Close to 180 people turned up YSA’s inaugural Sikh Voices Conference on 11 November 2017. Themed ‘What If’, the full-day event featured panel discussions, dialogues and a mini-hackathon, all of which were meant to spur thinking about the future of the local Sikh community and of Singapore.

The aim of the Sikh Voices Conference was to bring Sikhs, of all ages and from all walks of life, together to have a candid and open discussion on possible scenarios which the Sikh community could face in the coming years and what it could do to overcome these.

The one-day event featured three dynamic panel discussions. The first panel, entitled ‘Singapore’s Economy and International Standing’, discussed the impact of the economic complexities and difficulties facing Singapore on the Sikh community. The panel included former Member of Parliament, Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Devadas Krishnadas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Future-Movies Group. It received much praise from participants who felt that the thought-provoking discussion helped to shed light on fears that Singapore might become irrelevant to the world in the future.

A mini-hackathon activity, the first of its kind being conducted in an event organised by YSA, was designed to help participants break into small groups to discuss various scenarios that are either already affecting the Sikh community currently or might do so in the future. The hour-long hackathon saw deep discussions and various viewpoints being presented by the participants, some echoing points raised earlier during the earlier panel discussions.

The ideas brainstormed during the mini-hackathon were then presented to Guest-of-Honour, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, and Ministry of Health, Mr Chee Hong Tat, in the form of a gallery walk. Mr Chee had the opportunity to hear each group’s presentation on the scenarios they had discussed. During the final panel discussion, featuring Mr Chee, he praised the participants for their creative and relevant inputs. He also shared his views on whether Singapore would be able to thrive if it reduced its emphasis on principles such as meritocracy, multiculturalism and a social compact that emphasises individual and family responsibility.

The ‘Sikh Voices’ conference was organised by a group of young Sikhs between 18 and 26 years old, who were part of the second batch of YSA’s Young Leaders Programme (YLP), held from May to November 2017. The leadership programme was launched by YSA in 2016 to identify and develop young Sikhs for leadership positions at the community and national levels. The conference was the final milestone in this year’s YLP edition, and the graduating project for the participants, as Mr Chee also presented them with their graduating certificates.

Moving forward, YSA hopes the conference will pave the way for the Sikh community to collectively develop a strategy for dealing with its future challenges. It also hopes that more Sikhs, especially from the younger generation, will come forward to take on the responsibility of steering the community through these challenges it may face.

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