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USA By The White House, Sikh Center


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

born in Rawalpinidi, Pakistan, has offered the SGPC a piece of prime land worth over Rs 350 crore at Massachusetts Avenue in the vicinity of the White House, the Amercian seat of power, where he wants it to set up a “Sikh Cultural Embassy”.

The plots also house the first and only gurdwara in Washington DC.

The NRI, Dr Shamsher Singh Babra , held discussions in this regard with SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, who is in the US to complete the formalities for the transfer of land, on Monday.

Dr Babra, the first Sikh to join the World Bank , in the mid-50s, had come up with the offer in an interactive session with Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal during his India visit three months ago. The proposal was later forwarded to the SGPC.

“Dr Babra told me that he wants to run an institution which could help Westerners of away with their misconceptions about Sikhs and Sikhism and even motivate them to join their fold,” Manpreet Badal told Ht.

Dr Babra has been nurturing this dream since 1955 when he appeared for an interview for a World Bank assignment. The interview committee was “shocked to see his dreaded bearded appearance”. Before handing him over the appointment letter, it constituted a three member team to ascertain his reason for growing a beard.

One day when Dr Babra was sitting in the balcony of the King of Saudi Arabia inaugurating a mosque on the embassy premises. “This was when the idea struck him. He struggled hard, came up with a list of early Sikh settlers, formed a society and finally bought a 1.5-acre plot on the prestigious Embassy Row. A portion of the same plot now houses the National Gurdwara,” Bhai Surinder Singh, head priest of the gurdwara, told HT over the phone from USA.

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