangat (congregation) at large.

On 17 August 2019, Malaysian naujawans took their dedication for the Sangat one step further, by gathering in Gurdwara Sahib Ampang in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the various issues plaguing naujawans and to formulate actionable solutions.

The topics discussed were based on a basic survey sent out before the meeting to naujawan groups across Peninsular Malaysia; identifying mental health, family, welfare, and fostering unity, among others, as issues that needed to be looked into.

45 naujawans from various groups (including Niketan Youth Wing, Basics of Sikhi – Southeast Asia, GurbaniNaad, and many more), as well as unaffiliated youth, attended the session. Each group pledged themselves to the development of Malaysian Sikh Naujawans, agreeing to work together to come up with action plans for the discussed issues.

As a result, several initiatives will be introduced, beginning as soon as next month. Each initiative is led by one or several youth volunteers. Tentative plans have been put in place and can be viewed in the action plan attached below.

Next year, a major priority of the collective would be to conduct outreach programmes to lesser frequented areas and localities within our country; certain agreed-upon initiatives will be incorporated within these outreach programmes.

Round 2 of discussions were also held on 24 August at Sabha House (Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia headquarter in Kuala Lumpur), with more meetings to be expected in the future.

We encourage naujawans reading this article to join initiatives that they’d like to participate and contribute in. You can drop a DM to @MalaysianSikhs on Instagram or directly contact the naujawan groups listed as signatories.

[The authors were among the Sikh youth who took part in the meetings.]

 

RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY MALAYSIAN SIKH YOUTH ON AUGUST 2019

The Malaysian Sikh youth,

Guided by the Guru’s word as enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

1. Agree to work together on common ground for the development and progress of the Malaysian Sikh youth;

2. Agree to put the collective interests of the Malaysian Sikh youth before any personal or organisational agenda;

3. Will support endeavours and initiatives that will achieve or give effect to the goals and objectives listed in the action plan to be attached herewith.

SIGNATORIES: Akaal Camp, Babe Budha Ji Gatka Akhara, Basics of Sikhi Southeast Asia, Enkaurage, Getaway Camp, GurbaniNaad, Kaur’s Heart, Niketan, Petaling Jaya Naujawan, Seramban Youth, Sewa Squad Inc, Sikh Inside, and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia.

2nd Youth Meeting, 24 Aug 2019

 

RELATED STORY:

A tip to unite the youth (Asia Samachar, 10 Aug 2019)

Indonesian Sikh youth team up with American Sikh diplomat to introduce Sikhism to local students (Asia Samachar, 23 June 2019)

Malaysian Sikhs urged to take up intern opportunities (Asia Samachar, 3 April 2017)

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

5 COMMENTS

  1. This initiative is refreshing and should be applauded. Though SNSM has done great sewa within youth, it has had problems especially from the ‘older’ and perhaps more fundamentalist fringe. Even though, I remember in the 60’s it was a brag that Snsm membership was from 9-99 year olds, it is important that ‘youth’ need to chart their destiny no doubt with consultancy from the elders. Office bearers should be below a certain age considered ‘youth’. Though older heads are needed as advisors, this move suggests that the youth quite rightly, want to chart their own course. Then, if that cannot be done through SNSM let it be through a Sikh Youth Consultancy Forum like this. Though it is commendable that SNSM is party to this forum.
    Kudos to those who have initiated this. I think we all wish them well and hopefully greater participation by ‘youths’.

  2. Indeed,, agree with DS bhullar ji.There is no reason for so many paper strong hollow youth organisations.

    Overcome that defragmentation should b the first Urgent task.
    However, it great, that some have started thinking abt being unite and comming together in these very challenging times that face the Sikhs in the world, and esspecially so, as a minority within a very non inclusive theoracratical state, considering our urge to live and allowed to live with our separate laws of life, religion, culture and identity.

    However certain so called youth organisation has done nothing but to split the religious ethos of Sikhs in Makaysia, we must remain cautious of their intentiins, and not b victimised by their ulterior objectives.

    Guru bless on path of genuine unity and Sikhi.

  3. Veer BS Bhullar,
    I understand your sentiments and I would like to point out that SNSM is actually a signatory to this resolution. It is great to see the organisations with many years of experience put aside any form of hierarchy to work together with other well meaning Naujwan groups. In terms of unity, this is ground breaking as this is the first time SNSM is associated with other groups such as Niketan and Getaway Camps since many years ago. I hope this endogenous youth led exercise in unity will prevail over the unnecessary schisms that have plagued the Malaysian Sikh community in the last decade.

  4. Given the number of signatories to the document, one can only conclude that despite being a small population, it is clear that the youth themselves are fragmented.

    There is already an established organization, SNSM, a household name, through which these youths can participate and make a difference, wherever they are located, to fulfill their aspirations.

    Will they take this route and challenge or will they gather to form another organisation with no light at the end of the tunnel. Only time will tell, but I remain skeptical.

  5. Dear All
    Sat Sri Akal
    Its a good step forward . Keep it up . Other stares must follow into their r footsteps and balance a harmonious relationship .
    Congratulations on your great effort and hope to see the initial numbers of increased .
    Great 👌🙏🙏🙏🙏👋

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