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1 Religious values, transnational links and their implications for development activities: a case of a Sikh FBO Gurharpal Singh, Charlene Simon and D.S.Tatla.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Religious values, transnational links and their implications for development activities: a case of a Sikh FBO Gurharpal Singh, Charlene Simon and D.S.Tatla."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Religious values, transnational links and their implications for development activities: a case of a Sikh FBO Gurharpal Singh, Charlene Simon and D.S.Tatla

2 2 Context of research Research on remittances and development (World Bank 2006) but impact on poverty reduction is unclear Impact of social remittances – ideas, values and social practices –given less attention There is insufficient understanding of how and why poor and marginalised social groups among migrants from the South mobilise resources in their host lands and how these resources are actually used in their homelands Framework of transnationalism from below Transnationalism Distinctive features of these groups

3 3 Case Study: Dera Sant Sarwan Dass, Ballan (DSSDB), Punjab, India DSSDB established 1920s Followers members of Chamar caste (ex- untouchables) who share aspects of the Sikh and Hindu traditions Aims to consolidated a distinctive religious tradition around Guru Ravidas, a Chamar medieval saint associated with the bhakti movement; differentiate from Sikhism; launch of Ravidas Dharm – a new religion Punjabi Chamar community and migration: settlement in England and role of DSSDB

4 Aims of the study To explore the motivation of those in the West Midlands in giving funds to the DSSDB To examine the use of these funds by the DSSDB in Punjab To assess the impact of DSSDB initiatives on development and community identity formation 4

5 Methodology Overview of secondary literature, especially historical overview of role of religion in transforming the lives of marginalized caste groups in Punjab; and Chamar/Punjabi Dalit community in Britain Simultaneous field research in two sites: West Midlands and Punjab which involved 32 semi- structured interviews with key informants 5

6 West Midlands: Motivation for giving Status dissonance: social mobility, caste discrimination, caste pride Organisation: DSSDB, a charitable trust, fund raising drives by sants; transparency in fund use Conventional religious philanthropy; personal reasons 6

7 Punjab/India: religious and development project (1) – Guru Ravidas Mandir, Varanasi 7

8 Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Hospital (2) 8

9 Sant Sarwan Dass Model School, Phagwara (3) A Modern Higher Secondary School

10 Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Eye Hospital, Ballan (4) 10

11 A Congregation Hall at Ballan (5) 11

12 Impact of these initiatives Demonstrative – sense of community achievement: provide access to all regardless of caste Impact on poverty reduction – very little in general Underpinned the process of de-sikhisation of Ravidasis and the launch of the Ravidas Dharm (Punjab and overseas) 12

13 Conclusion For subaltern/low caste groups in India religious/caste identities continue to provide powerful visions for social reform that often include changing ones religion The DSSDBs project has been significantly underwritten by transnational funding and other social remittances These initiatives in this context are about more than mere remittances, or simple religious philanthropy: they are about achieving social equality, recognition and acceptance of difference in hierarchical society Any attempt to harness migrant remittances for development purposes must be underpinned by a sound understanding of the complex motives and social and political dynamics that characterize transnational links. 13


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