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A delegation of Sikhs accompanied State Minorities Commission member Jatindar Singh as he met with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Minority Welfare Secretary Md Imtiaz, and other officials on Monday, May 8, 2023. The Sikhs made a formal request of the government to establish a corporation for the minority Sikh community and its affiliates to be included in the Navaratnalu, a set of nine welfare proposals.

Andhra Pradesh Welfare Provisions 

Andhra Pradesh is India’s, seventh largest, and tenth most populated, state with nearly 50 million people living within its 63,000 square miles, 600 of which stretch along its coastline on Bay of Bengal. The Navaratnalu proposals offer a barrier to poverty with the institution of nine welfare provisions, incentives, and financial assistance programs, to protects its farmers, students, women and mothers, seniors, and its minorities:

  • 1) Provide financial incentives assistance for farmers such as 0% loans, free wells, electricity, insurance, food storage and processing, price stabilization, and relief funds.
  • 2) Provide educational financial assistance for students.
  • 3) Provide medical coverage, financial assistance, modernization of government hospitals, increased number of doctors.
  • 4) Provide safe drinking water, irrigation, and modernized water storage.
  • 5) Institute a ban on liquor. 
  • 6) Provide financial assistance for mothers.
  • 7) Provide loans at 0 % to women’s cooperatives and minorities, with monetary grants for women over 45. 
  • 8) Abolish homelessness by building more housing, giving registration of homes to female family members, and provide affordable mortgages.
  • 9) Provide pensions for seniors.

Sikhs have been individually benefiting from MSME, payments by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and other incentives. However, being officially recognized as a Navaratnalu minority corporation allows for better widespread coverage for all Sikh affiliates.

Indian Tax-Exempt NGO

Section 8 NGO (Non-Government Organization) religious non-profits in India may benefit from certain tax exemptions so long as the organizations are charitable in purpose, and are not established for the exclusive benefit of any particular religious community or caste. Non-profits must also spend 85% of income in any given fiscal year on the objectives their organization. Donors to non-profits may deduct 50 percent of their contributions.

Sikh Objectives

A Sikh corporation includes the primary objectives: 

  • Naam Japna - Remember God at all times of day and night in each and every activity.
  • Kirat Karo – Make a living by honest efforts and earnest endeavors.
  • Vand Chakko – Selflessly share resources such as income, food, education, medicine, etc. with all of humanity, excluding no one.

Every gurdwara provides free langar to all who enter its doors, and many gurdwaras foster outreach programs. Inclusion in the Navaratnalu enables further outreach benefits to affiliates.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Agrees to Abolish Property Tax for Gurdwaras 

To comply with the Sikh delegate request, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy directed an order for the government to set up a committee to establish a special statewide corporation for the Sikh community to include support for a minority educational institution. He also agreed to grant an important exemption to abolish property taxes for gurdwaras. He further instructed that any granthi residing in gurdwaras be granted the same benefits that are being given to priests, pastors, and clerics of India’s other religious communities. In addition, like icing on a cake, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh declared the birthday of Guru Nanak, Jyaniti gurpurab, a state holiday to be traditionally celebrated on the full moon in Kartik (mid-October through mid-November).

Sikhs internationally are very grateful for the cooperative efforts of Jatindar Singh, Sikh delegates, forward-thinking government officials Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, and Minority Welfare Secretary Md Imtiaz, as well as all who participated in negotiations that have resulted in the favorable outcome of directives to include Sikh minorities and their affiliates in the Andhra Pradesh Navaratnalu provisions. 

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa

Sukhmandir has written hundreds of articles on topics related to Sikhism and has co-written and and edited several books on the Gurmat teachings and Naam Simran meditation. 

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