Taking the pulse of Singapore Sikhs

Two students are running Singapore Sikh Data Project to understand better issue afflicting the community. They are calling upon all Singaporean Sikhs to respond.

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2012

By Asia Samachar| Singapore  |

Singapore has a small Sikh community. So, we should know all their issues, right? Well, not quite. The reality on the ground may be starkly different, with some issues raging within the community hidden from the surface.

Help is on the way. Two Sikh students have decided to take it upon themselves to find a resolution. They are floating a survey to take the pulse of the community and identify issues that may have evaded the naked eye.

Asia Samachar caught up with the movers of the Singapore Sikh Data Project (SSDP) to understand better what it is all about. When asked how it all came about, Dylan Raj Singh and Jasprit Singh Aujla said the spark was ignited when they attended a Sikh community event in 2019.

“We were deeply struck by anecdotal evidence of the worsening state of mental and emotional well-being in the community, and wanted to make a positive impact,” they said in an email response to Asia Samachar. “For a small community like ours, there is an even greater need for us to prepare for the future.”

So true, indeed. In a note on the project website, the survey proponents noted that in an increasingly complex and uncertain world, future trends are not easily predicted.

“As a small community, we also face issues that are hard to understand when studying national trends. Some trends we are experiencing may remain unnoticed until we engage and consult individuals on a large scale,” they argued.

It was observed that local Sikh institutions were founded to empower Singapore’s Sikhs and design programmes that would serve the community’s unique needs and interests – religious, cultural, social, economic and educational.

By providing these institutions with comprehensive data, the survey promoters hope to create more targeted and relevant community programmes to serve current and emerging needs. This also allows help and support to be given to those who need it most, in the areas that count.

“Through anecdotal evidence and observation, we know where our community is doing well. While we should celebrate our successes, we also need to identify and take action in areas where we can improve.

“Input obtained from this project can help shed light on the challenges our community presently faces, and help us understand why these challenges may have come about. This can allow us as a community to move forward and stay relevant,” the entry added.

Dylan has just graduated from University College London where he studied Theoretical Physics and plans to pursue a Masters in Physics at ETH Zürich. Jasprit is moving on to his final year of the Economics degree at the University of Cambridge.

What is the story behind the Singapore Sikh Data Project?

We attended the Young Leader’s Programme in 2019, organised by the Young Sikh Association (Singapore) or YSA. It was during the programme that we gained a greater insight into some obstacles that we as a community might face in the future, and a greater sensing of a need for the community to change and evolve. Particularly, we were deeply struck by anecdotal evidence of the worsening state of mental and emotional well-being in the community, and wanted to make a positive impact. One of the other things we learnt during the programme was that there was a lack of a consistent feedback channel via which Sikhs could provide their input to community leaders and organisations, and a lack of data on the Singapore Sikh population.

For a small community like ours, there is an even greater need for us to prepare for the future. Be it through putting resources towards particular programmes for the Sangat, or trying to lessen the impact of future issues through pre-emptive action, an input channel would be very useful for the community’s future. Eventually, we decided that there should be some infrastructure to serve this purpose and fill in the gap – this is how the idea of the survey first came about.

The survey encompasses a very broad range of topics that we as the Singapore Sikh community experience. This ranges all the way from the difficulties Sikh children face in schools, to the day-to-day challenges many of our elderly face. It’s completely anonymous, to encourage respondents to provide genuine responses. It is also available in English and Punjabi, so as to make the survey more accessible, especially for those who might be more comfortable with Punjabi. This survey is meant for anyone who considers themselves part of the Singapore Sikh community, be they a Singapore Citizen, PR, Work Pass Holder or otherwise, as long as they have a legal right to be in Singapore and consider themself a Sikh. The survey itself takes 25 – 30 minutes to complete.

The plan is for this survey exercise to be repeated every five years to ensure the data stays relevant and to help the community analyse underlying trends that may be occuring.

Who should take this survey?

Regardless of nationality, if you identify as a Sikh and consider Singapore your home, we would like to hear from you! If you currently live abroad but plan to return in the future, please take the survey too! Respondents from ages 7 and above are welcome.

Why is this survey important?

Collecting data on issues like mental health and the performance of Sikh students in school will allow Sikh organisations to better plan how to allocate resources to tackle these problems. There are also more subtle issues such as gender bias and declining Gurdwara attendance that require deeper understanding. Therefore, the survey probes respondents for their views on these things and more. In the process, we hope that the survey will prompt reflection and perhaps even spark conversations among respondents about the kind of Singapore Sikh community they would like to see.

What are the objectives of the Singapore Sikh Data Project?

Gain a broad understanding of the issues that the Singapore Sikh community currently faces and is likely to face in the coming years. Share the key findings from the survey with local Gurdwaras and Sikh institutions with the aim of tackling the biggest and most urgent issues identified. Compile insights from the survey into a report that will be shared with the community

Who is funding this survey?

The survey website states that the raw data will only be accessible to the project team and will not be publicly available. Aside from the two of you, who are the other project team members? What are their roles?

The Singapore Sikh Data Project is completely independent and organised by the two of us. While we operate independently, we have the support of organisations including the Sikh Advisory Board (SAB) and the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB), to name a couple.

We also have an experienced panel of advisors, to help provide guidance on the more sensitive issues in the community and to advise us on issues we may encounter. This panel of advisors consists of Baljit Singh (the most recent CSGB president), Malminderjit Singh (SAB chairman) and Dr Ramnik Ahuja (Indian-born public health professional with more than two decades of experience working in different capacities and roles in health programming and healthcare delivery).

Any last words?

We hope that more Sikhs in Singapore will take the time to do the survey and help the Singapore Sikh community progress. Simply head on down to www.sgsikhdataproject.com and click “Take the Survey”. Please remember to share the survey with your Sikh friends and family in Singapore! Follow us on our Instagram or our Facebook for updates!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sgsikhdataproject/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sgsikhdataproject/

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