Over 400 Sikh men, women and youth from all across the San Francisco Bay Area attended the National Sikh Campaign’s fundraising gala to support the campaign's media strategy for Sikhism and Sikh identity in America.
The fundraising gala was sold out and over $400,000 was raised by for a media campaign to be launched on television and social media in the near future. This is perhaps the largest amount ever raised by Sikhs for awareness drive.
For the first time ever, the television advertisements – created by AKPD, former President Obama’s campaign media team – were unveiled to an enthusiastic audience. Last year, NSC had hired the services of AKPD and Hart Research Associates which is headed by Geoff Garin, Hillary Clinton’s former chief strategic advisor, to develop the messaging and framework of these advertisements.
"This is a historic moment in the history of the Sikh community in America. Never before have we had the opportunity to tell our story to our fellow Americans around the country and that time has come now,” said Kaval Kaur, National Charter member of NSC and host of the event. ""It is one of the best initiatives to help not only us but our kids and our future generations.”
Among the attendees were prominent Sikh entrepreneurs, leading Silicon Valley IT professionals, Medical doctors, owners of trucking companies and officials of all gurdwaras in the area. Devenderpal Singh of Indian Idol fame opened the event with an enthralling song. The hosts of this gathering were prominent couple and Sikh business leaders, Kaval Kaur and Jasvir Gill, CEO of AlertEnterprise, and this program was held at the company’s headquarters in the business district in Fremont, CA.
"We, Sikhs, need to change the narrative and present the correct image of who we are, showcasing how we are totally integrated in the American society and not only as victims,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, Co-Founder of the National Sikh Campaign, who presented the overview of the campaign and appealed to the audience to donate for the cause.
"Sikhism has salient points which resonate with American values and that good news has to be wonderfully presented at a national level. More importantly, this is the first time, Sikhs have raised this amount of money to spread the awareness about their faith in America. Previous record is of $90,000 in NSC's Los Angeles Gala last year.”
Shawn Singh Ghuman, NSC’s Communications Director, laid out the media strategy while Gurwin Singh Ahuja, NSC’s Executive Director, presented the ads to the audience.
"These ads have been tested and we have received positive feedback from a sample of the American audience through a polling conducted by Hart Research Associates,” said Ahuja. "We are very confident that these ads will have the needed impact to change the way our community is perceived – San Francisco Sikhs have given a major boost to our game-changing plan for Sikhs in America.”
Harbir Singh Bhatia, a Sikh leader in the Bay Area and one of the key organizers, said, "There is a huge opportunity and need for the National Sikh Campaign initiative. We all hear about hate crimes and violent incidents against Sikhs, but never the values, resilience, and love that defines Sikhism. Sikh Values are American Values, and yet it is largely unknown. Our fellow Americans should be more aware of this fact and realize how similar we are through this.”
"The turnout of our community members at the Gala speaks volumes about the need and support for NSC,” Bhatia added. "Building awareness and understanding of Sikhism is a multi-prong effort, and this campaign will play a major part in this end. It will be a different future for Sikh Americans when people see Sikhs in the mainstream media – which has a power unheard of in the United States!”