Visionary Iqbal Singh Speaks at SYA Planning workshop
"Light travels faster than sound , that is why some people appear very bright until you hear them speak".
Not this writer’s words, but those of Iqbal Singh. The words were on his first slide in his powerpoint presentation at his talk in Sydney on Saturday, May 1st 2010.
He probably meant it as a throwaway line to generate some thought or humour, but in his case, this is not true.
He appears bright and when he speaks one quickly realises that this is a man who not only appears bright, but also has a very bright mind.
Not surprisingly, this 45-year-old educator from the Sunshine Coast in Northern Queensland was invited to Canberra to join the Federal Government’s 2020 Vision Conference. This is just one of the many accolades this Sikh who works as a School Principal has collected over the years.
With his full beard and turban, he could easily pass for a new Sikh migrant from the Punjab. That is until he opens his mouth and speaks.
Put a curtain around him and you would swear the man speaking is an Australian born and bred in this country for many generations.
Iqbal was born in Bopa Rai Kalan, near Nakodar, in Jalandhar District in North West Punjabi in India.
He was a baby when his father migrated to Australia with his family. They settled in Perth before moving to Queensland. He received all his education in Australia and has a science background. Choosing to become an educator he has achieved much and is today recognised not only in his chosen field, but has also been recognised as a bright mind by the Queensland government. Iqbal today serves on the Queensland government’s 2020 vision panel as well.
In many ways he is a leading light among Sikhs in Queensland and himself highly values Sikh principles. His Sikh values have not prevented Iqbal from living, playing and being an Australian in every sense of the word.
Iqbal was in Sydney on a flying visit on Saturday when he met and spoke at a special strategic planning workshop organised by Sikh Youth Australia (SYA).
His talk was titled “Unlocking The Power Of Australia’s Sikh Youth. Retaining Sikh Identity and Contributing To A Thriving Inclusive Australia Beyond 2020.”
He spoke to an audience of about 60 people which included Sikh teenagers, Sikhs in their early 20s and Sikh parents from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Queensland.
The group had been invited to attend the workshop to discuss future plans for SYA’s growth and development. Facilitated by two external consultants, Mahesh Enjeti and Manraj Khuman, a number of innovative and creative opportunities were identified.
In his talk Iqbal looked at Identity and Culture and the individual’s role in relation to his family, peers and the local Gurdwara and broader Sikh community. The impact of these factors and their connection with the broader Australian public was also discussed.
He also discussed how our Sikh Identity in Australia could contribute towards National Productivity and also touched on the issue of Sikh Social Capital. He felt Sikhs could be social entrepreneurs by finding the right kinds of collaborations to accelerate social change.
In concluding, he made a number of suggestions on how youths could promote Sikh identity.These included:
a) A better articulation of the Sikh Identity
b)Use of a strength-based approach
c)Developing plans for a stronger network
d)Defining organisational culture in terms of actions and behaviours
e)Looking at technology – especially Internet Cafes – where the message could be spread and highlighting the issue at Sikh events and Gurdwaras.
His talk left many at the workshop with much food for thought. Iqbal may be up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, but it is obvious that he has much to contribute to the Sikh Community on a National level in Australia.
He gave two presentations which can be viewed and downloaded below:
An explanation of the 5 K's of Sikhism - Iqbal Singh, Brisbane
Unlocking the power of Sikh Youth - Iqbal Singh, Brisbane