We attended this year’s Sikholars conference at Stanford, organized by Jakara Movement. A panel of Sikh graduates presented their research and discussed various topics in education, health, gender, and social justice pertinent to the community.
Particularly relevant to our project was the Social Life of Sikhs Panel. The presentation “Educational Pathways: An exploration of California Sikh Youth” by Prabhdeep Kehal and Palvinder Kaur proved the resilience of Sikh youth in the face of socio-economic barriers, resilience being the ability to succeed despite those barriers. Their survey of California Sikh high-schoolers found that Sikh youth have strong academic resilience, but not as much college-going resilience, however.
Also of interest was a presentation on the drug crisis currently crippling Punjab. Speaker Basant Virdee shared statistics illustrating how heroin addiction in Punjab has reached epidemic proportions. An estimated 70% of men 16-35 years are addicted; 8,000 men applied to 376 vacancies in the military and 85 vacancies remained – the rest were deemed unfit to serve because of their condition. During elections in India it is not uncommon for political candidates to bribe voters with alcohol, but in Punjab they bribe with heroin. Meanwhile, the Indian government has been largely unresponsive and inefficient in providing rehabilitative health care.